The always-busy writing team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray are back with a Kickstarter campaign for Denver, a 72-page original graphic novel for mature readers illustrated by Pier Brito. As with most things involving Palmiotti, there is an interesting angle to this particular project (his sixth Kickstarter) in that the creators have added a soundtrack to the story, written and composed by Hans Karl. Denver comes equipped with a direct story pitch: "... one man going against all odds to get back the woman he loves, all set in the not-too-distant future." With 15 days left on the campaign, Palmiotti was happy to discuss this latest Kickstarter.
Tim O'Shea: When you decided Denver needed to be a mature-audience project, was it mostly due to the sex or violence or a mixture of both?
Jimmy Palmiotti: A mixture of both, but we knew from the beginning we were going to go a bit extreme with the content, so we wrote the story as we saw it. The story itself deals with adult topics like blackmail and betrayal so thinking this would ever be an all ages comic would not make sense. The Kickstarter crowd prefers this type of content from us, we are finding.
What prompted you and Justin to collaborate with illustrator Pier Brito?
We had the story in mind and we were slowly shopping for an artist that we thought would fit. We found this in Pier and we ran with it. One of the biggest parts of the process of making comics is matching the right talent with each other. My editorial skills come in handy like that.
You are offering a variety of prints (as rewards) from different artists. How did you go about who to tap for the prints?
I always go to my good friends each and every time. They believe in what I am doing and are excessively generous with their time and talent. This is a small brilliant group that I would do anything for at any time and they know it. Dan Panosian, John Cebollero and Dave Johnson are three guys I would build a house for them and have them live next door if they wanted to. Over the years, you just connect with people, no matter what their background is. These connections last a lifetime and we support each other best we can. I want nothing but major success for all my friends and I make that clear. I have always been lucky that way. A life is all about the relationships one makes along the way. Great friendships are great successes.
Talk about the decision to include a soundtrack with this project.
That was an idea Justin and I were talking about and it stems from my love of listening to motion picture soundtracks while I write. When you have a story and a backdrop like we have with Denver, we always imagine it as a real world with its own beat, and we thought this would be something cool to add to the Kickstarter that wouldn't cost the fans too much and make the project a bit unique. So far people have been curious and commenting about it and getting people interested in the book any way we can is part of our job. I think Hans Karl did an amazing job with it and the 22 Brides song at the end is just beautiful; Carrie and Libby Johnson have amazing voices.
Given that you have used Kickstarter on five projects so far, do you ever fear you might burnout your fanbase?
Five projects in over two and a half years is not really something that can burn out an audience. That's one project every six months. As well, we are offering completely different types of material each time as far as content to the books. I think the projects are random enough that burnout will not happen and we try to mix up the pledge offerings enough that they are always interesting. The best thing I can do is deliver a fantastic product and extras and make people anticipate the next Kickstarter because they are so happy, and that's what has been happening. More than half the people that pledge always ask when the next one is happening. It's a good feeling and a reflection we are doing something right.
Would you say one of the keys to a successful Kickstarter is keeping your potential and actual investors informed of the project's progress? What other lessons have you learned over the course of your past five Kickstarters?
Keeping everyone informed is your duty. It is just as much part of the process than delivering the goods. What I have learned is to be professional and treat everyone, as I would like to be treated. It's a simple rule but its amazing to me how many people don't listen to it. I have also learned to be realistic with the goals, to check each time shipping and projected weights for projects and to make sure each an every person is happy and if there is a problem, to solve it right away. We have more to lose than anyone if we make one customer upset or disappointed because they will never back another project again. Most of the pledges we get are returning customers, and that is very important. My last thing I learned is to support others projects. You cannot live in a vacuum when doing this. I feel , with making comics, we are all in this together and must support each other best we can.
What am I neglecting to chat about that you want to address?
I have a lot of people that get upset when they miss the Kickstarters and want to get the books and digital downloads of projects that have passed. What we did is put some of these up on our PaperFilms site and offer them at a reasonable rate. We are slowly building the store section to include not only the Kickstarters but past work as well, and new books like Painkiller Jane that people might have missed. For the real fan, I think its cool to get the product from the actual people making it and we are trying to do this a little at a time.