November 20, 2013

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Ryan Estrada Wants You to Play Broken Telephone on Kickstarter

Ryan Estrada's Whole Story project is back with another "pay what you want" Kickstarter, with a reward tier of merely $1 for his latest creation, should you feel that that's all you want to pay.

Estradra began doing Whole Story series back in 2012, experimenting with the idea of putting together DRM-free digital comics at a price point that was set by the reader, with additional books offered depending on if people hit certain tiers.

It's an idea that gets used fairly frequently with things like the Humble Bundle or other services, and if I like some of the content, I'll usually take the plunge, because I believe in putting your money where you mouth is whenever possible.

More recently, Estrada moved to Kickstarter with his Whole Story work, but still maintained the pricing structure. That project, despite having such a low entry point, still funded, proving Estrada's point that if you give people choice, they will buy in--and enough will buy in at high levels to give you the funding needed.

Now it's a new project, one that's extremely ambitious but has the potential to be the most interesting one yet. For the past seven years, Estrada has been working on a series of 18 interlocking stories, which come together as a whole but also read separately. He's collected over eighteen artists (including himself) on the project, and for the base pledge of a dollar, which is about 6 cents per digital comic, you get the 18-part story in its entirely, delivered digitally to you in installments every two weeks.

Ryan describes the premise of the series as follows:
In a Mumbai call center, a customer service representative named Manisha is helping someone fix a cell phone problem when suddenly she overhears a murder on the call. Now Manisha has to solve the mystery, save a boy, catch the killer and become a hero all from a world away.
But here's the thing: That murderer thinks HE'S the hero of the story. So does the assassin he's trying to catch. So does the punk protestor he's trying to save the airport from. So does the corrupt politician she's trying to expose. And so on. It's one big game of....Broken Telephone.
It's such a great idea, and given how much I've enjoyed Estrada's work, either reading his brief comics on the web or longer works like The Kind (which I reviewed here), is almost certain to be entertaining, funny, and full of unlikely details that Estrada has picked up in his wild and crazy life.

I'm not kidding, either. Estrada taught himself Korean, has been stuck overseas in major storms, and apparently, also has some hacker skills he employed to get ideas for this most recent project but also into potential hot water. He's always discussing on Twitter the many interesting things he's done with his life, if you catch him at the right moment.

Want to see some of these real-life adventures illustrated? Well, if you go to the $24 level, Estrada has 5 additional non-fiction comics to share, which will also be delivered bi-weekly. Combined with an epilogue to the main story, that's 26 mini-comics delivered digitally for less than $1 each.

There are higher tiers, of course, ranging from back issues to getting drawn into the story, but the best part of this Kickstarter is that you can get all you need for just a buck. After looking over the premise and samples, however, it's a good bet you'll want to pay a bit more, so that there can be more of the Whole Story in the future.

The cool thing? Estrada thinks you're awesome no matter what you pay, because even that $1 pledge proves his point that people want digital content that they can keep on their own computer and will pay accordingly. He's two for two on the theory so far. Here's betting he'll be batting 1.000 when this Kickstarter ends.