Kickstarter Club: 321 Fast Comics from Felipe Cagno

Felipe Cagno got in touch with me recently to tell me about a comics project he brought to Brazil a little while back, and has now taken to Kickstarter to create an English version. Called 321: Fast Comics, this is an anthology of three-page comics which range wildly in tone, genre and character – the only rules being that each comic must have 3 pages, 2 characters, and 1 twist ending.

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After finding out about the anthology – a preview of which you can find on ComiXology – I promptly had a mild brain collapse and forgot to follow up with Felipe about the book. So! You won’t find an interview with him here, not yet. But what you will find is a big old preview at the project, a look at some of the stories, and a few paragraphs of me saying “HEY GUYS LET’S HELP FELIPE MAKE HIS GOAL EH”

What most strikes me about the anthology is the range of artists within it. Cagno writes many of the stories, but he’s joined by a massive group of writers and artists from Brazil, all of whom offer something really different and fascinating. Brazil is one of the forgotten centres for comics, a country which has a long comics tradition and has brought some of the best artists of all time. Here, within twenty or so stories, the anthology provides a reminder of that talent.

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I don’t have a way to pair up comics to the artists as yet, but what I can do is share a full list of the writers and artists involved in the anthology, some of whom will be names you’ve heard before:

Lucas Leibholz, Geraldo Borges, Guilherme Balbi, Rodney Buchemi, Thony Silas, Carlos Ruas, Rafael De Latorre, Fabiano Neves, Ig Guara, Felipe Watanabe, Cris Bolson, Vitor Cafaggi, Romi Carlos, Cris Peter, Wilton Santos, Gustavo Borges, Matias Streib, Luciano Salles, Mario Cau, Marcelo Maiolo, Zork Marinero, Adriano Augusto, Caio Yo, Clonerh Kimura, Ander Zarate, Omar Viñole, Mat Lopes, Teo Deffectx, Ivan Nunes, Carlos Estefan, Marcos Botelho, Renato Almeida, Guilherme Bon, Fábio Bueno & Pietro Progetti.

And I can share images at random, taken from the Kickstarter, as below:

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The aim of the Kickstarter is to take the already-finished anthology (which was completed in Brazil last year and has been pretty well-acclaimed over there) and translate the stories into English. As you can see in the above strip, there are a few little things like “misterious” rather than “mysterious” to be ironed out, as Cagno takes the book and ships it across to English-reading fans.

The original book, I should point out, is available to pick up too. Just under a hundred pages, this seems like one of those projects bourne properly out of love for the medium. The stories I’ve read are all completely different from one another, playing with some of the most loved tropes in comics – superheroes, dinosaurs, robots, outer space, everything you might think, and then a few surprises too.

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I don’t do a lot of these sorts of ‘Kickstarter Club’ posts, but the enthusiasm from the introduction Felipe made was pretty hard to resist. It’s one of those projects that feels properly worthy of coming to crowdfunding, and I’m excited to see the completed comic reach an audience in the US and beyond.

Brimming with talented artists and with a neat premise, 321: Fast Comics has one week left on Kickstarter, and only a few hundred more dollars to go to reach the target. I urge you to go have a look!

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Only a Few Hours Left for Nicholas Gurewitch’s Kickstarter

Nicholas Gurewitch, the man who brought The Perry Bible Followship to life – and actually brought it back to life fairly recently, too – will be counting down the last few hours of his Kickstarter today. “Notes on a Case of Melancholia” will be a rhyming picture-book, told from the perspective of a despairing Grim Reaper as he reflects on his son’s inability to carry on the family business.

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Planned for arrival in Summer of next year, Gurewitch states that his goal is to have the book be around 40-50 pages, told in rhyming meter. In it, Death visits his psychoanalyst to talk about his son, “Lil Death” – who is simply too nice and charming to be an appropriate harbinger of doom. Each page will be etched, to create a more gothic effect.

Graphic novel “frames” will be used on occasion, but this will really be more of a picture book – deliberately similar to the short books of Edward Gorey, but with a character-driven plot. Though it has a pretty high body count, it is in essence a family story.

There’s no chance you’re still reading this sentence, when I put a link to the Kickstarter right up in the first paragraph. But if you are still here for some reason, you can head across to the crowdfunder here.

Journalism! Alex Hoffman Questions DMP’s $589000 Tezuka Manga Kickstarter

Last week saw a really interesting exchange pick up some speed, as Sequential State’s Alex Hoffman picked up on the news that publisher Digital Manga Publishing (DMP) have set up a Kickstarter asking for $589000. For that money, their plan is to spend the next year putting out 31 volumes of manga from creator Osamu Tezuka, and people can pledge something around $700 dollars to receive every one of those 31 books.

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That’s a remarkably high amount of money to ask for, but Hoffman noted that the rest of the Kickstarter also made some rather hefty claims. DMP say that they want to spend the next few decades printing Tezuka books, as they have the rights for over 400 of his books at this point in time. That means, Hoffman calculates, that they’ll be setting up repeated half-million Kickstarters roughly eleven or twelve times over the next few years – coming to a total of almost $8 million asked for.

In his first post on the subject, he looks at the costs and value offered to readers should they pledge for the Kickstarter. His second post looks at the production values and context for the Kickstarter project as a whole. A third post examines how things could be altered to provide a fairer crowdfunding project for readers.

It’s a fairly exhaustive look at the project – something you don’t see much of online. Kickstarters tend to get away with everything – they pick their own targets, spend as long as they want getting the product out to people, and generally get little analysis or criticism of their techniques or projections. So seeing Hoffman take this project to task – from the perspective of a fan of Tezuka who wants this to succeed – is not only fascinating, but important as well.

And what’s been even better is that he’s forced a response from DMP regarding the Kickstarter. CEO Hikaru Sasahara posted a video to the Kickstarter last week in response to concerns that the Kickstarter was asking for too much too quickly, and was rushing a long-term project by trying to do more than it could handle. He explains the long-term plans for the Tezuka library, but in doing so raised even more concerns for Hoffman, who responded in a subsequent fourth post.

So first let’s talk about how costs meet up. First and foremost, it seems that Sasahara is paying himself out of this Kickstarter cash pool. This isn’t what Kickstarter is for – certainly I don’t mind DMP making a profit, in fact, I want them to continue to be able to publish and pay their employees. But I don’t think it’s a reasonable expectation for Kickstarter backers to pay for the costs that DMP has accrued to make this licensing deal on top of MSRP.

Throughout, Hoffman systematically goes through the aspirations of DMP and analyses how effective and practical they actually would be to implement, and that fourth post is absolutely the place to start reading about the Kickstarter as a whole. It’s a fantastic piece which has since been picked up by Comics Reporter, amongst others. It’s so important to keep pushing back against publishers who make these grand, expansive plans which might not ever be possible to finish through, and Sequential State has done a fantastic job so far of keeping things in check. Keep an eye on that site over the next few weeks, because I think there’s a lot more to come.

 

INTERVIEW: The Ladies of ‘Ladies Night’ on Death — and Prom!

Death! Prom! The two worst experiences an American can experience, likely in that order. The two horrors are also the focus on a new anthology from ‘Ladies Night’, however, featuring a collection of fearsome fables for gruesome girls. Edited by Megan Byrd, Lauren Burke, Caitlin Rosberg, Anissa Espinosa, and Wendi Freeman, the anthology features all kinds of writers and artists – making for a massively diverse and unexpected collection of tales, all featuring one or both of the two core themes.

But in fact, this isn’t just a collection of spooky stories told with grisly glee – the anthology marks the second successful crowdfunding project for Ladies Night, a comics collective formed only a few years ago by Hannah K. Chapman. Originally intended to form a book club where girls could gather to talk about comics together, demand grew so huge that the project expanded across multiple sites – and where the members were once happy to read comics together, the desire to start making comics began to grow.

And so Ladies Night the anthology was collected. With a successful first volume, themed around ‘Chicago’, already released, ‘Death & Prom‘ marks an expanded lineup of all-female creators, many of whom are being published here for the first time. But while this may be their first time in print – I doubt it’ll be their last. There’s some wickedly funny stuff in the volume, with everybody bringing a vivid new dynamic to what could’ve been a played-out genre.

It’s a huge project, in other words. And a huge project? Well, that deserves a HUGE interview! And so I spoke to editor-in-chief Megan Byrd about the project – but then found a cavalcade of chilling collaborators burst into the interview, as a whole bunch of the ladies involved broke in and joined the interview too! Read on to find out about the project, first from Megan, and then from a dozen of the creators involved!

 

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How did Ladies Night – the event – get started? What prompted you to set it up?

Megan Byrd: Hannah K. Chapman founded the monthly Ladies’ Night at Graham Crackers Comics in early 2012. I was a part-time employee of the store at the time and served as a moderator for the group discussion and acted as a general liaison between the group and the store. Since Hannah was studying in Chicago as an exchange student, she eventually had to return to her home in the UK, but myself and several other regular attendees have continued to keep up the monthly meetings and organize other events as well.

Have you found the events to be pretty immediately popular? Something I’ve seen a lot of online is that there are plenty of women who love comics – but there are fewer places where they can meet and interact with one another.

Megan Byrd: Our regular monthly meetings are always well attended and we have on average about 20 women join for discussion. We host larger events from time to time, such as holiday parties, launch parties, and other workshops specifically for the anthology, but those tend to be very loosely structured social gatherings.  I believe part of the appeal of our Ladies’ Night is the intimacy – everyone is encouraged to join the discussion, whether we are talking about a specific comic, genre, or upcoming event that we’re excited about. I think that the success of our group has shown the need for more events like this that give women, both new and familiar to the world of comics, a safe place to meet and enjoy comics together.

Ladies Night has really grown over the years, too – to the extent where earlier this year there was a whole event, ‘Comic Book Slumber Party’, which was a natural expansion of the Ladies Night concept. Is the goal for this to spread across the country, across the world, and become a known concept where women can talk about comics, sci-fi, all their interests in peace?

Megan Byrd: The founding and continued success of Comic Book Slumber Party belongs entirely to Hannah – she definitely has ambitious goals that may or may not involve world domination (in comics). As a member of the Valkyries, I see retailers starting Ladies’ Night events every month, whether they are book clubs, private events, or essentially micro-cons that cater to women. It seems like a very organic response that is locally motivated. I cannot speak for other organizers, but making the comic shop, and comics in general, more comfortable for women is definitely the larger goal for us.

These last few years, in particular, have felt like women have kicked out against the gender disparity in comics and started to bring us a bit of balance. Do you feel like there is a real progression being made right now?

Megan Byrd: Over the last decade as both a fan and retail employee, I’ve seen a huge shift in the way women are seen and treated in the comic book community. I believe women finding each other online has helped a lot. Reading sites like Comics Alliance and The Beat was a revelation for me as a fan because they both (at the time) had women as editor-in-chief. Reading an op-ed by Laura Hudson comparing sexist portrayals of women in comics and how that related to everyday sexism – that just blew my mind. Seeing yourself reflected in a community has an immeasurable effect, whether it’s in the characters within comics, the people creating them, or the people writing about them. That was huge for me personally, just reading about comics from a feminist perspective made me reconsider my role in comics and inspired me to become more active in the community.

The old saying “girls don’t read comics” is downright laughable at this moment in time, and I’m happy that I haven’t had to convince someone otherwise in at least a few years! Still, there are enough unfortunate headlines every few months regarding harassment or really backwards-thinking creators to remind us that there is still a long way to go in making the comics community as inclusive as possible.

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Art by Lisa Kwon

I think there’s this idea that women don’t make comics, simply because they don’t make the comics at DC/Marvel/Image. But there are SO MANY women in webcomics, self-publishing, working for themselves. Do you see that as being the next stage in reaching a more natural balance – in just pointing out that “comics” doesn’t just mean “mainstream” comics?

Megan Byrd: Plenty of readers are going to assume that not as many women create comics if they only read Marvel and DC – it’s no wonder they think Gail Simone is an outlier! You go to a small press convention or one with an international focus and your eyeballs tell you this is simply not the case. Besides broadening discussions about the different kinds of comics being created, I think it is still important to support and encourage more diverse hiring practices at the largest publishers. The impact Marvel and DC have in hiring a woman, an LGBTQ creator, or a person of color to write or draw their highly coveted properties goes a long way in dispelling myths about who creates comics. Visibility matters so much – just looking at the “featured guests” list of any major comic convention is a convincing argument for diversifying the creators working on high profile superhero titles.

How quickly into running Ladies Night did you find that the attendees had an interest in making comics themselves? At what point did you go from talking about culture to making stuff of your own and sharing it?

Megan Byrd: Almost immediately! I once again must stress Hannah’s pivotal role in this area as she is a creator herself and quickly formed relationships with other creators attending Ladies’ Night, forming our “dream team” of contributors and editors. Lauren Burke was a featured guest of one of our first Ladies’ Night events to discuss her work in Womanthology and as co-writer of the webcomic P.I. Jane; she has since been both a contributor and editor on both anthologies. Having someone with her experience self-publishing as one of our editors has been hugely helpful. Anissa Espinosa and Wendi Freeman, both local creators, also brought their expertise in self-publishing. Caitlin Rosberg and myself were relatively new to publishing comics but quickly applied our skills as writers and our passion for event organization to the business of creating comics. We’re all still learning along with many of our contributors, but everyone shares the same passion for comics.

This is now the second collection of stories from Ladies Night, so obviously there’s a lot of passion from the women involved. Was it harder to pick stories for this second volume? As editor, what was your process for pitching/accepting stories, and so on?

Megan Byrd: Anyone that met the submission deadlines was included in the anthology. Unlike a lot of open submission anthologies, we did not require creators to have a team ready, and no one was allowed to submit a comic as sole creator. Artists created a poster based on the book’s theme to showcase their style, and writers created a pitch for a story; the editors then paired up our creative teams. This way everyone, regardless of their skill level, was getting the same professional, collaborative comic making experience. Every team had an editor and artists were encouraged to letter their stories. We held workshops for writers, artists, and lettering, and editors worked closely with the teams throughout the creative process.

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Art by Rachel Simon

What inspired the theme, ‘Death and Prom’? Is it because prom is the one thing worse than death?

Megan Byrd: It was one of many suggestions tossed around during a drink and draw after our first anthology wrapped; it was that or space pirates!

How did the creative teams come together? Was everybody an attendee, or did you use the group to contact writers and artists outside of the immediate circle?

Megan Byrd: Our first volume was based on the theme of Chicago, which definitely appealed to local creators.

For both volumes, our initial call for submissions was sent to attendees of Ladies’ Night, and we also posted a call for submissions on our Facebook and Tumblr pages. For Death & Prom we have quite a few more creators from afar! Writers Shawnelle and Shawnee Gibbs are based in California, artist Ashley Ribblett is in the UK. Those are just a few of our most geographically far-flung creators.

Well then! Ladies, what are all your stories about? 

Ellen Linzer: “Death’s Corsage” is about a girl getting ready for prom when Death shows up at her door, telling her he’s here to collect. She begs him to at least her go to her prom, and he gives in, tagging along to make sure she doesn’t try to give him the slip.

And honestly the story just kind of materialized in my brain the second I heard the topic of the anthology’s second volume.

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Art by Ali Gator

Raven Moore: My story, “Night of the Living Mallory”, with Ali Gator, follows a girl on a triple prom date…with her best friend turned zombie and the zombie’s ex-boyfriend. Since the anthology’s theme was about prom and death, it wasn’t too hard to come up with a story featuring a zombie in the mix (date night with a twist – I guess). Also, the title came first before I really fleshed out the story and, ironically, the name Mallory means “unfortunate.” From there, the story just sort of flowed out from a few hours of brainstorming.

Ali Gator: The original idea that was pitched was about Chen going to the prom with her dead best friend’s date and having a rude awakening when Mallory showed up to reclaim her date. Which is a great idea that I was insanely excited to work on, but as we discussed it more (Myself, Megan Byrd our editor and Raven) it under went some important changes and the story became about friendship rather than a possible rivalry.

I actually got a little teary eyed reading the last page. It’s a great story that I was really happy to be a part of. Especially when Raven gave me a lot of free reign in color choices and prom dress design.

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Art by Monica Ras

Monica Ras: Death and prom! Haha, it’s essentially about a young woman who attends a school where the prom queens have all suffered from terrible deaths the night of prom due to a curse. Even though she has no interest in attending the dance, she suddenly becomes the frontrunner for queen, and she has to figure out a way to survive the night, lest she become yet another name added to the list of Prom Queen Deaths!

The process was pretty relaxed. Working with Lauren Burke was an absolute pleasure for sure! A lot of the work involved looking up a variety of prom dresses throughout the last few decades, which was definitely super interesting and fun to do. The styles have changed so much over the years. Otherwise the process was pretty straight-forward: read the script, design the characters, doodle some thumbnails, sketch out the pages, ink and color. It was definitely a heck of a learning process for me, so it was a lot fun.

Elizabeth Fogarty: ‘Paris is Burning’ about a teenager who has prophetic dreams about an unseen disaster at her upcoming prom. She draws and writes about her dreams in various journals. No one believes her including her own mother and she’s really not sure what to do about it.

As the artist I was able to give feedback to Amanda, the writer, about what worked and what didn’t.  I also was able to give her an idea of how her story is seen from the artistic side.  An artist basically has to draw what’s in someone else’s head.  It’s interesting because everyone interprets things differently. It can be quite a process, almost like solving a puzzle by having someone else tell you where to put the pieces.

Shawnee and Shawnelle Gibbs: Our story, “Good Mourning, Jacob” is about a young man obsessed with a funeral singer. As sisters, we have attended more funerals than we’d like to over the last few years, but in losing loved ones, you discover there’s a whole world at work behind the ceremony itself. Funeral homes are their own sort of world, the resident Clergymen giving the same sermons, the funeral singers set the same somber tone for the service, etc. Once you have confronted grief and realize that pretty much every one experiences death at some point, each funeral is a little less frightening than the last. Yet we wondered, what if someone’s grief set off an unhealthy preoccupation with funerals. Who would notice and why?

We were drawn to the story because unlike a lot of towns in America, where the old are the usual guests of honor at funeral homes, our native city, Oakland California, has been plagued with the deaths of the young–particularly young men via gun violence. We wanted to tell the story of a grieving young man who, after losing his brother prematurely, attends so many funerals that he’s become a staple at them. Through death, he’s ironically found love and a reason to live–and he’s found that in a funeral singer.

Ashley Ribblett: I worked on the art for ‘Good Mourning Jacob’. As said above – it’s a short story about a funeral singer and her not-so-secret admirer that seems to always show up when she’s performing.

I came into the project kind of at the 11th hour; the story’s original artist had to drop out and I was contacted by the lovely women of Ladies Night to see if I was able to pinch hit for them!

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Art by Sarah Benkin

Sarah Benkin: I was the artist on my story, “Daddy Issues, which is a heightened, tongue-in-cheek feel – a little comically over the top, which seemed to suit the fun, Tales-From-The-Crypt feel of the script by Wendi Freeman 

Caitlin Rosberg: The story I wrote (Die Cleaners) ended up coming about a bit on accident.  We got many more artists applying to contribute to this volume than writers, so several of our editors wound up contributing unexpectedly.  I’ve always been more interested in the “background characters” of stories, particularly comics (thus my love for people like Jim Gordon and Rhodey).

I’m more interested in the lives of the people making things work around the protagonists.  I’d also been listening to a lot of horror podcasts, and was struck by the idea of how horrible it would be to work in the dry cleaning place in a town like Nightvale or Buffy’s hometown of Sunnydale.  Thus, the story was born.

Has working on the anthology given you the taste for comic-making, now? Are you going to be working on more projects moving forward?

Ellen Linzer: I definitely caught the comic-making bug. I’ve wanted to create comics before this opportunity, and now I’ve participated in this anthology and can’t wait to produce more. Nothing solid in the works yet, but lots of ideas bouncing around in the ol’ noggin.

Raven Moore: I worked on two previous anthologies, the first Womanthology with Renee De LIz and the Ladies Night Chicago Anthology. I have to admit, comic writing is much harder for me than straight forward prose writing (which I normally do). Right now, I’m gearing up for a project with Outland Entertainment to create an interactive story book…due out sometime (hopefully) next year.

Ali Gator: I’ve always been really into comics, and while my actual art degree concentrated on printmaking, I used that medium to tell stories with my images, sometimes as actual comics, sometimes as series of works that had a narrative. But working on the anthology definitely gave me a better idea of what it was like to make a comic with someone else.

That was really exciting and fun and it’s something that I’m definitely interested in doing again in the future. Raven and Megan were great to work with and it was really great discussing ideas with them as women in comics and that’s something that I really want to search out in the future.

Monica Ras: It definitely has! I don’t have much on my plate at the moment (though I definitely aim to fix that!), but I do assist with inks for “Touching Evil”, a pretty phenomenal comic by Dan Dougherty (www.beardocomics.com) who I was actually introduced to via an LNA Workshop. I do intend on working on a few projects of my own when I get the chance, and am totally open to the idea of partnering up with folks as well. I’m pretty interested in whatever my future in comics may hold!

Elizabeth Fogarty: This is my second year working with the Anthology.  As long as we keep doing it, I will contribute.  I’m even thinking about contributing in other ways.  I am always open to new projects, but right now it is about time management between my day job and working on projects.

Shawnee and Shawnelle Gibbs: We have been writing for comics since 2012 but working on the anthology has definitely given us a new love for the anthology process and collaborating with other artists and women in a way we never have before. When we pitched our story to the editors of LNA and they found an incredible artist, Ashley Ribblett, who was interested in taking it on, we got the special feeling of community that is completely different from going it alone.

There’s something so satisfying about knowing that you’re sharing the same sun and moon with creative women working towards a common goal–creating great stories through comics–a medium we are often disenfranchised from in the commercial arena. From editors and letterers, ever woman took a piece of the job and the stories haven taken shape and life in a very short and wonderful period of time.

Ashley Ribblett: Comics are something I’ve always loved, but it was definitely an acquired taste making them. This was actually the first sequential comic work I’d ever done and definitely a challenge to say the least. A good challenge though. A very good, very rewarding challenge.

I’ve already wasted no time in working on another! Shortly after finishing GMJ I started work on another story for Outre` Press Xenophobia Anthology. I got to draw a lot of Frankenstein(‘s monster). I don’t know if you’ve ever drawn a Frankenstein but it’s crazy fun.

Sarah Benkin: I’m actually in the process of editing an anthology of my own! It’s called Then It Was Dark, and it’s a collection of personal paranormal experiences, true ghost stories and friend of a friend tales, and will contain the work of awesome female artists like Carey Pietsch, Elaine M. Will, Meg Gandy, Diana Nock, Molly Ostertag and more! It’ll be coming out February 2015.

Caitlin Rosberg: This is my second time editing the Anthology and I’ll definitely be sticking with that role.  I’m considering submitting my writing to a few other comic focused anthologies, but I really love the mentor/organizer role that editors take on and I will do it until Megan kicks me out.

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Where can we find you all, and your work, online?

Ellen Linzer: I have a blog where I talk about other people’s comics/media – comicdagger.com

Raven Moore: I’m a UX designer by trade, so I haven’t gotten around to posting much about my writing. But if you want to see what I’ve been up to in UX design, you can check out my site (and rarely updated blog) www.ravenmoore.com

Ali Gator: You can find my work on my website www.aligatorart.com which also has links to my twitter, tumblr and instagram. I’m always looking for more opportunities to collaborate and work on more comics and my email address can also be found on my website.

Let me know if you need anything else, I imagine you’ve got plenty of images but I believe I still have all the initial character design pages and possibly the base images if you want to include progress shots.

Monica Ras: You can find it all at gogomonimon.tumblr.com!

Elizabeth Fogarty: http://elizabethfogarty.tumblr.com/

Shawnee and Shawnelle Gibbs You can find our work online at http://www.gibbssisters.com and read our current science fiction comic, “Fashion Forward” athttp://www.gofashionforward.com

Sarah Benkin: http://peppermintmonster.tumblr.com/ is the best place to go for updates, sketches, current work and ramblings. I also have a website (http://peppermintmonster.com/) which links to my store where you can buy prints, books, posters and wood burnings! If you’re just interested in news about my upcoming anthology, go to http://thenitwasdark.tumblr.com

Ashley Ribblett: You can find me and most of my work on: aribblett.blogspot.com or my instagram @tentaclees

Or stop by ScribbleNerds.blogspot.com to see me and a bunch of my pals make art at each other for weekly themes!

Caitlin Rosberg: My work is kind of all over the place, but you can find links to a lot of it at my Tumblr, www.youruinedmychildhood.com, which is also packed with comic book things and feminist rants now and then.

Phew! Megan – what do you see as the next step, now? Are there plans for volume three at some point down the line, perhaps?

Megan Byrd: Volume three is definitely on the horizon! In addition to publishing, there are many things we’d like to do more of within the comic community. Tabling at more conventions, creating more publications like fan zines, and organizing more panels (we hosted our first panel at this year’s C2E2).

We want to continue to put ourselves out there so more women can see themselves in the comic community!

Interview: Ryan K. Lindsay Hoofs it to Kickstarter for ‘Deer Editor’

You guys, you guys! Deer Editor is a comic about a crime journalist who is also a deer!

So that’s likely got your attention. Written by Ryan K. Lindsay, drawn by Sami Kivela, lettered by Nic J. Shaw and edited by Dan Hill, ‘Deer Editor’ is a digital-only comic which hit Kickstarter a few weeks back. Quickly reaching the target of $1000 and then some, the story will only be made available online for the time being. If you back the comic at $1, you get the comic. YOU GET THE COMIC! That’s the sort of pricing which is unheard of on Kickstarter.

Ryan’s been making some waves in comics recently – he has a new series launched over at Monkeybrain, and was recently one of the contributors to Vertigo’s ‘CMYK’ anthology series, telling a story about boxing and revenge. But for this new story, he’s got such a simple setup that I just had to get in touch with him and find out more! And, gent he is, he agreed – read on to find out all about Deer Editor, and head on over to Kickstarter if you like the sound of it!

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Steve: What’s the basic premise of Deer Editor?

Ryan: Bucky is the editor of the crime beat at ‘The Truth.’ He’s also a deer. This issue sees him chase down a story involving a John Doe killer, a key to a public locker, and what might be the biggest narrative of political intrigue he’s ever covered.

The book is a black and white tale told in 48 tablet pages.

Steve: What defines Bucky as a character?

Ryan: Besides his rad antlers, the fact he’s incredibly dogged and has a true north on his moral code. Bucky finds a thread and won’t stop pulling until the sweater is gone and eventually the emperor has no clothes.

Steve: How early on did the idea of “oh, he’s a deer” come along to the story? Did you have the character planned out first or the story?

Ryan: The book came about because of a discussion of embarrassing typos. As soon as I typed the words ‘Deer editor’ the character came to me pretty fully formed. From there, it’s just polishing and finding out what sort of deer is he, how does he go about his business, etc. But the core trapping of ‘journalist’ + ‘deer’ were instant inception points. Then the story formed around him pretty smoothly.

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Steve: What kind of tone does the series have? Is this a world where nobody really minds that, y’know, their editor is a deer?

Ryan: Yep, no one minds at all. But the tone of this book is a serious crime story. There’s a heavy influence of Polanski here (especially CHINATOWN) with a soupçon of TERRIERS somewhere in there.

Steve: You’ve worked in comics journalism yourself for a while – did that develop your interest in telling a story about a journalist? (or is that just a coincidence?)

Ryan: I wanted to be a journalist for years. I have a misspent youth of writing movie reviews in a ledger, and writing reviews of basketball games I’d watch on TV. I was a huge word nerd and journalism scratched that itch as much as fiction did, and still does. I was finishing high school, and planning to go into journalism, when I got into a conversation with a guy who told me journalism was a hard game to crack. He asked me why I wanted to do it and I said because I liked writing and wanted to parlay into fiction eventually. He asked what else I wanted to be and I said the other option was teacher.

He told me to be a teacher and write at night. And here I am.

Steve: How did artist Sami Kivela come onboard the project? What does his style bring to the story?

Ryan: I was introduced to Sami by ‘Canadian Gent’ Ed Brisson and we haven’t looked back since. Sami has a great ink style for B&W and I’m a huge fan of his expressions and body language. The fact he can make a deer’s face show a range of emotions says a lot.

Steve: Why take the project to Kickstarter?

Ryan: I like Kickstarter. It’s a good distribution platform as well as a way to rally the crowd. The big thing for me, and for this campaign, is all the extras. I could put the PDF up on my site and hope traffic finds it but that’s a drop in the ocean. I could, and will, go the ComiXology Submit route but that’s just a few extra drops. What this campaign allows us to do is offer all these crazy extras and make them exclusive. The RKL Script PDF won’t be available for purchase anywhere else. The Talking Pin Ups won’t be done anymore after this campaign ends. It’s fun to really support the people in kooky ways who have come out to support us.

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Steve: How much research into Kickstarters and their pitfalls did you do before setting up this one? You seem to be aware of the now-infamous international shipping trap, and you also chose to complete the comic before bringing it to crowdfunding?

Ryan: Oh, man, I’ve been watching and loving Kickstarter campaigns for years. I’ve backed a tonne of them, and if you were to laboriously go through my twitter feed, you’d see loads of me talking about what works and what doesn’t and getting annoyed when people do the “wrong” things – PDFs of single issues for $10, that sort of thing. It does my head in.

So for this campaign, I’ve very keenly wanted to run it the way I want to see a campaign run. Cheap thrills, fun extras, lots of free downloads and stuff at checkpoints and stretch goals. And, yes, I avoided that international shipping because I have no desire to run the whole gamut of printing, packaging, and posting just to make a sub-$1 profit – or on the flip, put the issue up for $20 (or more) just to make a slightly more decent profit. I have no interest in that at all.

I did my due diligence, I read articles about people’s success, and their failure, and I then set out to do my best. I’m sure I’ve already made my own mistakes, but I don’t seem to be in the hole just yet.

Steve: There are lots of people involved with the book – you’ve invited Dan Hill on as editor. Do you find that you write best when you have an editor overseeing the project?

Ryan: I find everyone writes better when they have an editor, yes. Dan Hill is a good friend and my first reader on pretty much everything, and I’ve started bringing him in as editor because he’s got a wickedly sharp brain for story engine structure and character motivation, and he always asks me the right questions to get me around (or under, or phased through) barriers I’m facing.

I think everyone making comics, at any level, should bag themselves someone they trust to look over the work, make notes, and ask them a tonne of questions.

Steve: Not everybody comes up with a story concept and then holds back on immediately launching into a full series – Deer Editor is a one-shot, rather than an ongoing. What’s the intent of the story? Do you plan to use this to possibly launch further stories with the character down the line?

Ryan: Yep, I’ve gone for a one-shot, to start with because it’s feasible. It’s feasible to plan, write, get an artist down with, and draw an audience for a one-shot. People are more likely to invest a $1 into a PDF of a complete story than they are for just 1/6. I doubt I could Kickstart a whole mini, or ongoing, so I am being realistic. I think, and I hope, this is a smart move. You gotta pay your dues, and show you can close, so a one-shot is a perfect entry point.

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From here, oh, absolutely I have more stories to tell. I’ve already written the next script. If I have my druthers, I’d love to write Bucky for a long time, actually, in just a series of 1-3 issue stories.

Steve: What else are you working on at the moment? Where can people find you online?

Ryan: Headspace at Monkeybrain with Eric Zawadzki, Sebastian Piriz, Marissa Louise, and Dan Hill is still trucking along. #4 drops at the start of September, after a longer wait than we wanted, and it’s our best issue yet. It’s this weird pause in the grander narrative to explore character and location and really make the escalation into the end of the whole mess truly matter.

I also just had a story in the Vertigo anthology Magenta, from the CMYK Quarterly. It has Tommy Lee Edwards art, John Workman letters, and is called GLOVES. You can probably still find a copy on your LCS’ rack if you dig.

Beyond that, I’m angling a few new one-shots and pitches, all at various stages but I’m not one to tease so I’ll leave it be for now, but trust me when I say things are coming, and they are F.U.N.

As for online, you can catch me on twitter, and hit up my online HQ, I’m on tumblr here, or you can hit me up on facebook, where everyone is!

Kickstarter Club: Monsterwood by Jason Rosen and Steve Ellis

I usually run Kickstarter Club on Saturdays, but David Gallaher just pointed this one out to me and it ends this weekend – so let’s skip a beat and run a little spotlight early, eh?

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From Jason Rosen and Steve Ellis, Monsterwood is seeking $14500 as a target, and is currently only a couple grand away from reaching that goal. This is billed as a coming of age fantasy series, in which Princess Jocosta and peasant-boy Jovis are forced to make allies and head off on a mission to journey through the perils of the Monsterwood.

The Kickstarter is for part one of a planned three-part series of books, each running at around 60 pages. If you’re familiar at all with Ellis, you’ll know that monsters and adventures are right in his wheelhouse – he also does the ‘Only Living Boy’ webcomic with the aforementioned Gallaher, which seems thematically fairly close with this Kickstarter project. Rosen, meanwhile, is the owner of ‘Skinwalker Studios’, a design studio where both the creative team work.

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If you head over to the Kickstarter page, you’ll find all manner of stuff going on there – videos, teaser art – so you’ll likely be quickly able to work out if it’s the sort of thing you’re interested in.

As a UKer myself, one thing to keep in mind is that Kickstarters have become infamous for stinging creators with international shipping fees – as a result, many US projects have steep overseas shipping costs. If you back this project, for example, you’ll be paying $40 for the book to be shipped to you. Keep an eye on the shipping whenever you back a Kickstarter project, you guys!

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