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ComicKick: Fallen, Flooded and Frozen

Columnist Joe Kontor of ComicKick reveals the ever-growing world of crowd funded comics, financed by the people and made for the people.

New ComicKick Logo


This month we take a look at three very dark stories that are up right now on crowd funding pages. A fallen angel, a forgotten hero, and a frozen world are all seeking publication funds with your help.

Romulus + Remus

There are invisible lines that govern this world. Lines between hero and villain, mythology and history, old world and new. What would happen if the lines blurred and the sides become indistinguishable? Writer/artist Scott A. Ford asks this question with his new action/horror series Romulus + Remus. The series centers around the concrete angel named Roman who has been on the run ever since he fell to Earth. As his past catches up with him he discovers the demons he must fight are internal as well as external.

Romulus + Remus Issue 2

Romulus + Remus issue 2 by Scott A. Ford

Ford has been working on this series, his first, since 2009. “Early in the development process I became fascinated with Ancient Roman society and religion,” Ford said. “It was a huge creative revelation for me to see Ancient Rome as this incredible threshold between so many big ideas, namely: Greek mythology and Christianity, old world and modern society. I already knew that I wanted to deal with duality as the central concept, so the symbolism of ancient Rome fit in perfectly and helped expand on the idea.”

One of the key themes Ford plays with is ancient vs. modern. He goes on to talk about taking these old world concepts into the world of today. “Bringing it into a modern setting (perhaps ambiguously modern at first) was important to show that the ideas behind the symbols are not purely ancient and these thresholds can be said to still exist in a modern context; society and ideologies are constantly in a state of transition.”

The first issue of Romulus + Remus was published in a small run back in April 2012. One of the goals of his fundraiser is to do a reprinting of the first issue as well as printing the second issue.

Romulus + Remus has until June 10th to raise C$4,500 (Canadian Dollars).

Bloodthirsty - One Nation Under Water

Bloodthirsty: One Nation Under Water by Mark Landry and Ashley Marie Witter

Bloodthirsty: One Nation Under Water

In 2005 writer and Louisiana native Mark Landry watched as New Orleans was destroyed twice. Once by the natural disaster Hurricane Katrina, and then again by the bungled disaster response.  Having moved away he thought there was nothing he could do to help the people he saw on his television screen until he realized that as a writer there was one thing he could do: tell a story. Bloodthirsty: One Nation Under Water is that story. He teams with artist Ashley Marie Witter (Interview with the Vampire: Claudia’s Story) and project mentor Georges Jeanty (Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight) to give New Orleans a comic book hero of their own.

When we first meet former Coast Guard diver Virgil LaFleur he’s a broken man set to leave New Orleans forever. Before he can leave, his younger brother is murdered by a cabal of disaster capitalist who harvest the blood of the homeless to extend their own lives. “These vampires are not supernatural,” Landry explains. “They have a genetic anomaly, which provides extreme longevity, but they have to drink blood. In this particular society, they’re feeding off of those who can’t really do anything to stop them.”

Virgil dons what looks like a typical superhero costume but Landry wanted the costume to visually define Virgil’s quest for redemption and justice. “He is a walking statement against the evils affecting his city and his country,” Landry says. The cape is a tattered American flag left to him by his father and Landry goes on to say what meaning the flag has. “Virgil had the flag in a glass case, above which is a sign that reads, ‘In case of emergency, break glass.’ Suffice it to say that Virgil breaks the glass. When Vigil first puts it on, it’s pristine. It was his father’s military funeral flag. But as Virgil embarks upon his journey to fight the evils of the city, the flag takes its share of the hits”.

Virgil LaFleur

Virgil LaFleur sketch by Ashley Marie Witter

However unlike most heroes Virgil does not wear a mask and there was a reason behind that too. “Virgil is an economically disadvantaged veteran,” Landry explains. “So, to those who run the city, he is already invisible. He doesn’t need a secret identity. And by the time he starts fighting back, everyone knows his name. There’s no place for him to hide. All there is left for him is total commitment to his cause. He’s more like Robin Hood in that way.”

Even though the title may have you believe it’s in reference to the villains, Landry also says it applies to our hero as well. “Virgil is absolutely obsessed with taking these people down, so in a way, he is seeing red. Without giving away too many spoilers, let’s just say he’ll have to be careful to draw the line between himself and the real villains, or there could be some very negative consequences.”

Bloodthirsty: One Nation Under Water has until June 1st to raise $15,500 for the first four issues of this eight issue miniseries. If they can raise $33,900 they’ll have enough for all eight issues and if they get to $39,000 they’ll collect all eight issues into two volumes.

A Frozen World

A Frozen World by Nick Andors

A Frozen World

Irongates is not the world you know. It’s an endless urban maze that stretches beyond imagination and home to countless stories. Writer/artist Nick Andors invites you to visit Irongates in his first graphic novel A Frozen World. Four citizens of Irongates serve as your guides to this cold forgotten world within a world. Each of their stories stands alone and yet together unify into a complete vision of the true nature of this world.

“The inspiration behind Irongates comes from my upbringing in New York City,” Andors said about the genesis of this world. “I grew up on the Upper West Side. When I was a kid the neighborhood was very mixed. My father took part in a community garden in one of the rougher pockets in the area–which, other than the few remaining housing projects, has been completely gentrified. Anyway, the block I grew up on was just an avenue over, however, the neighborhood was totally different. It was peaceful and very quite. When I would go with my father to the community garden, I was always fascinated by how animated the area was. I was too young to understand the negative aspects of the area–drugs and so forth–it just seemed like a really lively place. However, when I got older I started to have these strange recurring nightmares about the housing projects that surrounded the garden. In my dreams, all the negative aspects where magnified, the buildings were much bigger and the area was much more dangerous. I’ve always been interested in the darker aspects of city life and the picture that was painted of this urban dystopia in my nightmares seemed like the perfect platform to let my imagination run wild. Irongates is my vision of the craziest urban landscape possible.”

During our trip to Irongates we meet a scavenger who runs across a grim encounter, a widower who gains closure though an otherworldly experience, a woman who preys upon fellow predators, and a man who’s unique vision allows him to see Irongates as no one else does. “I’ve re-written and refined the stories and the artwork numerous times,” Anders said. “I’ve been working on this project for almost 8 years now. The only real unifying theme is the backdrop, which is Irongates. The book is really a portrait of that world and the stories are tools used to render its features.”

A Frozen World has until May 23rd to raise $3,000.

Joe Kontor has been reading comics since before he could technically read. In April 2012 he started the Facebook page ComicKick as a place to spread the word and get people excited about comic book related projects on crowd funding sites. He also runs HorrorKick, a similar page for horror projects. He currently resides in Lincoln, NE where he reads comics, watches horror movies, and drinks coffee.

ComicKick: Secret Origin

Guest columnist Joe Kontor of ComicKick reveals the ever-growing world of crowd funded comics, financed by the people and made for the people.



In the last few years crowd funding sites have become a popular outlet for comic creators, both neophytes and industry veterans, to raise funds for all kinds of original projects. So how does crowd funding work? Rather than pitching a project to a major publisher, the creators are pitching directly to the public. In exchange for money upfront the creators promise to deliver rewards based on how much money the person pitches in. The idea is rather than getting money from one source, which then controls rights of the published material, the creator retains complete control of their own creation. Once the expensive costs of completing the comic and publishing are covered, the creators are then free to either self distribute or take the finished book to a publisher.

Pitch in a dollar and you get a shout out on Twitter. Ten bucks and you can get a hard copy of the completed graphic novel. Ad space in the book, original art, even get drawn into the book itself as a background or lead character. The only limit to the kinds of perks offered is the project runner’s imagination. Dollar by dollar, little by little the project becomes a reality. In a way it’s democratizing art far more than just picking up a book off a shelf.

Cthulhu Sketch

This original pencil sketch of Cthulhu by artist Juan Navarro was part of a $12 rewards package from Creature Entertainment Studios

Last year Kickstarter, the most popular of these kinds of sites, raised $9,242,233 for 592 successfully funded projects. Despite it’s popularity, launching a project on Kickstarter is no guarantee of success. Only 48% of the projects in the “Comics” category met their target goal. When a project fails to meet their goal, no money is collected from those who pledged, no rewards are given, and the artist goes back to the drawing board.

Looking at the list of active projects on these sites, you really don’t have to look long for a name you recognize. Jimmy Palmiotti, Gail Simone, Chuck Dixon, and Mike Ploog are just a handful of established industry veterans who have had projects on one crowd funding site or another. Creators aren’t the only ones to go the crowd funding route, publishers are getting into the act. Last year Top Cow Productions was able to give away the first five issues of their Cyber Force relaunch through a Kickstarter fundraiser. They raised over $117K to ensure that any person could walk into a comic shop and pick up these issues for free.

Sensory Distortion

Horror graphic novel Sensory Distortion, funded April 2012 though the support of 88 backers

However most of the projects you’ll find are from unknown talent who if they fail to raise the necessary funds will never see their passion projects see the light of day. In the last year Jesse Grillo successfully funded four different comic book projects through Kickstarter for his company Bleeding Ink Productions. “There is no way Bleeding Ink Productions would be around if it wasn’t for Kickstarter and the people that support our work,” he says. “I really feel like crowd funding sites like Kickstarter are going to create a serious change in the way the independent creator funds and markets their projects. Kickstarter is the platform that is helping to turn people’s dreams into reality and without it, the creation of Bleeding Ink Productions and the comics it produces would never be possible.” One of the projects Jesse funded last year was his horror graphic novel Sensory Distortion. In December it was announced that Sensory Distortion was picked up for distribution and retitled The Trip by Action Lab Entertainment for it’s new mature reader line called Action Lab: Danger Zone.

One of the more interesting projects on Kickstarter right now is an attempt to revive a long lost but still beloved title called The Justice Machine. From 1981 to 1992 The Justice Machine was published in a handful of mini and ongoing series across five different publishers. Writer Mark Ellis, who started writing the series with Innovation Comics’ 1989 miniseries The New Justice Machine, is looking to launch a new original graphic novel called The Justice Machine: Object of Power.

Justice Machine

1980s heroes The Justice Machine are looking to make a comeback through Kickstarter

Object of Power was initially conceived as a miniseries but was delayed multiple times due to financial issues with the publisher. Ellis decided to take his completed artwork for the series and raise the funds himself to finish the lettering and get it ready for the printer and publish it as a complete graphic novel. He has to raise $12,000 by March 17th or else the project doesn’t go forward. We’ve all read epic stories of superheroes escaping the grave through magic or time travel but rarely can we see heroes of old return through the real life magic of fan generosity.

It’s easy to see the concept and spirit of crowd funding sites take a permanent place in comic culture. We’re passionate and vocal about this medium and spread the word about what we love and hate on Facebook and Twitter as quickly as we read the books. But now we have the chance to truly decide what kinds of books get published in the future. Not by recommending what we’ve read but through discovering and encouraging new creators with unique voices.

If you have never perused the Comics section of a crowd funding page please do so immediately. You never know when you might discover your next favorite book that might never be published without your help.

Joe Kontor has been reading comics since before he could technically read. In April 2012 he started the Facebook page ComicKick as a place to spread the word and get people excited about comic book related projects on crowd funding sites. He also runs HorrorKick, a similar page for horror projects. He currently resides in Lincoln, NE where he reads comics, watches horror movies, and drinks coffee.

ComicKick Promotes Crowd-Funded Comics Projects on Kickstarter

ComicKick on Facebook

A new Facebook page is tracking a recent trend in the creation of comic books and graphic novels. ComicKick describes itself as “a community dedicated to promoting comic book and graphic novel projects on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo!”

Both of those sites help creators turn to their potential audiences for help in financing their creations. In exchange for the help, the creators offer their supporters signed copies, original art, and other unique incentives. It’s a model that traditional outlets never thought would work, and while it’s not a fool-proof method of getting published, there have been some startling success stories.

Rick Burlew wanted to raise about $15,000 to re-release a print collection of his popular webcomic The Order of the Stick. “Popular” is putting it lightly. Not only did fans contribute $250,000 within a week, the project raised over $1 million from almost 15,000 backers! The money was enough for Burlew to reprint the webcomic’s entire 7-book library. As of now, it is the second most successful Kickstarter project, eclipsed only by the over $3 million raised for the video game Double Fine Adventure. Burlew’s incentives included a new prequel story delivered as a PDF to everyone who pledged $10 or more, a walk-on cameo in a future strip for one person that donated $5,000, exclusive magnets, original crayon drawings, and even a coloring book. During the fundraising period, he amped up his production to release a new installment of The Order of the Stick every day to help generate extra excitement and energy around the event.

Renae De Liz‘s all-female comics anthology Womanthology also had similar success, as reported last year. Their Kickstarter page met their goal of $25,000 within just 18 hours, and finished with over $100,000. The buzz around the project garnered the attention of IDW Publishing, which helped distribute the anthology and has agreed to publish a 5-issue mini-series for a second graphic novel.

I Was a Teenage Michael Jackson Impersonator by Keith Knight

Not everyone is making such huge bank. Using Kickstarter or IndieGoGo (or another crowd-sourcing platform) takes a serious commitment to promotion, and of course a pre-existing audience helps. But more and more comics projects are matching their goal, like LA cartoonist Keith Knight (The K Chronicles, The Knight Life), who brought in over $40,000 to produce his original graphic novel I Was A Teenage Michael Jackson Impersonator.

According to the Kickstarter Blog, the Comics category in 2011 raised over $1.7 million from over 27,000 backers of 267 successful projects. It’s important to note that with Kickstarter, only projects that match their goal receive funds pledged. Considering that The Order of the Stick nearly eclipsed that total dollar figure by itself earlier this year, the 2012 figures should see a remarkable increase.

With these success stories, others are turning to this method to try to publish their own comics and graphic novels, or books and films about comics. To keep them all straight, enter ComicKick on Facebook. Only about a week old, these fans are posting about a variety of new projects by creators trying to bring their dreams to reality.

Reading with Pictures: The Graphic Textbook

One of the most promising projects they’ve posted about is The Graphic Textbook, a project by Reading with Pictures to produce a comic book for the classroom. From their page:

Aimed at grades 3-6, The Graphic Textbook features a dozen short stories (both fiction and non-fiction) that address topics in a variety of disciplines (Social Studies, Math, Language Arts, Science) drawn from the list of Common Core Standards used in classrooms countrywide. The accompanying Teacher’s Guide will include Standards-correlated lesson plans customized to each story, research-based justifications for using comics in the classroom, a guide to establishing best classroom practices and a comprehensive listing of additional educational resources.

The Graphic Textbook will prove once and for all that comics belong in the classroom by creating a comic that every teacher will actually want to use and a textbook that every student will actually want to read!

It includes chapters from professional creators of comic books and graphic novels, such as Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey, who produced the educational series Action Philosophers, plus Roger Langridge (The Muppet Show Comic Book, Snarked!, Popeye), Chris Schweizer (Crogan’s Vengeance), Katie Cook (Fraggle Rock, Gronk: A Monster’s Story) and more. The cover to the right is by Ben Caldwell.

The comics projects on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are often unique and different from what is being produced by the bigger comics publishers, so it’s worth it to “Like” ComicKick on Facebook to find out about what could be a future hit.