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]