Monday, June 24, 2013

Searching for a new Strip? How about Last Halloween?

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today it is my honor to be speaking to the beautiful and talented Abigail Howard who is recently returned from her Stripsearch ordeal to bring us her Kickstarter project: Last Halloween.  Thank you for joining us Abby!  

Thanks for having me, I love talking about myself!

For those who haven’t watched the show (crazy thought know!) could you tell us what Last Halloween is all about?  

It’s an online black and white comedic graphic novel about a 10 year old girl who is the only person that stands between humanity and utter obliteration at the hands/claws/tentacles of countless bloodthirsty monsters. It’s got laughs, it’s got gore, it’s got monsters, what more do you even need? A soundtrack maybe? Oh wait, it’s also got that.

Where did this idea come from?  Have you always wanted to destroy the world with a monstrous takeover?  

This idea is a frankenstein’s monster of dreams, characters, and jokes that have been knocking around in my head independent of each other for years. I stitched them all together and shot them full of lightning and The Last Halloween is what came of it. The stories in this project are things I’ve wanted to tell for a very long time, and it’s clear that it’s time for it to be set loose upon the townspeople.

Even taking a cursory look at the Junior Scientist Power Hour shows that you have a dark and twisted kind of humor, one that works extremely well with your hand drawn black & white art style.  How much has your humor affected your art and vice versa?  Do you think you writing style would work in a full color context?  

My humour and my art have sort of co-evolved, to the point that the art is just as silly and ridiculous as the jokes being told. From what I’ve made of The Last Halloween so far, you can see where the jokes are funniest by what panels have the silliest, sloppiest art.

As for colour, I have done a couple forays into colour comics (the TWRP comics, for instance), and they work when I’m telling a story. I don’t think my usual gag comics would benefit from colour, but it probably wouldn’t hurt the joke much. Also, I am currently working with only a trackpad for colouring and that can be.... frustrating.

I am planning a foray into colour comics for a short time in the future, but it’s because it will suit the mood of that particular comic better. I like lines too much to switch to colour forever!

Even in color the humor can get through!
Tupperware Remix Party?  Is that for real?  

Yep! They are a real, actual band. Every now and then someone will tweet at me in utter surprise, having discovered that they are a real band and they dress up just like that and are amazing. I saw them on a street corner one night, playing their funky space rock, and drew a comic about it. They saw the comic, and commissioned me to to draw their space adventures, which will be completed sometime before TLH airs!

Creepy Painting is creepy, are you planning on being in the short film featuring it or you getting someone else to be the victim?  

I have given this a bit of thought, and I think I’ll wind up using friends of mine while I play the role of “Crazy Passionate Director.” SOMEONE has to be the crazy one, might as well be me.

So Creepy!
You have some really interesting rewards, I noticed the one that caught my attention right away, the $850 “Create a monster and be killed by it” level sold out rather quickly.  Any thoughts why that more expensive sold faster than the $750 “create a monster” level?  Any plans on killing Mike and Jerry off in comic like that?  

I think people are much more inclined to want to be in the comics as themselves rather than simply have a monster counterpart. They may feel differently when they learn more about the monsters in this universe and their importance, but for right now, they just want their face to be in the comic! And have it subsequently torn off.

As to Mike and Jerry, we’re much bro-ier than we appear on camera. But Mike will still get a death scene. It won’t be very obvious...... but I’ll know it’s him. (shakes fist)

Speaking of your Stripsearch ordeal, how was it?  Is it weird no longer having cameras following your every move?  Would you return for a “veterans season” if you had the chance?  

I have thought about returning for seasons... my biggest fear with that is that I’ll appear “washed up” or something. Maybe I could return as a guest judge? I guess? To be honest I don’t want to be replaced by newbies. WHAT IF THE AUDIENCE LIKES THEM MORE THAN ME

I do miss some parts of being on Stripsearch, namely having all my friends in the same house, but I don’t miss the constant fear and uncertainty that plagued us at all hours. You go to bed thinking “this could be my last night here”, and you wake up thinking “what the hell are they going to put us through today? Probably scorpions”

It was never scorpions, but at least I was prepared.

This interview needs more cats
How has your online life changed after Stripsearch?  Have you had to ban more folks from your Twitter account and such?  Do you stay in contact with the other contestants and the Penny Arcade team?  

My online life has been.... insane, to say the least. Before Stripsearch, I didn’t have a Twitter or really much of an online persona to speak of, simply because no one read my comics. Now I have a following, and a massive one at that, a following it takes most people several years to obtain. And I got it all in just five months.

I talk to the other contestants and the PA team constantly. We do Google Hangouts together all the time, sort of like a virtual studio. I can’t wait to hit the stretch “ghoul” where I get to move to Seattle and see so many of them again! Monica, Alex and Amy have all moved to Seattle, and I think living around such awesome creative people is going to benefit all of us. It’ll be like the Stripsearch house, but not terrifying every day.

Do you think the new found fame has helped with your Kickstarter success?

Oh God yes, without Stripsearch I never would have been able to launch this thing with this kind of crazy success! Like I said, I was a nobody before. Getting $9k, as was my actual goal, would probably have been impossible, and I wouldn’t have had access to amazing advice from professionals on how to set it up/run it, so it may have ended in one of those horrible bankruptcy stories. Stripsearch really launched my career, like way launched, like Voyager Deep Space Probe launched. I am way out there in career deep space now.

I have to admit there seems to be a bit of a disconnect from your bubbly and engaging personality and your darkly humorous work.  Any idea how that happened?  

The honest answer is, I have no clue. I could try to delve into some weird inner speculation, but I think I’ll leave that to the professionals. Maybe I’m like one of those predatory plants-- I draw you in with my sweet nectars, then I trap you and my chambers slowly fill with acid. Perhaps this wasn’t a perfect analogy, but you get the point.

With three weeks to go you have already smashed your $9,000 goal and fast approaching your $75,000 stretch goal.  Are you surprised at how much support you’ve received?   

I wasn’t surprised that I got a lot of support, but I wasn’t expecting this ridiculous insanity. It’s looking like I could make a whole lot of money from this, and that just..... really hasn’t sunk in yet. I don’t think it will until that first day when I go to buy groceries and don’t have to worry about buying too much ramen. I’ll be able to buy as much ramen as I want. I could even buy food that isn’t ramen!

But what I am most pleased with is that all these people want me to succeed, and want to see The Last Halloween come to life. I can’t wait to get started on this project.

Do you really plan on getting a tattoo at $95,000?  What tattoo design have you picked out?

Oh HECK yes! I’ve wanted to get this tattoo since the day after I got out of the Stripsearch house, but haven’t had the excess funds. Most of the cast got matching tattoos while they were in “the Afterlife,” the hotel they went to once they were eliminated. The tattoo is three empty panels, sometimes with a speech bubble in the last panel. As silly and cliche as it sounds, it would mean a lot to me to finally get it. Would finally... sniff... be one of the team

How did you discover Kickstarter?

I pretty much live on the internet, so it was hard to miss! Kickstarter gets around quite a bit. I am a huge supporter of crowdfunding, I think it’s the best way for creatives to get their work out there. As someone who had this very same project turned down by not one but three publishers, I love Kickstarter.

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 figure I’ll send out updates once every few days, if not a little farther apart, just to make sure folks know I’m working on their rewards! I’ll definitely be linking them to interviews, such as this one, and telling them about things related to the rewards. In the coming weeks I’ll be releasing some of the print artwork as well as one full song, just to get them all excited.

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 am using Kicktraq, but not as much as some of my followers and friends, who check it religiously! They are all so excited for me, its adorable. I’ve been using Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook, as well as my own site. I also have a friend at Bloody Disgusting who posted about it, which was amazing!

I tend to tweet... quite a bit, so I’ve been keeping my Twitter the most informed of everyone, though apparently it’s also been shared quite a bit on Facebook. Besides that, I intend to do as many interviews and posts as I can in all the places that I can. Gotta reach my Kickstarting tendrils into all the nooks and crannies of the internet.

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

Be on a show with Penny Arcade, endear yourself to everyone by being the loveable underdog, lose the show to the incredible dismay of your fans, launch a Kickstarter, ????, PROFIT

I’m terrible at advice because my story is so weird! I barely had to work for it, I didn’t have to spend years struggling in obscurity, everything just happened to line up perfectly for me.

But hey. Get a Twitter. People love that.

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

Thanks for reading, guys! And if you don’t back my Kambkucker you are a CHUMP, you hear me? A CHUMP

There I said it

Someone had to

(Laughs) Thanks again! It was a pleasure to speak with you!

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