Monday, February 3, 2014

Zombies Meets Canterbury Tales in The Community

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I’m joined by Steve Randall who is here to talk to his comic Kickstarter The Community.  Thank you for joining us today Steve.

Thank you so much for having me, it's definitely my pleasure to speak about our project to a larger audience, and we appreciate your time.  

At first glance your project has to illicit an “oh no, not another zombie comic”  response; what makes The Community different?  What made you want to bring up the classic Canterbury Tales in reference to your work?

 I know right?  More Zombie stuff. Comicbooks, movies, television, the undead are practically everywhere one turns, but with everything I see out these days one part, in my opinion, was always sort of glanced over when it came to Zombies. Those first few moments of the outbreak were always way more exciting to me then the entire rest of the story.  Seeing how a character went from one moment pouring coffee to the next moment of splitting skulls and running for their life was just never covered enough, again in my opinion. Our collection sort of skips the middle and even the ending in a way, by knowing that each character survives to THE COMMUNITY  we take away some suspense, but we turn the focus and keep it at each characters first few moments of the initial outbreak. We see first hand as they tell their story about the first zombies they encountered and how they reacted. Having so many characters, over 30, presents a problem in the  narration in  how to keep everyone clear, and Chaucer's amazing Canterbury Tale's format I think was a great fit.  In it we see each character introduced by their former job, and then they individually relate their own story to the reader, much like the travelers did with Chaucer.

You mention several different artists are involved in the art side of things, are all the stories written by you or are several different writers involved as well?  

Yes, we have numerous artists involved with this collection.  A couple artists have done a few characters but most focused on just one.  I think it gives each character a personal uniqueness as each artists has his other own style. Because of this we kept one single author of every story. With different authors it might have made it too distracting and the stories might not have flowed cohesively in one large book.

How did you recruit all the various artists?  

This project started entirely on the social media app Instagram.  I'd been following artists based on their posted work, and just reached out to see if they'd be interested in doing a collaboration piece.  Some artists jumped at the chance and others turned it down, it sort of happened very organically.  All of the artists in the collection at this time were first contacted on Instagram.  This process I think also built a fan base fairly fast as Zombiecomics on Instagram has over 5000 followers as of today.

Why go for a varied art style instead of a singular vision?  

 Again being born out of Instagram, almost none of the artists are "professional full time" illustrators.  Now some are, but on the whole I'd say most are not.  An entire collection this large, we are shooting for 100 pages, requires a great investment of time from a single artist. This multi-artist approach gives some flexibility with deadlines, and again I think adds to the characters uniqueness quite a bit. I think backers of the book will have their favorite character along with their favorite artist, which might not always match up.

How big do you plan the book to be?  Will it be hardcover?  Soft?  Full color?  

   With 30+  characters we are shooting for around 100 pages. The format comes across sort of as a children's story format I guess you could say. One or two page print short stories on one side, followed by one or two page pinup style art.  We do have some more traditional comic style stories but only  four or five will bring this style.  The full color or black and white choice was left up to each artist, some felt comfortable coloring their pieces while others didn't.  The book will be printed in color, so each art piece will be how the artist presented it.  As of now, we are going with softcover, but we are hoping to upgrade to a hardcover if we get fully funded.

One of my biggest bugaboos about any Kickstarter project is the budget breakdown.  This basic business tool helps shows backers that you have a plan for the money when you have it in place.  Why don’t you have a budget breakdown presented?  What is the $5,500 going to be used for?

Being a Kickstarter Virgin I can see your point as to why it should have been included. Our 5,500 was a figure we calculated to cover printing cost only, we built shipping cost into it too, as well as the kickstarter and Amazon fees, but that's really it.  Artist all will have access to buying any additional books at cost to sell for themselves, but that's the only real compensation at this point.  With a successful project and building a fan base we have hoped to progress into following some of the more popular characters paths as they progress towards the community in future more traditional comics, but we'd like to try and bring this large collection out first.

A video is a great way to present your project and introduce yourself to your potential backers, why don’t you have one?  

Another great point, that shows are inexperience.  We are currently in the process of making a short clip, that hopefully we can add to the kickstarter this week. If not it will be used on our Instagram account to promote the kickstarter project.

Your project is listed under comics, but since you’re doing a single pictures along with pages of text might this not fit better under publishing?  Do you think being marked as a comic hurts the traffic your project might normally get?

If we had another topic focus could see your point, but I think with Zombies we are right in our niche market. Zombies and comics really are peanut butter and jelly in my opinion.  I'd say most of the artists are all comic book fans also and I really think that's where we fit best.  This alternative Graphic Novel approach may surprise some people in its readability, mixed with the short story format, or so we hope.

How did you discover Kickstarter?

I personally was introduced to  Kickstarter by the wonderful 44flood publishing guys.  I backed all of their projects through kickstarter and have been thrilled with the outcomes.  Now I know they are all accomplished, amazing artists, Ben Templesmith and the great Menton3, so our project is not even in the same league, but I think we have a unique enough idea and  collection that people will want to see it, and hopefully fund.  

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?

With a whole month to go in this project we hope to ramp up the energy and really give a good push.  As I said before we hope to upload a video very soon.  The special edition prints will be revealed in the next couple updates and our T-shirt design will be displayed as well. Hopefully we can grab the supporters attention and they won't want to surf on by. We'd love to hear any insider tips you might have as your kickstarter knowledge base seems like it would be a great help to us beginners.

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?  

We have given one other interview to a blogger website, and of course are hitting the social media sites hard. We have been posting and sharing on Facebook and Twitter as well as our main focus of Instagram. With numerous artists it's nice to see everyone sharing in the promoting process as we begin this journey.

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

 I'd have to say be really prepared. We are learning as we go, which might not be the smartest way to go about it. We are learning a lot about the process each day.  We could have been more prepared I guess, which might make it easier in the future.

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

Thank you again for this opportunity, and hopefully this will be just the start of many more fully funded projects that Zombiecomics can bring to you. We already have learned a great deal in the first week of launching and look to improve on this in the future.  If you have any other questions about our project please don't hesitate to contact us and that includes Zombie Survival advice, which we are stocked full of.

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

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