Spike Trotman is a visionary. She sees possibility where others throw their hands up in defeat. She sees innovation where others see stagnation. She is fundamentally optimistic about the future of comics — and why shouldn't she be? Trotman has conducted massively successful Kickstarters — plural — organized some of the best talent in comics into anthologies like Smut Peddler and The Sleep of Reason, made money-producing Poorcraft (a comic about not having money), and, all the while, maintained Templar, Arizona, her long-running and beloved webcomic.
Comics have been good to Spike Trotman, but her success is very much the result of hard work and fresh thinking rather than chance—hard work that has left her one of the most interesting people in the industry. So, naturally, ComicsAlliance tracked down her booth at San Diego Comic-Con to talk Kickstarter foibles, “porn for chicks,” and a new golden age for comics.
While Captain America is perhaps fictional history's best-known Hitler-puncher, he is far from the only hero to sock old Adolf in the jaw -- and now Canada gets its turn courtesy of Francis Manapul's fundraiser sketch for the Johnny Canuck Kickstarter. The Toronto-based Detective Comics co-writer and artist filmed himself as he sketched, and the video offers a fascinating glimpse of his process.
Like Nelvana of the Northern Lights and Brok Windsor, Johnny Canuck is one of the lost Canadian comic heroes of the 1940s, a time when American comics weren't allowed into Canada because of restrictions on non-essential trade. Long out of print, a new generation may get to enjoy his adventures thanks to this Kickstarter.
Canada offers an impressive range of comics talents, but its comic industry has usually been overshadowed by the buying power of the U.S. market -- but for one brief period in modern history. During the Second World War Canada restricted the import of non-essential items -- and that included comic books. For much of the 1940s, Canadians could only read Canadian comics. The era has become known as the Canadian Golden Age.
Hope Nicholson was a researcher on a documentary about the characters created during this era, Lost Heroes. Fascinated by the subject, Nicholson and her partner Rachel Richey launched a project to restore and republish the stories of one of the first comic superheroines, Adrian Dingle's Nelvana of the Northern Lights. With that book now in print, Nicholson has launched a Kickstarter to revive another lost Canadian hero; the square-jawed action man Brok Windsor.
Amy Reeder made a name for herself in the comics scene with Fools Gold from Tokyopop, but became a favorite of comics art lovers for her excellent occasionally breathtaking work on Vertigo's Madame Xanadu, which saw the versatile stylist to depict a complex and beautiful heroine across vast expanses of time and in all the aesthetic luxury that affords. Her profile rose further with a major level up on Batwoman, synthesizing her manga storytelling influence with tightly rendered yet loose and dynamic action. Whether you quiet scenes with exquisite facial expressions and palpable mood, or diverse body types in the throes of big splash-page comic book action, Reeder's got you covered.
Possibly the most Reeder book ever, Rocket Girl is about a teenage girl who's a cop in the future sent back to the middle of the 1980s to investigate Time Crimes, and in so doing discovers secrets that reveal her utopian home-time isn't so great after all. The premise allows Reeder to indulge herself fully, and in the best sense possible. Full of action, fashion and drama, Rocket Girl is a pleasure to read -- partly because it's obvious that its artist has so much fun drawing it.
We sat down with Amy Reeder at Comic-Con International in San Diego to talk about Rocket Girl, Kickstarter, and the evolution of her unmistakable style.
Digital comics sales are a huge area of growth for the American comic book industry, rising faster than even ebook sales for traditional publishing. Digital accounted for $90 million dollars worth of sales in 2013 and as an increasingly accessible distribution platform for comics creators, is sure to become more and more integrated into the business of making comics.
Journalist, educator and digital media expert Todd Allen is currently running a Kickstarter for his ebook The Economics of Digital Comics, which helps explain the intricacies of the digital comics landscape for fans and creators alike. Also the author of The Economics of Webcomics, Allen's already well exceeded his modest funding goal. ComicsAlliance sat down with Allen to discuss his work and the digital business of comics.
If you're a ComicsAlliance reader, then there's a pretty good chance that you're already familiar with Spike Trotman, especially when it comes to her success on Kickstarter. As the creator of The Sleep of Reason and Poorcraft, Spike's had Kickstarter success funding her own comics, and as the editor of Smut Peddler, her latest campaign pulled in an overwhelmingly successful $180,000. If anything will make you an expert on how crowdfunding works, that's the kind of track record that'll do it.
Now, Spike's back with her latest comic, Let's Kickstart A Comic (And Not Screw It Up), featuring harsh truths and solid tips on how to help artists get their own projects off the ground without being financially devastated as a result.
I coordinate an erotic comic anthology called Smut Peddler. The 2014 edition is on Kickstarter right now, and it's slaying. Owning. Knockin' 'em dead. Far and away, the most popular KS project I've ever run. And I'm glad its been so well-received, because otherwise it wouldn't be worth the aggravation.
Have you ever tried to print comic book porno? Not a picnic. I know where to look, thanks to two years of experience and the aid of a freelance print production manager, but it still took two weeks and a dozen price quotes. I had to assemble a PDF of what I call "the black diamond pages," or the most potentially objectionable content, to send around with the quote requests. I had to double and triple-check. "There is sex in this. There are sex organs in this. There is penetration in this. Is that okay? Are you sure? Very sure? Did you see the PDF?"
I've been getting back into James Bond movies pretty heavily over the past few months, but my interest in the world's most famous spy is clearly small change compared to Sean Dove. In December, Dove took on a project called "#Decembond," where he drew a piece of art inspired by all 23 James Bond movies. Now, he's collecting them all in a hardcover called Last Days of Danger and using Kickstarter to fund the printing.
At 56 pages, the book not only includes the art, but also commentary for each film based on Dove's experience watching them for the project, but really, that's just icing on the cake. The art alone is worth the price of admission.
In 2012, the first volume of Smut Peddler, the "ladycentric, sex-positive erotic comics" anthology with a roster of female creators ,was crowd-funded on Kickstarter, racking up a grand total of $83,000 after a month of funding. With that kind of success, and with reader interest only growing over the past two years, a sequel is pretty much inevitable. Last week, the second volume launched on Kickstarter and met its predecessor's total in just five days, taking in over $80,000 with 25 days left to go, and passing the money that was raised on to the creators as a bonus to their page rate.
To find out more, I spoke to Smut Peddler editor Spike Trotman about the difficulties of putting together an erotic comic and getting it out to readers, why porn isn't always the answer to how to make a quick buck, and how one contributor's teenage fan-fiction gave a boost to the funding just after it launched.
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