Indie Spotlight: Kickstarter Special

Indie Spotlight: Kickstarter Special
In our latest Indie Spotlight, we're taking a look at three comics-related Kickstarter projects that are currently ongoing and have caught our eye. Of course, a KS project is no real indication of what the final quality of a book will be like - nor indeed that it will ever show up! - but nevertheless, all three of these have looked to be of interest to us for different reasons.
First up is a project that I don't expect will have any trouble reaching its funding target at a rate of knots, but which is well worth drawing attention to all the same. Fresh Romance is a brand new digital-only anthology that's basically attempting to revive (and bring bang up to date) the dormant romance comics genre, and already has a quality set of creators behind it.

The whole thing's been put together by Janelle Asselin, a former DC and Disney editor who's now senior editor at Comics Alliance; and writers and artists slated to appear in the first issue include Kate Leth (Kate or Die), Sarah Vaughan (Alex + Ada) and Sally Jane Thompson (The Phoenix). And check the heck out of this Kevin Wada cover for issue #1:

Swoon. Here's how the series is described in the pitch:

FRESH ROMANCE is a brand new, monthly, all-digital romance comics magazine. Join this Kickstarter campaign to fund the first three issues of FRESH ROMANCE, and get exclusive rewards in addition to becoming one of our first subscribers. With FRESH ROMANCE and our future projects, Rosy Press brings romance comics into the 21st century.

The first issue features sundry stories ranging from a clandestine, queer high school love affair to an impeccably researched and illustrated Regency-era romance. In addition to three forward-looking romances, each issue of FRESH ROMANCE delivers a relationship advice column by a quartet of divorced writers, behind-the-scenes art coverage, and a fashion report. Thanks to our ongoing anthology format, the kinds of stories we feature will be constantly evolving. The magazine will be R-rated, so while not all of the individual chapters or stories will be racy, there will be some adult content. Our goal is to bring avid comics readers and those new to comics together to enjoy the romance genre.

It's not clear how many issues the $28K budget is set to produce, but backer options include an annual subscription (with one issue per month) so you'd have to assume it's going to be at least a year's worth. The budget is largely aimed at paying the creators a decent page rate, and every backer reward from the lowest ($5 upwards) includes at least one issue. There's also a potentially very appealing reward at $100, where Asselin will bring her industry experience to bear in reviewing backers' own portfolios and giving them advice in getting work in the industry.

Fresh Romance is open for backing until 22nd April. (Kickstarter link)
A project that's starting to get close to its end point, but which is well worth taking a look at to see if you can help it reach its goal, is The Illegalists. It's based on the true story of a group of anti-establishment anarchists in 1911 Paris, and is written by UK-based pair Stefan Vogel and Laura Pierce, with sumptuous painted art by Atilla Futaki (Severed):

Set in Paris 1911, against a backdrop of thieves, bohemians and anarchists; a struggling mechanic is forced into crime, becoming France’s most dangerous and wanted man.

"I first discovered ‘The illegalists’ a.k.a ‘The Bonnot Gang’ in London’s oldest radical bookstore ‘Housmans’ in 2009. What struck me most was, they weren’t just ‘criminals’, they were anarchists. They had strong anti-establishment beliefs, fighting low wages and the 12 hour work day; a lot of them were blacklisted for draft dodging and unable to work. Paris in 1911 was a city of riots, strikes and savage repression. These anarchists evolved into illegalists because they had no other choice - they stole to survive. I was reminded of the final scene from the film “I’m a fugitive from a chain gang” Where Paul Muni meets his girlfriend to tell her he’s leaving town, she asks ‘But how will you live? And as he slips into the darkness, unseen, he responds ‘I steal’." - Stefan Vogel

One of the things that struck me upon being shown the preview artwork for this book at LSCC earlier this month was that the lettering was done by none other than the legendary Todd Klein. It might seem like a small point, but lettering is often overlooked in small press and indie comics, and poor-quality work can make even the most brilliantly-drawn or written comic look far more amateurish than it should. Quite aside from the quality of the art and potential intrigue of the story, going to the trouble of hiring someone like Klein suggests to me a commitment to putting out a quality product.

You can get a digital copy of The Illegalists for £5, or a hardback print edition for £10 (saving on the planned RRP of £16). But that's assuming the project hits its target, so make sure you check it out before the closing deadline of 1st April. (Kickstarter link)
And finally, a project with a significantly more modest funding target than the two above is A Tale of Shadows. From Lyndon White, Paul Clarke-Forse and Tyler Wilson, the first volume of this planned five-issue series is already written and drawn - so rather than getting it created, the Kickstarter campaign is purely to fund printing.

A Tale of Shadows is a 28 page fantasy comic set in a world ideologically split by the arrival of new technology.

When "The Machine" is unveiled in his hometown, Felix, a young loner, finds himself caught in the middle of an escalating confrontation between religious group 'The Men of the Way' and a ragtag team of rogue scientists/artists, the Sciencestitions.

Looking at the preview artwork for this, I was again struck by the lettering, and in particular the unusual way in which it's integrated into the art (putting me in mind of some of Fiona Staples' work on Saga). It's a nice storytelling quirk that shows a good understanding of the form.

£5 will get you a digital copy of the first issue, while £10 springs for a hard copy. The campaign runs until 18th April, and is already a little over a third of the way towards its goal of £1500. (Kickstarter link)
If you have a comic - whether a finished publication or an ongoing crowdfunding project - you'd like us to take a look at here on PanelBeats, then feel free to get in touch. We can't promise we'll find the time to cover everything we get sent, but we do read all submissions eventually!