Welcome back to another installment of Indie Comics Showcase, the weekly blog where we signal boost a few truly independent comics that are currently crowdfunding their projects, crowdsourcing their funding in some way, or just completely self-publishing on their own. Every little bit of support for these creators matters, from a single dollar pledge to the twenty-five dollar bundle, and of course the higher tiers are usually fun too! Even if you can’t back a campaign or buy a book, you can share or tweet about these projects to your friends and followers.
On Indie Comics Showcase, we interview the creators, show off some art, and tell you how you can check out the product for yourself. Below we have some outstanding crowdfunding campaigns this week for you to learn about, enjoy, and hopefully support by backing one or more of them! Thanks for checking these out and for being the best part of Indie Comics Showcase. Let’s jump in!
by Danny Baram
Grab these books now on Amazon!
Chris Braly: Welcome to Indie Comics Showcase, Danny. What’s the story of Halloween Team?
Danny Baram: Years ago, five misfit kids banded together to form Halloween Team – a group dedicated to solving mysteries and hunting monsters in the small town of Greenwood, MA. Now, twenty years later, the kids are grown and lead separate lives – until a new mystery brings them together for one more adventure.
CB: Where did the idea for this comic come from?
DB: One of my favorite TV series growing up – and really a gateway for me that got me into horror – was Are You Afraid of the Dark?, which used to run on Nickelodeon. I started thinking about the kids from that show, and what happened to them when they grew up. Did they ever have anything in their adult lives that was as cool and as meaningful as those times they had growing up, sitting around the campfire and telling scary stories? That was sort of the genesis of Halloween Team, and it spiraled from there. I started imagining a scenario where this group of kids didn’t just tell scary stories, but solved all sorts of supernatural mysteries in their small town – and got into all kinds of scary situations with monsters, demons, ghosts, etc. I grew up in a small town in New England, so I thought a lot too about what might keep certain characters there into adulthood and what might cause some of them to leave. I thought telling the story of these former best friends then coming together, after years apart, would be really interesting. So a lot of what’s in this comic is me thinking about adulthood, and about missing that sense of awe and wonder and infinite possibility that you had as a kid – and how do you deal with that?
CB: What finally made you put the story to paper?
DB: I originally wrote Halloween Team as a TV pilot script – but in the back of my mind I kept thinking it would be perfect as a comic book – which was something I’d wanted to try my hand at for a long time. After years of contemplating it, I really sat down and tried to figure out how to make it happen. I found a great artist in Matt Shults, and we spent a ton of time working together on everything from the character designs to the logo. We initially tried to pitch it to publishers, but it was a pretty tough process and was difficult to get any real consideration. Ultimately, we really wanted to just get the book out there and decided to self-publish as a digital-only book (at least to start). So it’s been a long process to get to this point. But I’m really excited that we’ve got a few issues out now, and am excited to do whatever I can to get more people to check out the book. It’s a self-published, “indie” comic book – but I really believe this story has a wide appeal, and I hope we can find a way to continue the story beyond the initial four issues we have planned.
CB: What sort of readers or age group is this book aimed at?
DB: The book is suited for readers 15+. It’s got some PG-13 material and deals with some more adult themes, but overall is a fun adventure with wide appeal – very much in the vein of things like Stranger Things or Buffy. We’ve got a diverse cast of characters and there are things in the book that I think will appeal to a lot of different types of readers. It’s very much a character-driven book. I’ll also add that a lot of the book is just inspired by my own general experiences as a Millennial. That experience of being in your 30’s but still, in some ways, feeling like a kid who doesn’t quite know what they’re doing in life. That’s a big theme of the book, for sure.
CB: Tell me how you developed your creative process, Danny.
DB: As a writer, I actually have a background in comedy and did a lot of sketch comedy and comedy writing throughout college and beyond. I moved to LA in the mid-2000’s, and really dove into screenwriting. From there, I began to transition away from straightforward comedy into action, adventure, sci-fi, and horror writing that still incorporated a lot of comedic elements. I felt very inspired by the popularity of Marvel movies – and other films and TV shows and comic books – that approached genre with a somewhat comedic tone. Brian K. Vaughan and his work on comics like Y: The Last Man and Saga was another big influence, by the way. I love writing banter and jokes – but I also love writing high-stakes serialized stories with lots of big, dramatic moments. So that combination has served me well, and Halloween Team is sort of an extension of that. It goes to some somewhat dark places – and there’s definitely a real element of horror – but I’d still consider it a “fun” book with likeable characters and plenty of comedic beats.
CB: How did your creative team come together?
DB: I found our artist Matt Shults through an online forum that connects comic book writers with artists. He immediately jumped out to me because, not only was his art style unique and interesting, but he also seemed like a cool guy who would be fun to collaborate with. And I’m extremely glad we partnered up, because we ended up really spending a lot of time on so many of the initial steps in terms of visualizing these characters. Matt is actually doing all of the art on the book – pencils, inks, colors, letters, and the covers too. So it’s a time-intensive process – but it’s been really nice to have that consistency in the art, and really cool that the book has such a distinct look and feel.
CB: What’s been your biggest takeway from self-publishing?
DB: Self-publishing digitally is relatively simple from a technical perspective, but super difficult from a promotional and marketing perspective. Comixology/Amazon is really the main digital retailer that has a large, active user base that buys for-pay comics, but their UI and algorithms are not very friendly to indie comics. So you can’t really bank on any sort of real on-store promotion. You have to really do everything in your power to self-promote the book and self-market. So it’s sending a ton of emails, posting a ton on social media, and hoping that you don’t annoy people too much so as to turn them away. It’s an almost impossibly uphill battle in some ways. At the same time, the beauty of social media is that all it takes is one viral post or one really great share to move the needle. And you never know who will respond to a cold email. When we released Issue #1, a few larger comic sites like Newsarama actually gave us some coverage – just based off of cold emails I sent. As a long time reader of their site, that was super exciting. So you have to just keep plugging away and doing what you can to get the word out.
CB: Can we expect more from this team?
DB: I feel really great about Halloween Team and the story we’re telling here, so I want to do whatever I can to keep trying to get more exposure for the book. This initial 4-issue miniseries is, in reality, more of a “Chapter 1.” So there is a ton more story to tell if we get the chance. I’d love to have the opportunity to write more Halloween Team stories, and more comic books in general. At the same time, I also continue to work on film and TV scripts and have some projects cooking on that side of things too.
CB: Any final words for our readers?
DB: If you read and like Halloween Team, please give us a shout-out on social media! Any support really helps.
Grab these books now on Amazon!
Lightbringer: Genesis Vol 2
by Iron Liz Skochil
with Anthony Romano
Check out the campaign page here!
Chris Braly: Welcome to Indie Comics Showcase, Anthony. Tell me the pitch for Lightbringer Genesis 2!
Anthony Romano: Continuing the story of Carter Graham and Hannah Meeks in their war against the evil and corrupt Valkyrie Mart for the fate and soul of Pharos City, we bring you Lightbringer: Genesis Vol 2. Now bestowed with the powers of the Lightbringer after being killed by the henchmen of the “General Manager” and being resurrected, Carter and Hannah will come to discover just how evil the players of the corrupt box store conglomerate really are. Lightbringer: Genesis Volume 2 takes a twist here and a turn there, amping up the stakes of its predecessor and dives head first into the mysterious macabre of the supernatural.
CB: How did this comic get its start?
AR: Lightbringer actually started as a self-published webcomic, The Lightbringer, by Lewis Lovhaug aka Linkara of Channel Awesome fame. The original comic was criticized at the time for its controversial themes and subject matter and quality of art story and writing, and Linkara would later release the Lightbringer Intellectual Property into public domain in 2013. Iron Liz Skochil, the writer of this project, thought there was a chance to tell a compelling story based on the basic concepts of the original.
CB: What kind of comic reader is this aimed at?
AR: Young adult to mature audiences. This is a classic superhero tale with a supernatural twist.
CB: You’re also the publisher here, with your DarkGift Comics. What’s your history with this medium?
AR: I’ve been into comics since I was a kid in the mid 80s. All genres and subject matter. I especially love horror. When taking on a project, as publisher, I look for a few key factors. Story, passion from the creator, and originality.
CB: Introduce me to your creative team, Anthony.
AR: Iron Liz Skochil is the writer and mastermind. Coming from the RPG world, her comics knowledge is actually extensive. And her passion is exuberant. Dean James is the penciled and brings a style that crosses Neil Adams and Marc Silvestre. I do the inks, lettering, and publishing.
CB: What’s your production workflow like? And if it’s not complete, how far along is the book?
AR: The production flow is rather smooth. The book is a third complete, as Dean is also working on the Embrace 2. Liz pays for pages and when done sends them to me for Inks while I do those, then he does work for the Embrace the next week, and back to us. Rinse and repeat.
CB: What have you been learning from self-publishing / crowdfunding and creating through this process?
AR: One thing I learned, personally, is while I enjoy the creative process as an artist, I really enjoy the business side of things. I love the promotion, the coordinating, dealing with printers and vendors, and fulfilling. But we all love making great books, and the comradery of the Indie scene, and CG specifically.
CB: What’s next for this universe?
AR: This is the second installment n a 3 part story. But Liz has outlines for up to 20 issues, so there are definitely more stories to tell.
CB: Any special features or unique crowdfunding perks on this campaign?
AR: This wouldn’t be an awesome Indiegogo campaign without chachkis. Just like with every DarkGift campaign, we have one of our trademark 24×36 Satin Blacklight Tapestries. We also have our new MALGA HATS (Make Lightbringer Great Again), as well as the typical trading cards and prints.
CB: Nice. Anything else you would like to share with our readers before we discuss the other comic you’re publishing?
AR: Without sounding cliché, this sentiment is true for us, as well as any indy creator starting out… “Back a Project, Back a Dream”. That’s a statement I put in most vids. We all here at DGC have a passion for storytelling, as well as the talent to bring it to you. Whether it’s Lightbringer, Hunting Alice, or the Pariah series. Come along for the ride as we build something pretty awesome.
Check out the campaign page here!
Pariah: Blood and Mud
by Doc Blalock
with Anthony Romano
Check out the campaign page here!
Chris Braly: Okay, let’s discuss Pariah: Blood and Mud! What’s the pitch?
Anthony Romano: Pariah: Blood and Mud, the first chapter in the Pariah Trilogy, is a stunning Graphic Novel of Supernatural Revenge. Elizabeth Payne moved to the big city after high school. Working in a seedy club owned by a Russian Mob Boss, she witnesses a brutal murder. Trying to do the right thing, she agrees to testify for the DA, but she is tracked down, assaulted, and left for dead. What the mob didn’t know was that Elizabeth comes from a centuries old lineage of powerful witches. She’s back now, and revenge is not enough…she wants blood! This is also 32 page Black and White Graphic Novel brought to you by author and artist Doc Blalock and published by DarkGift Comics!
CB: What’s the genesis for this comicbook?
AR: This book is a product of the demented mind of Doc. This is his baby. I’ve had the privilege and honor of helping with some ideas and details, but this is him, through and through.
CB: What’s the ideal reader this book is suited for? Who will it appeal to most?
AR: This is mature audience only due to subject matter. It’s for horror, Noir, thriller, and suspense fans. Especially those fans of pulp indie.
CB: Tell me about your style and creative team.
AR: Doc is a work horse. He busts out a bunch of pages, runs them by me, makes changes then mails me the finishes (he’s a boomer with tech). I then scan them and get to work lettering. This book is written, penciled and inked by Doc Blalock. Lettered and edited by myself. The book is done, with the exception of some pages left to be lettered. We love making art and the formation of engaging stories. I’ve learned I love the business side… Running the campaign, promoting, dealing with printers and vendors, fulfilling. From putting pencil to paper, to putting the Gemini in the mail, I love this stuff.
CB: Are there more stories to tell?
AR: This was actually intended as a 100+ page one shot. But with economy how it is, we opted to make a few edits and split it up into a trilogy. So this is the first in a three part story. Each book 32+ pages.
CB: Any special features on this campaign you’d like to mention, Anthony?
AR: It wouldn’t be DarkGift Comics with a blacklight tapestry or two. We have 2 gorgeous 24×36 tapestries, along with coffee mugs, trading cards, prints and original art.
CB: Any final words for our readers before we sign off?
CB: This series will melt your face when you’re done with it, and Doc has the first two books done and half through the third, so come join us for this horrifying journey.
Check out the campaign page here!
That’s it for this installment. If you’re a creator ramping up your own campaign or have a comic available for purchase online and you want to be featured in our weekly column, click here. And follow Indie Comics Showcase on Twitter at @Indie_Comics and reach out to them for more eyes on YOUR crowdfunding comic project. Until next time, support indie comics!