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