THE KICKSTAND: Halloween Comes Early Thanks To Amy Reeder

In our last episode, Lea Hernandez was causing a lot of conversation about the proper use of Kickstarter with her campaign to fund "The Garlicks." Her Kickstarter was unsuccessful, but she promises to be back in August for another round. Meanwhile, Top Cow's Marc Silvestri is taking a novel approach with a Kickstarter (not started yet) that will raise money to relaunch "Cyber Force" as a free comic. That's right -- he wants people to pay him to make a comic that will be given away for free. Genius or madness? We'll know in a few weeks. And the cream of the current Kickstarter crop is Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare's Halloween Eve, which has been getting a lot of ink on the blogs. Details are below, along with a quick guide to some intriguing new Kickstarter campaigns.

Halloween Eve

What's the big idea? Halloween costumes come to life in a spooky comic set in a costume store.

Moving force: Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare, who first teamed up on "Madame Xanadu." Reeder, who started out with the fashion manga "Fools Gold" for Tokyopop, has also done covers for "Supergirl" and interior art for "Batwoman." Montclare is a former Tokyopop, DC and Vertigo editor turned writer; his latest work is "Fear Itself: The Fantastic Four."

Selling point: Reeder's art. Really, that's reason enough to lay your money down.

Premiums: For a buck you get a weekly e-mail with updates and artwork, which is pretty nice compared to the usual thank you/good karma first premium. Reeder and Montclare also got things rolling with an early-bird special, a signed and numbered comic plus a print for $10. Latecomers still get a comic and a card for $10; that's fairly steep for a 40-page comic. On the other hand the personal premiums -- a portfolio review by Montclare for $50, an art lesson from Reeder for $100 -- are outstanding bargains for would-be creators.

This caught my eye: "Later in the summer we'll be announcing a publisher that will help us package and distribute our comic.  But since this book is 100% creator-owned, there's no publisher's financing." So this comic will have the distribution advantage that comes with working with a publisher and will presumably be available through the regular channels, not just to Kickstarter backers.

Funding goal: $10,000, which has already been exceeded.

Deadline to pledge: July 27.

Nothing is Forgotten

What's the big idea? A nicely produced paperback collection of three thought-provoking short stories, bound into a single, finely produced volume.

Moving force: Ryan Andrews, who lives in Japan. He's pretty modest and hasn't said much more than that in his bio, but he has an agent so he must be pretty good. Check out his website and blog for more of his art, which is superb.

Selling point: All three of the stories are available online at his site; the Kickstarter is to produce a high-quality print volume. As Andrews says, "Reading comics online (and for free!) is fun, but I think comics are meant to be read in a real deal book. You know, something you can curl up with on the couch and get lost in. I want to give you a book that will last you a long time, and look beautiful in your collection."

Premiums: The lowest pledge, $8, gets you a nice set of three prints, one from each story. The book is a bit pricey ($28), but that's because Andrews is shipping from Japan. The top two premiums, original art from the front and the back of the book, are already sold out.

This caught my eye: One of the stories, Sarah and the Seed, has been nominated for an Eisner award in the Best Digital Comics category.

Funding goal: $6,500; so far, pledges are more than double that.

Deadline to pledge: August 1.

Fame and Misfortune

What's the big idea? A black-and-white graphic novel about a bodyguard with supernatural powers protecting a self-absorbed pop star.

Moving force: Kel McDonald, the creator of Sorcery 101. McDonald has already successfully funded print editions of her webcomics via Kickstarter; this is the first time she is doing a simultaneous print/web release.

Selling point: McDonald is a veteran webcomicker who has built an audience and has shown she can deliver the goods. For this comic, she plans to create ten pages a month and post them at Kickstarter, in a blog that will be available only to backers (minimum pledge $1).

Premiums: McDonald offers excellent value for the money; unlike some Kickstarters, this one does not ask you to pay more for a book than you would pay in a store. The entry-level pledge, $1, gets you access to the process blog and a PDF of the finished comic. McDonald will throw in a print copy at the $10 level.

This caught my eye: McDonald is willing to ramp it up if the support is there: If pledges reach $5,000, she will do a concept art sketchbook; at $10,000 she will do a limited run of 100 hardcover copies, and at $20,000, all the books will be in color.

Funding goal: $3,000, which has been exceeded, but she hasn't reached any of her stretch goals yet.

Deadline to pledge: August 20.

The Mighty Titan

What's the big idea? Superheroes are invulnerable, but humans are not, as Titan finds out when his alter ego is diagnosed with cancer.

Moving force: Joe Martino, who created "Shadowflame" for Arcana Comics and was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2004.

Selling point: Martino stresses that this is not an autobiographical comic. It's a superhero comic that clings to the conventions of the genre, with villains and mythological creatures, but underlying it all, as Martino says, is a theme of "fear and loss," a theme that he developed after talking to other cancer survivors as well as making it through two bouts of cancer himself.

Premiums: A buck gets you good karma and undying gratitude, $5 gets you a PDF of the first issue, $7 gets you a print comic. That's a lot for a single comic, but it makes sense given production costs. The most interesting premium is at the $750 level; while a lot of comics artists will draw a backer into a scene, this premium allows the backer to create a new character -- villain or superhero -- work with Martino to flesh it out, and retain ownership of it when the Titan comic is done.

This caught my eye: The comics will feature cover art by well known artists including Jerry Ordway, Jamal Igle and Phil Jimenez.

Funding goal: $10,550.

Deadline to pledge: August 14.


What's the big idea? A digital comic about the upending of a totalitarian state.

Moving force: Janine Frederick, who has done a couple of short comics and placed second in one round of Zuda. She talked a bit about her inspiration for the comic in a recent interview. Her husband, Ken Frederick, will do most of the art, with a number of guest artists, including Eisner-winning colorist Gabriel Bautista, chipping in.

Selling point: "If 'Quandary' were a mixed drink, the recipe would be:  2 parts George Orwell's '1984,' 2 parts 'Life as We Know It' and 1 part Occupy movement."

Premiums: PDFs, prints, blah blah, but for $2,500, Frederick will send you a dozen homemade cookies and then call you on the phone and yell at you. No doubt someone, somewhere, will find that very appealing. Let's just hope they have $2,500. There were also ten opportunities to guest on filmmaker Kevin Smith's SmodCo podcast, but those have sold out. Still available: A portfolio review by writer Paul Allor and three memberships to the Comics Experience Creators Workshop, both at very reasonable prices.

This caught my eye: Frederick went to culinary school for three years, which makes the cookie premium a bit more tempting.

Funding goal: $2,500.

Deadline to pledge: August 5.

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