Sunday, October 28, 2012

Unbound the Awakening Interview

UPDATE : 10/29/12
As of this post going live I'm pleased to announce Unbound: The Awakening made their $1500 goal with 31 days remaining!  CONGRATULATIONS!

Welcome to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I’m joined by Kyle Stephens, co-creator on the new Kickstarter Comic Project, “Unbound: The Awakening.” Thank you Kyle for joining us today.

Thanks for having me!  It is truly my pleasure.

So Kyle you and your co-creator Mariah Wall are both full time college students, why bring this project to Kickstarter and not, say make a webcomic or submit it to a publisher?  Wouldn’t either of those fit your busy college lives better?   

Honestly, yes, those would have been better for time management.  But we felt that neither of those avenues were the perfect fit for what we wanted.  Doing a webcomic would definitely save on printing costs, but we didn't feel that Unbound fit that type of outlet.  Webcomics are usually done in a comic strip format.  With Unbound, we wanted to stay true to the traditional 24-32 page format.  

We also thought about submitting it to a publisher, it is just that we wanted to have complete freedom over how Unbound grew and evolved as a story.  With Kickstarter we have that freedom.  We also have the ability to connect with our audience.  We can directly talk with them, answer their questions and get feedback.  These things all help Unbound become the best it can be.

Would you care to give us a brief overview of the story of Unbound: The Awakening?

Sure!  Unbound is set in 2554 in the former country of Greece.  In this future science fiction was wrong, deep space travel is not feasible.  Because of this humanity had to turn towards mining to get their resources.  Governments are a thing of the past, corporations run everything from jobs to the police.  The population is split in two, you either live in squalor or in the lap of luxury. Our main character, Liam, lives in poverty with most of the population.  Also like most of the people, he works in the mining industry.  He actually specializes in deep earth mining, one of the most dangerous specializations.  

Before the events of the story, Liam lost his wife and son to disease.  Because of this he signs up for the deepest dig in history. He will be going close to the molten layer.  Before he reaches the scheduled depth, he breaks into a unmapped cavern.  This cavern turns out to be the Underworld, home of Hades, god of the dead.  Liam's actions also awaken the god.  Hades finds that his wife is missing and he can't reach his family.  Hades, who has weakened over time, forms a deal with Liam.  Help me find my wife and family and I'll return your wife or son.

What was your inspiration for this story?  Are you writing this completely by yourself or is Mariah doing some writing too and not just the art?

Both Mariah and I are big fans of Greek mythology.  That shared fascination is what inspired us to create Unbound. Personally I tried to give Liam traits from the Ancient Greek heroes like Odysseus, Heracles, Jason, Achilles and Perseus.  I might be the one writing all the scripts, but we share in the creation process.  We get together two or three times a week to work.  Nothing is ever set in stone until we talk with each other.

There’s a quite a difference between single pieces of art and the sequential art that is required for comic books, how are you handling the differences?  How much experience have you two had in creating comics?
Mariah and I both have had some experience with creating comics, nothing professional though.  If this campaign is funded, it will be the biggest book either of us have done.  As for handling the art, we turn to a lot of our inspirations.  We read a lot of comics by our favorite creators and study how they do what they do.  Each comic to us is more than a story, it is also a study guide.

Is Mariah doing all the art and lettering herself or is she getting any help besides the alternate cover and sketches?

As I said before, we both handle the creation process.  We work together to create an art style we both feel conveys the tone of the story.  The actual drawing of the book though is all Mariah.  Sometimes I feel like I have the easy job.  Mariah pours so much time and effort into the pages, it never fails to amaze me.  I try to help her out by lettering the book.  It is something I have always enjoyed doing.

So the comic is going to be 24 pages with color cover but black and white interior?  Is $1500 (Minus 300 or so for Kickstarter/Amazon) going to be enough for the print run you’re going for?  

The book will be printed in black and white.  We have planned it out though that if we hit our sketch goal, we will be able to print in color.  The goal amount (minus the $150 for fees) will be enough for our minimum print run.  I micromanage the finances and plan where all the money will be going.

So what is the long term goal with this project?  Do you want to sell this to the major publishers and make it into an ongoing series or just the three comics you have planned out?   

Unbound is set to be a lot longer than the three issues.  Based on our complete story idea, we are looking at least a few dozen issues.  We are holding out to release until three issues are completed so we can have that buffer as we continue to work.  We hope to release a new issue every other month.  Beyond that, we have a few ideas that I can't talk about quite yet.

I can see you’re certainly not camera shy!  You’ve done a good job of providing that “personal touch” to this project.  Do you wish you had spent some more time editing and cleaning up the video beforehand or do you think the rough and simple style helps sell your project?

To be completely honest, I tried what felt like a hundred takes prior to the one people can watch.  I tried reading from a script and it felt forced and not me.  After all the failed takes I decided to give it one last try.  I threw out the script and just talked to the camera like I would to a friend.  When it was done, Mariah took it to add some music and images.  We are happy with how it turned out.  Yeah, others have more professional videos, but we are proud of ours.

One of the keys of a successful Kickstarter project is backer participation.  How are you engaging your backers?  What kinds of things do you have planned for updates?  Interviews?  Interesting excerpts from the book? Artwork?

One of the first ways we engage our backers is by giving out a free preview of the book.  People are free to download it then provide feedback that will help shape the future of the story.  Beyond  that I have a few cool updates planned.  We do in fact have an artist interview coming.  Some of our updates (like update #4) will be for backers only.  Those updates will have special previews of how things are coming along and other special tidbits.  I am big on backer interaction so I am always working on new ways to make sure backers know how much they are appreciated.

What kind of media attention have you received with your project?  How are you spreading the word?  Facebook?  Twitter?  Google+? Youtube?  Advertising?  Are you using Kicktraq to help things along?

We have received some media attention.  Our local comic con has really been helping push our project by sharing on their twitter and Facebook page.  As for our personal promotion, we have spread the word on our Facebook pages, twitter accounts, reddit, deviantART and tumblr.  As for Kicktraq, I hadn't heard of it until now.  Thank you, (Laughs)  I will be checking it out now.

Do you have any tips/advice would you give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?  

My main tip for people looking to start their own Kickstarter would have to be, stay active.  Don't create the page and think backers will come out of nowhere.  There is a lot of work that goes into making the page stand out and eye-catching.  You also have to always be interacting with your backers and potential backers.  Those people are the ones that decide if your project sees the light of day.  Be ready to check the page multiple times a day, watching where your backers are coming from and thinking of ways to continue to reach new people.

Thank you for spending your time with us Kyle!  Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

Thank you for having me!  And for anyone looking to make their dream a reality, do it.  Keep a positive and open mind and great things can happen.

Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!  

My pleasure, I will definitely keep you up to date.

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