Indie Comics Showcase #88: Johnny Phantasm, Tilt, & Six Gun Gorilla!

 

 

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 1-3
by Patrick Thomas Parnell

 

Your favorite supernatural gangster is BACK on Indiegogo! JOHNNY PHANTASM IN THE TALES OF NEW DETROIT, 1977 features the original story that put him on the map! A LIMITED SERIES format of 3 individual 24 page comic books on classic newsprint! Riot Press, along with the Alterna Press’s Printing Partnership Program, are bringing this story back to life one last time!

 

Johnny Phantasm IndieGoGo

 

Check out the campaign page here!

 

 

 

Chris Braly: Tell our readers your ‘elevator pitch’ for Johnny Phantasm 1977. It looks like a Beetlejuice meets bronze age Ghost Rider, Briefly tell our readers what it’s about and give us some background on the idea behind it and introduce us to the character.

Patrick Parnell:  Johnny Phantasm is about a 1970’s hitman who gets possessed by three ghosts and becomes a demon mob boss to New Detroit. Johnny Phantasm definitely has a Tim Burton vibe! Comparing it to Beetlejuice is hitting it right on the head. I would add Scarface in there as well. We mixed a lot of influences into this story. It is a love letter to things like Frank Millers Daredevil, Dick Tracy, The Dark Knight Returns and classic pulp comics like the Shadow.

CB: How does this fit in with Riot Press? And Comic Book Advocates (Written Sins Network)? Can you tell us about those endeavors?

PP:  Riot Press is my studio that I publish through. I’ve been putting out indie books through Riot Press since my days back at the Joe Kubert School in the early 2000’s. As far as working with people such as Written Sins, we just love talking comics with anyone who will listen. They’ve been great covering Johnny from time to time and their coverage has helped us move the needle without a doubt. 

 

CB: Tell us about any other previous comic work you’ve done and how you’ve brought your experience to this project and it all you came together.

PP:  Evan Pozios and myself also worked on Time Grunts for Caliber Comics. Written by Evan, art by Alex Sanchez and colors by myself. Evan and I had good chemistry working on Time Grunts which morphed into Johnny Phantasm. 

CB: Tell us a bit about your creative team and what other creators have contributed to this? Who are they and how did the team come together?

PP: While working on Time Grunts together Evan was always kicking around an idea about a 1970’s hitman living in Detroit, where he grew up. We bounced ideas off of each other for a minute until we worked out who Johnny became. I added the flare of the ghosts and skull face idea, Evan focused on the gangster angel and Detroit historical facts. And it just snowballed as these things do. We had a giant mixing pot of all the comics we loved as a kids and found ways to include our versions or takes on individual characters. We are not reinventing the wheel here, just making our badass version of one. The book is also edited by Andrea Molinari from Caliber Comics, who also worked on Time Grunts with us.

 

 

CB: What advice would you share with other indie creators that are doing crowdfunding from that you’ve learned? This isn’t your first rodeo…

 

PP:  To new creators jumping into the world of crowdfunding I would mention these three things: 

  1. Get a chunk of work done before you launch. So many people try to launch with only a couple pieces and a cover. The more work you have done the more people can see what the story is about. Also, keep in mind, once the campaign is done, you’ll have to actually the do the work. Which takes time. I suggest having half the book done before you launch. 
  2. Build a platform or be building a platform. If no knows who you are you won’t get very far selling books. Build up your social media or be prepared to build as you go. Go on as many shows as you can to talk about your book. When self-publishing it’s up to you to get the word out about your book.
  3. Make realistic goals. Don’t set your set goal for $100k if you have never done a book in your life. You want to hit your goal quickly so it gets a buzz. I suggest setting it slightly lower then what you need to get the book done. People get really excited when they see the book is 125% funded. 

 

CB: Tell us a little more about the Johnny Phantasm campaign. It’s a full arc, and this campaign is for 3 newsprint comics, right? Tell us about that decision.

PP:  A year and a half ago we were really inspired by people such as EVS, Jon Malin and Ya Boi Zack, which opened our eyes to the world of crowdfunding. Sure it has been around for a while but just how those guys were going about really sparked our interest. Also, the CG message really spoke to us: “costumers first”. We launched a brief campaign to help complete the book. About a year ago we released Johnny Phantasm in graphic novel form and delivered successfully through Indiegogo. We were in and out pretty quickly.

 

Over the past year we’ve had a lot of people ask about Johnny and how they could get a copy. We didn’t over print so they were all gone. Yet, we have been working on Johnny Phantasm : Halloween 1985. We wanted to give people another chance to learn about Johnny’s origins and also give them a good jumping on point for Halloween 1985. There are a few reasons we went with 3 issues on newsprint this time around. First, we always wanted to try doing a comic on classic newsprint. Second, we didn’t want to rerelease a form of the book we just put out….we wanted to honor or original backers. Last, with a lot of comic shops being closed, we wanted to offer an affordable comic for people to get shipped right to their door.

 

 

CB: What else can you share about the project or the campaign? And what is next for Johnny Phantasm and New Detroit?

PP:  Johnny Phantasm is just getting started! This book is 1977. The next story arc is 1985. Then 1996, 2001, 2012, 2020, etc. It’s a journey of a character where we give a nod to all our favorite comics, sci fi and horror stories along the way. Focusing on the iconic heroes and villains of those eras. For example, in 1996 Johnny has to go up against an evil version of the Power Rangers. We plan to stick to this newsprint format until the story is completed. We have a toy sculpt completed and are looking for manufactures as we speak. We want to make lunch boxes and other swag as well. Evan and myself really want to bring Johnny to the people. 

 

 

CB: Thanks for chatting with us! Good luck and we are rooting for you!

PP: Thank you, sir! We love Bleeding Fool and were so stoked when you guys reached out. Thanks for giving us your time to pitch Johnny Phantasm in the Tales of New Detroit, 1977.

 

Check out the campaign page here!

TILT
by David Hogberg

 

Jennifer Polar is in danger! Her father, Larry, was murdered by mobsters and now they are after her! In the after-life, Larry begs a powerful spirit to protect his daughter. The spirit gives Jennifer the power to make the Kings, Queens and Jacks in a deck of cards come alive! They will protect her, but for a price: Jennifer must use this power to eliminate the mobsters who killed her dad! The Kings, Queens and Jacks are ready for action, but what about Jennifer?

 

Check out the Tilt crowdfunding page here!

 

Chris Braly: Tell our readers your ‘elevator pitch’ for Tilt. Briefly tell our readers what it’s about and give us some background on it.

 

David Hogberg:  It is “Superheroes Meets The Sopranos.”  Synopsis: Jennifer Polar is in danger. Her father, Larry, was murdered by mobsters and now they are after her! In the after-life, Larry begs a powerful spirit to protect his daughter. The spirit gives Jennifer the power to make the Kings, Queens and Jacks in a deck of cards come alive. They will protect her, but for a price: Jennifer must use this power to eliminate the mobsters who killed her dad. 

 

CB: What are you learning from crowdfunding and creating through this process?

DH:  There are no short cuts. It is grind, grind, grind.

 

CB: Tell us about your previous work and how you’ve brought your experience to this project and it all you came together.

DH:  Well, when I was a kid I had all these trading cards with superheroes on them. And I had great conversations with them. So when I grew up I wanted to see if I could duplicate that experience and so I started playing poker and wouldn’t you know it, the Kings, Queens and Jacks in the cards started talking to me! And they said I should make this comic book. No shit.

 

CB: Tell us a little more about the story. What do you think comic fans will like most about it?

DH:  Well, I was on my meds when I wrote the script, so readers will find a plot that makes sense in TILT. They’ll also find lots of good looking women, quite a bit of action, and characters that sometimes don’t get along that well. This is issue one of a three issue series, and issue one will be 32 pages. The Queen of Diamonds told me that I needed to get this book into the hands of customers quickly or the Jack of Hearts would come after me. And when you read issue one, you’ll see why I don’t take that threat idly. That’s why all 32 pages are now inked, colored and lettered. It will be ready to go to the printer right after the campaign ends in late May.

 

 

CB: What advice would you share with other indie creators doing crowdfunding that you’ve learned?

DH:  If you want to succeed, be ready to do lots of promotion, and especially be ready to get on as many YouTube shows as possible. I often get my backers one or two at a time, and I get them by going on YouTube shows that deal with comic books. Pester the people who run those shows to get on them if need be. That has been a big reason TILT is now over 100% funded.

 



CB
: Tell us a bit about your creative team and what other creators that have contributed to this?

DH: Jordi Armengol did the standard cover and he is an artist who lives in Spain who has a great deal of comic book experience. My illustrator, Marcos Lima, as a young guy from Brazil who is up and coming. Leanore King is the colorist and this is her first big comic book project—she also has helped with promotion. D Jason Meadows is the letterer—he also has tons of comic book experience and has run his own campaigns before. He has been a great source of advice. Jeremy Lott edited the script. I’ve known him for 15 years, back when he was an editor for the American Spectator. He’s one of the best editors I’ve ever worked with. And also a great source of advice for the TILT campaign.

 

 

The illustrator of the variant cover is Jeff Kraven, but that is a pseudonym. See, what happened is that in the first version of the cover, he drew the Jack of Hearts in a way that he really didn’t like. In fact, the Jack was furious. Jeff fixed it, but it was too late. The Jack vowed to chop Jeff’s head off. So Jeff had to take on a fake name. He’s now even thinking about going into witness protection. Sad story, but the hazards of comic book creation.

 

CB: What else can you share about the project? And do you have any final words for our readers?

DH: Sure. Among the perks is a special TILT deck of cards.  It is a 54-card poker deck and it has a beautiful image of the main character, Jennifer, on the backs of the cards. To see that image, go to the campaign page here and scroll down. The Jack of Hearts was mad that it wasn’t his image, but then I told him I’d let him sleep with Jennifer at the end of the comic, so we’re cool.

 

 

CB: Thanks for chatting with us! Good luck and we are rooting for you!

DH: Thank you! I’ll be getting back on my meds soon.

 

Check out the Tilt crowdfunding page here!
The campaign ends tonight!

 

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SIX GUN GORILLA: The Big Gundown
by Brian Christgau

 

God forgives… HE DOESN’T!

SIX-GUN GORILLA is the epic saga of a pistol-packing Silverback and his quest for vengeance. Prepare yourself for the strangest, most startling Old West hero of them all!

Check out the crowdfunding campaign page here!

 

Chris Braly: Welcome back to Indie Comics Showcase, Brian. Briefly tell our readers some background on the latest installment in your Six Gun Gorilla saga!

Brian Christgau: The elevator pitch is: “A very big ape with very big guns blowing very big holes in very bad people.”

Basically, it’s Tarzan turned on its head: instead of a human raised by apes, we have an orphaned gorilla who is raised by humans. Being part of a circus family he has to learn a trade, and he ain’t gonna be much use on the high-wire, so he becomes a trick shot artist. One day a gang of cut-throats murder his adopted human family, so he dusts the ashes off his giant-sized revolvers and sets out on the vengeance trail.

The last campaign went great and this one has exceeded my expectations. People genuinely love this book, really connect with it in a meaningful way, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Issue #7 THE BIG GUNDOWN, has been finished for a few months now, so all I have to do is put the final file together and it’s off to the printer! Wee-doggies!

 

 

 

CB: Tell our readers about your previous work and how you’ve brought your experience to this project and it all you came together.

BC: I’ve been writing since I was a kid. Like so many wannabe comics artists of my generation I had a copy of John Buscema’s HOW TO DRAW COMICS THE MARVEL WAY, but try as I might I could just never get the hang of it. Not that comic book artists don’t have to put a ton of work into developing their craft, but I think you need a certain degree of innate ability, and I just didn’t have that. Ask comic book writers and most of them, if they’re honest, will tell you the reason we write comics is because we can’t draw them!

I’ve written dozens of screenplays, mostly Horror stuff, one or two of which are actually pretty good, tons of short stories, a few novellas and countless comic book scripts. Right now I’m finally at the point where I feel like I can produce good, professional quality work. 

 

 

A few years ago I came across the title SIX-GUN GORILLA on a website about Pulp heroes. Having grown up a big fan of the original KING KONG and MIGHTY JOE YOUNG, as well as Westerns, this set off a huge firecracker in my head. It’s such an outlandish concept, but one that at the same time seems like it could be a real blast if done right. I had to read this freaking thing!

When I learned he original story was out of print, the only two remaining copies under lock and key in a London museum, I was crestfallen. But then an odd thing happened: the story started to write itself -- as opposed to me writing the story -- in my head. I vividly recall driving to get some fish and chips, my favorite junk food, and by the time I parked at the restaurant the whole story was just there. It wasn’t going to leave me alone until I wrote the damn thing!

 

 

CB: This is a public domain character that you’ve made all your own. Tell us how that works?

 

BC:  Very simple: the title is public domain, but the characters and story are all entirely mine. In the original story, for instance, the gorilla is named O’Neal. My gorilla is named Kumba, which means “roar” in an African language. All the supporting characters, the villains, the plot, all of these are from my own imagination. I actually toyed with the idea of changing the title, but every one I could think of either sounded like a Hanna Barbera cartoon or lacked the F-U punch of the original.

 

 

CB: What advice would you share with other indie creators doing crowdfunding that you’ve learned?

 

BC: Find a kick-ass community of indie creators, as I have with #ComicsGate, and learn from them. You’ll be amazed at how successful crowdfunders are  not merely willing but are actually eager to help newcomers. You can learn a lot from our successes, but you can especially learn from our blunders. The world of crowdfunded comics is still relatively fresh territory -- all of us were newbies to it just yesterday, so our memories of being on the outside looking in are very fresh.

First thing, make sure you have a quality, kick-ass product. Don’t pander to whatever the flavor of the month is, because by the time your book gets out there that flavor will have changed. Make sure your comic is a passion project and your potential backers will feel that passion coming off your book in heatwaves. Try to have at least half of your book completed so you can show off the art on the campaign page, put together a cool trailer (once again, there are people in the community who can help you with that), and set your goal at a modest amount -- $3,000 seems to be the current sweet spot.

 

Twitter is a toxic cesspool… but it’s also an essential tool when it comes to networking and having a social media presence is essential. You’re also going to have to create a YouTube channel and make the rounds on all the major indie comic creator streams. That might be an intimidating prospect, I know, but there are some great people out there like Antonio Brice, Clint Stoker and many others who will be happy to have you on and help you get your sea legs.

My buddies Drew Eash, Simon Poitier and I have shows called Horror Talk on Monday nights and Indie Comics Focus on Tuesdays where we promote up and coming indie creators. Hit us up and we’ll see what we can do! We’ve all had successful campaigns, so now we’re determined to give it back. This is a Pay-It-Forward kind of scene.

 

 

CB: Tell us a bit about your creative team and what other creators that have contributed to this?

 

BC: Interiors on the book are by Adrian Sibar and the covers are by a bunch of great talents: Wes Huffor, Canaan White, Chadwick Haverland, Matt Slay and others.

 

CB: What else can you share about the project? And do you have any final words for our readers?

 

BC: One I’m finished with this first ten-issue arc I’m going to have plenty of SIX-GUN GORILLA stories coming your way. Keep an eye out for SIX-GUN GORILLA: ANY GUN CAN PLAY, which is going to team Kumba up with an assortment of Weird West characters I can’t wait to introduce you to. There’s the magician/gunfighter Samhain, the deadly Dandy, Sledge Strode, the blazing Szechuan Kid, Padre Crooked-Stick and The Phantom Vaquero, a hero so dark and mysterious you never even see him!

 

 

In the meantime I’m also working on TEQUILA MOONRISE, a Luchadors vs. Monsters epic, and a top secret project with my buddy Preston Asevedo that’s going to knock people’s socks off. Now that the mainstream has dropped the ball #ComicsGate is here to pick it up and run with that sucker

 

CB: Thanks for chatting with us again, Brian. Love this concept!

BC: Thanks brother! I could never have done any of this without the support of folks like you and others who support the indie comics scene. Like Stan always said, onward and upward!

 

Check out the Six Gun Gorilla campaign page here!

 

 

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That’s it for this installment! Support indie comics!!!

 


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John Lemus

John Lemus

I'm a 35 year-old Cuban who works in Hialeah, FL. I'm really into comic books and comic book culture and I have a particular fondness for independent comics. Which is why I started the Indie Comics Showcase. Follow me on Twitter @indie_comics!

JUST KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON