It’s the BIG ONE FIVE OH edition of Indie Comics Showcase! For over three years, this weekly blog has been signal boosting 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!
Kozor: Descent Into Madness
by Clayton Barton
Check out the campaign here!
Chris Braly: Welcome to Indie Comics Showcase, Clayton! Briefly tell our readers your elevator pitch for Kozor: Descent into Madness.
Clayton Barton: Hi Chris, it’s great to be here. I’ll give you the same pitch we did for our IndieGoGo campaign, as I think it sums up the book perfectly!
KOZOR: Descent Into Madness is a 48 page full color comic book that tells a nightmare fueled story of foul demons, grizzled warriors and abundant bloodshed. The mighty warrior, Chief Baron and his clan of swordsmen embark on a quest into the sacred swamp lands of Nimlaar in search for the mysterious ‘faceless people’. But when they’re attacked by a flock of flying beasts, their journey proves more fatal than they could have ever imagined!
Chris: What was the genesis for this project, where did the idea for this comic come from, and what led to you deciding to crowdfund it?
Clayton: My brother Korey and I are working on KOZOR together, but Korey is really the mastermind behind the whole story. He’s the original creator of KOZOR. The idea began as a couple notes Korey made on his phone while waiting for the bus one day. We’re both huge fans of dark fantasy franchises such as Berserk and the Witcher – Brooding warriors, demons, and plenty of violence are all commonalities KOZOR shares with those titles, and they served as the seed of inspiration that ultimately lead to its creation. Crowdfunding took off, and we found the Comicsgate community, so it was the perfect time to share KOZOR with the world.
For this new, remastered edition of KOZOR, I’ve come onboard as editor. My job is to revamp the art, make sure the dialogue is in check and that the story reads well. Our goal is to give our readers the ultimate experience of KOZOR when we go to print for the first time.
Chris: How long have you been drawing comics? When did you first get into it?
Clayton: I’ve been drawing comics all my life. They started as funny little cartoon strips I’d scribbled down on scrap paper as a kid, and ended up becoming my full time passion. Making comics was my destiny. But I knew to be successful at it, I had to become a pro. So I trained hard and practiced everyday throughout my teens and early twenties. That determination led me to where I am today with my art, but what got me there faster was teaching this stuff to other people.
About eight years ago I took what I was teaching in the classroom online and created www.howtodrawcomics.net, a massive online resource for aspiring comic artists. The thing about developing educational resources is you have to really sit down and formulate your techniques and methods in a way other people can use them. So I got to know how I work best very quickly. Over the years I added to my approach too. Whenever I saw a cool new trick some other artist was doing, I’d learn it, practice it, then teach it to others.
I’m still learning new things about myself as an artist every single day. That’s the nature of what we do. It’s a never ending path to mastery. To stay engaged, to keep progressing, you’ve got to be constantly looking for new ways to grow.
Chris: That’s a great website. Tell me about the audience for this title? Will it appeal to superhero comic fans?
Clayton: KOZOR isn’t your typical superhero story. Far from it in fact. It’s more in the vein of the Berserk manga series. It’s a dark adventure story. If that’s your kinda jam, KOZOR is exactly what you’ve been looking for.
Chris: Nice. Who’s your creative team?
Clayton: KOZOR is a true collaboration between the Barton Bros. Korey wrote, illustrated and lettered the original version of the book years ago. But it was never released. We just didn’t have the money or know-how to publish a book. When I brought up crowdfunding with Korey, he was reluctant. He’d made a lot of progress in his art since the first issue of KOZOR, and it showed in the second issue, which Korey had already started. So I offered to help him touch up the original and make it the best it could be. Korey agreed and now here we are!
This time around, I’m responsible for making sure the line art looks top notch, editing dialogue, and Korey is taking care of the colors. But then, sometimes we switch roles depending on what needs doing, that’s the beauty of having a brother who is also well versed at comic book illustration. It’s just us two at this point, until we bring on a letterer and wrap this project up!
Chris: A family affair, cool! What’s that look like, from a workflow standpoint?
Clayton: It’s an interesting workflow. On the line art side, I’m working straight over the top of Korey’s original pages. My main aim is to make sure all the character designs are consistent from one page to the next and that their proportions and anatomy are in check. If there’s a major issue with the perspective or character placement in a given panel, sometimes it’ll be completely redone. Another noticeable difference is the increase in rendering and attention to detail.
After I’ve finished with the line art, either Korey or I will take care of the colors. Korey has a few other responsibilities to attend to as well though. He is in charge of coloring up the trading cards and prints we’ve included with the campaign, as well as illustrating the original sketches we’re offering to higher tier backers.
Chris: What have you been learning from crowdfunding and creating through this process?
Clayton: We’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons. Korey and I both underestimated the task of remastering an entire book. Basically we’re illustrating it all over again. So we were way off with our estimated fulfillment date, resulting in major delays. In hindsight, we would have had the book completely done, if not have a proof printed before launching our campaign. Not just to avoid delays, but so that we can focus on marketing instead of trying to produce it at the same time.
We also went down a few roads that never eventuated and wasted a ton of time. For example we wanted to add in additional pages and expand the story. If we had kept on that path, the book would have been even more delayed. But that didn’t change the fact we had still spent precious time working on some of those new pages.This is our first time out the gate in the crowdfunding arena, and we have learned so much already. More than that, we’ve become better, faster artists, and have a stronger bond as brothers. We are truly proud of the book we’re creating together and can’t wait to get it in the hands of our backers.
Chris: What is your purpose for telling this story and what are your plans beyond this book? Are there more stories to tell?
Clayton: Our aim with KOZOR is to turn our backers into fans so that they jump on board for the next issue. KOZOR is Korey’s legacy, and for the Barton Bros it marks the beginning of our comic book studio. So we want to leave a good impression with our debut title. Future titles include KOZOR 2, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. From what Korey tells me, he has ten volumes planned for KOZOR. It’ll be his life’s work, and it all starts here with issue 1.
We also have a spin off title for KOZOR called BORORK which is set in the same dark fantasy world. I’m the writer and creator of that one, and we’ve brought on Julius Gopez to illustrate it. He’s an exceptional talent who couldn’t be a more perfect fit for the art style we want our comics to be known for.
Chris: Thanks for chatting with us, Clayton! Good luck!
Clayton: Thanks for the opportunity to catch up and talk KOZOR with you. It’s been a pleasure.
JACK THE RIPPER: VAMPIRE HUNTER
by Peter Gilmore & Mandy Summers
Check out the campaign here!
Chris Braly: Tell our readers your elevator pitch for Jack the Ripper: Vampire Hunter. The name alone grabs my attention.
Peter Gilmore: The LEGEND of THE HIGHGATE VAMPIRE collides with the MACABRE legacy of JACK THE RIPPER in a race against time through the shadowy streets of Old London Town. Can Jack bring a growing reign of terror to it’s BLOODY conclusion? 48 pages of atmospheric, high detailed, black and white artwork by Peter Gilmore, bring this nail biting and horrific tale, penned by Mandy Summers, to life… It’s a HELL of a ride!
CB: What was the genesis for this project, where did the idea for this comic come from?
PG: Ever since seeing Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein, I’ve wanted to make a super detailed black & white horror book. I kicked around a few ideas until I remembered the stories about the Highgate Vampire in newspapers and on the TV news when I was a child. In my research I came across a strange connection between Highgate Cemetery in London and Jack the Ripper. The first person to be buried at Highgate was a woman called Elizabeth Jackson… a name that pops up some 50yrs later as a potential victim of Jack the Ripper. A woman that very little is known about, dies once in 1839, then dies again in 1888? She was CLEARLY a vampire!!! And that’s how the premise for the book came about.
CB: You’ve crossed many other genres before. Who are you aiming at with this book?
PG: There’s elements of action with a sprinkling of detective work in the book, but for me it’s all about that classic horror, although I can see this appealing to fans of both genres. In a way, there’s elements of Batman to our portrayal of Jack.
CB: Let’s get into the creative and production side a little. You guys have done this together a few times, how is that working out?
PG: Mandy Summers and I have gotten to know each other fairly well over the past few years, which makes for a great working relationship. We tend to be pretty much on the same page when it comes to creating books. I know where she’s coming from when she’s setting things out in a script and it’s uncanny how often what I draw is exactly what’s in her head. There’s also a lot of give and take between us, we’re both always open to suggestions and input from the other and there’s zero ego falling into the mix. The only real trouble we have is that between us we’ve got way too many book ideas to ever get around to doing together. There’s so much still to come from us.
As our Stuntman Comics imprint grows, we can hopefully bring in other artists/writers to work on some of our ideas, that may be a ways off, but we’ll get there.
CB: That’s right. You’ve been to this rodeo before. Tell me what are some of the biggest lessons you’ve been learning from crowdfunding and creating throughout this process?
PG: There’s a lot of noise on social media and it’s easy to get distracted and disheartened, so remember to keep your eyes on the prize, focus on the end goal, make comics, and grow your brand!
CB: Good advice, Peter. What are your plans beyond this book? Are there more stories to tell in this universe?
PG: There’s most definitely more stories to tell in this universe, We’ve already got a whole heap of ideas where to go with it. Next for me though, whilst Mandy works on Pirate Queen 2 (with Clint Hillinski), is the 2nd Rocket Gal book “Rocket Gal & the Voyagers from the Void” with Wyatt Holliday.
CB: Thanks for chatting with me again Peter! Proud of your success! You’re inspiring others to create and crowdfund their comic book ideas too!
PG: No problem, it’s an exciting time for indie comics. Thanks for all the promotion and support you give to both us and other creators out there!
Check out the campaign here!
SHADOW SENTRY #2
by Eric Ninaltowski
Check out the campaign page here!
Chris Braly: Thanks for joining me on Indie Comics Showcase, Eric. Tell our readers about Shadow Sentry #2 – get everyone up to speed.
Eric Ninaltowski: Shadow Sentry is best summed up as an X-Men meets the Matrix superhero team book with a Supernatural twist! What if you had a Near Death Experience, but when you returned from the other side, you brought back a piece of the eternal with you? You awoke to find you now had paranormal abilities and were a superhuman! There are the Hell Born, agents of darkness bent on destruction, and the High Born, heavens soldiers ready to battle back the darkness. A classic story but with a modern paint job!
CB: Sweet! What was the genesis for this project, where did the idea for this comic come from?
EN: As a kid, falling in love with comics all started with the X-Men and other X books. I loved the comradery and fun powers, and so many cool characters under this one X banner. Finding Jim Lee and Claremont early on I really loved the storytelling and dynamic and explosive art. Then with the birth of IMAGE comics and seeing that whole explosion of amazing talents, I was hooked for good. I wanted my first book to have the same passion and creator-owned fire that they all brought to the table at IMAGE, and I wanted something that would give fans of that era really something that they could get behind and would reinvigorate their love for the superhero genre. Enter Shadow Sentry! I wanted it to have superhumans, but not “mutants.” Meaning, I didn’t want them to be born with powers, I wanted to come up with a different means by which to create these new heroes and villains. Playing with Supernatural, and Biblical elements lead me to come up with this idea of Satan wanting to infiltrate our world through bringing people back from death and drafting a new army. Then consequently God would do the same to counter this new plot.
CB: What kind of comic fans do you expect this comic will entertain?
EN: I think for any fan of the 90’s would really enjoy this book, and I hope to give them a bit of nostalgia when they read it (which many report they did get from Book 1)! But also, for readers who weren’t into that era or maybe not even around, I think they’ll still find plenty to get into and enjoy. There’s something for everyone and I know I’m bias, but I think the storytelling is strong and the characters are fun, so people are going to get some good all-around comic entertainment.
CB: Who’s your creative team?
EN: I have some really talented people working with me on this book and it really shows when you see the final product. I’m also going about colors in a bit different way than normal. I have two colorists, one is Kid Ikaris, who also worked on Brand, and Carbon Graphics. Carbon Graphics (CG) does all my covers (except Aaron Lopresti’s which he colored himself for this campaign). My original plan was to have CG do all the interior color work, but his other work schedule and the page load were just too much. I then brought on Kid Ikaris to do the interiors and then later approached CG about possibly just coming in behind Kid Ikaris to provide additional embellishments and FX, to which he agreed, but the outcome of that has been phenomenal.
I’m blessed to have not one but two amazing colorists working with me on this project. Then there’s me, I’m doing the writing, and the pencils and inks. And Eric Weathers, a man who needs no intro, is working on the letters. I also have Christina Lynn doing edits and a good friend who has just been a great sounding board and reviewer of my script, Clay Pauley. I’m really proud of what we’ve all put together and we’re all back for round 2!
CB: You’re a family man, so how do you like to work?
EN: Juggling family life, a one-year-old, and a wife who works out of the home 3 days a week, I basically do what I can, when I can. Throw into the mix the whole COVID debacle and kids that are now home-schooled, I’m still able to knock out 2 pages of inks per week working from home. That’s at a pace that isn’t sacrificing quality but putting out my best work. I couldn’t do it without the help of my wonderful wife who when she is home is happy to take the kids to the beach to give me a quiet and distraction free work environment! That’s why I dedicated Book 1 to her. Without her I wouldn’t get any of this done!
CB: What have you been learning from crowdfunding?
EN: Deciding to crowdfund was due to a few factors, but the timing of it with the Comicsgate movement and the success of other indie crowdfunding books was key for me. I’ve been blown away by just the community surrounding crowdfunding. You really get to know everyone that backs your book, you’re connected with them in this non-transient way. I can talk with them. They can talk to me and tell me what they think of the book or tell me what they are looking for. It really connects you to your fans in a whole new way. Then when they come back the next time around, as a creator you feel this obligation to really give them the best book and content that you possibly can. I think it’s going to revitalize comics in a great new way.
CB: I tend to agree. Let’s get back to Shadow Sentry. What are your plans beyond book #2? Are there more stories to tell?
EN: So this book has the potential to be an ongoing series, and if people continue to back it and support it then I will continue it as long as I can. I definitely have other stories I’d like to tell, ( I have an epic fantasy story, and a sci-fi story as well!) but Shadow Sentry I felt was the strongest and had the best staying power, so that’s why I wanted to make this the first book. Also, if Shadow Sentry does well, I can branch off into other one shots, other team books, etc. Which given the opportunity I’d be excited to do. Very much in the same vein as the early Image books like Team-7, Gen-13, and DV8. There’s a lot of potential for growth in the Shadow Sentry universe.
CB: Sounds good, Eric. Thanks for chatting with us!
EN: Thank you guys so much! I really appreciate the opportunity to chat with you!
Check out the campaign page here!
That’s it for number 150! Now go and support these indie comics!!!
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