Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation! Today I am pleased to be joined by Jason De La Torre who is joining us today to talk about his comic book Kickstarter: Star Mage. Thank you for joining us today Jason!
Jason: Thanks so much for having me. It’s a great honor to speak with you.
Star Mage conjures up all sorts of ideas and images, yet the story described isn’t one that many might expect based on the title alone. Would you care to describe Star Mage and what makes it special?
Jason: StarMage is a little different in that it fuses two popular subgenres of Sci-Fi Fantasy - it’s a bit Harry Potter, a bit Star Wars with some other unique twists thrown in.
I don’t know about when you were in school, but if you gave me immense cosmic power and a bully to aim it at, well I’m not sure how pretty it’d be. Do we get at least a little “bully busting” before he heads off into space to learn to fully control his powers?
Jason: Ha, we all wouldn’t mind seeing the bully get there’s huh? Unfortunately not to the Earth bullies. Darien is more confused and frightened, not realizing why he was able to escape the bullies’ trap and when he sees them arrive on scene, he darts into the woods where Arylos finds them.
Darien does see a parallel situation arise in Eridu and the bully alien does get his!
This isn’t the first time you attempted to Kickstarter Star Mage, what happened last time that caused you to cancel it? What did you do differently this time to succeed within 71 hours of launch?
Jason: It was really self-inflicted chaos. It was our first time running a kickstarter and we put out terrible rewards, had a bad video, didn’t communicate our message well and failed to properly market the campaign.
When you do all of those things incorrectly, you’re going to get the expected result.
So we revamped our rewards structure, set a much more reasonable goal, recreated our video, prepped our social network and it was a dramatic improvement.
What are you long term plans for Star Mage? Is it a self contained story with a definite beginning/middle/end or are there plans for a continuous series?
Star Mage’s opening act is a six issue story arc, however I’m already planning other story arcs to follow this one. There is an entire universe out there and it’s become a huge passion of my to explore every avenue.
I’m even incorporating some of my wife, Rita’s, original work for future storylines. This will become a big, expansive universe. I can’t wait to really get this thing going!
Can you tell us a bit about the artists and how you got them on board?
Jason: Money and lots of it! :-) Ray Dillon did all the artwork for issue one of StarMage. He is a brilliant artist whose work has been with IDW, Marvel as well as HBO’s Game of Thrones series (their web comic on the one of the season DVD sets). He’s contributed to New York Times best sellers like The Last Unicorn.
As a professional, Ray’s career and personal life has made his time limited on when he can work on the project.
With that in mind, we did a search for an artist to add to the project. After an extensive search that included over 100 artists we found Franco Cespedes. Franco is a brilliant artist whose style is similar enough to Ray’s that we don’t feel there will be a jarring change for our readers.
Ray will continue to be part of the project but he won’t have as much of a primary role as he did in issue one when he did everything.
What made you want to launch a Kickstarter and make a print version of this comic instead of making Star Mage into a Webcomic?
Jason: StarMage will have a digital presence but I truly believe that it belongs in print. This is a book that looks great and if you’d forgive the bravado I believe we have something that will strike a cord with readers. Its different from anything you’d see the big two do now-a-days. Its unique and expansive. It could easily be a novel series but I felt the comics medium is where this belongs.
Do you think Kickstarter is becoming the “Go to” way of funding a comic, especially one from first time or lesser known creators?
Jason: Kickstarter is not a cash register for comics. Many kickstarters fail for a variety of reasons and sometimes, like us, you have to screw it up and fail miserably before you succeed. Its also a pretty good referendum on your ability to promote and the project itself.
How did you discover Kickstarter?
Jason: Ray Dillon and his lovely wife Renae suggested it for the project. They have successfully completed campaigns for Renae’s Womanthology and Peter Pan projects. Ray also is the lead artist on the fantastic Sci-Fi comic project, Treadwater.
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?
Jason: Well, we’re doing things like this but we also have our podcast Transmissions From Atlantis that will have segments for our backers. We’re also giving our backers the first look at new art and unreleased pages.
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?
Jason: All of the various usual social networking tools are at our disposal. We’ve been doing some post promoting on facebook and I’m very friendly - so I’m willing to talk to anyone who asks!
We are definitely utilizing KickTraq’s tools - it is a fantastic tool and helps us understand the health of the campaign. It lets us know where we stand in comparison to other projects. I know when we hit number one on kicktraq - it was a huge thrill for us. Its made us more competitive with the other projects - we want to be number one again!
Do you have any tips/advice would you give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?
Jason: Prep your network beforehand. Be clear and concise in your goals for the kickstarter and think of the rewards - why would you back a project? You have to make them enticing for people to want to be part of the project.
Thank you for spending your time with us! Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?
Jason: I sincerely hope that you’ll give us a look. If you like science fiction or if you like wizards and magical fantasy this story is for you.
Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!
Jason: Thanks, I appreciate your time!