Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The SteamWorld Chronicles Interview

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  I am joined today by one of the co-creators behind the comic Kickstarter project, “The SteamWorld Chronicles” Steven Hoveke.  Thank you for joining us today Steven.  

Happy to be here

I think the obvious first question is, why Kickstarter?  It looks like you have more than enough here to get started as a webcomic, create a fanbase, and then come to Kickstarter.  Why jump straight to Kickstarter?  

Mike Scigliano and myself have worked in and around the comics industry for long time. We both grew up comics readers and fans. For me, webcomics are awesome but they work best when you have a team that is willing to work long term for no pay. Solo writer/artists and creative teams that have strong personal ties (I think) fit this bill better. Our creative team was assembled from a group of friends, but we wanted to ensure they were paid up front for their work, regardless of the success of the books. We certainly could have gone this direction, but we really wanted and love the ability to hold a comic book in our hands, and while we plan to run digital as well, we like the floppies.

Can you give us a brief rundown of the concept?

Sure. It is, at its most basic, an action-adventure story set in a steampunk-styled alternate version of our United States. People will get the connections to Indiana Jones or James Bond, I’m sure. An object is stolen from a train and the government asks our main character to retrieve it for them to avoid the public exposure. Only once he gets there, he realizes that there is a lot more going on and finds proof that a person from his past is heavily involved. The search for the missing object, once identified, and what’s behind it will become the focus of several groups seeking to recover it and will take our hero across the Atlantic to Europe.

You are asking for $9,500 for a 48-page black and white book.  Will this cover just the books bought in this Kickstarter or enough that you can distribute them as examples of your work for the publishers?

Our Kickstarter is actually set where it is to cover JUST our creative costs for a single 48-page FULL-Color book. (not B&W)  It will be the first of three 48-page books that comprise the complete story. Mike and myself are taking NO money from the KS fund unless we clear $30k, which is essentially what we need to pay our creative team for all three books.

That’s why our stretch goals are set up the way are as well. If we double our KS funding, every person who pledged $10 or more will AUTOMATICALLY get issue #2 when it’s finished, and carry that forward logically, if we get the $30k, everyone gets all three 48-page books, the complete adventure for JUST their initial $10 pledge. That’s why we’d hoped for a big impact from the beginning as we would love to be able to fund our entire story in one shot at KS. That way we don’t have to come back to KS for chapters 2 and 3. Then again, we may have to prove ourselves with this first issue before we can really start to convert the masses.

What kind of experience does your team have in creating comics?  

Mike has had some writing experience a number of year’s ago. This will be my first published comic writing gig, even though I’ve written a number of other screenplays and comic projects. We have a lot of experienced people looking at our stuff as we go to keep us on the right path. I myself, work with Walter and Louise Simonson, both long considered to be masters of storytelling and two of the finest editors in comics. At the recent Long Beach Comic Con, Jimmy Palmiotti took time out of his busy schedule to read over our 23-page ashcan and gave us a strong thumbs-up and his thoughts on it.
Our penciller, Ben Risbeck is fairly new to comics, but has been involved in the graphic design and storyboarding for years. The colorist, Jeff Balke has so many coloring gigs under his belt, I can’t even keep them all straight, the same goes for our letterer, John J. Hill who was a long-time letterer for DC comics and one-time art director there, in charge of designing many of the logos involved with the “52” and “Countdown” books during his time there.

What is your overall dream for Steamworld Chronicles?  What’s the ultimate goal?

Well, I would be lying if I was to say we didn’t want to see our adventures come to life on film or the TV. That being said, We are really just hoping to establish a fanbase for more adventures we have in mind for our heroes. This world we’ve crafted here is filled with characters and situations that would make great adventures in amongst themselves. We have big plans for this universe, so we are hoping for enough interest and success that we can continue creating in this world and hopefully make a little money at the same time.
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? Stories from the project?

We really jumped into this, getting the KS launched, without all the necessary assets in place. Every day that passes we see something else, we could have had ready. So there is a great amount to be learned from this experience regardless of our turnout. Clearly, we don’t want to have to fund the creation of this project entirely out of our own pockets, but we both are fully prepared to do what we have to do in order to see that our team gets paid and we create the books and finish the project. Our colorist just returned from being away from home for over a month, so our new updates will include color pages as well as more art updates with the inked pages and new pencil pages as they become available. We are actively seeking interview avenues such as this one and hope to utilize them to further the exposure of our project to as many people as possible.

Another key area of any Kickstarter Project is an introduction video.  Even comic projects that are inherently a drawn medium perform better with some sort of video.  How hard of a choice was it for you to launch with no video on your project?  Are there plans for videos in the future?  

The plan was to have a video put together while the KS was running and update the page during it’s run. We shot some footage during a recent convention appearance where our entire team was together, but the footage became damaged and we are feverishly working to get something put together to have up for the remainder of the campagn.

With such clean Inking and line work I’m surprised you don’t have more art posted with this project directly on the Kickstarter page.  Why not let us see more of the talent your team has where everyone can see it?  

It’s coming, and you’re right. We should have put more up for people to see. Learning curve.

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 are using our personal and project Facebook pages, our personal and project twitter feeds as the majority of the marketing for exposure. We had some postcards made and have handed them out at a recent con appearance. We have friends with larger followings retweet and repost about the project and have an upcoming interview about the project on a very popular comics podcast. Which, once posted, will be linked at the project page. We are utilizing Kicktraq, to monitor analyze our progress.

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

Have an interesting and varied array of rewards. Lots of options across as many pricing tiers as you can. Make a video. Once we’re finished with this campaign, I’m sure I’ll have more ;)

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

Thank you! Please take a minute and go check out our project.

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

Us too!

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