Friday, November 2, 2012

Ebony Kiss Interview

Welcome to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I’m joined by Del Hewitt Jr, from the new Kickstarter Comic Project, “Ebony Kiss.” Thank you Del for joining us today.
What brings your project to Kickstarter?  

First off thank you for the interview!I am humbled and honored by the opportunity. I stumbled on Kickstarter actually; my friend Carlton Hargro had a successful run on his African American Superhero Anthology. He posted a link to my facebook and that was my first time going to the site and I fell in love! I wanted to be a part of his project and I was hired to do 11 pages which I’m working on as we speak. So I got the behind the scenes look at Kickstarter, being a part of the actual project. Then it dawned on me I have a project I had on my drawing table for four years!

In 2008 my best friend Bernard Busby passed away of cancer. My heart really hurt to lose him and I didn’t want to ever forget what a great person he was to me and the world. I tried to figure out a way, for not just myself to remember him, but the world! One of our greatest bonds was the love of Video games, Anime and comics. We would always talk about his dream of completing a comic called Ebony Kiss. He was doing research and writing the story for at least a year. I was itching to draw his story it would be our first team up in comics but he wanted to make sure the story was the best he could make it! The Cancer came along and he was never able to finish it. So I decided to complete it. I had been nickel and diming this project for four years with little progress because the reality is I just did not have the funds to complete it. So it was a natural fusion for Ebony Kiss and Kickstarter.

This is quite the eclectic project!  I count no less than seven people counting yourself involved in making these two comics?     All of it based off of your friend Bernard Busby’s concept?  

During the past for years I was introduced to Deviantart from my friend Sanford Green who is a professional penciler for all the big names Marvel, DC, and Darkhorse comics. He explained to me how this was where all the pro’s resided and shared works of art. That is where I found most of the talent on my roster. If you follow their links you will see these guys are professional and great at what they do! That’s why I choose them! I just knew I had way too much on my plate to handle doing these stories. I want to start by saying the writers heard about why I was doing this and decided to write the stories for free in honor of Bernard. Randy wrote the dealers hand and I’ve been dieing to work with him because I knew he was great at storytelling and he doesn’t disappoint can’t say much without giving away the story but I love twists in stories! Jhomar is doing the art on the dealers hand and you can tell from the first two pages he is a pro! I have hired Jhomar many times to do drawings for me and even color my lines so I knew who to go to for this story. Noel, Jake, Chris, and I are doing The Element of surprise! David wrote the story and when I read it I just loved it! I have worked with Noel for a while and have admired his work so to me he was a natural fit. Noel and Jake actually work together on another comic so they are no strangers. Chris has colored their work before and I knew I wanted chris to color the story. Yes everything is based on Bernard’s concept! I just pray he is looking down on us proud of what we have created in his honor. It’s all about creating something that the world will look at and know that Bernard made this! Immortalize him in print forever.
This project is a labor of love. The logo was designed by bernard's brother from another mother Lucien Battiste who is a graphic designer. If you saw bernard you saw lucien thats how close they were just like brothers! So for him to help me put this project together was very important!

Would you care to give us a brief overview of the story of Ebony Kiss?

The stories take place after the legend has been created! At this point she is going from town to town helping people that cannot help themselves. Righting wrongs and dishing out her brand of justice! In The Dealer’s Hand, Ebony Kiss rides into a situation where this guy named Deacon Styker and his gang is terrorizing this town and running all over the sheriff.
In Element of Surprise, Ebony Kiss is pulled into a situation when she tries to collect a bounty! In this story you really get to see her stand up for the common woman and show them that she they are worth something. You really see her charm and her convictions in both stories. This is amazing to see especially since women were not seen in that light. It’s different and really captures your attention and imagination! I think these are stories that are powerful and uplifting stories of courage and bravery.

What was Bernard’s inspiration for this story?

I think he really wanted to shine a light on an era in time and a people that has been in the dark. I never knew that in the 1860’s there were towns inhabited primarily by African Americans and Asian Americans. They did great and amazing things, so It was history that inspired Bernard to create Ebony Kiss.

So how do you respond to critics of this concept of having the lead be a female character in the old west?  Let alone one in such a masculine role set in a time period where such things were pretty rare?

We see many times over that, things can and always do change, and we are saying she was the first and in the story of Ebony Kiss she plays to this stereo type by dressing like the guys and down playing the sexy woman. She doesn’t use sexiness to win people over but her courage and bravery. Then there is the guns that are pretty persuasive as well.

How much experience does your team have in creating comics?

Randy has been writing forever as a novelist but I think this is his second or third comic. Jhomar has been doing manga for 8 plus years. He has won awards for his work and has done Ragnarok, Arkham Woods, Liars Kiss, Black River and Broken. David has been writing for 3 plus years and is known for his indy comic Laluelle. Noel has been doing comics for 4 plus years and has done Lost Kids and Filler so far. Jake has been inking for 3 plus years and has done filler with Noel. He was just picked up by Hound Comics. Chris has been coloring for 2 plus years now. So there is tons of experience in comics here!

So the comics are going to be 20 pages full color?  Is $9500 (Minus $1000 or so for Kickstarter/Amazon) going to be enough for the print run you’re going for?  

Yes, I have spent months researching and calculating all costs and fees so this goal covers everything we need to get the job done! I also calculated stretch goals to give the backers more cool prints, quality, and ensuring future Ebony Kiss Issues! I think Kickstarter is a great site to get your projects going but you have to set a goal that will produce a quality product. I was tempted to shoot low but there is no point in doing that if you don’t have what you need to get the job done.

So what is the long term goal with this project?  Do you want to sell this to the major publishers and make it into an ongoing series or just the two comics you have planned out?   

I want Ebony Kiss to go as far as it can go! The longer Ebony Kiss goes on the more Bernard will be remembered and his legacy passes to another generation of readers remember that’s the point of putting his dream out there in print. I actually have the next story ready to be written which is the origin of Ebony Kiss! Bernard went over the origin of Ebony Kiss with his wife Inisha and she passed on his thoughts to me. I’m going to take that outline and get Carlton Hargro to write the story and I will take on all art chores.

I can see you’re certainly not camera shy!  You’ve done a good job of providing that “personal touch” to this project.  Do you wish you had spent some more time editing and cleaning up the video beforehand or do you think the rough and simple style helps sell your project?

On the contrary, I am very shy but I knew only I could do this video so I did it! I talked to a lot of my kickstarter peers and one thing they all told me is to convey my heart and passion for the project and so I thought I would do it and get it done from my heart. So yes its rough but it convey’s my heart and that was my goal!

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?  Interesting excerpts from the book? Artwork?

I have commissioned many artists including the artists working on the issues to create pieces specifically for updates that will in turn be used for prints. I’m also planning on showing character designs and some behind the scenes material! I personally love getting updates to projects so yes I want the backers engaged and happy! Getting my current backers talking about the project to their friends and family is super important to make this project successful!

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?

I’m learning as I go so I started out with facebook,youtube and Twitter. I just got a couple ads and I just hired a PR team to do press releases on November 5 to all the major outlets! This is the first I’m hearing of Kicktraq but I will check it out.

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

Yes I do. Study kickstarter, treat kickstarter like your wife or girlfriend! See all the success stories and learn what works before you start it. The 20-35 dollar packages are proven to be the most popular ones so make them good. Make sure your account for fees from amazon and kickstarter and postal fees for shipping. Getting the word out, it’s like a full time job talking to people and getting them to support your project early! Even after all of that I’m still learning!

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

Please go check out Ebony Kiss! Pledge and Pass the word about it to everyone you know. Let’s get to this goal because this one is for Bernard! Thank you for reading this interview I really appreciate it. I’m confident you will enjoy Ebony Kiss!

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

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