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 Pedro Ang
Check out the campaign page here!
CB: Welcome to Indie Comics Showcase, Pedro! Tell me what Tropical Majicks is all about.
PA: It’s been described as Cheech and Chong meet mad max in world were magic and technology collide. It’s the story of two veterans of a merciless war who just want to live normal lives but fate has a different plan for them. Their attitude is blue collar and they approach adventure with that in mind.
CB: How did you come up with the idea and what made you decide to self-publish it?
PA: The idea came from being homeless in the pandemic for 2 days. I was having dreams really, not nightmares while sleeping in my car. A desolated Panama City(I’m from Panama in central america) being witnessed by 2 characters with no names. The moment I solved my housing problem and hooked up my workstation, I got to work on the project right away. I’m an animator by trade so the process went really fast. I hired an editor (Marrk Mulgrave) so the book won’t feel like a fever dream. Also being from Panama the country and english being my 2nd language made me really apprehensive about my writing. I decided to self publish after seeing the monster movement that came about with crowdfunding and Comicsgate specifically, EVS, Dan Fraga, Art Thibert, Shane Davies among countless others are an example and an inspiration.
CB: Who is it aimed at? What sort of comic reader?
PA: It’s a PG-13 adventure, I’m a big fan of the action-comedies of the 80’s like Big Trouble in Little China, The Golden Child (even though it’s not Mr. Murphy’s best movie), Romancing the Stone or Tremors, and that’s the spirit of the story even though the setting is bit more fantastic in nature. I does contain violence so I don’t feel comfortable calling it an all ages book. I would say, parents read the book first and decide if it’s appropriate for his/her offspring.
CB: Tell us about you developed your creative style.
PA: With my background (animation), I’ve being designing characters my whole life and that is always the birth of any project I’ve made. I’m trying to come up with a bridge between animation and comic book art, I will allow the reader to decide if I succeeded LOL. The layout process I approach as rough animation so the characters are drawn really fast and loose, focusing on movement, dynamics and composition. Then I do a second pass placing the details and features of costumes and props in perspective and fix the composition problems I can pick. Finally I do clean up/Inks so I do borrow from both comic book production and animation. I sincerely hope people enjoy it.
CB: Talk about your creative team that contributed to this project
PA: Right now the creative team is just me and Marrk Mulgrave. I’m open to collaborate with other artists, the particular circumstances of this project lend it to be a solo flight which I enjoy, but knowing you don’t know everything I can’t wait to get a dedicated colorist to go over my work. I’m really eager to keep on working.
CB: So how far along is the book?
PA: The book is completely finished 72 pages and a 44 page art book. It took 7 months to complete. I have the pandemic, the working situation in Panama and my savings to thank.
CB: What are some things you’re learning from crowdfunding and creating through this process?
PA: It’s hard work, but really satisfying. Even though my campaign is not a Cinderella story, we funded and I’m eternally grateful to every single backer that believed in the project and I will not let them down. Crowdfunding in my experience has being the most natural community experience, you help other and you get helped, don’t take anything for granted and have a “what do I bring to the table” mentality. I’ve being doing animated trailers for different campaigns within the community and I have become part of the community as a “trailer” guy. It’s sending out goodwill and you will receive goodwill back, it might not be in the way you want or expect, but it will be yours. If you put out negativity, you’ll get negativity back, it’s simple really.
CB: Any plans beyond this book? More stories to tell?
PA: Mark and I are cooking a new book already and I’m planning on launching Tropical Magicks 2 next year. So yes, there are a lot more stories to tell.
CB: Any special features in this book or the campaign in general?
PA: I tried to keep the campaign as simple as possible, so we have 1 variant cover done by the Mighty Arthur Thibert! I don’t believe it myself. A source book that will take the reader through the conceptualization process of Tropical Magicks and 4 exclusive trading cards.
CB: Anything else you want to share with our readers before we sign off?
PA: I would like to thank everyone who helped me with the production and promotion of this book, Marrk Mulgrave, Joe “Albino Thunderbuns”, Shae and Cy from the Mighty Red Valkyrie, Dan Fraga, Michael Bancroft, the Crack Pack BOW! There’s a lot of mixed messages and animosity in this indie scene, but sincerely I can say that all I’ve found is people willing to work and to support your efforts if you have the right attitude. So keep drawing, keep reading, keep buying indie comics!
CB: Awesome. Good luck, Pedro!
Check out the campaign page here!
Creed of the Knightenhawke
by Dowyne Keawekane Jr
Check out the campaign here!
CB: Welcome to Indie Comics Showcase, DJ Keawekane. Hit me with your elevator pitch for Exillion: Creed of the Knightenhawke.
DJ: Exillion: Creed of the Knightenhawke is a full color 30 page comic about a young rogue who becomes a hero. Ambrose is a dashing young thief, along with his two friends just out for a good time at the worst time. As they scheme and pickpocket their way through the land the Orcs of the Reach launch an all out attack and the trio find themselves on the front lines of battle. In the midst of it all Ambrose begins manifesting mysterious powers that draw him into the most dangerous of situations, and he has a choice to make, will he keep his friends and run off like they always do, or will he join the Knightenhawke, the elite group of Knights that protect the land.
CB: Wow. So where did the idea for this comic come from?
DJ: I’ve always wanted to draw comics, since I was a little kid. When I graduated in 1995 they told me the only way to work in the industry was to move to New York city, and being a kid from Hawaii, that wasn’t an option for me. The internet was in. it’s early stages and I had no idea how to move forward as an artist so I just let the dream die, and went on with my life. I was working as a plumber until 2002 when I got into a car accident and broke my spine in 3 places. When I was in recovery my mom gave me my sketch book from high school that she had kept, and laying there in my bed, I started drawing again and it reignited the passion I had, and I started creating and fell back in love with drawing, and in the sketch book began the designs and world building for what is now Exillion: Creed of the Knightenhawke.
CB: What kind of comic readers is this probably best suited for?
DJ: This book is aimed at readers 13 and up, just for the violence in the series. But if you’re a fan of fantasy, and sci-fi, or just good old fashioned story telling within the pages please check it out. If you’re also a fan of 90’s comics, most of the inspiration I draw on come from there. The quick paced action, and the story moves and has time to breathe because the issues are 30 pages. So I’m not cramming in too much, but it’s also doesn’t drag on and on.
CB: Let’s get into the creative side. Tell me about your process, and how you developed your storytelling style.
DJ: If you remember Cross-Gen Comics of the late 90’s and early 2000’s this is definitely for you. Also if you were a fan of Joe Madureira’s Battle Chasers, or Mike Weiringo’s Tellos, those were inspirations for this comic for sure. I wanted to take that high fantasy element, along with story telling from our American Comics, with the action style and speed that Manga has, and mix it all in one book, filled with action, drama, character, and heart. Developing these characters was the fun part, I love world building and came up with my own histories and complexities within the world of Exillion and the way the races interact and go to war, but make no mistake it is an escape, and you’re off into a new world that is exciting and gives us all a break from the humdrum of real life.
CB: Let’s talk about your creative team. Who all contributed to this project?
DJ: I wrote, and drew this series. My colorist is Tom Bacon, my letterer is Kel Nuttal, and I’ve been working with my writer pals Niels Van Eekelen, Joshua Fay, and Jason David developing the backstories, the worlds, and the characters. And Genesis Maya who lettered some issues and I consider her my editor even if she doesn’t want that credit. Wayne Lo is also another artist that does colors on the covers, straight over my pencils. I love his work.
CB: How far along is the book in the production process?
DJ: This comic is completely finished. I’ve actually been selling this comic at conventions here in Hawaii sine 2014, and have 5 issues completed and working on issue 6 now, along with others work for hire comics I draw here in Hawaii. I’m now trying to expand out and broaden my audience and catch the new guys up to where we are currently. I was tempted to put out all 5 issues, but I want to earn everyone’s respect and come out in a timely manner since I have the back issues built up, while I try to grow my audience.
CB: Can you tell me anything you’ve been learning from self-publishing through this project?
DJ: Self-publishing is great! You find so much people out there who are supportive and also on the same track as you are on and you build friendships, and suddenly you’re not alone anymore. And it all starts and ends with you. It’s the crowdfunding I find to me a bit more challenging, but at the same time more rewarding. I’ve always considered myself more of an artist than a writer, so word documents and marketing and just getting the word out to the masses takes a lot of time and effort and you make a lot of mistakes along the way. But nothing teaches you better than failure in my opinion, and you get up and you try again and you just keep going.
CB: Any plans beyond this book? Anymore more stories to tell in this universe?
DJ: Yes, there are more stories to tell within this world I created it for the long haul, for now I would just like to get issue 6 finished and crowdfund each issue one at a time, to build up that audience and build trust with my readers. But I do have plans for Exillion to move on, but that will depend on if the book is profitable, a lot of people hate the fantasy genre and I’m no fool. If people just don’t respond to it, I’ll probably pivot after issue 6 and move onto something else. I have a lot of ideas and stories on the back burner that are not fantasy comics.
CB: Excellent. Anything else you would like to share with our readers that we didn’t cover?
DJ: Yes. I’ll be launching this campaign on Indiegogo also to reach people who are either banned from Kickstarter or not comfortable with that platform. I want to reach as many people as I can.
CB: Good idea! Best of luck on this campaign!
Check out the campaign here!
by Aaron Bennett
Check out the crowdfunding campaign here!
CB: Welcome to this week’s showcase, Aaron. Can you briefly tell us what Fractured Echo is all about?
AB: A small salvage crew explores the wreckage of a partially damaged ship. On what they thought was going to be an easy pay day quickly becomes something much more terrifying. Soon after entering the ship signs of a cult following start to emerge, as well as disfigured creatures that begin to stalk the crew. Before long it’s a fight for survival as they try to escape the ship. Follow long as the story sends you down a wacky rabbit hole of retro neon colour, mystery and gore.
CB: Intriguing. How did you come up with the idea?
AB: The idea came from my love of sci-fi and my own struggle with religion growing up. I really wanted to use this story to explore the concept of belief and faith, while expressing my love for the genre of sci-fi horror. I’m also a big fan of the Dead Space and Bioshock games, and I wanted to create something that gave me that same feeling I got when exploring those worlds. I suppose as I’ve gotten older and naturally have less time for those things, this was a way to get back to the things I enjoyed in my youth. While exploring some ideas that I’ve had to face as I’ve gotten older, like ones purpose in life.
CB: What sort of readers is this suited for?
AB: It’s suited for an older demographic, as it will contain a lot of blood and gore.
CB: Tell me a little about your style and creative process, and how you developed them
AB: My style is very loud. I like visuals that keep you engaged beyond the focal point or shot of the comic book panel. I think colour is a unique story telling tool, and it’s extremely important to this story. My process for writing is very simple. A lot of the time I have visuals in my head that I use as goal posts. I know roughly what I want to happen, and so I write in that direction. Whatever comes to my mind, whatever I think would be the most interesting and compelling scenario I write it down. I also try not to limit myself to the ideas on the page. I will continue to edit and revise the story over weeks or months until I have something super compelling and air tight.
CB: Let’s talk about your creative team that contributed to this project.
AB: At the moment it’s a team of three. Myself, Rod Luper and Nedim Kahraman. I contribute the story, creative direction and content marketing. Rod Luper is the artist of the group. He is responsible for all forms of comic book art. Nedim Kahraman is our copywriter, he also manages our Twitter presence as well as any research related to outreach and opportunities.
CB: What’s your production workflow like?
AB: Production workflow for each comic book page starts off with a short description of the scene. Almost like a storyboard description. That is given to Rod to develop a sketch of a possible panel layout. Depending on if I like the direction I will either approve or in most cases edit the sketch and send it back. This back and forth is done multiple times until we arrive at something I deem acceptable.
CB: What have you been learning from self-publishing and creating throughout this campaign?
AB: So far the process has been exciting and fun. Although it has been challenging keeping up with promotion while working a full time job. Both me and the team have found it enjoyable developing this story and thinking of creative ways to promote it. Luckily I work in marketing so the development of content hasn’t been that difficult. My skill set as a graphic designer lends itself to this industry really well. I actually find it a nice change of pace having the managerial control to make the choices I think are best. Crowdfunding is a lot like a lot of other jobs I’ve had, so I’m coming into it with an understanding of what steps need to be taken.
CB: Are there more stories to tell in this world you’ve created?
AB: Our plans beyond this first initial comic is to complete the story in a series of follow up comics, but for now that number is unknown. We definitely like the idea of expanding the universe of Fractured Echo. That being said, we do have other stories we aim to produce that are outside of sci-fi horror. Our copy writer Nedim Kahraman is an aspiring author and has the desire to write, so we plan to take turns when it comes to developing and promoting our comics. As for our ambition for this comic and others. We started this whole thing with a goal to break into the gaming industry, but more specifically the story telling side of things. Even though we now have a deep passion and interest in indie comics, developing a video game based on our stories is part of the reality we would like to create.
CB: Anything else you would like to share with our readers before we sign off?
AB: Even though Fractured Echo may appear to have the structure of a typical sci-fi horror story, there is an Alice in Wonderland moment in which the story gets turned on its head with dark levels of mystery, and reality warping scenarios.
CB: Nice. Thanks again for joining me Aaron!
Check out the crowdfunding campaign 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!