When I spoke to Evan Young for my Kickstand column back in May, he had just canceled the Kickstarter for his comic The Last West, the tale of a world in which all scientific and cultural progress has just stopped. But he had done it for a good reason: He had just signed with Alterna Comics, and having a publisher changed enough things that he felt he had to retool the Kickstarter.
Now he's back, with a new Kickstarter campaign that has already exceeded its goal, and it seemed like a good time to ask him about what changed (and what didn't).
Robot 6: First of all, can you briefly summarize why you cancelled and relaunched your Kickstarter for The Last West?
Evan Young: Good question. To make a long story short, we finalized a digital publishing deal with Peter Simeti over at Alterna Comics, which came smack in the middle of our first Kickstarter campaign. Which was fantastic for us! Unfortunately, it was not fantastic for our Kickstarter campaign at the time. Kickstarter rules don't allow you to modify rewards in any way once someone has backed your project for that particular reward, so for that reason alone we were going to have to cancel it and reboot. The rewards we offered the first time around were not geared toward a published book (either digital or in print), they were not timed to coincide with our new Alterna schedule, etc. Just a bunch of problems for us that we weren't going to be able to work out while at the same time staying fair to our backers.
So at the end of the day, we thought the most fair thing to do would be to cancel the campaign and relaunch it once we had all of our details sorted out — so that's what we've done.
What is different this time around? Why is the goal so much lower, and how did you change the rewards?
The primary difference this time around is that this campaign is meant to fund only Volume 1, which is issues 1 through 5 of the series. To be clear, the entirety of the series will still come at the price tag of the original first Kickstarter campaign, but for this one, we were able to greatly lower our total funding goal for a few reasons. For one, we already had the first two issues done. For another, we figured we would ask for a much smaller and more attainable goal, and if we needed to, just fill out the rest from our pockets. So $3,800 is where we landed. And we were fairly blown away when we surpassed that after only three days.
As for the rewards, one of our early backers gave us a great compliment about our new reward levels. To paraphrase, he said that this was the most logical and fairly structured reward system he had seen for a Kickstarter comic book project in a long time. Basically, many of our new rewards feel much more like preorders for the comic, in terms of "pricing" and timing. The reward levels ask backers for as close as we could comfortably get to the total you might expect to pay in a brick-and-mortar store for the same finished comic or trade paperback.
Where will the money go?
Same as it was the first time around, the money raised will go directly to our art team to help us finish Volume 1.
How will you deliver Kickstarter exclusives of the print issues (as listed in your rewards) when your book is being published by Alterna?
The agreement with Alterna is for digital distribution only. The print rights are still ours, so we'll be doing the printing ourselves and sending directly to everyone.
What advantage does having a publisher offer over going it alone for digital distribution?
Working with Alterna will hopefully get us a few things we wouldn't get on our own. The most important is reach. Alterna will help push the book out into some additional channels beyond just comiXology — iVerse, for example. The second is a bit more exposure: through Alterna's existing customers, news blasts, website, under "publisher" listings on mobile devices, etc. We thought these seemed pretty good reasons to go with Alterna.
We also got a nice vibe for what Peter is doing over there with his other titles. Some Alterna titles have also been Kickstarter successes, and we like the idea that The Last West might just help grow an indie publisher into something a bit bigger.
How many of the people who pledged to your first Kickstarter have signed on to this one as well?
I'm not sure what the percentage is exactly, but at this point it seems like just about everyone. Although it's definitely taken a bit of wrangling on our part to get the awareness up again, that we have a new Kickstarter campaign up and going. Either way, the story is still exactly the same, the premise and art team are identical — in The Last West, all technological and cultural advancement in our world has ceased, and only one man knows why. This basic premise is what seems to have attracted all the interest, and we hope that it's why all of our original backers have come on board the second time around.
Is your story complete in five issues/one volume?
Nope! Volume 1 is only the first half of the story. It's still targeted to be a 10-issue series, but now will be told in two volumes.
When will the book be out?
Issue 1 comes out in November digitally, then every two months after that. There are no plans for a global print release just yet, so for everyone reading this, the only way to get a print version would be to join our Kickstarter campaign as a backer now, before time runs out on our project — which happens on Aug. 21.