For the second installment of our 5 Questions About... series, Stuart got Jon Laight to take a break from his prep on his upcoming KickStarter for the 3rd issue of the excellent Brethren Born series...
First off - and without spoilers - what's the story so far in Brethren Born and what can we expect from issue 3?
The story revolves around the central character Newton as the reader follows him from being a young boy being experimented on through to him as an adult seeking revenge for some of the tragic events in his life. The experiments revolved around some of the 'abilities' Newton possesses and we see those manifest throughout the story. The origin story appears as a 1963 timeline as well, way before Newton is born to continue the world building as a continuous narrative, dropping hints as to what is really going on. Brethren Born #3: Deceptions ramps up the action as its the first time we actually see Newton utilise his powers and some of the many lies he has been told are revealed.
Brethren Born #3 sees you return to KickStarter again for another campaign, what is it about that platform that has made you come back for a third time?
Kickstarter is a worldwide platform that is easy and intuitive to use. As long as you put the work in and produce a nice looking, professional and personal campaign, comic backers are usually happy to support a project especially if you provide good value for money. There are so many comic campaigns out there at the moment as it is an excellent way to be able to fund a self published creation and reach a lot of people.
What fresh challenges does planning for a 3rd Kickstarter throw up and what - if anything - are you doing to make this one different from the last two?
We have an established art team now who produce some outstanding work so as it's in theory our second comic as a team, I know what these are guys are capable of and try to push the limits a little more. The time between issue 2 and 3 has been a lot longer than I had hoped so I'm trying to get as much of the book done as possible before the end of the 30 day funding target. I've invited some new pin up artists as well as some of the previous guys like Dan Butcher and Chris Imber. On board this time are Sophie Traves, Grant Richards, Vince Hunt and Darrell Thorpe who are bringing some amazing images to the party.
You've done a lot of work in the months leading up to the campaign (especially on Facebook) to build up an audience ahead of it's launch and to get feedback from potential backers on the kind of rewards that would appeal to them. Why was that kind of input from fans important to you in setting up the campaign?
Any kind of feedback is always welcome, whether it be positive or critical. Listening to previous readers as to what they'd like to see happen in the story as well what kind of rewards they'd like will hopefully lead to a successful funded project. For me it isn't about making money but getting enough to cover costs and push on with the comic and story by getting 'pre-orders' from comic fans who can have a direct influence on what they receive and what they read. Pre-launch promotion is very important on Kickstarter and its a fine balancing act between annoying people by spamming social media and getting the right amount of messages, teasers and emails.
And finally, when does the KickStarter launch and what kind of rewards can we look forward to from the campaign this time?
The launch date is all set for Friday March 3rd midday and will run for 30 days. As I mentioned before the pin up prints are incredible so depending on what level you back the number of prints vary. I'm also putting more of a focus on digital content not just for issue 3 (which will be available digitally for just £1) but for all three issues and a digital bumper pack for those who may be new to the series. T-shirts are making a return as well as a limited run on some snapback baseball caps which will look very cool indeed. The professionally framed comic/art print which went down a storm for issue 2 will be availble with a choice of cover and art print for those lucky enough to get them. The rewards I can't wait to see myself are one off bespoke action figures of 4 of the characters being produced and sculpted by Joe Ward. The reward levels are at the upper end but they will be the only ones in the world and if you haven't seen Joe's work before you'll be in for a treat!! As well as all this there will be the variant covers, 3 issue package deals, original art as well as cover art as our guest artist this time is the amazing Amrit Birdi. Basically, roll on March 3rd and all the stresses that go hand in hand with a Kickstarter. Can't wait....
Welcome to the first in our series of interviews that focus on some of the comics, books and projects that have caught our eye! First up Stuart tracked down Kev Brett and asked him 5 questions about his comic THE MAKING OF A COMIC CON (which you may have picked up at True Believers 2017, where it made it's convention debut)...
What inspired you to turn your experiences of putting on a Comic Con into a comic?
I was reading Rachael Smith’s Wired Up Wrong and absolutely loved it. I wanted to do something similar in terms of style and layout. I thought about what I do or have done that'd be worth putting down as a comic and what could be fun and comic con just fit.
As a fellow convention organiser, there was a lot in there that I could relate to, but how do you think it will play to those who haven't embarked on the insanity of putting on a con? Do you think it will inspire more people to have a go at putting an event on?
I'm hoping it'll help people to realise that there are people behind these events and to go a little easier on us. But seriously I just wanted to give people a bit of a laugh. Feedback I've had so far has been good, especially from those not involved in putting on events, although I have been told it has increased anxiety levels and has put people off running cons.
From inception to print, how long was the process of putting the comic together and what is your working process when putting a story together? Do you dedicate all of your attention on one project or chip away at it whilst working on other things?
With this book it was a bit different to how I usually work. I'd just finished making Koala Konspiracy which had taken me a very long time to get finished, so I was hoping to turn this one around quite quickly. I'd come up with an idea for a scenario and then sketch it out. I came up with twenty plus ideas and chose the funniest that fit in with the overall feel of the book.
I usually try to work on one project at a time otherwise I'll lose focus and never finish anything. I may come up with new ideas but will scribble them down and put them to one side. I think this one took about a month to do from inception to print (working around the day job and juggling wife and kids).
The book has a wonderfully optimistic ending, but is there any temptation to follow it up with a Surviving the running of a Comic-Con?
Ha ha actually yes. I had more ideas than would fit in book one and with us now in year 5 of the con, there have certainly been plenty of things that have happened. I've a few other projects on the go at the minute that I want to get done first, but it's definitely on my radar.
And finally, the book is inspired by your experiences of putting together a comic con; what can you tell us about that comic con and what can we look forward to at the next one?
I run the Nottingham comic con. We're now in our fifth year and things are improving year on year. We're hoping to have a lot more this year. We're very family focused and put on lots to entertain kids including workshops and free games and comics. We also have seminars and talks for the adults as well as a short animated film program. There’s live music and lots to see and buy.
We like to support a number of charities each year and so have a charity raffle with all proceeds going to charity as well as donating £1 from every standard ticket sold (12 years and under go free). NCC produces a charity anthology comic as well (which you can read our interview with Kev about here), from which all the proceeds to charity too. It is filled with some amazing comics and comic strips from both indie creators and industry professionals. Well worth a look...and for a good cause!
We have over 150 exhibitors and a large selection of guest artists and creators from the comic industry. It should be a great day out for all; full of fun, comics, comics, comics and comics!!
If you didn't pick up a copy of The Making Of A Comic Con at True Believers, you can buy it (and Kev's other books) from his website.
We put 5 Questions to Dan & Lisa, the brains behind Spa Town Comics and Leamington Comic Con...
What's the secret origin story of Spa Town Comics and how did it all come together?
Dan – We’d previously kick-started and run two comic conventions (Leam Comic Con) in the Town, so knew people had a passion for comics and community events. We had talked about how cool having our own store would be - we even had the name (Spa Town Comics) but it was in 2016 when things fell into place.
Lisa - We both wanted something for ourselves and to create something special for the Town we love, so I quit my job. We’re very clear about what we want Spa Town to be, which is more than your average comic book store - we’re about comics, creativity and community. The sad truth is there’s not much money to be made in comics, you have to create a brand and give people a reason to believe in you. We won’t and can’t compete on price, but we can be 100% better when it comes to offering a personal service and creating a community hub for our Town.
Since you started, what moment has been your highlight so far?
Lisa - Hands down it’s the amazing people we have met and the friends we have made. Despite being a pop-up stall in the local shopping centre at present, the support we get is unbelievable. We recently asked our customers for some feedback and 100% said the thing they’d miss most if they couldn’t buy from us anymore is us! So when you have those odd days when you doubt yourself or things seem a little hard, I like to remind myself that we’re making a difference.
What's your favourite thing about what you do?
Lisa – Being your own boss. If I want to stand around and talk to customers all day then I will. I see it as research - we’re listening to our customers all the time, so if they tell us they want more Manga then we order it in, if they want a comics and cocktail night then we’ll arrange one! We’re not fixated on selling just the types of comics we like, we’re open to suggestions.
This is your first year at True Believers, what can people expect to find at your table on the day?
Dan - We’ll be bringing a selection of comics, back issues and graphic novels, but we’ll also be bringing a few things that you can’t buy elsewhere too! We’re passionate about support creativity within the industry and that means helping other independent businesses too. We have an awesome selection of hand turned wooden bats made locally for us which go down a storm – no one can resist picking up our Lucille or Goodnight! We’ll also be bringing some handmade mini figure pictures, art from local artists, oh and our good selves ;-)
If you could pick one line or moment from a comic, which would it be?
Dan – It’s got to be my cameo appearance in Mike Garley’s Killscreen – what comic fan wouldn’t want to feature in a comic, even if I was wearing a blue jumpsuit, with a green diamond on my face and was blown up with everyone else in a bunker!
We delved into the Psychedelic Journal and asked 5 Questions...
What’s the secret origin story of The Psychedelic Journal and how did it all come together?
It was a dark and stormy night, although actually it was about ten in the morning July 14th, when the Quantum Capybaras first appeared to us. Harnessing the cosmic powers from their own dimension, they planned on destroying all life as we know it and re-shaping the planet in their own image. They were literally going to carve the Earth into the shape of a capybara, unless we could prove to them that people were worth saving. So we created the Psychedelic Journal to showcase the best art and writing that the small-press scene has to offer, and so far we’ve managed to avert total annihilation of life as we know it.
What inspires you to create?
Mostly the threat of destruction from the capybaras, but the opportunity to gather together and showcase some amazing small-press talent also plays a part.
Since you started, what moment has been your highlight so far?
Patrick Stewart is a big fan! He came up to our table at one convention, riding on a steam-powered Segway and wearing a dinosaur costume, told us the comic was the best thing he’d ever read, handed me a Caramac bar and then wheeled away. Actually I may have dreamed that.
This is your third year at True Believers, what can people expect to find at your table on the day?
Our latest issue, The Psychedelic Journal of the Wild West, will be there in all its glory, as well as all of our time-travel themed previous issues. If you’re really lucky you might find our giant electric hermit crab, his name is Small Iain and we love him.
If you could pick one line that inspires you from a comic or nerd culture as your life motto, which would you choose?
"Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger,” is something we learned the hard way compiling The Psychedelic Journal of General Wizardry (out later this year) but it’s also just generally good life advice.
You can find more of The Psychedelic Journal on Facebook and Twitter @Psych_Journal and stop by their table at #TBCF2017 and say "Hello".
Not bought your tickets yet? Head to our Tickets page now to get yours.