Although it took Aaron Alexovich a decade to create the material that will appear in the Serenity Rose: 10 Awkward Years compilation, it only took a few hours for the Kickstarter to sail past his initial goal. It kept right on sailing; at press time, the original $5,500 he was looking to raise is a mere pittance compared to the almost $40,000 the project has raised. And it still has two weeks to go.
I caught up with Aaron to discuss the success of the project and his plans for the future of the Serenity Rose world.
JK Parkin: First off, congratulations on reaching -- and blowing away -- your original goal. Now that you're well over the amount you needed, what are your plans for the extra money?
Aaron Alexovich: Thank you! Blown away is right. I put up the Kickstarter around midnight on Halloween and went to bed just hoping not to be embarrassed by the whole thing. The next morning my wife, Ami, told me we were fully funded already and I almost cracked my skull open in the shower. Would've been hard to fulfill all those orders with half my brains dangling out.
At first I was putting the extra money into tricking out the book. Hardcover, higher quality paper, spot gloss on the cover, that kind of stuff. The ribbon! Gotta have the silk ribbon! I threw down this challenge where if we got to $35,000 I'd print a special slipcover version for the Kickstarter backers, but the fans just hurtled past that. I honestly don't know what to do next... Print it on diamond? Is that a thing? My boss suggested I buy a private plane and hand-deliver copies, but I think riding a golden robot would be more, you know, special. God, after so many years of struggling in the small press comic business, it's so nice to have "problems" like this.
When you started the project, did you anticipate you'd hit these kinds of numbers? What were your initial expectations?
Well, I knew the Serenity Rose fans were awesome, and I knew they'd be into the idea of a nice omnibus collection of the series. But I thought I was taking a HUGE chance in asking them to put up half the cost of even a smallish paperback print run. Basically what I've learned over the past couple weeks is that if you ever need someone to guess how many gumballs are in a jar, I am NOT the guy to ask. My DREAM was to give everybody a really cool, physical object without destroying my own bank account in the process. Even "breaking even" was unthinkable!
Despite the large number of people who have contributed thus far, I'm guessing there still might be one or two people out there who may not be familiar with Serenity Rose. Can you tell them a little bit about the series and what they can expect to find inside the book when your giant golden robot delivers it?
Yeah, one or two or 6 billion, give or take. I'm pretty useless with marketing-type stuff, but the Golden Robot people tell me they can help with that. Fingers crossed.
Serenity Rose is a horror/comedy series about this painfully social phobic witch stuck in a town that lives on supernatural tourism. Crestfallen was founded by witches in the 1600's but it's sort of devolved into this cheesy tourist trap. The series is about Sera just trying to get by, fight off monsters and over-zealous admirers, that kind of thing. I wanted to play in a world where I could be funny and absurd sometimes, but make sharp turns into true creepiness whenever I want. Seems to work.
In book three I actually tried to so a romantic comedy, just as a challenge. Serenity starts up a romance with this girl, but... Well, it ended up with monsters, just like everything else I do.
You're offering a few different premiums, beyond the book itself, as part oft he campaign. What's your favorite of the "extra" items?
My favorite incentive is definitely the pendants. People have been asking me for Serenity's heart-shaped skull pendant since the very first issue came out in 2003. Just never found a way to do it until now. Some problem or another would always come up. But then Ami found a place that can run metal through some sort of 3D printing wizardry machine, so we had a friend of hers rig up a digital model, had a bunch squeezed out through the magic metal squeezer, and man, they look PERFECT. I carry the prototype around with me in my pocket every day now. It's just so cool for it to be REAL after all this time, you know? Can't wait for people to finally have them.
Is the collected edition only available via the Kickstarter, or will it be released to retail as well?
The hardcover will definitely be available in stores and from Amazons and all that, but probably not until the middle of next year. The Kickstarter pledgers get first dibs.
Given the amount of interest in the project, are you more driven to put together some new Serenity Rose material?
Oh, for sure. This book is the end of the Serenity Rose series, but I've always planned to do more stories set in her world. I could spend the rest of my life telling Crestfallen stories and be very happy. We'll see how it goes, but the past few days have really underlined just how much I owe the Serenity fans. I mean, I've always felt close to the people who read my comics, but a thing like this can really put things in focus for you, you know? When you're an "indie comic" type of person, it's easy to think you're just sort of howling into the void. You wonder if there are more than twenty people out there really connecting with your stuff, and that's super-frustrating, especially when you're really pouring your heart out into these things. So it's really satisfying to know that well over twenty people have connected with Serenity enough to support this thing. I wouldn't just leave them hanging.
Any hints on what (or who) new Crestfallen stories might focus on?
I'm still working out the details of Heart-Shaped Skull 2.0... All I know right now is that we're going to go exploring. This big witchy world of Serenity's just keeps inflating. Got to vent it somehow!
What else are you working on?
After 10 years of banging my head against the comics business, I went back into animation this past July. Right now I'm working as a character designer at Titmouse on this Disney show called Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja. It's a fun show! Jhonen Vasquez actually did a lot of design work on the first season, so in some ways it feels like I'm back working on Invader Zim. Only this time there are fewer drawings of children with horrifying boils on their heads, sadly. I sit around drawing monsters and robots all day, so it's a great job, and everyone at Titmouse has been incredibly nice, but still, every artist needs their own THING, right? A thing that's all theirs, where you don't have to take notes or satisfy any clients. Serenity's world will always be my THING. Comics is where I belong, and this Kickstarter just underlines that. I still can't believe it!