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!
Johnny Phantasm 1985
by Patrick Thomas Parnell
It’s DEVIL’S NIGHT in New Detroit, 1985. The city burns as Johnny faces a threat more evil than himself!
Check out the campaign here!
Chris Braly: Welcome back to Indie Comics Showcase, Patrick! Briefly get our readers up to speed on Johnny Phantasm 1985 starting with the last volume.
Patrick Thomas Parnell: The last time we saw Johnny Phantasm we saw him go from being a hired hit man to a demon mob boss. After a hit goes wrong, a dying priest curses Johnny. He then gets possessed by 3 Ancients Ghost Kings. They give him the power of the Phantasm. He rips the city of New Detroit apart trying to get control of it.
CB: How did the first campaign go? Did it have any affect on this campaign?
PP: The last campaign was actually our second. The first time around we did a small release testing out crowd funding. It was a 64 page graphic novel of Johnny Phantasm in 2018-2019. The last campaign, our second, we published the Johnny Phantasm graphic novel broken into 3 issues with 8 pages added. That went really well. From our first campaign to our last the numbers doubled. In total and in backers. Johnny Phantasm 1985 is on track to do the same. Our goal is to double our numbers every time we crowd fund a project. Starting very small but working our way up over time. Building a strong foundation.
CB: I was reminded of Beetlejuice and Ghost Rider when I first learned about Johnny Phantasm. What kind of comics reader do you think this will appeal to the most?
PP: Johnny Phantasm is for fans of super hero, pulp and horror comics. There’s a little bit of everything in there for everyone. Fans of the Joker, Daredevil, Spawn and even Dick Tracy will love this book. This story takes place in the year 1985 so we are playing to the retro heart string of a lot of people as well.
CB: Tell us a bit about your creative team / other creators that have contributed to this?
PP: Evan Pozios and myself are back at it again. Evan writes this phantastic story and I illustrate the crazy tale. This time we have the editorial help of the great Dr. Andrea Lorenzo Molinari. (Caliber Comics, Scout Comics). The Doctor is helping us turn out and even better story then before. He’s really great with helping us keep the eye on the ball and getting down to what makes Johnny tick. ALSO, this time around we have a variant cover by legend Michael Golden. We really wanted to make something special for all the collectors out there. We asked around and listened to what our backers wanted. We put out a few names of people out there. A LOT of people were asking us to get Golden. Evan and I were both big fans of course so we reached out. And he said YES! So here we are.
CB: What else are you learning from crowdfunding and creating through this process?
PP: Backers are loyal. If you treat them right they come back to see what else you are doing. If you screw a backer, it’s over. So we just treat our backers well. We listen to them. And we try to give them a great book that will be worth their buck.
CB: Which tier is your coolest and the most sought after? Can readers who missed the first issue get both?
PP: Right now, it’s the Michael Golden variant cover!! There are two tiers:
It’s GOLDEN $35
-Michael Golden Johnny Phantasm 1985 variant 48pgs
-Postcard Set (3)
-Golden Poker Chip
ALL THE GOLD! $95
-Michael Golden Johnny Phantasm 1985 variant 48pgs
-Johnny Phantasm 1977 72pgs
-Postcard Set (5)
-Golden Poker Chip
CB: Love Michael Golden’s work. Glad to see him working again. How far along is the book and when do you plan to fulfill?
PP: We plan on having this to people by the end of the holidays! Then We have the Johnny Phantasm Toy Campaign launching!!!!!
CB: Cool! Thanks again, Pat. Looking forward to this!
PP: NO, thank you! Bleeding Fool is so great and thank you for your time!!!!!
Check out the campaign here!
by Justin Murphy
Colonials fight to save an abducted child after receiving ancient tribal shape-shifting powers.
Check out the War Party campaign here!
Chris Braly: Tell me all about War Party. What’s this all about?
Justin Murphy: If you took The Last of the Mohicans, Pocahontas, The Howling, & Altered Beast and then threw them all into a blender, you’d be pretty close. In 1759, during the French and Indian War, three brothers return home to find their entire family slaughtered and the youngest child abducted to be sold to the French. Enlisting the help of ancient magic from an Algonquin tribe, and a female shaman named Dyani, they transform into the beast that matches their spirit animal to become the War Party. Considered an abomination to all things holy, the British and the French call a cease fire and ally themselves against them. It is a tale of underdogs fighting against extreme odds, all against the backdrop of a wild, untamed America.
CB: This isn’t your first adventure in crowdfunding. How did you first get into this and how did it lead to this?
JM: I’ve worked in both comics and animation for almost 30 years now, and have used crowdfunding exclusively for my animated projects. It wasn’t until I started watching videos from various YouTubers over the past couple of years that I started to see what was happening in the comic industry, and it became obvious to me that direct-to-consumer was the future. I’ve worked with Diamond in the past, as well as with returnable distributors in stores like Borders. Both are killers for a publisher to deal with because one takes a 60% discount and the other can return unsold books. The publisher has to eat the cost. Unless you do extremely high volume, you lose money. Crowdfunding allows creators to sell to a much smaller audience and still have the possibility of making a profit, since no discounts are being taken. Getting rid of the ‘middle-man’ and shipping directly to the customer just makes sense. The reader also has direct contact with the creator, and the creator makes more money. Everyone wins.
CB: Your previous projects were animated fare. Is there an animated version of War Party coming? Similar to what we see in the trailer?
JM: Not at this time. I am still in production on Dawgtown with my team of animators from all over the world, so until that film is completed, I would not take on another one. War Party would most likely make a better live action series, with practical monster effects (like American Werewolf in London or Pan’s Labyrinth) and not CG, which I feel is grossly overused in movies today. Animation could work, but a live action version would attract more viewers.
CB: So this is historical fiction. Where did the idea for War Party originate?
JM: I’ve always been a fan of the Michael Mann film Last of the Mohicans. The French and Indian War was incredibly brutal and many frontier families and tribes suffered. It seemed the perfect backdrop for a little werewolf action. Growing up on the movie monster effects of geniuses like Rick Baker, Rob Bottin and Stan Winston helped inspire me as well.
From an historical perspective, Celts and Berserkers in Europe drank hallucinogens and wore the skin of beasts when they went into combat, and so did certain Native American tribes. I just got to thinking, these warriors really believed they were transforming into an animal. What if they really did? How cool would that be? How would that give them an edge over their enemies?
I also like escape and rescue stories. Saving a young child is a motivation that any reader can connect with emotionally, especially a parent. In War Party James will do anything to save his daughter, even if he has to give up his own humanity.
CB: What kind of comic fans do you expect this comic will entertain the most?
JM: If you like any one of these in your comics: adventure, fantasy, war, horror, monsters, or the supernatural, then you will enjoy War Party. To cite specific books, I think fans of Savage Sword of Conan, The Nam, and possibly even Spawn would be the type of readers that this series would appeal to.
CB: Tell us a bit about your creative team. Anyone helping you with this or are you handling everything?
JM: I am the writer and artist on the book. My past work includes The Xeric Award-Winning Civil War Graphic Novel Cleburne and the humor book Holidaze. J.Bown is my colorist and he has worked in the industry for years with Marvel and IDW. And of course there’s a variant cover by the legend himself Michael Golden, co-creator of X-Men’s Rogue and an artist known for The ‘Nam, Bucky O’Hare, G.I.Joe and others.
CB: Good to see Michael Golden doing cover work. He’s on another project we interviewed this week! Whatare you learning from crowdfunding this process?
JM: It’s important to listen to the fans. Your backers are the ones making the project happen, and they deserve complete respect and gratitude. It is a privilege to be able to create comics and tell stories, and without strong support from the online community of readers and crowd-funders, projects like War Party can’t become a reality. Backers need to know they are getting value for their money, and that the product will be created and delivered on time as promised. Trust has to be earned, so it is up to the creators to meet the backer’s expectations or even exceed them if possible.
It’s also important to have an online presence. You can’t just put up a campaign and hope people see will see it. You must be on social media, live streams, chats and have a YouTube channel of your own. My channel is called Professor Murf (since I am a full-time college professor of animation and illustration), and though it is too small for live streaming, it still offers me an outlet to promote my work. Some comic creators may feel it’s unfair to have to be a video content creator as well as an artist, but it seems necessary to have a successful crowdfunding campaign. People often support campaigns because of the person behind the product rather than simply the product itself. Letting people get to know the person behind the project goes a long way to building a loyal fan base and without a YouTube channel that can be difficult to do.
CB: Thanks for chatting with us! Good luck and we are rooting for you!
JM: Thank you! I appreciate it.
Check out the War Party campaign here!
THE KILL JOURNAL
By Adam Lawson
A horror graphic novel about Revenants and the Survivors who hunt them.
Check out the campaign page here!
John Lemus: Welcome back and thanks again for being a part of Indie Comics Showcase. I can’t wait to discuss your latest project!
Adam Lawson: It is great to be back, John. I love indie comics and creators and you are a big supporter.
JL: Catch us up to how and what has changed since we had you on the last we had you on, for The Eighth?
AL: Yes! The Eighth had an amazing campaign and ended up raising over $35k, more than double our hopes. Now, I’m pushing my latest graphic novel, The Kill Journal. I have four worlds I have been wanting to build in the world of comics, and over the years I have been building out the art and characters for them. This is number two.
JL: Without giving away any spoilers, what can you tell us about The Kill Journal?
AL: Revenants are evil spirits back from the dead, wielding chainsaws and machetes, and their victims, the ones still alive, are taking a bloody stand. Led by a half-mad preacher, they’re ridding the world of these monsters before they become one themselves. This is a story I conceived over ten-years ago. At its core the story explores what happens after the “horror movie” ends and the few survivors’ look around and see that their friends are all dead and their homes are burned down. What do they do to cope? In our tale they decide to get revenge.
JL: What was the most challenging part about your last campaign for the Eighth? And what are some of the things you learned in your last campaign?
AL: Building an audience. I went in without any fans of me. I have fans of my TV shows, but none of me as comic book guy. I was literally building a fanbase as the campaign rolled out. Build a mailing list. Promote for months before you begin. The hardest part of making indie comics is getting it into people’s hands.
So this time I spent months building a mailing list. I got on streams, ran Instagram ads and continued to cultivate the fans from The Eighth. I also wanted the campaign to have a beautiful design instead of just pictures on a white backdrop. So, I designed the actual landing page like it was a comic book.
JL: Nice. Media wise, what are you reading, watching, listening to… consuming while working on this project?
AL: Indie comics! I make it a solid habit. So, I get through lots of comics, but the ones that stand out are: Mountainhead, Bigfoot Bill, The Whaling Blade, The Metabarons (none can compare to that), Down Cast and Six-Gun Gorilla.
JL: We’ve featured many of those projects on ICS! Great picks, Adam. Has anything changed in your creative process between the last comic and this one?
AL: Yes. I now have a separate colorist and line artist. It creates a very different book when there are two different brains building out the art. I really like it. I also got new software for lettering and I am doing all of it this time. I wanted to work with colorist Mike Spicer (Murder Falcon) and I was able to bring him onto one of the 6-page mini-stories in the back of the Kill Journal. That was a big win. I think the only thing after that would be to have Daniel Warren Johnson draw one of my books.
JL: What are your feelings about the current state of Indie Comics, and have they changed since you started?
AL: I love the state of indie comics! It could not be a better time. Because of crowdfunding people can actually spend money making them so the quality level is through the rough. The campaigns are pushing the limits offering more options and items. It is so exciting it is hard to even go to a local comic shop anymore.
JL: What are your hopes for this comic in the future?
AL: I’m seeing this as a three-volume and-then-some story. My hope is that I get to do at least 3 volumes of it. I hope to bring on other writers for those. I am going to turn it into a board game as well and launch that next year. Pretty pumped about that. I had a really great success with my Escape the Night board game this year already, so fingers are crossed.
JL: Amazing! Anything else you want to share with us before we sign off?
AL: The Kill Journal is an amazing leather-bound graphic novel full of rich story and complex characters. It is an amazing ride and I hope you decide to take it or at least talk about it with others.
JL: Once again Adam, I would like to say thank you for being a part of indie comics showcase. We wish you the best of luck on this campaign and all future projects.
AL: Thanks again, John!
Check out this 6-page preview here!
Then check out the campaign page here!
That’s it for this installment! Support indie comics!!!
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