Tag Archives: kickstarter

PARIAH MISSOURI OGN REVIEW – Ole’ Blood Spilt on Ole’ West

Pariah-Missouri-CoverPARIAH MISSOURI OGN
Writer: 
Andres Salazar
Artist: Jose Pescador
Publisher: SE Studios (via Kickstarter)
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

I only play the Kickstarter “make a wish” review game if a project meets three criteria: One, the would-be creators need to have a finished product. It can be one issue and most certainly digital, I’ll never shun a Kickstarter for trying to buy pulp. Two, you’re not running the Kickstarter to buy an artist. Sorry, but if an artist really believes in a project with true passion, they will give their time knowing rewards will come soon (note to writers, start offering more percentages on the back end you cheap bastards – artists work hard). Three, it must be a decent book. I really don’t revel in shitting on people’s dreams, nor will I ever mislead my readership so someone can feel good about something they created. I’ll always gladly give feedback on an idea, but a review is a coveted prize I simply won’t prostitute.

PARIAH MISSOURI more than passes muster on all necessities for review love. This tale about a blood sucking group of thespians in the mid-1800s could easily sit with an indie publisher. The first volume OGN is a satisfyingly complete story with the freedom of indie charm, but the production discipline required for a paid price of admission.

What’s even cooler about this book is it’s fueled by ambition along with some great characters. This is Salazar’s second time to the Kickstarter well. I reviewed the first couple issues many months ago when Salazar was trying to get funding for just them. Now, he’s going for the gold to close out this full chapter about Pariah’s denizens. Now we stand with a full completion of the book in four beautiful chapters, along with all of the extra trappings of bookmarks and bonus material that have become Kickstarter staples.

OK, enough about Kickstarter, so what’s Pariah Missouri all about? Well, a lot actually. It’s more than just a vampire tale, or about the forces of good that come to Pariah to fight them. It’s about the dreams of the old West, the promise of a better life. For some characters this comes true and for others the copious amounts of dust on the ground is symbolic of all they were able to achieve in this new promised land.

Every character though has a dual purpose, the mask they wear as town folk and the true identity as either a force of good or evil. It’s this personality subterfuge I found most engaging and the book’s most unique element. There’s Hiram, the dandy fop who is more card shark than hero – at least when the book starts. Then there’s Nellie, the daughter of the hotelier who is ran out of town for gambling debts. Forced to make her own way she is the embodiment of Ole’ West grit and determination on the work front – and pure heroism on the vampire side of things. The Indian Shaman, the slave with a past and deep knowledge of Creole voodoo, the new hotelier who is carrying more secrets than keys and finally a Marshall seeing retribution.

If I had to make one critique of the story I would say Salazar almost packed in too much for an inaugural volume. This is the ADD generation after-all. Thankfully the book comes with a complete ole’ timey org chart in the back to help keep everyone straight. The vampire story almost feels secondary to the rich lives of the townsfolk, but I understood their purpose especially in light of the tee up for volume 2 at the end.

The art style is very sketchy, yet there’s detail inside. Especially with the faces, which is important since there are so many damn whiteys in the ole’ west. Dusty, I guess would be the best way to describe it. It works especially in light of the material. I will say however, I found the coloring a little too overpowering. The book is either very orange or very blue depending on the time of day or night. I know what Salazar was going for here, but again it feels very heavy-handed.

My coloring nit is just that though, a nit – don’t let it stop you from taking a trip down the Ole Miss to PARIAH MISSOURI.

HENCHMEN 1 REVIEW – Kickstarter to Kick-Ass

henchmen_coverHENCHMEN 1
Writer: Jamison Raymond
Artist: Ryan Howe
Publisher: Robot Paper
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

HENCHMEN warms the cockles of my iced over comic heart for a few reasons: it’s indie done on the same quality level as anything corporate, it has an original premise bringing comic  backgrounds to the main view of focus, and finally it’s a Kickstarter that got fully funded and is delivering on all of its promises. Individually these elements don’t mean much; collectively they are a huge boon for a medium that needs more out of the box storytelling and business paradigms.

As the name implies this story is about HENCHMEN, those faceless back-up singers who dress ins something akin to the main star of the nefarious show and always end up as cannon fodder for hero roid rage. One always wonders though ( or at least I always have), who are these men who stand watch, take bullets as the first to storm Normandy or are simply hero-bait while the boss gets away with literal murder? Austin Powers and a ton of others have played with this concept, but each time it was a “just the tip” experience. Actually if memory serves, when Dr. Evil’s henchman was steamrolled the visit from HR to give his spouse and kids his benefits was relegated to extra footage on the Director Cut VHS (fuck, I am so old).

So, I find it refreshing and frankly ambitious to try to build an ongoing continuity based off these usually faceless and nameless forgotten heroes of crime.

Meet Gary, he’s not a bad guy. He’s actually a stark representation of all us fangeezers who are slowly approaching forty or have crossed the hump. He’s slightly paunchy, a little sarcastic, and just lost his job and his wife. His daughter just got braces and he’s now staring down the barrel of obsolescence with bills mounting and another forty years of life left on mother Gaia. The thing about Gary is that he’s not even looking to join the ranks of the unwashed, he ends up henching simply because he replied to a newspaper add making an offer too good to refuse. In this economy we’ve all seen these jobs and as those of us who have applied know all too well, an offer too good to be true usually is.

Enter the Head Pin of crime, a deranged man suited up with all sorts of wonderful toys that aid in his dirty deeds done dirt cheap. So cheap in fact that Gary and his inductees don’t get an ounce of armor between them, merely papier-mâché representations of bowling pins so his boss can stay on theme. We don’t learn a lot about the Head Pin, because frankly this isn’t his story. He’s captured in short order by his nemesis, Striker. Fortunately Gary is quick on his feet, so he and the 7 & 10 spin split for a speedy exit before the cavalry arrives.

What happens next had me worried until the last page. Gary, like most heroes, is looked to for leadership from his fellow pins that didn’t fall. I was extremely concerned this book would become less about a henchman and more a man destined for the top seat. Raymond deftly sidesteps the expected though, by actually having Gary become a union leader for henchmen. As this industry like all others looks to automate, Gary is now set to become a voice for the little worker against the corporate structure of automaton robotic henchmen.

End scene.

This is a great first outing, filled with the enough character development and general originality that lets it transcend beyond “just a deconstruction” of the super hero mythos. Howe’s art work remains on theme with the parody without forgetting the other elements I just mentioned. Also, when Gary buys his daughter a puppy with his first round of ill-gotten gains, they chose a Golden Retriever, a breed very near and dear to my heart.

If you want a break from the norm, trying slumming it with the HENCHMEN for awhile, you won’t be disappointed.

BILL WILLINGHAM INTERVIEW: BIFROST KICKSTARTER, WEIRD INCENTIVES, FABLES NEXT ARC

Rob-Carly-ArubaI love the Internet. I interviewed Bill from my iPhone in Philly airport and I package this interview from my balcony overlooking the white sands of Aruba. Only my love for all things Willingham could get me to spend my first vacation in two years typing away about a KICKSTARTER project. It also doesn’t hurt Frank Cho is joining project BIFROST and Bill agreed to spill some goods on FABLES to sweeten the deal.

Bill Willingham (BW): Before we go into this I want to make sure you’re not so polite we don’t address some of the criticisms thus far about the Kickstarter.

Rob Patey aka Optimous Douche (OD): I guess you haven’t been privy to my reviews, but I chose a nom de plume reflective of my personality, Optimous Douche. I’m a huge fan and holding back my geekdom right now, but I promise not to pull punches. However, you changed my family. You’re the only comic writer I’ve been able to get my parents to sit down and read. My Mother bugs me monthly now for my copies of FABLES.

BW: Glad to hear it. She didn’t write you out of the will after reading?

OD: Only child, and they don’t have any pets so…I promise though, no punches pulled. I’ll be honest it was solely my fandom of FABLES that made me agree to covering yet another Kickstarter project.

BW: Say more…

OD: I get between probably 30-40 Kickstarter coverage requests a month. After 2 years of this I’ve become very stringent with my criteria to cover them. One of which is I insist on a finished product in hand that I can see in PDF form beforehand. I’ve been burned too many times where creators are looking to get a paycheck to create a book. Being a comic author myself, I created my book that’s getting published this year during my free time at night without ever knowing if I would get a publisher. So I take the stance; if you believe in it, go create it and worry about the money later.

bill-willingham-1BW: It surprises me Kickstarter has only been around for two years, it has completely embedded itself in the culture. It’s where I go to look at the new cool things coming up. Things like the Veronica Mars Kickstarter, which was a phenomenon unto itself.

OD: More like an anomaly…

BW: True. But just that the mechanism for something like that to occur is amazing. Very impressive. I had no idea that in such a short time there have been rules that have shaken down for Kickstarter projects. The other surprising thing on first blush is that it could be rife for scams. Since you can literally Kickstart anything, I’m waiting for the old time email equivalent of if you give me x amount of dollars you can get your held fortunes from some obscure country.

OD: That’s the 419 scammers from Nigeria, because that’s the name of the penal code for it. There’s a really cool guy in England who has a site called 419 eater where he strings them along and makes them do all sorts of crazy shit like jump off buildings before he agrees to send them the money. They film or photograph the antics and then he puts them on the site. He also shares the email exchanges which range from the sad to hilarious (depending on your world view). It still goes on by the way. If you have your email address up in enough place (like say Ain’t It Cool News). Ask your assistant Stephanie how many she gets in a day. I get about 20 a week.

BW: Such a flim flammery world we live in. Anyway my first blush impression of Kickstarter was that “Oh dear God” this is going to be scam heaven. I wonder if you can get away with things like I’m trying to finance a change in spirituality or something else that doesn’t actually exist than fast talking.

OD: And that’s one of my concerns with Kickstarter from the comic perspective. We have a mantra on Ain’t It Cool to help the little guys. Yes, we cover the big guns to keep the clicks flowing in, like I’ve done over 15 FABLES reviews in my six years on the site. But we as a site and I‘ve always taken the personal mantra to cover one indie or sub-indie book a week or every two weeks if my day job isn’t that busy. So I went into Kickstarter coverage with eyes and arms wide open ready to embrace it. Then I just got burned time after time with projects that never came to fruition or a load of half-baked ideas that thought they were a real comic book. People didn’t get scammed out of their money, but there is still a lot of skullduggery. Very fair of you to go in with that trepidation. So what made you finally decide to jump in?

BW: Two things, by the way have we started?

OD: Yeah, I’m not a great interviewer, I prefer conversations.

frank cho artBW: I like that better, don’t change. So it was a couple of things. First of all, it’s fairly well known I’m from the right side of the tracks politically and one of the things that makes me bristle is that things that are worth doing like support for the arts and such do not necessarily mean we should be forced to pay for them with our tax dollars. To me Kickstarter is the perfect mechanism to prove what I’ve said fr years, which is that there are wonderful things worth doing and supporting. Meaning not an investment in a company, but more like micro amount grants to worthy causes. But it’s not required is the point. It is done with persuasion versus force. Which is how it should be.  When I realized that Kickstarter was the mechanism against what I’ve griped about for years I saw it as a wonderful thing.

The specifics of why do this? Frank and I have wanted to work together for some time. We just couldn’t quite get together. Even when I came over to Marvel to do the 4 issue THOR thing, thinking maybe this time it could work, he simply wasn’t available. The deal was along the lines of you get to work with the best artist we have available at the time, that was the closest they would do to a guarantee I could work with Frank Cho. And of course it didn’t happen, because it was a slippery guarantee definition. When the big companies of DC and Marvel are there the idea of two guys wanting to do a book together is an impossible mess to slog through. We decided to do a novel instead of a comic…that takes contract exclusivity off the table.

OD: That was actually one question I prepared for the interview, why BIFROST will be a prose piece?

BW: I think it’s a better prose piece regardless, but exclusivity was one of the considerations. If we don’t do it as a comic than the exclusives are taken away.

OD: I thought you were no longer exclusive to DC, correct?

BW: I am no longer exclusive, although I haven’t done much with them outside of FABLES for it to be really noticeable. The only barrier that was left was Frank being able to take the big blocks of time to do a project like this and afford it. The art side of things for better or worse just takes longer than writing. It’s easier to find time within your schedule for other writing projects, it’s harder to do big projects on the art side. So the whole purpose of the Kickstarter was to get the money to compensate for the big chunk of time Frank needs to take out of his schedule to do BIFROST.

OD: It’s interesting you say that, my graphic novel AVERAGE JOE which is coming out soon is 160 pages and it’s taken close to 18 months for the art because my artist has a day job and we’re both getting compensated on the back end. So it is safe to say we’ll see a quick turn around with BIFROST since Frank can shuffle off other paid projects?

BW: Officially we’re going to give him a year before we get antsy. However, Frank’s enthusiasm is amazing. He shouldn’t really start working until the Kickstarter is funded, but at the cancelled Boston Con he was already showing me BIFROST sketches. And what he consider sketches most would consider ready for inking. They are gloriously  rough. So my suspicion is this will move rapidly. It’s a project of love.

I should probably work in an apology now to DC and others who are waiting for work that is already scheduled. There might be a few blown deadlines.

OD: Wow, that’s a bold statement. Kudos!

BW: Well, you know, we’re excited about this. The bumps in the road, like learning the Kickstarter process notwithstanding.

Frank-Cho-ArtOD: OK, I’m glad you brought up the white elephant in the room first. I was wondering how to get to this question. Some folks, like Bleeding Cool have derided your choices for Kickstarter incentives. You’ve gone away from the traditional, fund this project get a copy of the book or a commemorative beer cozy. What was the thought process here?

BW: Since the structure was to get the funds to create the project not publish it, which I now understand is not the exception not the  norm, I simply didn’t want to handicap the project when we went to publishers. I didn’t want to go in there and say to them, “no matter what deal we make you must provide this number of copies to meet the rewards.” We’re talking to big publishers who have set policies for everything. If you go against those policies you get a lot of “this has never been done” and it will take months of rewriting contracts. I’ve been down this road before and it’s just how staid old publishers work. I over thought it basically.

So we came up with rewards that could circumvent those difficulties.  People immediately rushed to let me know that I was being silly. Wiser heads like Kurt Busiek let me know that publishers are already making allowances for Kickstarter. Actually it’s precedent. What’s odd is even though it’s a norm now, digital rights are so volatile in publishing, and giving away the DRM is harder than physical copies believe it or not. So we added actual tangible rewards since then, but boy is my embarrassment vast.

In hindsight I should have asked some folks, but I just didn’t think there were any Kickstarter experts.

OD: Actually you should look outside of comics to Internet marketers because we’ve been dealing with digital rights management waaayyyyy before comics were dealing with it. We’ve also been all over Kickstarter since day one looking for ways to monetize it. Yes, “the man” is evil and I am his tool for 8 hours a day. It’s a great high commitment heavily viral tool, the panacea of marketing. Email marketing has gone  the way of the Sabertooth, so we’re always moving to where the traffic is to hock our wares.

BW: I never thought of it, but that’s true. One of my assistant’s more important jobs is to slog through the email crap and get rid of anything I don’t absolutely need to see. I think Dave Sims said, if you sit to answer 300 letters from the old days, you could do it even  though it would be arduous. If you sat down to answer 300 emails you couldn’t get to the end before the answers to your answers started arriving. A slog of self generation.

OD: That’s why internet marketers live by 3, 30, 300. You have to get them in 3 seconds with the subject line, 30 seconds for the email body and 300 seconds with your offer landing page. All have to the most insanely targeted and compelling thing the user has ever read. It’s why we A/B/C test and then double down the next go round.

ca-deathBW: So does answer this or I kill your cat still work?

OD:  No, testing found a lot of people don’t give a shit about cats.

BW: The  wonderful thing about the Internet including email, is that if you step on your foot the entire Internet will tell you how badly you screwed up instantaneously. Some in a helpful  way, some not so much. But that’s the price of putting yourself out there.

Some of it still confuses me. One of the things I was certain of this is not an investment. And correct me if I’m wrong, but a reward for a copy of the book should not require an investment beyond the actual retail price of the book.

OD: I respectfully disagree. There’s a level of exclusivity and specialness to advances. Everyone wants books before everyone else in this spoiler age and people will pay a premium for it and reap a 5 minutes of fame themselves for having the inside skinny.

When I screwed up and reviewed JMS’ SUPERMAN EARTH ONE: VOLUME ONE three weeks before the embargo date. I pissed off a few PR teams, but at the end of the day those people that read my review carried the word forwarded and aside from simply being thrilled to know the details ahead of time, they also helped to increase pre-order sales for the masses outside of heavily steeped geekdom.

Honestly I think this is why you guys are at 10K already. You didn’t offer a copy of BIFROST, but you had some really cool, really personally intimate interactions up there with access to you and Frank.

BW: My guiding philosophy was that the rewards should be fun. I didn’t want to put a lot of art obligations on Frank fro rewards, so he could stay focused, Meeting creators though do seem to be what fans like. These were hard for me to craft. I always have an angel or devil on  my shoulder depending on your views whispering, ‘why would you think anyone wants to meet you?” It’s a little egotistical to think rewards of meeting you are an actual reward for people.

OD: Well convention admission fees say otherwise…

BW: True, but I also wanted to make it fun. I found out you can’t do rewards above $10,000. I wanted to have the top tier be a $30,000 reward, which is Frank and I flying out to give you your money back. Minus travel expenses and hooker fees of course. I never expected anyone to do it. I just thought it was funny.

OD: They mainly have that cap because of average credit card limits. You would only be flying out to meet the Krapdashians or Puffy.

BW: If you’re financing a popular movie based on a popular TV show like Veronica Mars the $10,000 dollars will play. I don’t expect too many on BIFROST.

OD:  The big dollar ones are usually 5 minutes of fame. Your visage appears in the project, you get to write a line of dialog, you get a special thanks at the end…a reach around from Kristen Bell…etc…

Frank-Cho-ArtBW: We have some of that in there, but I really don’t expect anyone to actually contribute to them. What I also didn’t expect was for someone to take offense to them. There was someone online who went on and on because I said you get ot be a bum in the story. And now I’m evil because I used that word.

OD: Here, let me take the heat off of you. It was probably a bum that complained on his subsidized iPhone he never worked a day for.

BW Even though I don’t use emoticons because I think they’re evil. There was a definitive ;-) after those prizes.

The idea that it’s an investment is something I wanted to thwart. It’s not. The best way to support the project is when it comes out, buy it.  Buy it for a reasonable price. I have never noticed any Kickstarter that has listed the reasons you shouldn’t contribute. But I want to make it clear, use your poker or frivolous money for this. Don’t use your rent or car payment cash.

OD: It’s a shame you have to tell people that.

BW: But you do. In a friendly poker game one day with friends, I was doing really well. Two of my friends were talking about how they were going to make the truck payment. What the hell were they thinking? I want to make sure no one gives me important working money. Ever. That still haunts me to today.

OD: Let’s talk about BIFROST itself.  It’s the old Nordic name for the Rainbow bridge right?

noahs_ark_rainbowBW: Yes, I’ve always the whole idea of the Rainbow Bridge. It was the first thing that captured me about Norse mythology. Rainbows themselves pop up all over mythology. In Christian or Judaic circles it is the sign of the covenant that God isn’t going to destroy the  world by flooding again. Which is a shame because then there were no rainbows before Noah. It’s a shame, those poor schmucks didn’t have something so beautiful.

OD: What’s even worse is that also means they lived without light or moisture in the atmosphere.

BW: Yes and mist just appeared from the ground I guess. I don’t think those are as clever though as the Norse mythology which is that is clearly the bridge of the Gods you can never quite get to. You can never follow them to the heavenly world.

I started once before to play with the notion of who controls the bridge once everything falls to shit. A big part of Norse mythology is that everything is coming to an end, there is a big doom hanging over their heads and they are just waiting. I played around with and of course Marvel has played with what comes before the end, but no one looked at what happens afterwards.

So that’s what this is about. Who controls this wonderful thing once the end has happened? The premise is that Hundall (sic) destroys the bridge and cuts it from its base once the world starts to fall. My justification is that it shatters.  But just like the physicists postulate gravity will bring together a shattered planet again, likewise for the bridge. It looks like the old Roman roads of antiquity now.. it is a rocky and craggy journey instead of pleasant. You can make use of it.

OD: So BIFROST takes place in both Valhalla and the mortal plane?

BW: The novel takes place on our world, but our world where the fantasy we believe in now is real. But unlike Dresden and most urban modern fantasy where vampires or werewolves exist, or even FABLES none of these things are secret. It’s all buerocracy. You have your vampire communitues, department of lycanthropy, government divisions dealing with ghosts.One example is Amnesty Supernatural which looks to get ghosts out of abusive homes.

And you have the last survivor of the death of the Norse Gods and she just realized that’s who she is.

So yes, we have post the destruction of Ragnarok. Asgard and possibly the other 9 worlds, which are now wastelands. It’s have your cake and eat it too. It’s all post-apocalyptic, but our world is just fine. It’s all the others “over the rainbow” that got the shit kicked out of them. And now we’re going to see what’s up there.

OD: How far along are you with the script, is it completed?

BW: I do not. Part of the reward system is I write it while you watch. The first level of what I consider interesting rewards are a subscription to the writing journal and you get to follow the progress along while I write. Mostly I have to keep ahead of Frank. He needs to draw when he can so I need to keep him supplied.  Especially now that we’re past April 1. It seems an auspicious day to start a project, but I’ve started all of my major projects on this day. Four of my exclusives with DC were then. I started a romantic relationship once where I knew she was going to rip out my heart on April 1. It’s an important day for me and that’s when I had to start. I should wait until it’s funded, but I can’t stop myself. The idea is that right away after May 14, we’ll send out the first update of “here’s what I worked on today.” They are little peeks into the novel. Now of course someone described it as “great for $10, you get Bill’s e-newsletter.” That’s not what it is; it’s a real journal with specifics about the novel, and my insights on writing.

OD: If I can make a suggestion, format the shit out of it with HTML so the pirates at least have to make an effort to put it out on Bittorrents.

BW: Oh, OK. I will send that to my people who are more computer aware than I. It’s going to happen. I don’t support it, but it will occur.

(Diversion about digital Brian K. Vaughan’s DRM free book)

BW: It’s on my list to reach out to him to see how it’s doing once all my obligations to editors are met and well ahead of schedule.

OD: I wouldn’t beat yourself up too much, FABLES comes out like clockwork.

BW: It does, but there are mighty efforts behind the scenes to make that happen.

OD: I imagine Buckingham’s exquisite margins alone take a week.

BW: I love em.

OD: Me too. So have you talked to any publishers about BIFROST yet?

BW: We have. I have sworn I will never name names, but there have been two that expressed blind interest. They sort of understand and are interested. I had another conversation yesterday as well. It’s remarkable I’m stressed more about saying, no or not yet than in the old days when I was just begging to be looked at. The anxiety is higher only because we break into this business we lose our ability to say no because we always want to hear yes.

The absolute overriding reason for doing it this way is so we can have the finished product unblemished by editorial mandates when we start shopping.

OD: Is Frank going to be doing the illustrations in color?

BW: I hope not, it will probably be all black and white. The Acme of this kind of project was Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein, it changed my life on a huge magnitude. With the wood cut style Frank is using it also lends itself to black and white.

OD: The main reason I ask is as we discussed digital versions, color inhibits reading on some very very popular e-reader devices.

BW: Yeah, I never thought of that. The state of  the art is higher than what is usually out there. It will most likely be black and white.

OD: While I have you, can we get a FABLES update?

BW: Well I think, what, issue 128 just came out?

fables 129OD: Yup, the smackdown between Bigby and Brandish.

BW: Well without giving away the end we have one more big issue of the Snow White arc to conclude. The premise is easy; once again Snow is in a situation where no one can help her get out of her troubles. She’s on her own, so now we get to see how she rises to the occasion on her own sole devices. Also she’s not going to forget those that didn’t at least take a shot at sending Brandish packing.

Following that we have an arc called Camelot. A restoration of the round table and  the idea that the powerful and privileged should put that to service in a formalized way. Rose Red starts it all. After two grim arcs, I promised the editors a little ray of hope. Camelot, a brief shining moment. It’s interesting when you recreate a knighthood of servitude the type of folks who sign up.

OD: Anything I missed on BIFROST?

BW: If you have some cash please help out. If you don’t, THEN DON’T. Just buy BIFROST when it comes out.  It will be a beautiful lavish book. We’re doing it Kickstarter based because we want to offer a higher quality product.

OD: You should make the digital version have bonus material like your journals and video blogs so that becomes a higher quality experience as well. Just a suggestion from a man who loves interactive materials to his e-books.

BW: Thank you, I love recommendations…and even sullen comments, though people don’t have to contribute so I don’t get those. It’s not compulsory.

OD: But complaining on the Internet is. Thank you Bill for the insight, and tolerating my fandom.

Sean Wang’s RUNNERS Kicks Some Kickstarter Ass

SnowJobGN_KickstLogo2Those who regularly follow me in written or audio form know by now I am fed up with Kickstarters. I’ve grown weary of people begging for payment to complete half-baked concepts. However, not all Kickstarters are bad, and I’ve found when real comic professionals are behind them they become as credible as any other indie.

Sean Wang of The Tick fame is one such Kickstarter. Already surpassing his goal, Sean is now in the bonus stage of his event around RUNNERS: THE BIG SNOW JOB, his web comic now turning to print. Learn what this MITT grad is doing with the world of Sci-Fi in comics and how you can start running with these intergalactic bounty hunters.

Optimous Douche (OD): Sean, with all the Kickstarters these days, where’s your cred to show RUNNERS: THE BIG SNOW JOB is THE Kickstarter to invest in? What books do you currently have on the shelves.

Sean Wang (SW): I actually started out in the industry writing and drawing for The Tick series at New England Comics, first on some seasonal specials and then on the Tick and Arthur series, which got a lot of rave reviews as I had the duo join a team of equally dysfunctional heroes, like Bumbling Bee, Rubber Ducky, and Caped Cod.

I also did the art on Meltdown for Image Comics, where I played with several different art styles, from cartoony to gritty realistic, to tell different parts of the story. That also got a lot of great reviews. But I’m most known for my self-published sci-fi series RUNNERS, which is a fun action comedy about a group of alien smugglers trying to get by in a universe on the brink of war.

SnowJob2_01-02OD: Tell us a little bit about the RUNNERS gang and the world…excuse me…universe they inhabit.

SW: Sure! The crew consists of reluctant captain Roka, his acerbic co-pilot Ril, wisecracker and former pirate Cember, former mob enforcer Bennesaud, a humanoid with a shape-shifting energy arm Bocce, and a mysterious alien girl Sky.

They’re a rag-tag group of aliens that does smuggling runs for the mob that generally don’t go the way they should. In the first story, RUNNERS: BAD GOODS, their run really spiraled out of control and they found themselves on the wrong side of pirates, bounty hunters, and an entire space station full of police gunning for them. In the new story, RUNNERS: THE BIG SNOWJOB, they take on a seemingly trivial task of reclaiming a herd of yak of all things, but again, things don’t go as planned and they find themselves facing off against a hostile native population, a band of mercenaries, and an escalating series of double-crosses.

Overall, people really love the series and have almost universally compared it to the best elements of Firefly and the original Star Wars movies. So if you love that kind of fun space adventure with cool aliens, snappy character banter, sweeping action scenes, and underworld shenanigans, then you’ll definitely love Runners.

OD: Part of the allure of STAR WARS and FIREFLY is the political dynamics of the galaxy. Care to shed some light on the politics of the RUNNERS universe?

SW: Interesting question! And one I haven’t been asked before. Right now, the politics of the galaxy are just hinted at in the story. While I have it figured out in my head and series bible, the various political factions don’t figure into the story in a prominent way just yet. That’s because the focus of the series right now is on the underworld elements of smugglers, pirates, mobsters, and mercenaries. I really wanted to explore those factions first and explore how all those fringe groups operate outside of civilized space and its laws. But of course, as the criminal enterprises grow in power and the threat of mob war starts to emerge, that will inevitably pull the civilized systems into the mix.

SnowJob5_05-04OD: Another big part of true Sci-Fi is the technology. Tell us a little about the ships and other “science” found within? Even each Dr. Who seems to have their way to run the TARDIS. 

SW: While I use the term “sci-fi” a lot to describe Runners, I’m actually more comfortable describing it as “space adventure,” more akin to the Star Wars movies than 2001: A Space Odyssey or Blade Runner. Basically, I’m more interested in telling a fun adventure story set in space than I am really getting into the heavy “science” of science fiction. Technology-wise, I tend to stick with the tropes of FTL travel, cloaking, and laser-based weaponry. I don’t really have plans to do stories about things like tachyons and nanites and replicants, which is kinda sad since I went to MIT and probably should have more of that stuff in my wheelhouse!

OD: One of the biggest gripes against Kickstarters these days is the pervasive deluge of peopel with incomplete ideas of nooks looking to getting funding to flush out their ideas, is fair to say RUNNERS is not one of these fly-by-nights?

SW: No it is not! In fact, everything is about 95% done already. I actually posted the entire story online as a free webcomic at www.runnersuniverse.com over the past couple years, so all the story content is completely done.

At this point, all I have to do is finish up a couple pages of a new 6-page epilogue and just do the page layouts, and it should be ready to go to the printer. So there really is no risk for backers.

In fact, the Kickstarter campaign has already hit both its initial goal of $6000 and its first stretch goal of $8500 (which meant I could print in the U.S. instead of overseas), so the funding is already there to make this project happen. Right now, I am just trying to get the word out to more people about the Kickstarter project because I really think a lot of sci-fi and adventure fans would really get a kick out of both the story and the artwork.

The campaign only runs until March 28, so be sure to check it out at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/621975803/runners-the-big-snow-job-graphic-novel

SnowJob1_16-18OD: What will make your printed edition so much better than the Web version?

SW: As I mentioned, I posted the entire first two graphic novels at www.runnersuniverse.com in webcomic form, so anyone whose interested can check them out there for free!

I released the first story arc, RUNNERS: BAD GOODS, as 5 single issues and then as a collected graphic novel. But for the second book,RUNNERS: THE BIG SNOWJOB, I went with online distribution first. So it has never been available in print form until now. And since I’m pretty old school and like to be able to actually hold a story in dead tree form in my hands, I’m really excited about getting the new story printed. Plus you can’t prop up the short leg of a table with an online story!

The graphic novel is also going to have a lot of special features, like an all-new 6-page story epilogue that was created exclusively for the book. I also have 10 pages of sketchbook concepts covering a lot of the aliens, costumes, and weapons that appear in the story. And there’s also a great pinup section with some amazing artists doing their take on the Runners characters, like David Petersen (Mouse Guard), Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash), Shawn McManus (Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love), and Khoi Pham (X-Men, Avengers).

And the Kickstarter campaign itself also has a lot of really cool reward items, like character cards, 11″ x 17″ prints, original page art, custom inked illustrations, and even an expanded 64-page sketchbook that includes a lot more concept design content that couldn’t fit into the 10 pages of the graphic novel sketchbook section. So be sure to check out the Kickstarter project at: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/621975803/runners-the-big-snow-job-graphic-novel!

That’s it for the interview folks. Remember you can get the goods for free online, but also remember monitors cause cancer – contribute instead to non-cancerous trees by MARCH 28!

THE ADVENTURES OF THE 19XX: THE RISE OF THE BLACK FAUN REVIEW

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THE ADVENTURES OF THE 19XX: THE RISE OF THE BLACK FAUN

Writer & Artist: Paul Roman Martinez
Publisher: Kickstarter
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

The 19XX is the most imaginative, accurate and beautiful book you’ve never ever heard of. While I have a deep an undying love of the oxymoron called historical fiction, all comic fans who appreciate a well-crafted and meaty (140+ pages) tale of the Great Generation during their heyday will find something to love in 19XX.

19XX-Panel-1This is the opposite side of the LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN coin. Where Moore took known literary figures and placed them in fantastical situations, 19XX crafts characters that are new and places them right inside the actual events (with comic flourish of course) leading up to WWII. It also skips the copious amounts of fucking and deconstruction that are Moore staples for entertainment, making 19XX family entertainment at its finest.

I think Martinez actually had a much tougher job than Moore. He didn’t rely on the crutch of having other writers create his characters’ back stories. Each member of the 19XX is original, yet instantly familiar if you’ve ever seen a Saturday serial that our Grandparents relied on for depression era entertainment. The 19XX is essentially the Men in Black minus the aliens. They are a secret organization of fantastic individuals that handle problems the world is just not ready to believe. Aboard a Zeppelin style airship, the 19XX traverses the world quelling the unrest caused by werewolves, voodoo queens and a new entity called, The Black Faun, a clandestine organization looking to help Germany create an Uber World power.

Told through the narrative of the 19XX’s newest recruit, the kid, we get our introductions to the 19XX through his eyes of discovery. As he first traverses the 19XX’s airship base, The Carpathian, we get brief but appropriate introductions to the team: first the Captain, a man visually akin to the captain of the Titanic, but far more skilled. Penn Clement, the man of 1,000 gadgets and resident jokester. Fay Wells, an Amelia Earhart type flying ace (again with better skills), who plays a game of flirtatious cat & mouse with Penn. Diablo the XO, a man who is always ready for adventure with a square jaw and strong fist. Zora Hounan, botanist and mystic and last but not least, Marjorie, the Captain’s daughter. Now, these are the main members of the 19XX, but as the story unfolds they get help from such famous figures as Harry Houdini, who makes a posthumous appearance in the 1930’s thanks to a device lent to the 19XX by Nikolas Tesla. William Moffett, an early proponent of airship potential, and Black Herman, the first African-American celebrity of magic.

Now, of course no tale would be complete without villains and once again Martinez borrows from the old, but also innovates in the process. As precursors to the Nazis, the Black Faun have their own mixed bag of the fantastical on their side. A voodoo woman made of mist. A mechanical/human pre-Nazi, technomancy drones crafted from the fusion of magic and science. And a Baron that is strangely akin to Ra’s Al Ghul’s recipe for immortality.

19XX-Panel-2In a race against time, the 19XX and the Black Faun traverse America to be the first to snatch artifacts that could unleash the end of mankind. The Black Faun thinks the artifacts will unleash the Aryan race. The 19XX have no idea what the artifacts will unleash, but they have it on good authority from soothsayers it will harken the next great war. It’s during these travels where Martinez not only exhibits his talent, but also his meticulous style of comic craftsmanship. Not only is EVERY panel laden with a background, but everything (hear me EVERYTHING) is historically accurate. Architecture, machinery design, and even fashion are spot on with the time period of the early 30’s.

Most of my followers know I try to avoid Kickstarters, but 19XX is different for a few reasons. One, the book exists already and sold out almost instantly. Plus it was nominated for some impressive awards when first released. If you have a Kickstarter and haven’t even created a book yet, don’t ask me to promote it. Two, Martinez upgraded the book from the last printing and created a voluminous compendium to complement it. Three, Martinez is dedicated to turning this into a series of six books. I don’t know how he’ll find the time with the insane amount of detail and sheer volume of the books, but book II is almost ready to go and established as a reward if you contribute enough. Four, it’s fucking awesome, and I would be doing the comic medium a grave disservice if I kept its goodness to myself.

Now, I only got to read a PDF of the book, but I would LOVE to see the hardcover bound edition in beautiful wide screen layout. Plus, there’s just something about cloth covers that feel…special. If you contribute a paltry $35, you can make my wish your reality. It’s a small sum to pay for a 140 page book of this quality, and you get a whole slew of extras 19XX paraphernalia to kickstart your fandom for one of comics’ best new talents.

PARIAH MO 1 COMIC REVIEW – A New Look at the Old West

pariah MO coverPARIAH, MO. 1
Writer: Andres Salazar
Artist: Jose Pescador & Andres Salazar
Publisher: Andres Salazar – Kickstarter
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

I would like everyone to thank me now. The week I received PARIAH, MO it was one of fifty requests to look at Kickstarter brain children. In the past few months this has become the norm versus the exception.

We have gotten so many telegrams in the @$$hole Clubhouse to cover these dreams in waiting, I had to come up with a few rules simply to manage them all.

  1. I won’t cover incomplete books – if you’re looking for someone to pay you to write, that’s why God invented Grandparents.
  2. You must be building a series or hocking a graphic novel – I will never ask my readers to pay for someone’s pitch to a movie studio or TV network.
  3. It must be original and on par with real comics produced by real publishers – When you’re asking someone to contribute $5 + dollars, you better be delivering and actual honest-to-God full comic.

I feel these rules are more than fair, since you’re basically asking the world to be your publisher you should have the same respect, reverence and presentation of pitch in hand that you would if you were going to DC or Marvel to look at your work.

There were several pieces that met my qualifiers last week, but PARIAH, MO. rose above the rest for its genuine voice, originality of concept and trueness to period.

Despite its name being the contrary, PARIAH is a bustling town in the mid-1800’s. As the last riverboat stop before Injun country, this dusty hamlet is where men seek fortune or to hide from fortune’s lost. People are what make up a town and PARIAH is no exception. Salazar uses this inaugural issue to introduce the denizens of this world as well as two mysterious visitors fresh off the boat from Boston.

In fact, what intrigued me most about PARIAH was Salazar’s dedication to character development over bludgeoning his sales slug line “X-Files meets Deadwood.” In actuality, for most of the issue you will wonder where the X lies as we meet the standard Westerns tropes.

Hiram, is a dandy con-man with an Ace literally up his sleeve and a mysterious plan to be named later.  We get inklings into this mission, which involves intelligence scouring at the deepest most undercover levels. Toro, the obligatory Red-Man, is a quiet bounty hunter than everyone in town knows not to mess with (despite his girly French braids). Nellie, is a tough as nails Western dessert flower. We don’t learn much about Nellie aside from her Father mismanaging his finances so much before dying that she is now an indentured servant to the new hotel owner in town.  And last, but certainly not least are two beaqutiful performers from Boston, who come to PARIAH to entertain and by the end of the book – feed on the locals (and there folks is your X-FILES connection).

Is PARIAH perfect?  Well…no, but how many books are these days? The mistakes though are few and easily remedied in follow-up chapters. I encourage Salazar to slow the pace a bit.  Much of what I learned about the character’s back-stories came from the descriptions in the beginning versus the page itself. Hiram is clearly a dandy, but his intelligence agency allude wasn’t quite clear until I married the blurb with the dialog. I’m still not sure on Nelly or Toro’s connections to the town, there introductions were simply far too brief. On the art side, the book starts high, but gets much looser to the end. I appreciate the stark juxtaposition of going from sepia to blue to show the transition from day to night, but as this happened the pencils seemed to get sleepy as well.

These misgivings though are things I’ve said about books from the very professional DC and Marvel right down to the train wrecks produced by hack publishing houses like Bluewater. No book is perfect, but given the limited resources Salazar had to pull this issue together, he rightfully gets a far more leeway from me than books that make similar mistakes backed by leagues of creators and infinite coffers.

Show PARIAH, MO. some love on their Kickstarter page so we can see the full fruition of all four issues.

JOIN THE FIGHT AGAINST BRAIN ANEURYSMS WITH COMIC KICKSTARTER SOLESTAR

Unless you’re into the indie comic scene you’ve never heard of Siike Donnelly, Garcinia, Richard Caldwell and Gene Hoyle. However, despite their lack of big name allure these three are actually trying to change the world one comic panel at a time.

I’m really getting tired of Kickstarters, but as soon as I heard Siike’s story there wasn’t a doubt in my mind I would cover what happened to him and his courageous fight to battle back through comics.

Burst blood vessels are like micro assassins in the body. I almost died two years ago when one ruptured in my intestine and sent my hemoglobin from a healthy 14 to a coma inducing 3 as the blood poured out of me in a river over the course of a week. I was on death’s doorstep. If the same thing happened in my head, I would have shuffled off this mortal coil at the tender age of 36.


SOLESTAR 1Siike Donnelly, Arcana comics scribe and author wasn’t as lucky. His blood vessel burst in his brain. Yes, he lived, but the ass is more resilient than the brain. So while my fight back was simply a wonderful month of Vicodin sandwiches, video games and comics as my marrow achingly replaced my blood, Siike has had to relearn living; walking, talking and creating stories.

To raise awareness about this silent destroyer, Siike created the concept of SOLESTARthe story of a superheroes last day on Earth and how he chooses to leave it.

Read on unless there’s just a stinky, sulfuric piece of coal where your heart should be.

Optimous Douche (OD): All right guys, let’s start with your street cred. Where in the wide wide world of comics do you come from? 

Gene Hoyle (GH): Comics have always been a part of me. First as a collector, then as an employee of a comics store. My next step was founding the Nerd Nation podcast. When Siike became my cohost it was a short jump to helping him out on this dream project.

Richard Caldwell (RC): I have been an active comic book journalist hack since 2007 or so. And I sincerely believe the heroic ideal represented by what Siike put together is exactly of the sort that drew me into comics to begin with.

Siike (seek) Donnelly (SD): I’m what Frank Miller would call, “a lifer.” I’ve been reading since I was 8, getting my first comic in a hospital. I started writing the next day. My first novel “Rhino” came out in 2008, which is a crime story set in Atlanta, based loosely on my days as a snitch. Heaven’s Echo, my love letter to comics, is book one in a proposed 6 novel series, was released by Arcana after I got back on my feet from my most recent hospital visit. It’s basically my version of what a world of superpowered people would really be like. 100,000 people received superpowers overnight, bringing a lot of chaos, but following various groups of people that decide to do the right thing with their powers. It’s “Heroes” season 1 meets “Lost.” This year I’ve been dedicating my time to working with Gene, Richard Caldwell, and a number of artists on something far more personal in “SOLESTAR”.

Optimous Douche (OD): This is becoming a Lifetime movie with the way we’re dancing around infliction. Let’s talk brain aneurysms, who would like to start?

SOLESTAR 2SD: I guess that’s my cue. Well, a subarachnoid hemorrhage is when the aneurysm ruptures, causing internal bleeding in the brain. Most don’t survive. Those who do usually experience disabilities after they recover. A small percentage are very fortunate to experience the few struggles that I go through. Still, I had to relearn to walk and talk, and I’m currently trying to relearn how to draw with this project. Through various social medias, and in person, I’ve met other survivors who have it far worse and wanted to do something that aims to help them, in any way. The only way that I personally knew to do that is through art, specifically the magic of a comic book.

RC: For my part, before I was old enough for school, being a lil comix fanboy in dirt poor south Texas at the start of the 1980s, my first two friends were a Native American named Christopher and a kid named Zebadiah, who is one of the few I’ll concede to having a more active imagination than mine. Their moms became super tight with my mom, and our families stayed close all through our school years, helping each other whenever possible while all of us were barely getting by. Christopher’s mom Marie died of a brain aneurysms a few years ago in Washington DC, and maybe a year after Zeb lost his mom to a brain aneurysms as well back in Texas. These women were closer to me than my own aunts. When I talked with Siike just before this year’s SDCC, hearing a fraction of his personal experience as a survivor just triggered so many memories for me. I try hard to hide my sentimentality, but I had to sign on, for Christopher and Zeb and everyone else who ever lost somebody to this.

GH: All I knew of Aneurysms was what I had seen in movies. A guy gets one, falls over and dies. hearing Siikes story online made me seek out his company and learn more.

It amazes me how little is known about Aneurysms. SOLESTAR is all about changing that.

OD: Siike, tell us a little bit about the road to recovery particularly with drawing. Where were you before the aneurysm, right after, and now? 

SD: I don’t think much about my early days, or some of my recovery. It was hard and it’s tethered to some painful and tough times, dark even.

My memory as a whole is a mess as well, and there were times, around my own family, when I honestly couldn’t conjure a single memory of them. It’s gotten better since, but still far from really knowing. Walking and talking was tough at first, but then it just became something that I had to do. I didn’t want to give up because I knew eventually I’d be on a mission, like the one I’m currently on with my friends here.

SOLESTAR 3The drawing is just another obstacle. My ability to picture things in my head is almost non-existent. We still can’t figure out the barrier that my brain has created there. As you can imagine, without being able to picture Superman or Spider-Man in my head, makes it really difficult to draw them. I look at pictures others have drawn at times, but it still doesn’t seem to help. I’m drawing a page for SOLESTAR, putting myself through some really tough migraines, in order to contribute alongside these other great talents.

It’s not easy, and it’s not the prettiest page as I’ve been working on it for over 6 weeks, but I do a tiny bit every few days and use a lightbox to put it all together. My faith rests in my inker to make it look like it at least belongs in the book.

OD: Godspeed Siike, but let’s change tempo before Sarah McLaughlin and Sally Struthers chime in. We know SOLESTAR is for aneurysm research, but what’s it about? 

GH: Siike’s answer will no doubt cover this better than I can. I will say this much. Beyond being a story about a superhero, SOLESTAR is about making the most of everyday.

Our hero has been around for over 150 years. That all ends here. SOLESTAR is well aware that today is the last day he will be alive. What can one man do to change the world in a day? Find out in SOLESTAR.

SD: Sorry. I told those ladies to be here. They’re with me. As for the book, it’s about SOLESTAR’S last day on Earth. In this story, he was one of the first superheroes created in Japan back in World War II. The story begins in the year 2099 (my nod to a certain series of books), as SOLESTAR reaches nearly 175 years of age. He has outlived all of his loved ones, including his wife Ashley, who passed away from an aneurysm almost 50 years prior to page 1 of the book. Knowing that his body is about to give up on him, SOLESTAR embarks on one final adventure to do what every superhero does best… teach us how to save ourselves.

This journey takes him all over Japan, to space, through his fragmented memories, saving various civilians, and face to face with some of his most powerful enemies, in which he aims to change their perspectives on the world, knowing that they’re the only ones with superpowers left. He figures if he can inspire some bad people to do a few things that are good, then he’s leaving the world a better place than it was before.

In short, the story is about doing the right thing. It’s about how one small act can make a world of difference. And not only will it help raise awareness, while also telling a (hopefully) cool superhero story, but we have aspirations to do something good down the line with some of the profits. We’re trying to figure it all out, and still stay within the guidelines we agreed to with Kickstarter, but it’s my hope that this book, or profits from it in the future, will actually save an aneurysm victims life.

It’s my legacy, and I want it to be a selfless one.

SOLESTAR 4RC: Yea, it’s basically a futuristic superhero story, with SOLESTAR being the Japanese ubermensch and the most powerful hero of his world. But Brain Aneurysms can affect ANYBODY. The shifting and fading memories, the exhaustion, the frustratingly awkward embarrassment of it all, it really adds a big dose of humanity to the perspective of somebody who once had to reignite the sun. Siike’s plot has elements that are rarely, if ever, utilized in superhero fare.

OD: Richard please say more about a few of those “rarely, if ever used” elements in the story.

RC: Well, without giving too much away, like Gene said this is Solestar’s last hurrah, his last ride. In the story he’s been a savior and inspiration to millions for many decades, but now he’s having to face the endgame of something more complicated than just finding a Doctor Bad-Guy to beat the tar out of.

Everyone has always depended on him and his abilities, but now who can he turn to when said abilities are as useless as a case of hotpockets for Sandy survivors with no electricity to power their microwaves. There is action in the tale, but it’s more of a look into the cause and effect of the ideal of legacy.

OD: So who is doing what exactly on SOLESTAR?

GH: Siike wrote the entire story. Each page will be by a different artist (over 50 in all) in a different style. Pros like Kevin Eastman and Sean “Cheeks” Galloway are part of this as well as Indy sensations like Kate Carleton, Renzo Ventrella, and Monica and Graven Ravenwolf. Colors, Inks and letters are all done by volunteers as well.

Each artist is drawing in their own style. We have tattoo artists, manga inspired art and many other styles all in this one story. This is truly a unique project.

Richard and I are SOLESTAR’S pit crew. Our job is to help Siike get more artists for the book, coordinate the work being done, and managing publicity such as this interview.  We also help get the word out through Richard’s website (www.thelotteryparty.com) as well as my podcast (www.nerdnation.co)

SD: What Gene said. It’s just a huge collaboration. The fun part for me is the changes I make to the script when an artist picks their page.

For example, an artist on Chapter 3, Neil Kapit, loves cats. So I tweaked the story a bit and added cats to a scene for him to draw. It’s a lot of fun. I want every page of this to feel personal, and I understand that it can’t just be a personal thing for me, but must be for those on board with us as well.

This project has to be bigger than all of us if it’s going to do what we need it to do. And as Gene said, he and Richard are the pit crew. They are editing the book, helping me find artists, helping us spread the word. I don’t make a decision without their input. They’re my brothers and I respect their opinions immensely.

RC: I don’t think any of us have actually done anything quite like this before, so we are learning as we go, building the house as we design it. I know I’m learning a lot in the doing. But like Siike said, working with so many awesome talents is the best part. Like M. Rasheed, who took time from his ten issue (and 150 page each) graphic novel series Monsters 101 to knock out a couple of pages for us. Pairing him with Greg Harms, who has inked a lot for BlueWater and Arcana but who I happen to know is also an under-utilized coloring powerhouse, was really neat. Peter Palmiotti knocked out several great pieces for us as well, and having webcomicker Anna Fitzpatrick come in to color a page was incredible. She’s never colored over other artists before, but hers I think is one of the stronger pages, and largely for her efforts. And Matt Bergin, who runs the Comic Blog Elite- he’s been a supporter since the start, and will actually be contributing alongside Siike. We have indie artists and Kubert School alum alike. And amazingly, there is consistency to the pages irregardless of so many fantastic styles in play. The fact they are all contributing great work for free makes them heroes by me.

OD: All right guys, let’s close with the pitch. Tell us about the Kickstarter, the wonderful prizes for contributing, and how and when the book will be delivered. 

SD: Every Kickstarter is personal, no doubt about that. Every project on there is someone’s baby. Ours is a lot more than that. It’s my legacy. This will be here in my place should my health give out, or the pain become too much, or if I have another aneurysm and don’t survive it. Every artist on board isn’t just interpreting their own version of the story, but interpreting a part of me as well. They are bringing my mission to life, and helping me make a difference in someone’s life down the road. We can’t use the Kickstarter earnings for charity, but once the book is released and distributed worldwide next year, a portion of that could. Solestar could actually save a life, so by donating to our Kickstarter, you give him the power to do just that. No other Kickstarter can say that.

As for the prizes, we have original art pages, PDFs, wristbands, t-shirts, printed copies of the book, printed thank you’s in the book, six variant covers by some very diverse and talented artists, an original page of art by Kevin Eastman, and the chance to be drawn into the book as the main villain.

If we reach our Kickstarter goal, the book will be ready by March 6th, 2013. We’re planning two release parties. One will be at Golden Apple Comics in LA, where I work, on March 6th. The other will be at A Comic Shop on March 13th in Orlando, FL, followed by a table and a panel at MegaCon the 15th-17th.

SOLESTAR is about doing something selfless. I just hope others will agree.

Well I know I do guys, thank you for your time and using your talents to make a difference.