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!
Battle Maiden Knuckle Bomb 2
by Keung Lee
Superhero Comic meets Martial Arts Battle Manga with Unapologetic Sex Appeal!
Check out the campaign page here!
Chris Braly: Tell our readers your ‘elevator pitch’ for Battle Maiden Knuckle Bomb 2. Briefly tell our readers what it’s about and give us some background on the idea behind it and introduce us to the character.
Keung Lee: Battle Maiden Knuckle Bomb is primarily the story of Saaya Volkova, an unassuming ramen shop waitress and martial artist, that becomes a pawn in a sinister scheme leveraged against her uncle who is unwillingly producing genetically enhanced bio weapons for an archaic occult organization.
In order to save her life, Saaya’s uncle injects her with an experimental mutagen that he developed. It enhances the body and unlocks a hidden power unique to each test subject. The experiment is a resounding success and Saaya’s explosive power manifests. Coming to grips with her new body and power, Saaya fights to protect her uncle and to live to see tomorrow.
CB: HTell me a bit about Marakumo Comics? Is that strictly for your books, or is there more to it?
KL: Murakumo Comics is my own publishing company. Someday I would like to publish other creator’s comics, but for now it’s just my own books that are being produced under the Murakumo brand.
CB: How have you brought your previous comic work and experiences to this project?
KL: I debuted professionally with the Premiere Edition of BMKB #1 back in 2018. Since then, I’ve worked on a number of other indie books, including Case of the Littlest Umbrella and Tales from the Stacks. Murakumo Comics also produced a newsprint version of BMKB #1, dubbed the Standard Edition, and that’s been doing very well for us – especially with the launch of the second issue campaign.
CB: Are there any influences that helped shape this project? Tell us about that.
KL: I’ve always loved comics, but I’m mostly a manga reader. I stopped reading mainstream domestic comics back in the late ’90s, but my love for sequential art has been a constant. It’s never ceased to amaze me how these great visual storytellers are able to tell a story that plays out across panels containing illustrations, and how our minds fill in the gaps and give motion to what’s transpiring on the pages.
It satisfies my craving to experience an interesting story and, at the same time, observe beautiful and awe-inspiring art. Animation is able to put these images into motion, but you can’t appreciate a single frame with 24 of them flying by per second. This is one of the reasons I’m partial to the deliberate composition of manga pages.
My creative works are mostly inspired by other artists, namely the likes of Takeshi Obata, Yusuke Murata, Tetsuo Hara, Tsukasa Hojo, Akira Yasuda and Kinu Nishimura. But as far as being a comic book creator, there are two guys I have to thank for making me believe that I could create a book – Ethan Van Sciver and Todd McFarlane. Without the influence of these two, I would never have found my focus and BMKB would’ve remained nothing more than a bunch of sketches and word documents in a stack of unfinished projects.
CB: What advice would you share with other indie creators that are doing crowdfunding from that you’ve learned?
KL: The creative process for comics requires a lot of time and discipline, and when you factor in self-publishing and crowdfunding, you have to approach it as an entrepreneur – because that’s exactly what you’re becoming. The structure of your creative teams will vary, but in most cases going indie means you’re going to have to wear many different hats – not just your primary discipline, whether it be writing, pencilling, inking, etc. but now you have to consider marketing, sales, logistics and, one that mainstream creators too frequently neglect (because they had the corporate machine taking care of everything else), including customer service and consumer relations.
The readers, the fans, the customers – they are the ones that make all of this possible. Sure, as someone who wears all the hats, I can create BMKB on my own time and get it printed, with my own money… but then what? I’ll be stuck with a printing run of my book, stacks of boxes sitting in the studio, doing nothing for me. I’ll have satisfied a creative itch and I can brag I created my own book, but I can’t feed my kid with that! There has to be a demand for that supply. I’m able to make a living doing something that I absolutely love, and the ones who make this possible are the backers, the readers, the customers. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
CB: Great advice, Keung! Getting back to the Battle Maiden Knuckle Bomb campaign, is there anything unique about this crowdfund you wanted to mention?
KL: With BMKB, the first printing of an issue is called the Premiere Edition. The books are produced with premium coverstock and interior pages featuring crisp, immaculate prints. The books are sequentially numbered, each book with a unique mark on the cover indicating its place in the limited first printing.
These Premiere Editions are tough to procure after my IGG campaign has ended. In order to keep the story accessible and simultaneously retain the rarity and collectibility of the Premiere Editions, the 2nd printing of an issue and onwards are referred to as the Standard Edition, and are printed on newsprint – which has its own appeal to a lot of readers. I, personally, am partial to newsprint – I love the look, feel, texture and smell of it! New readers can find the Standard Edition of BMKB #1 on my Etsy shop.
CB: What else can you share about the project or the campaign?
KL: The current campaign features two tiers, with the second one offering a booklet called the C2 Supplement. This mini compendium is something I’m putting a lot of love into and is a book any fan of the series is going to want to read!
CB: Keung, thanks for chatting with us! Good luck and we are rooting for you!
KL: I appreciate it, thanks so much for your time and consideration!
Check out the campaign page here!
Divinity & Twilight Grimm
by Roland Mann
Divinity #1 and Twilight Grimm #1, both are first issues in new mini-series to be published by Silverline, a genre spanning independent comic book and graphic novel publisher. Divinity #1 is 24 pages of story and art while Twilight Grimm is 22 pages of story and art. Both comics are completely finished!
Check out the campaign page here!
Chris Braly: Tell our readers your ‘elevator pitch’ for the both Divinity & Twilight Grimm, the two newest comics you’re crowdfunding for Silverline Comics. Briefly tell our readers what they’re about and give us some background on each.
Roland Mann: First let me tell you about Divinity. Eleven-year old Divinity Gray’s life changes forever after the suspicious death of her parents. Marine Sgt Zach Gray, the older brother she barely knows, becomes her guardian, but when he discovers Divinity’s mysterious healing powers, their lives take a dangerous turn. With the help of a few friends, Zach and Divinity must go on the run to keep Divinity--and her powers--out of the hands of an evil cabal.
Twilight Grimm tells a story set in Hallowed Heights, a city that was nearly destroyed in the war between humans and vampires. The two factions forced an unusual peace: a high and heavily guarded wall now splits the city in half. On one side of the wall are the upper and middle class humans. On the other side are the lower class humans…and vampires. As long as the vampires stay on their side, the Blood Zone, the humans pretend they don’t exist. This includes turning a blind eye as the vampires feast on the zones lower class humans. No human law exists in the Blood Zone…except for the self-appointed guardian…the young man named Twilight Grimm.
CB: They both sound great. What can you tell us about Silverline and what you guys are doing there?
RM: I’ve been calling this iteration of Silverline, Silverline 3.0. To make a long story short, Silverline began in the late 1980s as a packager. Came to an end when I was hired by Malibu to become an editor there, and Steven Butler, my partner, went on to regular penciling gigs. After Marvel bought Malibu…then shut it down, I relaunched Silverline in 1997 as a full-fledged publisher. If anyone remember industry history, late 90s was the WRONG time to start publishing.
I called it quits in 2001 after losing far too much money. About two years ago, my collaborators on the relaunched Cat & Mouse convinced me to start up Silverline again…and…so I did. I like to say we’re publishing fun comics. It’s not a shared universe, no. We talked about that a bit, but it’s all creator owned, and the idea of a complete shared universe seemed a bit too…sticky to try to wrangle. So yeah, Silverline is a genre spanning independent comic publisher of fun comics!
CB: You’ve been working in the comics industry for a while. Share a bit about what experience you were able to bring to this project.
RM: I started my career in comics as a writer in the late 1980s, thanks to the indy comics boom then. I wrote comics like Cat & Mouse, Miss Fury, Rocket Ranger, Battletech, Arrow, then was hired by Malibu in 1992. I moved out to California to edit The Protectors, Ex-Mutants, Dinosaurs for Hire, and some others. Then Malibu was purchased by Marvel and I moved over to edit about half of the titles in the Ultraverse, titles like Sludge, Prototype, Night Man, and Strangers. Then, as I mentioned, Marvel fired a bunch of folks and I decided to publish. I mostly got back into publishing this time because of the advances in technology, primarily, print on demand…and because I love comics. In the past thirty years, I’ve experienced putting teams together as an editor, navigated the rough waters of working with distributors to get comics into comic shops…that, and the fact I’m an eternal optimist works for me in Silverline.
CB: What can you tell us about your creative team and bringing them all together?
RM: Twilight Grimm was the easiest. Basically, when I decided to publish again, I immediately reached out to a couple of writers that I knew could deliver, had equally optimistic attitudes, and were good writers. R.A. Jones was one of them. When I told him what I was up to, he was immediately on board, even though it had been several years since he’d done a comic (he’s been penning novels!). Once that happened, I started poking around for artists. I say poking around, but really I was looking through my mental rolodex and I really didn’t have to go further than Rob Davis. While I’d met Rob before, I had never worked with him personally, but he’d done several books with RA back in the day. I wasn’t sure how he’d react, since he has his own thing going, but Rob jumped at the chance to work with RA again. We added colorist Mickey Clausen and letterer Mike W. Belcher and voila!
Divinity happened a little different. Thirty year veteran Barb Kaalberg approached me with the idea of writing her own comic. She said even though she’d been inking all these years, she’d been cooking up ideas of her own. Barb was already inking CAT & MOUSE with me, and it just seemed like a natural thing. Since this was her first outing as writer, though, she wanted to team up with a veteran to help keep things tight. Enter R.A. Jones again. Then, we talked about pencilers and started looking around for someone she thought would be good for the story. Out of the blue, Alex Sarabia sends her a request on Facebook, thanks her for the link, says he’s a big fan of her work and would love to work with her one day. She goes to peek at his art, sends me the link, and we both go “heck yeah! He’s the guy.” Colorist Steve Mattsson was also someone Barb knew, but hadn’t done comic work in several years because of the technological advances. Essentially, Steven colored everything by hand and just didn’t make the jump to digital. He was super skeptical at first, but I assured him if he can color is, we can get it scanned! And the hand colored work looks great! Again, we added Mike W. Belcher as the letterer.
CB: You’ve conducted several campaigns now, and the past several have been successful. What advice would you share with other indie creators doing crowdfunding that you’ve learned?
RM: First, finish the work. I’ve seen so many unhappy crowdfund backers because they pledged to something and they wait months and months beyond the date. This is mostly because they think they can do the work faster than they really can. Silverline doesn’t START a campaign until the work is finished because we want to ship as quickly as possible. Prep, prep, and prep some more. Running a kickstarter is going to take a LOT more time and effort than you imagine. You want to line up and prepare your social media, interviews, live streams, that sort of thing. If you wait until the campaign is running, those avenues may be booked up and not be able to work you in. Plan ahead.
Keep your stretch goals simple and--if possible--something that you can slip in the package WITH the comic. If you promise a poster, that’s going to add additional postage to your expenses and can chew up any income you get. Think of smaller things like bookmarks, pins, backing board size prints--that sort of thing.
CB: What kind of comic readers will these most appeal to? What do you hope readers will take away from these comics?
RM: These comics will appeal to readers who like fun comics without agendas. We just want to tell good stories that can help readers escape into a fictional world for a brief period of time, to be entertained. We hope readers come away with a “that was pretty cool” reaction, and “I can’t wait to get my hands on the next one.”
CB: What else can you share about the project or the campaign? And do you have any final words for our readers?
RM: There are a lot of very reasonably price tiers with original art. We posted it and I immediately thought “crap, this is great art, this price is probably too low.” And I think the main final word is just to remind the readers that the comics are done, we could theoretically print and ship them tomorrow. They’re NOT going to be stuck waiting months and months. This is Silverline’s fifth kickstarter (Cat & Mouse #1, Kayless #1, Cat & Mouse #2, Kayless #2), and for each one, we’ve shipped within 30-45 days after the completion of the campaign. The couple of exceptions are art rewards for Kayless, because we have to wait for them to come from Argentina, so those few rewards that got art from Kayless have to wait a few extra weeks.
Lastly, comics are SUPPOSED to be fun…that’s what we’re working hard to do at Silverline: Have fun…and we think you’ll have fun READING them.
CB: I second that. Thanks for chatting with us Roland! Good luck and we are rooting for you!
RM: Thank you for having me and for rooting for me. I need the luck!
Check out the campaign page here!
Battle Brick Road
by Eric Weathers & Zeb Hatfield
All of her life Dorothy Gale has searched for her missing father in a world of destitution and dust. Now, an unexpected message will send her on an unbelievable journey through a mysterious and colorful land.
Check out the campaign page here!
Chris Braly: Tell our readers your ‘elevator pitch’ for the Battle Brick Road. Briefly tell our readers what it’s about and give us some background on it.
Eric Weathers: All of her life Thea Gale has searched for her missing father in a world of destitution and dust. Now, an unexpected message will send her on an unbelievable journey through a mysterious and colorful land. Along with her trusty sidekick TOTO, she must befriend a rag-tag group of outcasts to endure the many challenges along the way. Battle Brick Road is a 52+ page graphic novel and the first of a series of four books coming from writer Zeb Hatfield and myself.
Zeb Hatfield: Battle Brick Road is a wonderfully twisted, dystopian re-telling of L. Frank Baum’s timeless classic, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” loaded with explosive twists and turns on the Battle Brick Road.
CB: Inspired by the Wizard of Oz? Tell us more about that.
EW: Yes! Battle Brick Road is a future-military retelling of the Wizard of Oz, but we feel it goes deeper than that. What Zeb and I have done is take the bones, or essence, of the original Frank Baum story and given it a new spin. There will be some familiarity in the plot if you’ve read the book or seen the movie, but there’s a lot in there that will be new to most readers. Characters and character arcs that are wholly our own. It’s set in the future, roughly 2060-2080, so we play with sci-fi themes a lot. A.I. constructs that control Oz, genetically engineered creatures for our heroes to go up against. There is a big playground here, and it’s been fun to try and pick the right avenues (or brick roads) to go down.
ZH: Our initial title for the story was Operation Zephyr, however the decision was ultimately made to go for something with a little more punch to it. After bouncing around a whole bunch of ideas we landed on Battle Brick Road – itself a play on the Yellow Brick Road from the Baum’s book.
CB: Eric, you’ve been a creator for a while, primarily a letterer. Tell us about any previous comic work you’ve done and how you’ve brought your experience to this project and it all you came together.
EW: I guess my professional comic journey started on my other creator-owned series Flying Fortress in 2010. That’s the book where I learned the ropes on comic creation. From layouts all the way to lettering, even pre-press to get the book ready for print. That series took about 8 years to complete from start to finish. We brought it back last year when we launched Flying Fortress Remastered. That was a chance to bring the already completed book to a new audience. But, yeah, I learned how to draw, ink, color… everything on that series. Throughout those years, I also did a few odd freelance jobs here and there, did some pitches, nothing really took hold. A lot was learned, however. Good times!
CB: What can you tell us about your creative team and what other creators have contributed to this? How did this team come together?
EW: Battle Brick Road consists of Zeb Hatfield as they write, myself as the artist and letterer, and Farah Nurmaliza as the colorist. I came to Zeb a couple of years ago with the seed of the idea that he helped grow into the Battle Brick Road story we have now. Zeb took my small idea and nurtured it into something that packs a serious punch, both in the action and in the heart. We work hand-in-hand with the story, but he does the bulk of that work himself. Farah, I found from the work she’s done on other books like Doorkickers and College of the Dead 2: Graduation Day. She had some samples that I felt might work for the look we were going for. I sent her a test page to color and she really knocked it out of the park.
ZH: Eric and I happened to meet through a mutual acquaintance, and it didn’t take long for the conversation to veer toward our shared love for comics. Not long after, Eric approached me with several ideas for possible stories we could collaborate on. One of those ideas was this military, post-apocalyptic re-telling of the Wizard of Oz. He even had a couple of concepts of the main characters – Dorothy, Toto, Lion, Scarecrow, and Tin Man. I was immediately smitten with the idea. As a born and raised Kansas boy, the thought of doing my own rendition of Oz was equal parts thrilling and intimidating. Ultimately, we decided the concept was just too good to pass up.
CB: What do you have to say to other indie creators who want to try to crowdfund their comic projects?
EW: It’s really simple. First, you need a killer idea, obviously. But second, you need to have an audience. Build your platform. That goes a LONG way to make your project reach its goal, or hopefully, exceed its goal. If nobody knows who you are, it’s going to be really tough to reach anybody.
CB: Tell us a little more about the story. Is there a long term goal here? What do you hope readers will take away from this tale?
EW: This campaign focuses on the first of four books. “Operation Zephyr” is the title for book one. Book two will be titled “Fall of the Yellow Brick Road” and books three and four are still TBD. This first book focuses on the story of how Thea learns about the existence of Oz, how she arrives there and ultimately starts down the path towards our version of the Emerald City. She’ll also run into her first companion here, too, in Scarecrow. A legend in his own right, Scarecrow is out for revenge against the Watcher West.
ZH: Battle Brick Road – Operation Zephyr is a 52+ page graphic novel and the first installment in a four-part series that will re-interpret and adapt L. Frank Baum’s book, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”
Set against the backdrop of a prolonged drought and second Dust Bowl, Battle Brick Road – Operation Zephyr will introduce the reader to Thea Gale and the dreary world she calls home. On a mission to find her father, Thea’s transport is attacked by monstrous flying creatures, leaving her stranded in this exotic and vibrant land called Oz. The reader can expect to meet many familiar characters along the way, but with a sci-fi, dystopian twist.
My hope is that Battle Brick Road will immerse the reader in a story that feels both familiar and yet new and unexpected at the same time. Honoring the incredible legacy of L. Frank Baum’s original Oz story has been my primary goal. If our book can draw eyes back to take another look at the timeless work that is “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” we will have succeeded!
CB: I’m definitely intrigued. Any final words for our readers?
EW: One thing I’d like to explain it a bit more about is the supplemental book tentatively titled “The Unsealed files of Operation Zephyr.” It’s basically going to be a behind-the-scenes book with tons of extras. The original 5-page ashcan from 2018 will be in there, lots of character designs, sketches, and bios. We’re even putting in a fan art section, which is growing bigger by the week as more and more fanart gets sent our way. We’ve got big things in store for the rest of the campaign, too. A few stretch goals that have already been announced, like the trading cards, are going to have artists revealed soon. We’ve added a patch at $35k and a short-story about TOTO is going to be drawn by Mark Marianelli AKA Six AM Comics when we reach $50k. There’s even more after, that, too! You’ll just have to stay tuned!
CB: Cool! Thanks for chatting with us guys! Good luck and we are rooting for you!
EW: Thank you!
ZH: Thanks so much!
Check out the campaign page here!
That’s it for this installment! Support indie comics!!!
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