Kickstarter – changing the game.

So I’ve recently been toying with the idea of running a Kickstarter.

But at the same time I don’t want anything to do with running a Kickstarter.

But I do.

Clearly, I need to spend more time thinking about it. Kickstarter just opened up to Canada, and I want to try it. I do. I just dread some of the business aspects of it. Pricing printing. Pricing the shipping. Okay, that stuff’s not too hard, it really isn’t. I can always rely on Julia to help me. She’s way more organized at that kind of thing than I am. I’ll just hire her to be my business manager. I just need to have a good, solid plan.

I’m encouraged to attempt the Kickstarter because of a few reasons. Right now, no less than three of my buddies are running campaigns that have proven successful.

First up is the mind behind FUBAR, the ever-busy Jeff McComsey, who is running a pretty staggering campaign for a FUBAR spinoff called Mother Russia right now. Jeff was looking for the modest sum of $3500, and is currently sitting at $63,698. Having recently met Jeff for the first time, I can say that it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. He’s been adding extra rewards, and he’s still got 13 days to go. Throw some support his way, there’s some amazing stuff you can pick up.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1607639297/fubar-mother-russia?ref=search

Jeff had these wise words about running a Kickstarter that really hit home with me: “Nobody plans to fail, they just fail to plan.” Fuck, that’s deep.

Next up is my buddy Tyler James, the man who ran the super successful Kickstarter for the Oxymoron book I had a short story in. Tyler is running a new campaign for his superteen action book Epic. Tyler was looking for the very modest sum of $1000, and cleared that in the first day and then some. Tyler has a proven track record for running and fulfilling a Kickstarter, and I’m excited to watch the Epic campaign unfold over the next 24 days. Some great rewards, including retailer rewards. Tyler knows his audience and knows who will carry his books. Tyler explains using Kickstarter as a “pre-order” system. Anyone who’s read my blog posts knows how important pre-ordering independent comics is.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tylerjamescomics/epic-a-superteen-action-comedy?ref=live

Tyler has also written a ton about running and fulfilling a Kickstarter. Check his info out here: http://www.comixtribe.com/2013/08/26/diy-crowdfunding-fulfillment-part-i-what-to-do-before-you-launch/ (this includes links to all of his other columns about Kickstarter.)

Third up is my buddy Fabian Rangel Jr., who just launched a campaign for his one-shot book Boss Snake, which is a spinoff from his Doc Unknown series. Fabian was looking for $2500, and hit and exceeded that goal in the first 24 hours. He’s sitting at $3841 with 28 days to go. Lots of reward options, including t-shirts. I picked the print copy of Boss Snake and the print copy of the Doc Unknown trade.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2005492660/boss-snake-cold-blood-cold-streets-noir-one-shot?ref=live

These are all worthy projects by guys who are passionate about comic books. And by guys who understand that crowd-funding is the wave of the future when it comes to independent comics. You don’t have to have a publisher behind you. You don’t even need a distribution chain, if you’re willing to put in the work. And those three guys aren’t even the tip of the iceberg when you’re talking comic books and Kickstarters. There’s tons of great projects there. There are also a lot of, well, not so good ones. You need to have a solid product before you ask people to donate money.

It is something I want to try. I’ve got a few ideas I want to attempt. I keep thinking of new ideas every day. I’ve been very lucky to form good relationships with publishers, so I know that with every new project, I can get eyes on it…but part of me does want to do something on my own, just to say I tried it, you know? My biggest weakness in being in the comic industry is that I’m not good at the business aspect, and that is a HUGE part of the job. I need to get my head around that part, and I think taking the leap and organizing and running and fulfilling a Kickstarter campaign might get me to understand that piece of the puzzle a little more. Either that or scare me off completely.

Today, do yourself a favor and go look at those three campaigns. Honest work by hard-working creators who couldn’t do it without our support. Instead of buying the same comics every month from the big companies, look at the depth and ingenuity coming out of the small press crowd. Don’t throw your money away on books that are going to be read once and thrown into a long box. Give your money to the guys who are bringing the future of comics to you right now.

And maybe one day, it’ll be me running that campaign and asking for your help.

Go listen to “Pythons” by Surfer Blood, and I’ll see you here again in a few days.

Page Count for the Year?

This is something I probably need to pay more attention to. Or at least keep track of as its happening, so I can see how much I’ve written this year. I will endeavor to keep better track moving forward.

But to the best of my recollection, here’s what I wrote this year:

  • 2000AD – a 4-page script for Valentin Ramon to illustrate.
  • Apes With Uzis: Arc and Chain, Thugs Electro – 32 page one shot for Kevin Enhart.
  • Demoniac – a 13-page short story (dialogue only) for Jason Jarava.
  • Diver Down – a 6-page short story (dialogue only) for Carl Yonder.
  • Dog Catcher – a 5-page scene as part of the pitch package for Matt Mossman.
  • Earth Shaker – a 9-page short story for Lord Akira (Cristian).
  • El Diablo Rojo – 12-pages (dialogue only) for Valentin Ramon. Soon to be more.
  • Fear and Pain – 9 pages (dialogue edits only) for Kevin Enhart.
  • FUBAR: By the Sword – 8-page short story for Chris McFann.
  • Forest – 9 pages (dialogue only) for Michael Tyler.
  • Hell to Pay – 51 pages and counting for Orlando Baez.
  • In Sanity – 48 pages (and counting) – no artist yet.
  • Instinct – 22 pages (first issue) for Sami Kivela.
  • Jim – 8 page scene as part of the pitch package for Ken Perry.
  • Jury-Rig – 6 page scene as part of the pitch package for Cem Iroz.
  • Knowledge – 66 pages (issues 4, 5, and 6) for Jerome Eyquem.
  • NRV – 44 pages for Craig DeBoard
  • Old Ghost – 9 pages of issue 2 for Olov Redmalm
  • Pieces of Hate – 40 pages (no dialogue yet) for Valentin Ramon
  • Scum of the Earth – 8 pages of added material for issue 3 of the mini-series for Rob Croonenborghs/Action Lab comics.

So unless my math is horrible (and it is), that’s 409 pages of comics written this year. I guess that’s not too shabby. It’s September, so I’ve got 3 and half months left to fit in any more writing that I need to do. I’ll be sure to keep track and add to this total.

Also, I’m starting to get close to not fulfilling my goal for 2013: landing 4 comics with publishers. As it stands, I’m at 3: Knowledge at Markosia, Scum of the Earth at Action Lab, and Old Ghost at 215 Ink. However, El Diablo Rojo is coming up very soon, and that could easily become book number 4. We shall see.

Until next time, do yourself a favor and go listen to “Dear Miss Lonelyhearts” by Cold War Kids.

Baltimore Comicon Roundup

This past weekend’s Baltimore Comic Con was a blast, start to finish. Baltimore is a beautiful place (or at least the InnerHarbor is) and we couldn’t have had better weather for it either.

The con itself was great – maybe not as lucrative as past years (there were a lot of people walking around with nothing in their hands – you paid money to get in, to just look around? And don’t get me started on the costumes…), but I thought it was a great time, especially because I got to meet so many people that I’ve known for a long time only through the internet.

I was set up at the 215 Ink table where we debuted the first Breakneck trade paperback. I signed a bunch of these this weekend, so I know a few people got their hands on some great comic book goodness.

215 Ink table

The deals at this table were ridiculous: single issues two for $5, and all trades were only $10 – including the 300-page anthology Ignition. That’s a deal you just can’t beat, since the thing goes for $30 on Amazon. I signed a bunch of these as well (I have 4 stories in there).

Jim Starlin wasn’t actually sitting at the table with us, he had his own setup where he was signing, but he was sending people our way to pick up his Mindgames book. A lot of people came by to pick one up, and then take it right back over to him to get it signed. I got my old Dreadstar graphic novel signed by Jim.

I shared the table with publisher Andrew DelQuadro and sales guy Mike Miles, and I couldn’t have asked for a better couple of guys to sit with. We talked a lot about comics, about the industry, about where things need to go in the future. This was my first time meeting either Andrew or Mike, and we got along great right away.

I also got to meet and have some drinks with Dan Moser and Mark Robinson on the Friday night before the con. I’ve known both of them for a while as well, but strictly through Facebook. Both Dan and Mark are passionate about comics and have a ton of ideas about things to do in the industry, changes that could be made, experiments that should be conducted. Dan gave me a copy of his book Chaotic Soldiers, and Mark signed a bunch of copies of I Love Trouble for me.

One of the highlights of the con was meeting my long-time collaborator Carl Yonder. Carl was at the Action Lab booth signing copies of Pirate Eye, and we finally got to meet and shake hands. I got to meet Carl’s wife Sarah at the con as well, but she wasn’t able to join us for dinner Saturday night. Carl and I talked a lot about our past work, what we’re up to right now, and some future plans. It was fantastic getting to hang out with Carl and I enjoyed every minute. I got Carl to autograph my personal copy of the Oxymoron hardcover, the one with (naturally) Carl’s cover.

Another highlight was meeting the FUBAR crew and getting to see the Fu-Booth in full deployment. The guys were busy as hell doing sketches inside the books (I got a John Wilkes Booth from Dominic Vivona), but I got a chance to chat with Jeff McComsey for a bit (thanks for the FUBAR shirt Jeff!) and with Steve Becker as well. There was a lot of talk about their current Kickstarter campaign (pushing 40 grand right now), and they all deserve the success.

Also, speaking of FUBAR, I got to meet (briefly) my collaborator on FUBAR: American History Z, Eric Spohn. He found me at the 215 booth and we talked for a couple of minutes.

Ed Brisson and Johnnie Christmas came by to say hi. Mark Romasky stopped by as well. So did Rafer Roberts. I found Jason Copland at his table (hope he figured out something with all those t-shirts). Amber Love, long-time 215 Ink supporter, also stopped by to say hi, and Andrew explained I was the Canadian contingent of 215 Ink, at which point I was given the nickname of “Great Lakes” Bertolini. Har har.

I met some other guys I didn’t know already: Chris Charlton from Assailant Comics, and picked issue 1 and 2 of his book Black of Heart. Haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but it looks killer. I also met Mike Isenberg and Oliver Mertz, the team behind the First Law of Mad Science, and picked up all 4 issues. Mike and Oliver have a story in FUBAR: AHZ, and it’s just cool to see how much the small press community really is a community.

Baltimore haul

For my first ever U.S. con, it was a great time. The whole weekend was awesome, and I felt like a fuckin’ big shot walking around in my “Guest” badge. It was nice just strolling in past the huge lineups and going straight in. I don’t know if that feeling fades, but it was pretty awesome.

Thanks again to Andrew and Mike for putting me up at the booth. Thanks again to my love Julia for coming with me, going to her first convention, and spending the weekend with me. I wasn’t able to hang out with her the whole time, but we spent some great time together walking around Baltimore and eating some of the awesome food. There’s no one I’d have rather spent this weekend with.

This is probably the last convention I’ll be at this year, but I will definitely be making more trips to the U.S. next year for more cons.

And I can’t wait. I just wish I’d taken more pictures.