Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation! Today I am pleased to be joined by the creative duo behind Raised by Raptors, Oliver Sykes & Ben Ashton-Bell. Thank you both for joining us.
A pleasure to be here.
From the title to the artwork your project just screams with character. Could you tell us a bit about it?
BEN: Thanks! I really wanted to push where my illustrative style was heading and ‘Raised by Raptors’ was the perfect opportunity. We both knew that the artwork had to do something special, I’ve spent a lot of time developing the look I wanted so hopefully it works. I’ve never really been any good at pen and ink type drawing, pencil and digital is my media of choice.
"Raised by Raptors" is an epic, fantasy-adventure, graphic novel written by Oliver Sykes and Illustrated by Ben Ashton-Bell. The story is set in fictional Mexico, where humans and dinosaurs co-exist during the Golden Age of the Mayan Civilization. The series focuses on the journey of a young Mesoamerican who is forced to flee her city after accusations of treason. Narrowly escaping a religious sacrifice and therefore becoming a fugitive, she finds herself inadvertently saving a pack of Velociraptors, who in return take her under their wing and raise her as their own.
This project seems like something Dark Horse, Top Cow, or Image would love to have, why come to Kickstarter instead of to the publishers?
OLIVER: I have contacts and people I could put this to, but i think the magic of kick-starter is you build a fanbase and a buzz before your product is even out. We want people to be involved in this from the start, I think it makes it more special for people to be part of it. obviously having it published by any one of those companies would be amazing, but we want to build it up independently first.
BEN: I think we both wanted to see what we could achieve by ourselves. We both thought of doing the first issue and "shopping it around" to publishers but I think the idea of being independent is quite an appealing thing.
What experience do you two have in creating comics? What other work do you have as examples?
Oliver: Apart from reading them, none. I'm an avid reader of comics, with my favourite of all time being Y; The last man. I have a great story lined up though, I've been studying hard at what makes a story a great one, and I feel like I get what its all about now. So its a new venture for us both but I think we’re up to the challenge!
Ben: None, really. I've never drawn one, individual characters, backgrounds here and there. I think my illustration style lends itself to the medium. I love comics... and I've never been so satisfied and challenged working on a project.
Okay dinosaurs and people at the same time. I can get behind that, but why throw in the Mayan stuff? That’s a very specific combination.
Oliver: The Mayans were big believers in gods and supernatural beings, a lot which were animal deities. The two most known in the mayan culture are Quetzalcoatl & Tezcatlipoca, who were eternal opposites and enemies. Quetzalcoat translates into "feathered serpent", and my idea stemmed to use the mayan story/myth of these two gods as loose inspiration for the story, using the "feathered serpent" to symbolise the raptors. So without offending anyone, its a different take on the story of the battle of these two siblings. In a tongue and cheek way its also abiding in the belief system of the creation museums, which are in America. which i consider a fantasy in their own right.
How does one be raised by velociraptors? I know stories have done apes and wolves those have known family units and such, did you base the velociraptor’s “family” units off of any modern animals?
Oli: The velociraptors are going to be more intelligent in this story than we now perceive them to be. Like Jurassic Park, the raptor breed will be more towards that of a Deinonychus, in terms of size and appearance, but the raptors will have a higher form of conciseness, they'll be social structures, Hierarchy's and ranks within packs, emotional connections between the animals and the girl, and even a spiritual aspect and beliefs systems within this breed. So they'll be quite a unique kind of dinosaur, one I hope the audience will form a deep bond with.
What kind of research are you doing for all the Mayan clothing/art/etc?
BEN: I'll look at as much reference as possible and then try to forget about it. The stuff I've seen will be in the back of my mind but I'll just draw what comes out. After all it's a fictional story, some likeness is obviously necessary but it's got to be open to interpretation of this prehistoric world.
You are asking £15,000 to create a first run of a full color 36-44 page comic, how solid is that number? Are you asking just barely enough or do you have some wiggle room? With the recent increase in international shipping rates how have you adjusted for those costs?
Ben: Basically we are using kickstarter as a pre-sale platform. We thought instead of creating our own online shop, we would utilize Kickstarter’s ever growing community. 15,000 is essentially a number that proves that we are serious with this project. If the project reaches the goal, and hopefully succeeds it, it will prove that we have some sort of fan base in which to grow on. We’ll also work on some stretch goals once we hit that mark.
Any particular reason there’s not a PDF of the finished book? Personally I don’t like buying things overseas due to shipping but wouldn’t mind getting a PDF of the finished work.
We now have one... :D
How did you discover Kickstarter?
Oliver: I've seen bands and friends use it, and I always thought it was a genius concept. I've always wanted to do something on kickstarter
Ben:I'd heard a bit about it from friends etc but I started looking into it when I heard it on the 'making comics' podcast. (Which is brilliant by the way)
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?
Oli: We are working on interviews and more videos as we speak…. we are also working hard on getting this first issue perfect!
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?
Oli: Its been received very well so far, kerrang (a uk rock magazine) have just done a 2 page feature on it, we are getting ready to do some interviews with various lifestyle and art blogs, but so far the feedback from people has been great.
Do you have any tips/advice would you give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?
Ben: Make sure you don't rush setting up the campaign. I got it all ready in a day and a half then spent two weeks refining it!
Oli: All you need is a great idea, and a way to get across to people its a great idea. take yourself outside of yourself, and say, if i was someone else, would i want to pledge for this project?
Thank you for spending your time with us! Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?
We both hope that you all enjoy "Raised by Raptors" anything that you can pledge will really help us make this project a reality! We have a lot more installed
for future episodes if we can get it off the ground!
Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!