We were humbled by over two hundred people that showed up for the panel, including at least half a dozen more Mine! contributors including Adam McGovern, Alice Meichi Li, Dave Kelly, Keith DeCandido and Tom Daly. Mindy spoke passionately about health care as both a comics writer and a nurse, Gabby addressed the importance of sex education and queer youth outreach, Sheilah talked about her and many other freelancers’ experiences having difficulty accessing affordable health care, Mike talked the current need for political activism, and Sean did an impression of me that was so spot on that someone assumed I had said something that he in fact said.
There was a question asked at the panel about discussing the different stories we’re contributing. I didn’t get a chance to answer that question at the time, so I’d like to use my column to talk about that now. Hey, it is my column after all.
One night some months ago a friend and I were talking over drinks. Mine! had come up in conversation, which lead to her sharing a story with me. Years ago she had been out at a club with a guy and that guy had given her something so strong the next thing she knew she was waking up in his bedroom. The next thing she did was go to a Planned Parenthood.
We talked about it further and decided that this was an important story to tell for the anthology. Unfortunately, it’s not important because it’s such a rare and unusual story, but rather that it is far too common. For many people in that situation, Planned Parenthood is their only option. I’m collaborating with artist Kristina Stipetic on this and made sure my friend approved the script before handing it off. I filled in some details and took some liberties, but the core of the story is all there. It was honestly one of the more emotionally draining things I’ve written. I can’t say that I hope you enjoy it exactly, but I hope all of you that pick up Mine! will come to this story and have a better understanding of how these situations often play out.
There are so many other great stories in Mine! too! Mindy is talking about a time before abortion was legal, Gabby about her Catholic upbringing, Mike about a couple that desperately needs health care but you don’t find out which one of them needs it until the end, and Keith came up from the audience to talk about how he and Tom Daly are doing a story about learning self-defense. Sean even made Keith show demonstrate a karate move!
You can preorder Mine! now on Backerkit, and you can preorder our t-shirts as well, if you so desire. Please go check it out if you haven’t reserved your copy yet, and spread the word!
I know I’ve been talking a lot about Kickstarter projects lately. Some have reached their goal, like Unmasked Volume 2. Some still need your support, like The Meatspace Omnibus. This week, I’m discussing a Kickstarter project from Todd Matthy, who’s learned a lot since his last Kickstarter.
I met Todd some years ago and picked up his self-published comic, Wicked Game, drawn by co-creator Roderic Rodriguez back in 2014. Since then, I’ve seen Todd at many local conventions working on other self-published projects.
For the last couple of years his focus has been on Robots vs. Princesses, a comic with art by Nicolas Chapuis and letters by Sean Rinehart. It’s a very “what you see is what you get” kind of title. The premise is that there are princesses banning together against robots. Specifically, Princess Zara wants to find a baby dragon, but on her quest runs into a robot. Now she and the other surrounding princesses have to defend themselves against the encroaching robot army.
It’s a mash-up of fairy tale story telling with giant robot anime. Todd is particularly passionate about this project as he’s an elementary school teacher who wants more comics that are accessible to younger audiences while still being interesting to adults.
Todd Matthy got a write up for Robots vs. Princesses in Bleeding Cool back in 2015 and got praise from comics professionals like Mark Waid and Kristen Gudsnuk. After getting some pages done, alternate covers from artists including Sean Von Gorman, and getting another MoCCA Fest under his belt, Todd went to Kickstarter in May of 2016 to fund the four issues that make up Robots vs. Princesses. The goal was $18,362. Unfortunately, that campaign ended with $2,875 raised – which meant that it could not move forward.
However… that was not the end of Robots vs. Princesses.
Anyone who’s done a Kickstarter that’s come up short, or gotten a rejection from a publisher knows that it can be discouraging. And just because you do everything right doesn’t mean you’re going to get what you want. Over the past year, Todd has gone to more shows, has made more progress with the comic, started a newsletter to build his up his base, and reworked the rest of his strategy going forward.
On July 25th, Todd took to Kickstarter once again for Robots vs. Princesses. This time the goal is more modest. Instead of trying to fund all four issues, this campaign is just looking to fund the first issue. The goal is down to $2,500 for the first issue. Seeing as the first attempt made over $2,500 this was a good goal and a safe bet. That safe bet has paid off spectacularly with this Kickstarter already about 75% of its goal with over two weeks left.
Not every comic Kickstarter is a big success. Not every comic gets picked up right away. Todd Matthy could have easily packed it in and called it a day after not getting funded in his first attempt like countless other creators have in the past. He didn’t. He sucked it up, took the time to reorganize and roll out a different strategy and it’s working. Patience is something that is required for anyone that wants to break into comics and it’s a trait that Todd possesses. Go check out his Kickstarter and see what an elementary school teacher is doing to make a passion project come to life for young readers.
Tune in next week when I (hopefully) am able to shamelessly plug a project that I’ll be involved in. Same Bat time. Same Bat channel.
Last week here I wrote about the Kickstarter that’s currently running for Unmasked Volume 2. It’s still going strong, so check it out if you haven’t yet.
This week is all about the Meatspace Universe Omnibus Collection on Kickstarter. It’s a video game revenge thriller in a cyberpunk setting written by Josh Gorfain with various artists including Andrew MacLean. This Kickstarter will be funding an ambitious expansion of the Meatspace-Verse including a prequel volume and a sequel volume illustrated by one of my favorite artists, Sean Von Gorman. They currently have a little under three weeks to raise another $12,000 to reach their goal.
I got the chance to chat with Sean and Josh about this Kickstarter the other which you can read below.
JOE: Sean, Josh, what are your elevator pitches for Meatspace Volume 2?
SEAN: Full Body Amputee turned Cyborg fights for Internet fame and sometimes Crime/ Occasional Detective trying to solve the biggest Mystery of all… LOVE.
JOSH: Well, the second volume takes place six months after the first the first volume. Lance has settled into his new life as a celebrity and a member of one of the top guilds in the game of DungeonWorld. We find life catching up with his new girlfriend, Rebecca and we also find out what’s up with The Sentinel…the guardian that Johnny set up to protect his secrets.
JOE: I’m a big Andrew MacLean fan. Apocalyptagirl is one of my favorite stand alone graphic novels. How did Andrew get involved with Josh Gorfain to design such great characters?
JOSH: I was introduced to Andrew through Jamie Gambell (creator of The Hero Code) back in 2011. I knew back then he was destined for greatness.
SEAN: Andrew’s work on the 1st issue is part of what made me fell in love with the project all those years ago. I’m really excited to help bring it back and play in the world he helped to make. And that facial hair, WOOF. You can get lost in there.
JOE: The issues of Meatspace you’ll be illustrating make up the second volume. The first volume was described as a self-contained three issue arc. What does this new volume bring to the table that readers of the first arc need to come back?
JOSH: A bit more world-building; and a big shake up. I always like my stories to go big. I feel disappointed when a comic is just one conversation and a half of a fight. I want important stuff to happen! This volume builds upon Meatspace and the prequel (which I am also doing at the same time) GameSpace (which is also being offered in this Kickstarter. It’s a huge undertaking but it’s all coming together!
JOE: This Kickstarter will also be funding Gamespace, the prequel to Meatspace. Are there big tonal differences between the two? What can readers expect?
JOSH: In GameSpace, we find out where The Sentinel come from and why he’s the way he is. Surprisingly, this has kind of become The Sentinel’s story…sort of like how Star Wars was really Darth Vader’s story despite having Luke as the main character.
SEAN: I for one am super happy to see “Gorfainverse” expand like this. A Shared Comic Universe is something that to my knowledge has not yet been seen in Comics, and I think will change the way we look at the Medium.
JOE: Sean, you’ve been involved in quite a few high profile projects these past few years. As an artist taking on projects like this is very time consuming so I know you pick these projects with care. What about Meatspace appeals to you as an artist?
SEAN: I have been very lucky to get to work on some Amazing stuff in the past few years like the now Eisner Award Winning Love is Love Anthology from DC/IDW. Part of my favorite things about working in comics is when I get to work with friends, and now I am contractually obligated to refer to Josh Gorfain as a friends. Which completes on of my Contractually Obligated calling Josh a Friend. Just 2 more to go then the Court Appointed “Hang Sesh” with ‘ZA,
I like Josh and I like Meatspace. Josh has been working very hard to get this project out to a wider audience and I’m happy to help
JOE: If I could follow up on that question with you, Sean, who’s your favorite character in Meatspace to draw and why?
SEAN: Lance 100% It’s been fun adding my own flavor to a slightly updated design from Andrew’s to show how Lance has grown and where he is now in Vol. 2
JOE: Why is Kickstarter and by extension Phoenix Dreams Publishing the best place to take Meatspace?
JOSH: Noel and the Phoenix Dreams team has believed in Meatspace since day one! Honestly, I was ready to put this behind me when Noel came to me and proposed a second volume and this Omnibus. His confidence in this project has made all this happen!
JOE: Josh, you’re also working with Phoenix Dreams Publishing on a tabletop rpg for the Meatspace-Verse, adding some extra flair to the Kickstarter. Do you know what people might expect if they pledge to be part of the playtest group?
JOSH: An epic story that will have a direct impact on the future of the Meatspace-verse. I know where the (hopefully) next chapter will go and this game will set it up. I’m very excited about this game as it tries to do something that hasn’t really ever been done in gaming (that I can recall) before; and thanks to the old is new RPG system, it’s actually possible
SEAN: I should point out that Josh is really committed to making this project happen. As of this writing he has agreed to literally put his money where his mouth is but adding some REALLY exciting Kickstarter reward involving his body. My favorite Reward being Josh will offer his body up to Science to become a Cyborg like Lance in Meatspace for only $50,000. The Backer would have to provide the Technology and cover Medical Costs to finish the project. Other rewards include Clean Urine from Josh for Job Interview Drug Tests, and his hand in a Green Card Marriage.
JOE: Before we wrap this up, is there anything else you’d like to plug?
SEAN: Amy Chu’s Girls Night Out Kickstarter Gold Edition, which will collect the stories that launched Amy’s prolific Career as we’ll as new stories including BATFREAK an ALL NEW story from Me and Amy which I’m excited to see in print. The Kickstarter has a few days left so everyone needs to get on that and kick in some $$$ to expand the Chu Dynasty.
JOE: Thank you both so much for taking the time to talk with me! And all of you reading this please check out their Kickstarter and consider helping them reach their goal to make this omnibus collection of Meatspace possible.
Now I loves me some catharsis. This past weekend I went down to New York’s lower east side to enjoy a David Bowie tribute night at The Delancey. They played the Cracked Actor documentary, had a cover band play a set exclusively from my favorite Bowie era – Station To Station through Scary Monsters And Super Creeps. It was a good time that I’m still reeling from.
With the impending conservative wave reaching its pinnacle in less than two weeks, I’ve been searching for other means to cope. Luckily I received my Kickstarter reward from backing the Black Mask Studios comic Toe Tag Riot the other day. That reward was the graphic novel collecting every bit of it including the shorts and, boy, could it have not come at a better time.
For those of you that don’t know, Toe Tag Riot is a four issue miniseries by writer Matt Miner and artist Sean Von Gorman. It’s the tale of a punk band in 2004 that gets a curse put on them that turns them into zombies every time they play. This causes the band, made up of singer Dickie Tagz, guitarist Paulie Propylene, bassist Annie Maul, and drummer Evie Vee, to have an unstoppable urge to devour human flesh that even band vegetarian Paulie can’t hold back.
Instead of allowing themselves to give in to the evil of random killings to feed their zombie hunger, the band takes up an arguably more noble stance and only preys on bigots. I don’t want to ruin any surprises, but we get more rock star special appearances than just Fall Out Boy’s Andy Hurley and more bad guys than just Fred Phelps.
Now I know many of you wouldn’t condone the brutal massacres of groups like One Million Moms, The Westboro Baptist Church, or Neo Nazis, but Toe Tag Riot can sure be a good outlet for all that pent up aggression towards bigotry. Matt Miner’s writing on this project was heavily influenced by B horror movies and grindhouse style exploitation films and informs the characters.
Dickie Tagz is written as that kind of blissfully unaware “how homophobic he is in 2004 type” guy who grows as the story progresses. Annie and Evie are written as two kickass lesbian lovers that are very aggressive and in your face about it all which harkens back to those exploitation films. And the language throughout the book is very unforgiving and includes characters using queer slurs. Those characters are the bad guys though as they’re getting killed and/or eaten by our zombie protagonists, so you have to keep those things in perspective.
Sean Von Gorman’s art with watercolor coloring by Savanna Ganucheau give the book an almost cartoonish feel at times that really blends nicely with that grindhouse tone. It helps take some moments that could have been taken more seriously like in some of Matt Miner’s other work and gives it a comedic tone that really makes you feel like you’re watching the best kind of B movie and I really appreciate this book for that reason. I’d also like to take this time to say how Sean is a favorite artist of mine and I’ve gotten enough commissioned pieces from him to open up a small gallery. You can follow in my footsteps and start your Sean Von Gorman art gallery by visiting his website.
That being said, you do have to be in the right mindset to jump into this comic. If you’re in the wrong state of mind you could wind up getting offended despite the liberal leanings of the creative team. And if some language and certain kinds of representation may offend you, which I understand, you may have qualms with this book. Otherwise, you should really pick this up. Revel in bigots getting eaten by punk zombies, because after January 20th, this kind of catharsis it might be one of the only things we have to get us through what’s coming.
From the sublime to the ridiculous. Except I did it backwards.
Last week, as you no doubt recall, I wrote about New York Comic-Con, one of the biggest pop culture shows in the country. This week, I’d like to write about one of the smallest.
But first, some background and some sociological theory.
New Yorkers are obsessed with real estate, and New York City has only a limited supply. Living in the right neighborhood, working in the right neighborhood, partying in the right neighborhood – for a certain class of people who live in this city, these are vital pieces of their identity.
Nothing stays the right neighborhood forever.
When I moved to New York in the late 1970s, rich people lived on the Upper East Side. Today, you can rent or buy an apartment in some of those buildings for less than it costs to buy the same space in certain parts of Brooklyn. President Bill Clinton bases his foundation in Harlem. Places where my mother wouldn’t let me walk by myself because they were too disgusting are now so expensive I couldn’t afford them.
Over the years, people in the real estate business have tried to figure out what makes a neighborhood happen. To over-simplify, you need artists and gay people. Artists seek out inexpensive space for their studios, and then rich people who buy art want to hang out with artists. Gay people (according to the stereotype) value their homes and invest, bringing with them cute shops and restaurants. In the time since I’ve moved here, I’ve seen this happen in SoHo, the East Village, the Lower East Side, Williamsburg, Park Slope and the western part of Bleecker Street. At least.
There was a time when Eighth Street was the coolest address in the world. It saw the birth of the Beats, the folk music scene, the hippie flower-power leather sandal set. Because it was so cool, everyone wanted to be there. Landlords jacked up the rents, and the hippies couldn’t afford it anymore. Soon, it was nothing buy tacky shoe stores. There were so many that real estate developers referred to a phenomenon known as the Eight Street Effect, in which once there is a certain saturation of shoe stores, a crash will occur.
Landlords don’t like this.
Sometimes, they take their money and go play in another sandbox, in another part of town. Sometimes, they take the long view and invest in the properties they have.
What does this have to do with comics?
This: The Crazy 8 Cartoon Festival, which was held last Saturday, October 18, on Eighth Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue.
Go ahead. Look at the link. You’ll see that stores all across the street were hosting events of interest to pop culture fans, from tattoos (for $8!) to vintage animation to comic book artists.
I got there kind of late, around four, because I had been to a art studio crawl in Gowanus, Brooklyn, earlier that day (see how-to-gentrify, above). There were a bunch of people dressed as zombies on the street, looking less like The Walking Dead than Shaun of the Dead.
In the back of the Marlton Hotel, there were a few comic book creators showing their wares. Among them was Amy Chu, whom I had tried to see at NYCC but wasn’t able to get close enough to her table, and Sean Von Gorman, whose work amuses me greatly. Not only could one actually have a conversation with these fine folks and others, but there was a bar in the hotel, and free snacks and free punch provided by WhistlePig, a whiskey company.
Unlike a normal comic book convention, this one attracted people who knew nothing whatsoever about comic books. Hotel guests would mosey back to see what was going on, and, at least while I was there, often bought something.
I’ve read about other really small shows, in libraries or in college dorms. I don’t know how this compared to them. Like them, I suppose, it was quiet and friendly. No one was harassed about what she was wearing. No one got into a loud argument about anything. It was incredibly friendly and pleasant.