Wednesday, July 31, 2013

When Magical Girls are Late to the Apocalypse...

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am joined by webcomic creator Alex Heberling who is here to talk to us about her webcomic and Kickstarter, The Hues.  Thank you for joining us today Alex!

Hi there!  Thanks for having me.
Let us start with the elephant in the room: “Post-Apocalyptic Magical Girls?”   Care to explain that a bit more?  
Well, The Hues is a story I’ve been sitting on for a long time, born out of my love for Sailor Moon, which first turned me down the Path of the Geek, as it were.  Back then, the plot was a pretty played-straight carbon copy of a lot of other magical girl stories: girls get powers, girls fight monsters, girls prevent the end of the world.  So when I dusted it off a couple years ago, in order to make it a little more interesting, I decided to ask the question “What if the magical girls weren’t ready when the big baddies showed up?”  And thus, post-apocalyptic.
If the aliens are invading now wouldn’t it be just “Apocalyptic Magical Girls” and not “Post” since the apocalypse is kind of ongoing?  
[laughs] Yeah, the apocalypse doesn’t exactly count as “post-” in this sense, but the tagline sounds better with it in there.  And besides, having the bulk of the story happen AFTER the destruction, since it happens in chapter one, it is TECHNICALLY post-apocalyptic.
You have been posting the Hues since January 1st 2013 and since then you’ve posted 72 pages.  Is that the kind of update rate we can expect after the Kickstarter?  
The pages will update three times a week as they have up to this point.  I’ll be taking a little time after the Kickstarter’s over to finish the chapter in its entirety, so I’ll have a buffer-- and so the Kickstarter backers can read the pages first!
I’m curious, many webcomic projects we see on Kickstarter are for print versions of previous chapters of their ongoing comics, yet yours is for the upcoming chapter and there’s no physical print edition being offered in the campaign.  What made you decide to go in this direction?  
It’s really a big experiment for me.  I’ve watched a lot of webcomic creators using Kickstarter to “launch” their newest projects lately (namely, alumni of the Strip Search web series) and I got inspired.  These people are essentially getting the next year or more of their time paid for, so they can do their comics full time.  I don’t have as big an audience myself, so for the scope of MY Kickstarter, I decided to focus on getting the next chapter of my comic funded, and see how it goes from there.  With luck, I’ll reach some of my stretch goals, one of which IS a print run, since the chapter being funded will round out the first volume of The Hues.  That’s the hidden $15,000 stretch goal on the Kickstarter campaign, by the way-- we’ll see if we get there!
I’ve found that webcomic creators tend to “stick together” supporting one another as best they can.  What support from fellow creators beyond your “boisterous friend” Pete from Bardsworth (for pointing me your way in the first place) would you like to thank and send a shout out to?  
I’d like to thank Phil Kahn, Rosscott, Megan Gedris, and Melissa Kaercher, who all gave me some much needed proofreading of my Kickstarter campaign before I launched it.
As a webcomic creator what is your number one suggestion for those trying to start one of their own?  
First off, just start it.  It’s not going to be perfect the first time around, so learn as much as possible about art and writing and comics as you’re going along.  I’ve been doing this for 8 years and I know there’s still a lot of stuff I’ve yet to learn, so don’t stop!
How did you discover Kickstarter?

The first Kickstarter I was ever aware of was for Gordon McAlpin’s webcomic,
Multiplex.  He used Kickstarter to fund the first book collection.

A key part of successful Kickstarters is backer participation and how to convert a potential backer into a full backer.   How are you engaging your backers?  What kinds of things do you have planned for updates to give notice to those who just hit the “remind me” button and surf on?  Interviews?  Videos?  Stories from the project?

Well, backers are going to be able to see progress updates on the comic itself through the project blog after the campaign is over, so that’s one thing I’m going to do to add value to backers.  For the duration of the campaign, I’m posting when we hit the major milestones.  I posted one at 50%, and I’ll do one when we reach 100%, then stretch goals as we hit them.  I’m winging a lot of this as it comes, since this is my first Kickstarter!
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 track your progress?  

I sent out press releases in a few waves.  One for my local paper and the alt-weeklies, one for publications related to my alma mater, Ohio State, one for the media in my hometown, in a different part of the state, and one for the online media and blogs and such.  My social media efforts are going into Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Tumblr, and Deviant Art.  I’m relying on word-of-mouth for my advertising since I just don’t have the budget for a targeted ad campaign.  Kicktraq is pinned in my browser window and I refresh it probably way more often than is helpful. [laughs]
Do you have any tips/advice would you give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?

Getting as many eyeballs on it before launch is crucial!  People you know who have run their own campaigns are going to be the best at pointing things out that you might have missed.  I had one of my proofreaders point out that one of the rewards in my first draft of the project was against Kickstarter’s rules, so I was able to fix it before I submitted it for approval from the higher-ups.
Thank you for spending your time with us!  Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

Thank you all for reading, and I hope my comic has piqued your interest!  Regardless of whether you pledge or not, the comic is free to read on my website, and it always will be.
Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!

Thanks!  Now back to refreshing my Kicktraq page. [laughs]

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Caught MY Eye 7-30-2013

Caught MY Eye


I see a LOT of Kickstarter projects when I'm looking around Kickstarter.  I also send out many interview requests that either get no response, don't answer their questions, or some other event occurs that prevents me from writing up a full interview.  That means my readers as well as the project creators can easily miss one another.  So to help spread the word here are some of the projects that Caught MY Eye.  

As with the Underachievers, this list is in due date descending order and nothing else.  

by Game Salute

First off, I didn't even know Gaia Online was still an active service! So I was even more surprised to discover they had created a board game. A bright and colorful project that partnered with Game Salute to create a professional project. I hope I'll get to play it some day.

by Random Seed Games

As a veteran of the space industry and someone, you know, who tracked the real Mars rovers, why did no one tell me about this project?!? Honestly it looks like an interesting "what if" sim and one that takes itself more seriously than Kerbal. Worth keeping your eyes on this one to see how they do after their Kickstarter completes!

Cosplay America!

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation! Today I am pleased to be joined by the talented photographer Ejen Chuang.  Ejen is here to talk to us about his first Kickstarter Cosplay in America.  Thank you for joining us today Ejen!

Thanks for reaching out to me! I’m always appreciative of folks interested in such a diverse fandom as cosplay.

Would you be so kind as to explain what Cosplay is for those who are unfamiliar with the term?  Why make a photobook about Cosplayers?  

Cosplay is basically “costume + play”. The term was coined by Nobuyuki Takahashi who witnessed costumers at the 1984 sci-fi convention, World Con. Today cosplay refers to any media from comic books to anime to videogames to movies.... heck, even TV commercial characters are cosplayed! I witness my first cosplay at Anime Expo in 2008 and decided in 2009 to put together a book celebrating the love of cosplayers and their fandom. Since then, I’ve travelled to numerous anime and comic book conventions promoting the book as well as tweeting and posting up photos live from whatever con I’m at as well as making a con video. Somehow I ended up as being Cosplay in America *shrug*

Monday, July 29, 2013

Underachievers for 7-29-2013

The Underachievers


In an effort to help more Kickstarter projects I've decided to start trying two weekly columns, one with just various projects that caught my eye for good reasons, and ones that caught my eye for their mistakes or missed potential.  There can be overlap between these lists for a project can be one I like but at the same time have some problems.

These lists will be in "closing date" order, which means the ones at the top aren't the worst or the best, they're just coming up on their closing dates first.  

Did you SEE that video? Now I know, I'm a sucker for the original War of the Worlds radio drama (I had it on Vinyl more maximum authenticity!) and how the phenomenon was such a product of the times. This project however has only gained 28 backers and is only 1/3 of the way to it's $6,000 goal.

Things that might explain the lack of backers:
  • Lack of eyes. If no one sees your project no one can back it. I have no clue what the social media presence of this project is.
  • Lack of direction. 22 pages for $6,000 black and white? Seems expensive so maybe you need to spell out the costs better.
  • Lack of experience. Maybe the team doesn't seem to have a credible background?
  • Bad product. Honestly I'd be more interested in a video than a comic as they didn't sell me a comic they sold me on the video.


This is another one of those small projects that speaks to me. My mother grew up a farmer and Needles is a very small town (still is). So yeah, I have an attachment to rural America so a photo/story/novel about it is a great idea.

That said the project is doing PATHETICALLY! Why? What are they doing wrong that only 15 have backed them and they're woefully far from their $8500 goal?

  • High cost. $75 for a softcover copy of the book? $110 for the hardcover? I may like the project but damn!
  • NO VIDEO!!! I cannot believe a project about a photo book, that supposedly involves a very nice camera THAT CAN SHOOT VIDEO doesn't have a video?
  • Who's doing this? There's absolutely no connection to the creator so why should I care?
  • No cost breakdown. For that price you'd best explain the costs!
  • Nothing already started. It seems like there's no money already spent by the creator, that without a video we're buying all the equipment and paying for the trip? Poorly planned out.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Look out! There's a Kaiju behind that building!

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation! I am pleased to be joined by Kat, Josh and Patrick from Team Kaiju who are here to talk with us today about their Kickstarter Project: World War Kaiju. Thank you all for joining us.
Patrick - It’s great to be here, thanks!
Josh - Did…did you just teleport me into the room??? Is that even legal?
Kat – Thanks for having us but…er… can you teleport in some clothes… for all of us?
Clothing costs extra, so you'll have to make due.  I think the first question has to be, what are kaiju and how can we have a world war with them?
Josh – Kaiju is a word that has become synonymous with Japanese giant monster cinema. Kaiju, or rather daikaiju, directly translates to mean, “giant mysterious beast.” What separates these creatures from the over-size monsters of American film is that the Japanese tradition is heavily influenced by a combination of Asian folklore, Shinto animism, and the cultural consciousness of post-war Japan. American monsters tend to be giant animals doing what an animal would, just on a larger scale. Japanese monsters are more like forces of nature or angry gods. Kaiju have personalities, agendas—their destruction is not random. When Godzilla rises from the ocean, there’s a reason he heads straight for the city. He’s pissed off and mankind has gotta pay.
How can there be a war of the kaiju? In terms of our graphic novel, it all comes down to one basic premise: In World War Kaiju the atom bomb was never created. When the atom was split at the Trinity Test Site in New Mexico, what crawled out of the smoking crater was a towering beast of pure destruction. Codenamed Fatman, the Second World War to an abrupt end when the U.S. unleashed this beast on Tokyo. This marked the dawn of the Kaiju Age.
Fast forward to five years later, and every major world power is caught in the grips of the Cold War. But unlike the Cold War that plagued our history, the unrelenting arms race of World War Kaiju isn't about atomic bombs. It’s all about atomic monsters—who has them, who doesn't, and who is willing to use them. As you can imagine, it gets real ugly, real quick.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Help Keep Antarctic Press Cool!

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I take a trip way south of the border to the Antarctic Press offices to talk with Joeming Dunn who is here to talk to us about their Indiegogo Project.  Thank you for joining us Joeming!

Thanks for letting me join your conversation.

After discovering Antarctic Press way back in 2000, and you guys being old even then, I’m surprised to see you on Indiegogo.  Would you mind telling us what this campaign is all about?  What are you raising the $3,000 for?  

First off thanks for the support since 2000, it is nice to see such long standing fans. Antarctic Press has been publishing since 1984 and we have been successful in creating our small niche in the market. Over the past year and a half we took the significant step in trying to enter the larger book market which was in retrospect a mistake. While the financial awards for such a step are great there are also many risks, which while we tried to prepare ourselves for the risks they did prove to be overwhelming. We bit off more than we could chew and we ended up with some debts from a variety of different sources (mostly printing and returns). I take full responsibility for this situation. The campaign was asking for a bit of help from our fans. Help us pay off some of the debt to help us keep on going. While we do owe more, we asked for $3000 to help just one of the loans we incurred during this period of time.  

Well it seems your loyal fanbase is behind you as have raised $8,000 of your $3,000 with 12 days to go, what are the plans for the extra money?  

The campaign has exceeded our expectations and we are so grateful to the support. The extra money will go purely for debt payments, we did max out our line of credit and it was nice to be able to pay some of that down. We also were able to pay off the last bit of printer debt associated with our book market printing.

With such classic series like Gold Digger, Ninja High School, and Twilight X, why are all your backer rewards “random grabs” from your back catalogue and not say, a Twilight X only package, or a Rod Espinosa only collection?  

That is such a good idea, I wished I had talked to you sooner. There are many “grab bags” in our campaign and we intend to contact all our supporters to ask them specifically for their preference of artist, series or titles so we will try to accommodate their choices.

Bring Back the Burning Suns!

Welcome back Kickstarter fans!  Today I’ve got a quick announcement/interview for you all.  Seems our old friend Emil Larson is trying to bring back the Burning Suns game that we talked to him about a while back.  Welcome back Emil!

Thanks a lot for letting me back James, it’s nice to get a second shot on your site as well :)

First off, I’m sad to see you didn’t make your goal last time with Burning Suns, but you’ve dusted yourself off, worked on the project and are ready to try again!  So tell me, what went wrong last time?  

I’ve spend a lot of time looking through Kickstarter statistics, reading blogs and so on. And everyone states the same, that if you get 20% during the first days you’re about 90% likely to succeed etc. We had 50% after 4,5 day and still ended up on “only” 88%. But of course these statistics has to be taken with a grain of salt.

What unfortunately happened was a series of several mistakes done through the campaign. I hope it’ll serve as a checklist for new people.
  • I never got a full review up (like the one we have now with the UndeadViking on Youtube).
  • I didn’t ask potential backers about my campaign before I launched, as I’m doing now - previewing my campaign.
  • I was unfortunately absent from the Kickstarter campaign on 2-3 days here and there because of several field exercises in the army.
  • The sweet figures were too far away as stretch goals, which made people doubt they would be in the game. Now I’ve included them from the very beginning - and it’s easier to associate with the “all or nothing” concept of Kickstarter.
  • Shipping was a bit too expensive, this I’ve lowered by using the fulfillment concept.
  • Rules were not in a proper layout, but only a word document. Of course you can do that if you’re Sandy Petersen or some other known guy, but not for a no-namer like me ;)
  • My social media “hub” wasn’t established before I launched.

Well it’s good to see you’ve figured out what went wrong before.  What are you doing to fix it this time around?

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve used a lot of time narrowing down the specific mistakes. And I’ve done a lot to fix these.

I have a full color rulebook (not optimized or final yet). I have several prototypes circling the US and Canada, where players are getting hands-on with the game - really cool :)
I’ve also spend a lot more time on social medias to establish myself before I launch.

So the cool diceships are back?  Plus you have new versions planned as stretch goals?

Exactly.. now they are back for good ;)
Yea - I wanted to give each race their own versions of the units, to make them stand out from each other - and emphasize the epic science fiction theme. I my opinion, the game have to drip with theme when you pick it up.

Why should people back you this time?   What do you have to say to those who backed you previously even though you didn’t reach your goal?  

I think many more people will find it interesting, over 100 minis, $16 cheaper than the last Kickstarter campaign, and now with some more stretch goals focused on giving people even more theme and replayability in 1 box.

And I certainly need the support - because all these goodies and a lower price, demands a higher budget/goal to start out with, it can’t be any other way.

To my former backers - I hope to see you again soon, and thank you for all the support you’ve given me so far, you’re the best! The game is waiting for you guys! :)

Well I’m sure you’ll make it this time, I look forward to seeing your relaunched campaign succeed.  Do you have anything else you’d like to share?

I hope you’re right James - it would be a dream coming true! Thank you so much for taking your time to talk to my again :)

And to all your readers - make sure to check out the Kickstarter campaign while it’s in preview.

Sign up for a Kickstarter alert here - - and happy gaming!

Best regards Emil, SunTzuGames

Monday, July 8, 2013

MANEATER: Fall of MANkind

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am joined by Writer/Designer N "Nick" PFEIFER who is here to talk to us about his graphic novel project:  MANEATER.   Thank you for joining us today N!

Thank you for having me!

The name “MANEATER” makes perfect sense after I read the story summary, would you care to share the basic plotline of your graphic novel?  

Sure! So in a nebulous period we call “The Future”, a femme fatale named Deity Marvelous is running amok in the city of Metropolis One. Through her connections, she’s trying to build a virus that will destroy every human male on the planet. To stop her, the Metropolis One Police Department has enlisted a gifted young woman, perhaps to ‘fight fire with fire’ but to investigate and take down this strange new enemy in the relatively crime-free future. As the series progresses, we learn how much of a danger the virus becomes and how much either side is willing to go to accomplish their goals.

Killing all the men on the planet seems a bit overkill doesn’t it?  What’s Deity’s motivation to do so?  It sounds like you’re trying to stay away from a traditional two dimensional “evil bad gal” routine.   

Deity has a very interesting back story, which would probably spoil the surprise, but I will say that she does have it out for mankind and has some overarching reasons why she’s going to such extremes to create her own version of the future. I think you’re spot on when you say we’re trying to shy away from the traditional “evil bad gal” routine because I don’t think few are willing to make complex female characters, probably because most of this fiction is usually written by guys. Ha! When a female villain is done right, you get some of the most powerful in fiction - think System Shock’s SHODAN - but I think few are willing to try. Deity isn’t afraid to use her beauty to get what she wants, but there’s something so fun about building her up as a villain.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Sufficiently Remarkable Comic

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am pleased to be once again joined by a Stripsearch alumn, this time Maki Naro has stopped by to talk to us about his Kickstarter project: Sufficiently Remarkable.  Thank you for joining us Maki!

Thanks James! Glad to be here.

For those who haven’t watched the finale of Stripsearch, would you care to give us a rundown of Sufficiently Remarkable?  

Sufficiently Remarkable is a story and character driven comic set in Brooklyn, NY. It follows the lives of two young, post-collegiate women who are trying to get a grip on life. Or at least one of them is, anyway.
Riti is smart, cautious, analytical, and at the start of the story has found herself fallen to the classic New York artist trope: She works a retail job and is just trying to be noticed. Very familiar to many young artists, I’m sure. Meanwhile, her roommate Meg idly saunters through life, jobless and just trying to keep herself amused.
It's a comedic look just how complicated life can be, made ever more complicated by the scheming Anton and dopey Rich. Not to mention a host of oddball characters.

Well your project obviously has some fans as you’ve already reached your goal of $10,000 in what?  Six hours?!  How surprised are you that you hit the goal that fast?  Do you credit your time on Stripsearch with your success?  

I’m a horrible person. Maybe carefully horrible. I had some apprehension originally because my comic was probably the least well-received by fans when the final Strip Search episodes aired. So while I knew for certain I wouldn’t fund in 20 minutes like Abby did, I was pleasantly surprised that it funded as fast as it did. Eternally thankful to all my backers, as well as those who chided me.