May 12, 2015

, , , , , , , , , ,   |  

Crowdfunded Comics to Keep an Eye On

Let's talk for a minute about crowdfunding.

I really think that some of the coolest things that are going on in the creative world for one reason or another can't or don't go corporate. The great thing about the internet age is that we can still access so many cool ideas without the intermediary of the traditional publishing industry gatekeepers.

For those of you who aren't very familiar with crowdfunding, it's the process by which a person (or group of people) puts a potential project online. The posting will include a brief synopsis of the idea, some samples of what may happen, and incentives for contributing money to the project's completion. You may know some of the more common crowdfunding websites like kickstarter, indiegogo, or gofundme.

This is a super development. It means that creators get more input on the items their target audience (us) wants, and that consumers get greater access to projects they wouldn't otherwise see. It lets people pursue passion projects and gives opportunity to lesser-known artists. I can not get over how cool some of the projects are.

What kind of stinks, though, is that there are so many projects available.

So, for those of you who are into crowdfunding, or for those who are looking for some solid projects to give you a taste of what the world of crowdfunded comics offers, here are some current items you can look into.



Broken Frontier

Anthology Project Feature Various Creators

Broken Frontier is an anthology project. It collects works from comic artists like Cullen Bunn (Magneto), Joshua Hale Fialkov (I Vampire), Fred van Lente (If you don't know him, email me. Dear God, email me), and about a dozen other artists. 

Because it's an anthology, it'll include a vast variety of stories and the project boasts storylines involving aliens, time travel, Vikings, and murder. The sample art rocks some fantastic coloring and artwork. There is an all-star cast of folks contributing. Best of all, it's an ANTHOLOGY! If one thing isn't for you, there are other stories just a few pages away. 

Even better, I like the philosophy behind the project. Frederick Hautain, the editor in chief, says, "The Broken Frontier Anthology is a fully creator-owned book featuring stories about breaking frontiers and exploring the great unknown by over 40 creators from around the world, ranging from multiple award-winning creators to bright, up-and-coming talent." Aside from my love of creator-owned comics, the combination of artists seems strategic and designed to offer creative freedom as well as an opportunity for new artists.

There are a variety of reward levels, including .pdf versions of the final work, hard copies, original concept art, and commissioned art. Contributors who receive a .pdf also receive a ComiXology download. As of Monday, it's about half-way funded with a few weeks left to get in on that action. (Review by Bree Reeves)

Fangirl

Written and created by: Tom Sitwell
Illustrated by: Jessica Lynn
Coloring by: Zac Atkinson
Lettering by: Chris Crank (a.k.a. CRANK!)

Fangirl is a story about Alice, a girl who, on her way to San Diego ComiCon witnesses a murder. The police officer who arrives is corrupt and wants to get rid of the one witness to the crime. Alice doesn't know what to do, so, of course, she runs and hides out at the convention, hoping to blend into the crowd. She meets up with her friends and fellow MageFire (read: D&D) players.

Make sure to check out the character mock ups. The project lists the main characters, with a sketch, and a bit about their likes and dislikes, including MageFire character name and class. I think they're pretty great.

Aside from the comic pitch checking all my favorite boxes, Fangirl is a YA comic designed for young girls. Creator Tom Sitwell says:
"I'm a father with a thirteen year old daughter named Miranda. Miranda loves comics, superheroes and video games. She's my movie buddy with each new Marvel cinematic release. We geek out together over Sims 4. Arthur Curry by Ookla The Mok is on her playlist.

I love this kid to pieces and I want to write comics for her. I want her to read a comic and think HEY! THAT'S ME! I DO THAT! 
And I want that for any girl out there like her. For the geek girls. The fangirls.

So I put together a new book with strong female characters my daughter could identify with and love."
How can you not love that? As a woman who was once a young geeky teen girl, I can totally get behind a comic that caters to that crowd and gives them realistic heroines that they can identify with and root for. I wish more of those stories had existed for me to read when I was in high school and middle school. While comics are getting increasingly good at representing women, I'm a big believer that there's room for more.

The creative team has a collective past that's pretty great with credits for Teen Titans, Young Justice, It Girl and the Atomics, and Gronk! The team has two successful Kickstarter campaigns behind them, and I suspect this will be a successful one as well. You can go in for the $10 digital download and get a DRM free copy when it's completed. (Review by Bree Reeves)

The Better to Find You With 

Written and Illustrated by Kel McDonald

Veteran webcomics creator and anthologist Kel McDonald is back again with a sequel to a previously successful Kickstarter project, Fame and Misfortune. Working in the same universe, this story features werewolves and keeping a new monster alive when there's a savvy hunter in the woods coming after him. It's 80 black and white pages, and McDonald has samples of the art style at the pledge site.

McDonald is one of the most reliable creators that uses Kickstarter heavily, always delivering on her promises and ensuring that things are handled professionally, whether it's a personal project (Like Sorcery 101) or one that's part of a collaboration (The Cautionary Fables and Fairytales series). She knows what she needs and asks for it, and puts together a great set of tiers that range from digital PDFs to original art.

I've had the pleasure to see the opening pages of The Better to Find You With (such a clever title for this plot), and they look great. Kel's a creator I've been following for years, and I'm very happy to support her work--enough that I trust her when she says this story will finish and publish. If you like Urban Fantasy that's got a nice sense of snark, make sure you give this project a look. (Review by Rob McMonigal)

Cash & Carrie

Created by Shawn Pryor
Written by Giulie Speziani
Illustrated by Penny

He's into mysteries and the unexplained. She's into mysteries and what can be determined by cold hard fact. Together in middle school, they solve crimes in a new all-ages comic created by former Action Lab President Shawn Prior. He saw a need for more diverse all-ages content that was directed at kids, not their parents with an unending string of winks and nods. From the KS page:

"The reason why this comic book was created was because I wanted to see more diversity in all ages comics and feature kids of all kinds. There's still a lack of color in mainstream comic books, especially in leading roles and there's an absence of fun adventure/mystery filled books for all-ages audiences. There are a few "good" books for all-ages audiences, but for the most part comic books are catered towards older audiences with moody and dark content, so creating Cash & Carrie was necessary."

Prior is well-versed in what works for an all-ages book. During his tenure, Jeremy Whitley and a series of artists created Princeless, and the company also did comics for the National Football League, brought Jamal Ingle's Molly Danger to the line, and other titles designed to appeal to kids and adults without forgetting the primary focus of the audience. That gives me a lot of confidence in his ability to pull this off, and, combined with the desire to make sure there are comics featuring more characters of color, put this one on my radar. I also appreciate that it's finished. There was a small run printed for a comics show, and they sold out. So even though Pryor doesn't have the KS track record of other creators, anyone backing the project can feel confident they will receive the product.

I'm not familiar with the writer or artist on the project, but the samples look very cute without going into childish territory. The overall style reminds me a bit of what you might see in a BOOM! All-ages title, and that's a good thing. The premise is pretty cool, too--Pryor mentions the X-Files, and I think that's a pretty accurate vibe, based on what I've been able to see so far.

The tiers range from $4 for a digital copy to higher tiers that include commissions, with everything at just the right price points for a project of this nature. As of this writing, they are fully funded, but if you like all-ages books and want to show that there is a market for more diverse comics out there at all parts of the reading spectrum, consider backing this project. (Review by Rob McMonigal)