THE KICKSTAND: That's Chinatown, Jake

Things seem to have slowed down a bit at Kickstarter; usually there are over 120 comics projects, but this week I only had 105 to choose from.

So here's a bonus mention: It's not a comic, but Mike Kunkel, creator of "Herobear and the Kid" and "Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam," has a new Kickstarter to fund a children's picture book, "Timmy and the Moon Piece."

While many Kickstarter projects include retailer incentives, one creative thinker has designed a Kickstarter in which, at least in theory, every comic sent to a donor will be matched by a comic to a retailer -- hopefully to be sold in the shop and help build an audience for the creator.

The Time of Reflection

What's the Big Idea? A dark fantasy comic that crosses the story of Snow White with the traditional trickster of folk tales. Part of the concept is the distribution of the comic: At the basic pledge level, the creators will send a copy to the donor and to the comic shop or bookstore of the donor's choice.

Moving force: Alex Wilson, a writer and actor based in Carrboro, North Carolina, is the face of this project and the writer of the comic; the artist is Brazil-based Silvio dB.

Selling point: The comic won the 2012 Eagle Award/MCM Expo Award for New Visionaries at the MCM Expo/London Comic-Con. It was created specifically for a special Eagle category, "The Huntsman's Challenge," sponsored by MCM Expos and the Universal Pictures movie "Snow White and the Huntsman."

Premiums: For $3, Wilson will not only send the pledger a copy of the 12-page comic, he will also send a copy to the comic shop or independent bookstore of the pledger's choice. The retailer is welcome to sell the book, toss it in the dollar bin, or just throw it out. (Retailers who want to skip the middleman can simply pledge $20 and get a package of ten comics.) And if ten donors send copies to a single store in North Carolina (or 20 donors send comics to a store in the surrounding states), Wilson will make a personal appearance at his own expense. There is an incredible assortment of other premiums: Sketches, sugar cookies topped with panels from the comic, a jigsaw puzzle... Wilson will also create a song parodying a popular story or comic or, for a higher price, he will create a song based on the pledger's own creation.

This caught my eye: If pledges reach $5,000, Wilson will reveal, to backers only, everything they need to know to get paid background and extra work in films and television shows.

Goal: $450, which has already been exceeded.

Deadline to pledge: October 23.

The Secret Around-the-World Adventures of Owney the Postal Dog

What's the Big Idea? Owney the Postal Dog was the real-life mascot of the U.S. Postal Service in the 1890s. He traveled cross country and even made a trip around the world, all to promote the U.S. Mail. This graphic novel takes Owney on some new, fictional adventures in exotic places.

Moving force: Artist David Montgomery and writer Marcelo Vital, the St. Louis-based team behind the graphic novel "1904," which tells the (fictional) story of a delivery boy who foils an attack on the St. Louis World's Fair.

Selling point: An intriguing historical story in the vein of Around the World in 80 Days, but with a dog as the hero.

Premiums: The first question I always ask when I look at a Kickstarter is: How much does the book cost? In this case, the minimum pledge to get a copy is $15, and that's just the digital version. The paper book costs $20. For those who want to support the book but don't necessarily want a copy, you can get a thank-you for $1 or a postcard and a Tweet for $5. As the pledge amount increases, the authors add in the usual incentives -- autographed copies, T-shirts, original art, including the pledger and the pledger's pet in the story. The $500 level pledge is a pet or architectural portrait by Motgomery.

This caught my eye: The top premium, for $2,500, is a trip to the U.S. Postal Museum in Washington, DC, to see the original Owney, who has been lovingly stuffed and is on exhibit. This may be unique in the history of Kickstarter, if not comics -- the opportunity to see the taxidermied remains of the main character. Incidentally, Owney met an untimely end in 1897 -- he was shot by a police officer after he bit a postal clerk. It will be interesting to see how the creators handle this.

Goal: $10,000, which will cover art and production costs.

Deadline to pledge: November 4.

Martin Monsterman - Graphic Novel

What's the Big Idea? A graphic novel about a guy who turns into a different monster every day. This is the first in a planned line of all-ages graphic novels to be published under the imprint Fishtank Books.

Moving force: Manny Trembley, the creator of "PX! Book One - A Girl and Her Panda" (which was nominated for several Eisner Awards) and "PX! Book Two - In the Service of the Queen," as well as two miniseries for Image, "Sam Noir: Samurai Detective" and "Sam Noir: Ronin Holiday."

Selling point: A monster a day! Now there's a creative challenge! Also, Trembley has strong feelings about making comics for kids: "A lot of products masquerading as kids books carry a cynicism and perspective that caters to adults. I feel that there is not enough content that celebrates dreaming and the belief people are made for adventure and fun!"

Premiums: A softcover copy of the book comes with a pledge of $20. There doesn't seem to be a digital edition, so a $5 pledge nets the donor a thank you in the book. Tremblay doesn't clutter up his page with a lot of small pledge increments: He adds in an original ink drawing for $50, a limited-edition print and T-shirt for $100, a commissioned drawing in black and white for $250 and in color for $500, and an original short story, with the pledger as a main character being turned into a monster, for $1,000.

This caught my eye: Kickstarter has added a section where the creator has to explain the risks of the project and how he or she plans to deal with them. In this case, Trembley notes that he has self-published a graphic novel and published several more comics through Image. "All the books I've worked on were turned in on time to Image Comics all the while working a day job. (Which is what I am doing now)"

Goal: $7,000.

Deadline to pledge: November 4.

Chinatown: A Graphic Novel

What's the Big Idea? A haunted-house story set in Chinatown and inspired by monster and action movies from Hong Kong.

Moving force: The Sun Brothers, Wesley and Brad. I really can't improve on this bio: "They grew up in Orlando, FL reading comic books and playing Sega Genesis. 

"Wesley went on to become a hospital chaplain on the South Side of Chicago. He knows kung fu. Brad studied art and worked as a gallery preparator before joining his brother to create Sun Bros Studios."

Selling point: This is one of those comics that just looks interesting as hell, with a missing-kid mystery, a supernatural overlay and an exotic setting with a lot of atmosphere.

Premiums: A digital copy will cost the donor $5, and an autographed hard copy plus a digital copy plus an invitation to the launch party on the South Side of Chicago is $25. At the higher levels the Sun Brothers also offer copies of their next book, "Apocalypse Man," and they will draw the donor into that story for $500.

This caught my eye: For $1,500, the Sun Brothers will give a lucky donor a guided tour of the Art Institute of Chicago and their studios, then fix dinner for them. So far, three people have pledged at this level.

Goal: $11,000.

Deadline to pledge: November 1.

Nix Comics 2013: It's the Big Ask, Baby!

What's the Big Idea? Nix, a small indy comics publisher based in Columbus, Ohio, is seeking funding for six anthologies to be published in 2013: "Nix Western Comics" #2, "Nix Comics for Kids" #2 and four issues of "Nix Comics Quarterly."

Moving force: Ken Eppstein, who pretty much is "Nix Comics." So far, he has published six comics, plus a webcomic that is regularly updated.

Selling point: Blurbs from Derf Backderf ("My Friend Dahmer"), Michael Allred ("Madman," "Atomics," "Red Rocket 7," "iZombie"), and Michael Kupperman ("Tales Designed to Thrizzle"). Also, Eppstein has posted all the back issues of Nix Comics so would-be participants can see what to expect.

Premiums: Because there are different lines of comics, the premiums are a bit confusing. Eppstein doesn't bother with a "thank you for the dollar level," but jumps right into it with a single Nix Comic for $7 or a full digital subscription for the year for $25. Print copies of all six comics will set the donor back $40. Then the T-shirts and extras kick in. Eppstein is also using Kickstarter to sell ads in the different anthologies.

This caught my eye: Eppstein will be paying the creators: About 40% of the funds raised will go to the artists of the comics. Another 40% will pay for production and shipping costs, 10% will go to Kickstarter and Amazon fees, and 10% gets plowed back into the business as marketing. Also, if the pledge amount is exceeded, he will add more anthologies on different themes as stretch goals.

Goal: $25,000.

Deadline to pledge: December 5.

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