Comic books on Kickstarter are popping up left and right, like some frenzied game of whack-a-mole. Crowdfunding funny books turns out to be a deeper rabbit hole than tabletop gaming, it would seem. The more I dig, the more I find; the more I find, the more I dig.
What I’m hooked on is this newfound sense of reader agency. Sales numbers have always been used to gauge a title’s success, sure, though when you grab a book from your LCS or any other retail location, you’re voting for a project that has already received that ever-coveted green light.
With crowdfunding, however, you get to be the light keeper. Your vote of confidence matters a lot more, since these endeavors live of die by the pledges they earn.
By engaging in this new model of content production, both producers and consumers are participating in what very much comes across as a indie-comics renaissance. Between these tools and the emerging platforms for digital distribution, like Comixology, the only thing stopping you from making a comic is your own ambition.
While the ‘net might be a bit oversaturated with comic books because of these now-diminished barriers to entry, it is inevitable that the more unique titles will float to the top. Without further ado, here are four more projects deserving of our attention:
Written by Max Majernik and illustrated by Jean Franco, Prospects explores the absurdity of Ridgeville. The town is home to not just one, but TWO mad scientists who have been bitter rivals for the last 150 years. What follows is, as Max puts it, “50s sci-fi, 80s action, and everyday life.”
Protagonist Colin Bates is just a regular guy. In fact, he is the opposite of a Prospect, the title’s eponymous label for Ridgeville citizens who are recruited into the ranks of either one of the town’s diabolical professors.
Colin’s life as a basement-dwelling reject stands to be flipped upside down when he is approached to help put an end to the science-driven feud.
Prospects needs less than $150 to be fully funded and has over three weeks to get there. This campaign is strictly concerned with getting the first issue shipped out, hence its modest goal of $2,300. Six bucks gets you a digital copy, $16 ships it to your door (worldwide).
This isn’t to say that Max and Jean don’t have plans beyond two grand. Their stretch goals include funding options for issues two and three as well. Stop by their Kickstarter page to see the rest of the rewards for jumping onboard.
Danger Wolf and Safety Bunny
With Danger Wolf and Safety Bunny, readers are invited to join in an adventure of gritty vigilantism at its finest. Set in the post-urban dystopia of San Lazaro, which itself is a thinly veiled Las Vegas that collapsed under the weight of its own corruption, this comic is co-written by J. Hunter Richardson and James Thornton.
Part of what they raise will go toward compensating artist Tevy Khou, who lends her unique style of illustration to the book.
Perhaps the most engaging aspect of Danger Wolf and Safety Bunny is its origin story. No, not of the vigilantes, rather of the concept itself. Richardson and Thornton write:
A few years back we made a short film for a 24 hour film fest and in those 24 hours Danger Wolf was born. Our friend Roger Biersborn crafted the original Danger Wolf mask and costume for the film. Flash-forward a few years and we just couldn’t stop talking about him (Danger Wolf, not Roger). Since we already had a costume, one Halloween we decided to make another and dress up as crime fighters. On that night, Safety Bunny was born. Over time we developed a rich back-story for our silly crime fighter alter egos and eventually they grew into their own characters.
Team Danger Wolf is approaching the 50% funded mark, having done so just as they near the two-week mark for time left in their campaign. Issue one stands to be a 32-page introduction to the heroes, Danger Wolf and Safety Bunny ($5 digital copy, $15 for a printed version). Follow them on Instagram, check out their Spotify playlist and, more importantly, head to their Kickstarter page for more details.
Vigilantes are but the caped side of a comic-book coin. Supreme Team is a narrative focused on the seedy underbelly of said currency. Inspired by a true story, this book centers around Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff as he establishes himself as a drug dealer in 1980s New York City.
It is a tale to which author Seth Ferranti can very much relate. While he has made a name for himself by writing for publications focused on urban culture — including Vice, Don Diva, The Fix, and Slam — he first made headlines, at age 22, after being charged and sentenced as an LSD kingpin in the early 90s.
Seth found his voice behind bars. During his 25-year sentence, he earned his masters degree and began writing for publications as a contributing author. It didn’t take long for his work to get noticed, both by the public and by the prison system. Despite frequently landing himself in solitary confinement, because of the truths he exposed while in prison, he never stopped telling stories of a lifestyle few manage to tastefully articulate.
After his release, Seth knew he wanted to turn Supreme Team into a graphic novel. He had already written a book with Kenneth McGriff’s blessing, after the two had spent years together in the same correctional facility. Adapting it into a visual medium speaks volumes toward Ferranti’s storytelling sensibilities. To bring this book to life, he is working with illustrator Joe Wills and journalist/ producer Anthony Mathenia
There are 11 days left to join the Supreme Team. The trio are 66% funded. As a semi-biographical comic, the team’s proximity to the original source suggests that Supreme Team stands to be an authentic look into urban crime. Ferranti and company take the zoot suits, tommy guns and booze smuggling of prohibition-era gangster comics and recontextualize it for the 21st Century.
Sagas of the Northmen
With Sagas of the Northemen we rewind to perhaps the earliest of gangsters, the Vikings. The anthology collects tales from the Viking Age, covering work from a team of six writers and six illustrators.
Featuring seven standalone stories, Sagas is completed and ready to ship. Sean Fahey, founder of Black Jack Press, was previously distributing the collection through a print-on-demand model. He has turned to Kickstarter in order to fund a large-scale print run.
The book aims to explore a variety of themes central to Viking culture, ranging from their thirst for exploration to their spiritual beliefs concerning the afterlife.
Every collaborator on this project has a robust body of work that speaks for itself. Sagas of the Northmen is a fully realized comic already. They aren’t “pitching” the anthology on Kickstarter so much as they are hoping to leverage the platform as a means of centralized distribution.
A $5 pledge lands us a digital copy, and $10 will get a physical copy, autographed by Sean, and shipped to your door (U.S. only). With over a month left to go, Sagas of the Northmen needs just $600 more of its $2,500 goal. Check’em out, lest we force them to pillage for the rest of their loot.