Monday, August 5, 2013

Tavis Maiden's Tenko King



Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am joined once again by another Stripsearch alumni, this time I have the mighty Tavis Maiden who is here to talk to us about his Kickstarter Tenko King!  Thank you for joining us Tavis.  


Wow! Thanks for that awesome introduction! I’ve never been referred to as ‘Mighty’ before, but I like it. In fact that may be going on my business card. It’s great to be here, I can’t wait to talk about my new project Tenko King!


Tenko King is an interesting name for a webcomic, can you tell us a bit about it?  


Tenko King is my new big webcomic project, an all ages fantasy/adventure epic. My elevator pitch is that it’s “Bone” meets “Ladyhawk”. Set in a fantasy world of warring factions, monsters, and magic, this a story about growing up: finding unlikely friends, discovering hidden treasure, and encountering sudden dangers. When I was growing up I loved reading books on Mythology, and I loved reading comics. Tenko King is the culmination of my childhood, and the realization that life can at times be equally exciting and adventurous, and difficult and dangerous. This is a story that I’m as excited sharing with my own children as I am with the rest of the world. I want this to be an adventure the whole family can enjoy.



A boy and his frog?  Is it a talking frog?  


Well, I say ‘his’ frog, but Kuma has a pretty interesting backstory that will unfold as the story progresses. Kuma is from an ancient race of water folk known as the Kradorii. They are a very old and very magical race. Where the Kradorii pride themselves on scholarly pursuits, and mastering their mystical craft, Kuma is all about the gold!




As a father I’m always on the lookout for family friendly fare, what are you doing to make Tenko King truly “all ages?”  


To me “all ages” means that the whole family can enjoy it. Kids and adults want something fun, exciting, and dangerous. I want characters that grow up, and choices that have real consequences. Life isn't a straight path, and sometimes those detours can lead to something wonderful, something challenging, or even something deadly. I don’t plan on ‘dumbing’ anything down. I think that kids are very smart and know when they’re being talked down to. I want parents to want to read this to their kids.


What have you learned from your Stripsearch experience that you’re bringing to this project?  


To swing for the fences. In the scope of my time as a Cartoonist, this is easily the most ambitious project I've ever tackled. Before Stripsearch I would not have had the confidence to publicly announce such a large project. I certainly would never have thought to use Kickstarter. It just seemed too big. Being on the show, made me realize I didn't want to wait anymore. I was with such amazing and talented people who continually push me to do more and be better.



You were already a five year webcomic veteran, what has changed to make you come to Kickstarter versus doing what you were doing previously?  


I want to do it right, and after being on Stripsearch I can only hope I have the community support to make it happen. There’s a lot of sacrifice and a lot of mistakes that come from doing things piecemeal. I work a full time job, have two kids, and produce 4 comics a week (3 pages of The Konamis, and 1 Stranger Danger Strip). If this Kickstarter is successful it will mean that I won’t have to max out credit cards, and squirrel away whatever I can each paycheck to just begin paying for site development and advertising. I’m working to make this my career so I can focus more time and energy on making this best comic I can. In turn it would also mean I could spend more time with my wife and kids. They are incredibly supportive, but I’m sure they would like to see me more often. I could just be assuming things...


What will happen to “Stranger Danger” when Tenko King launches?   Will it be part of the new website?  


Stranger Danger will maintain its current schedule updating once a week on Sundays, and ideally get its own site. I think Stranger Danger needs its own space to grow, so I don't have any plans to lump it in with Tenko King. They are totally different comics.





You are looking to raise $11,500 which is said to go toward website development, supplies, advertising, and public appearances?  Could you break down those costs for us?  Why are you looking to fund those things?  


First impressions are important. Standing out in the ocean of other webcomics takes quality content, and public awareness. Getting the eyeballs on the site and giving them something good to look at is paramount to getting them to come back and to share it with others.


More than half of that amount will go into Site planning, framework, design, execution and advertising. $4000 will go towards the initial run of merchandise for Tenko King, reward fulfillment, convention prep, fixtures, and travel expenses. The rest will be used to cover Kickstarter and Amazon fees, as well as taxes. Always gotta think about those taxes.


With Abby, Maki, and Amy all running Kickstarters recently have you been accused of “jumping on the bandwagon?”  Do you think your time on Stripsearch gave you the attention and fanbase you needed to attempt this project?  


I haven’t been accused of that yet, if anything I've had people ask me why it’s taking so long. The toughest thing about being one of the Stripsearch contestants putting up a Kickstarter, is that we have a communal pool of fans who want to support all of these projects, but it definitely adds up.
I can only hope that I have the fanbase and support to make this work. I really believe in this story, and hopefully the fans do too. If everyone who follows me on twitter (including the spambots) pledged the lowest tier, we can bring this thing to life.



How did you discover Kickstarter?


I first heard about Kickstarter through Twitter. I follow a lot of other cartoonists online, and had seen links to some of their really amazing Kickstarter projects. It was really amazing to see these independent projects come to life.  


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?


I personally like to see video updates, it feels more intimate. I like to see creators talking about their projects. Seeing how passionate someone is about their work makes me excited for it too.


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've spent the past few weeks hinting at this project, putting out videos, blog posts and character designs on twitter and facebook. As the project goes on I’ll be looking to friends, family, and fans to help me spread the word. This is a community project in every sense, and with the help of the community to get the word out, we can get this funded.


I've never used Kicktraq, so I’m interested to see how that works.


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


Take your time, plan it out, and don’t forget about taxes. Once you've done that, make sure you suck up your nerves, cross your fingers, and click “Launch”.


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


I appreciate everyone’s support in any way they can give it. I am ready to live up to my “Mighty” moniker, and really look forward to this next chapter of my comic life. Thank you for taking this journey with me. Tell your friends, tell your family, and let’s kick this thing!


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