Just Kickin’ It


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After a hectic February, I hit March somehow competing against myself on Kickstarter. One of my freelance projects, PAGES, launched 4 or 5 days before the campaign for Ambrosia was scheduled to kick off.

All I can do now is try and maximize Ambrosia‘s exposure for a strong finish — after 3 days we are just past 15% of our funding goal. Not awful, but the rest of the campaign will be a very steep climb. Check out the project page for Ambrosia #1 below!

Ambrosia #1 — Kickstarting now!

ks_banner

A 5-page preview I wrote for PAGES is embedded at the end of this post. We’ve released it for free as an issue #0, and if you’d like to know more check out www.PagesComic.com!

 

I tried to math…


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click above to view the gallery

Ambrosia #1 is almost ready for a crowdfunding campaign, being a month or two away from wrapping up its last bit of production. My next move is to figure out the various reward tiers available to backers.

Thus far the Kickstarter research I’ve done has been chronicled in my Kickstarter Strobe Light series over on Black Ship Books. Between August and October of last year, I followed 20 campaigns as they went through their crowdfunding ordeal.

This weekend I looked at 10 of them that mirrored my ambitions for Ambrosia‘s campaign. In addition to these completed projects, I added 3 more that are currently wrapping up their effort having already exceeded their goal. The results are embedded below, and available via Google sheets as well.

After loosely categorizing the rewards each comic book offered, I consolidated the list of 50 items to determine both frequency (# of pledges received) and average price (cost of donation). I now intend to use these two factors as a guide for the choices I offer in my own campaign.

Conclusions generated from the data are certainly subjective — cross referencing the two variables requires subjective, qualitative analysis on top of these quantitative figures, not to mention only certain rewards were relevant to Ambrosia.

These results aren’t very surprising: Prints (usually 11×17) and variant covers seem to be the best one-two punch, followed by shirts, posters (larger than 11×17), bookmarks, and digital bonus content (concept art, scripts, WIP images, etc.).

It also suggests that the $1 “Thank you” might not be worth including, though I’m curious as to how often backers start at a dollar and then upgrade their donation amount after receiving campaign updates. (So the potential “opportunity value” ascribed to getting somebody on your Kickstarter mailing list.)

One last thing I found interesting is that it does seem worthwhile to cast backers as extras, assuming your artist is into the idea. For that type of reward I delineated between a background/ “cameo” role, having a “featured role” (a speaking line), and then a “major role” (influencing a scene).

My analysis isn’t going to reveal the best options for all projects, rather it is intended to provide an indicator for what reward gets the most pledges and how much each tends to cost. Although the average price does offer a ballpark estimate of what you can get away with “charging,” its ultimate contribution toward the success of a campaign is entirely circumstantial.

In other words, I only took one semester of statistics at university.

pledges chart

This first graph is rather straightforward, simply showing the frequency of occurrences for each reward. I was most surprised by the number of people who went after a shirt.

pledges versus price

This next visualization requires some subjective reasoning to determine how it might influence what tiers a campaign should feature. Ultimately there needs to be a balance between the actual cost of producing a reward and the perceived value it has to potential backers.

(Note: I only accounted for rewards with an average value under $200 — most tiers higher than that are rather self-explanatory.)

Using those two variables, production cost and perceived value, an ideal price tier for each reward can be approximated. Consider the inclusion of pledge frequency to be a indicator of interest, while the average price simply establishes a reference.

 

One Down, Four to Go


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Last year I made myself a promise before giving chase to the white rabbit that is creative writing. I vowed to do so with reckless abandon for five years no matter what. 365 days later, I am both encouraged and terrified.

The next four years feel simultaneously like they could be tomorrow or forever from now. My mind’s eye seems to have developed a bit of chronological vertigo after sketching out the peaks and valleys of my five-year plan. The ups and downs may be disorienting, but at the very least I know to keep moving forward. And so I go.

My Millarworld submission didn’t make the cut, deservedly so. I think I reached for low-hanging fruit. Not only did I latch onto what seemed to be a common thread (involving the “goblins” of Tantalus), I also framed the whole story around a telecast to avoid having to directly write Mr. Millar’s protagonist, Duke. No big shocker that my script was a dud.

It was a great learning experience, trying to write somebody else’s character. Next time I think I will be able to show better restraint, working more with what’s already established within the title’s continuity instead of trying to make my mark. Here’s a link to my entry; I look forward to trying again next year!

Everything else is chugging along at the usual pace: Ambrosia is still getting its color treatment, and our Kickstarter timeline is on-target for (late) February. The third issue of disunity is underway. Two new projects are lined up for 2016 as well. First is a pitch packet that’s almost ready to send off to its illustrator, for a children’s story I am eager to tell. The second is a freelance opportunity that I’ll formally announce sooner rather than later.

The next completed work I’ll likely share will be the colored pages for Dismal Signals, a short story that I’m hoping will find a home in an anthology somewhere. The black-and-white pages are lettered and ready to go, with colored pages expected in the next week or two. Until then enjoy a text-free preview!

Post-Turkey Roundup


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Whew. Almost didn’t contribute to the Goodness of Words this month. I blame, well, myself. But that’s a good thing! It should confirm your sneaking suspicion that I’ve been toiling away, processing words in the pursuit of storytelling.

Most keystrokes as of late have been dedicated to the Millarworld Annual Competition. My entry was a short story set in the Starlight universe, featuring Duke McQueen — a character designed to explore the nuances of classic science fiction. We shall see how I fare; winners’ll supposedly be announced by the end of December, so I will be sure to post my submission soon after that.

Rotating off of the back burner is a new scripting method for disunity #3. Ron and I are going to try a Marvel-style format as we move forward. (The good ol’Stan-Lee method!) It should speed up our process a bit. My first pass should be done come this weekend, though my playthrough of StarCraft 2 might dictate otherwise.

Since this has turned into a to-do list of sorts, I might as well add lettering the inked pages for Dismal Signals to the pile. In the spirit of suspense, I’ll keep the black-and-white art to myself until I’ve thrown words on’em. The big question is whether or not I should seek out a colorist.

While I’ve been wording it up, Fahriza has been killing it on the coloring front. I’ll let his latest page speak for itself, a WIP treatment for one of Ambrosia #1’s two-pagers:

page8and9

It’s crazy how much Noah’s art pops after seeing it fully rendered. I am very much looking forward to sharing more of this project as February approaches.

Luckily I’ve got plenty of room to test my mettle in the meantime. The second issue of disunity was published via comiXology Submit last week. So far reviews have been relatively positive, and hopefully I’ll have plenty to share come next month. Just as I start to think I’m getting this writing thing figured out, I realize I am flying blind when it comes to the art of (shameless) self-promotion.

Words are Good is an extension of said initiative, to an extent, but I’ve been thinking about ways to expand my use of WordPress — if for no other reason than to keep the fingers moving. My goal for 2015 was to write more, and I have written. Next year I think the plan’ll be to maintain my level of productivity while adding a lot more reading and reflection into the mix. Words are good, after all.

With one hour to spare, I bid November adieu. My parting gift is a brief preview of disunity #2. Enjoy!

 

Pleasantville


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Recent studies have shown that I am only able to update this here blog of mine once per month. Today I’m here to confirm this evidence. And here is the news:

The search for Ambrosia‘s colorist has concluded! After receiving samples from a handful of very talented candidates, Noah and I decided to move forward with Fahriza Kamaputra. It is great to see the last piece of our creative team fall into place!

First glimpse of Ambrosia with colors

First glimpses of Ambrosia with colors

We intend to have enough pages ready by February to take the project to Kickstarter. Check out our introduction to Ambrosia as well as the first of many Ambrosia updates to get a taste for what’s to come.

My focus for the next week or two will be a submission for the Millarworld Annual. Most of the time I am rather standoffish about entering contests of this sort, but the chance to write my take on Duke McQueen is too tempting to shy away from.

Dismal Signals is moving along nicely as well. Finished inks are due any day now from Mr. Roque — I am eager to start throwing words on them pages! Not sure where this story’s headed yet. It may be the first short I shop around for publication consideration in anthologies and whatnot.

pg1_progress

Dismal Signals, page 1, inks WIP

I completed the lettering for disunity #2 last weekend, which means it is a final edit away from being sent to ComiXology Submit. It can be a while before the issue is actually published, so check back here for an official announcement (and extended preview). The first issue is still available for free, via this link, and embedded below.

 

 

 

 

Reviews, Previews, and Other News


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Forgive me Blog-Father, for I have slacked. My last submission was nearly a month ago and these are my updates. This is not to say I haven’t been flexing my typin’ fingers however.

I’ve joined the team of contributors over at Full Access Magazine, a print publication focused on the rock-and-roll scene down here in Florida. My first appearance was the September issue, with one article, though I’ll have four interviews in October’s release.

It is a refreshing exercise, to be pursuing journalistic endeavors again — I hadn’t since my college days. While the bands I’ve had the privilege of speaking with are not necessarily my sound of choice, I have immense respect for any artist who manages to make a living off of their creations. Next month’ll feature Three Days Grace, Breaking Benjamin, Iration, and The Cruz Brothers. Stay tuned!

Earlier in the month, Disunity #1 launched on comiXology ($1.99) and ComicsFury (for free), though I have made it available for direct download via this link. We’ve shopped it around for reviews and it would seem we’re doin’ alright for a pair of first-time indie creators:

Lettering for issue two begins this week, and we’re hoping to release by the middle of October. Last but not least, check out the pencil sketches for my latest collaboration, Dismal Signals, courtesy of the talented Rowel Roque:

Disunity #1 Preview


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The last of my three projects in production at the moment, Disunity takes place in an unstable reality where a wormhole leaves monstrosities stranded on Earth, and has been doing so for the last 200 years.

What follows is a preview of our first issue, which is headed to comiXology sooner rather than later. Number two should be on the way soon!

Juggling is Fun


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For anybody wondering where the words went, my flash fiction efforts have been placed on hold for the last few weeks. Do expect some prose to pick up again come September.

In the meantime I am proud to announce that Ambrosia, a passion project cooked up by myself and a life-long friend, Noah Graham, is headed to Kickstarter come February 2016.

We’ve created POV Comics to serve as the imprint for what will be the first of many collaborations. Our social media accounts soft-launched last week in anticipation of next year’s crowdfunding campaign. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for the latest on Ambrosia and POV!

Yet juggling one ball isn’t very fun. Productivity is best served with a side of bedlam, at least in my kitchen. To raise the stakes I’ve taken on two side projects as well: Firstly I was hired as the editor for Tesla Stormborn, a graphic novel inspired by the autobiography of Nikola Tesla. The second endeavor is a collaboration with Blotch Comics as co-writer for their flagship title, Disunity.

Expect more on that latter book later this coming week. Issue one is just about wrapped up and I should have the content for number two finalized this evening.

Since this update has turned into a bit of a humble brag, I might as well end it on an even braggier note. Back in May I entered a “Blind Date” competition on reddit, where users registered as either an artist or a writer. Teams were randomly paired together and tasked with creating a 5-to-8-page comic in two months.

I don’t think I’ve seen sixty days fly by so fast. We ended up with our backs against the wall come the deadline, electing to try me out as a letterer (for my first time ever) and sacrifice the color we originally envisioned for the pages. In the end, of the 40 teams to register, only 11 finished. My script, Dismal Signals, won Best Story/ Writing.

Expect this blog to converge more with my other creative efforts moving forward. Between here, POV Comics, and BlackShipBooks.com (a pop-culture site I write for and help manage), there are enough plates spinning to work up a sweat. Now let’s see if I can’t keep’em rotating fast enough to say balanced.

Worst-case scenario I crash and burn. Catastrophe is entertaining too, eh?

Antediluvian Reunion


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Inked pages from the script shared two posts back. Illustrated by Armando C Rillo, Sr. Lettered by me.

Open to the right colorist, if any stumble across these panels.

Knock, Knock


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Agent Henrik Abrams paused at the top of the stairs to unclip a flash grenade from his belt. He tossed it like a bocce ball into the basement before closing the door in front of him. Four muffled thuds and one burst of light later, Henrik began his descent.

He crept down the passageway, knife in hand. The potential for hostages demanded a munitions-free approach. Looking over his shoulder, he signaled for Agent Benson to holster his sidearm and follow.

The basement reeked of mildew. Haphazardly placed candles cast flickering shadows throughout the otherwise empty chamber. Benson donned a pair of brass knuckles as he and Abrams made their way for another door on the far side of the room.
It was locked.

“Now what?” Benson whispered loudly enough to sound irritated.

“We knock,” Abrams answered. “Unless you’ve got a key there, Wally.”

“I’m pretty sure anybody who’d answer already heard that clankin’ flashbang I told you not to throw.” Walter Benson and Henrik held the same rank, though both of them considered the other subordinate. “I say we kick it in.”

“Go for it,” Abrams backed away from the door.

Benson, all six feet and 230 pounds of him, charged forward. At the last moment he recoiled his foot up and then let his leg spring toward the door like a cobra. When his boot made contact, a spark brighter than the flashbang sent Benson flying backward.

“See?” Abrams said, “gotta knock.”

He stepped over Benson and rapped his knuckles against the barrier in a seemingly deliberate pattern of varying rhythms. Henrik then raised his foot exactly like Walter did before, but this time the door went flying off its hinges upon contact.

“Consider it seen,” Benson replied as he rose to his feet.

He gave an exaggerated bow only to look up and brandish his most shit-eating of grins.

“After you, monsieur,” he said with a gesture becoming of a maître de.

“When’s the last time you ate at a table, let alone in a restaurant?” Abrams asked, a valid question given Walter’s couth, or lack thereof.

Instead of waiting for an answer he brushed past Benson, crossing the threshold. Splashes of illumination trickled in from the tiny flames peppering the other room, revealing dingy mattresses sat atop rusted cots.

“Well, we found where they’ve been keeping’em.” Benson said. “Can’t say I was expecting a basement orphanage.”

“Seems they were expecting us.” Abrams opened a storage locker, empty save for a worn-out mop.

Flashlight in hand, Benson lagged a few steps behind Abrams. His spotlight wandered along the peeling wallpaper, drifted to the black-and-white linoleum floor, and finally settled on a section of tiles that appeared off-center.

“Rik. Over here,” Benson said. “Looks like this onion has another layer.”

“They always do,” Abrams muttered under his breath. Crouching, he wedged his knife into the grout and pried loose the patch of flooring lit by Benson’s torch. Underneath there was a circular hatch.

“Let me guess, locked as well?”

Abrams put his hand against the metallic lid. “I don’t feel any wards,” he said. “My guess is this was meant to stay hidden.”

Opening the hatch revealed an access shaft with a ladder.

“No flashbang this time,” Benson warned. “Those kids’ve got to be down there. Let’s try not to rattle’m too much.”

Henrik clipped the grenade back to his belt. “Am I that predictable?” he asked.

Benson grumbled to himself as he hopped onto the ladder, flashlight in mouth.

Watching the beam of light diminish to but a speck, Abrams waited for Benson to signal it was all clear before joining him. Minutes later they were both standing at the end of a long hallway dimly lit by red emergency lights. The corridor extended thirty yards or so before terminating at a cavernous opening.

“You’d think a buncha captive brats would be makin’ a bit of racket, no?” The more nervous Benson became the more he voiced rhetorical questions.

“Stay sharp,” Abrams warned. “Secret bunkers are pretty high on the list of top-ten places I don’t want to die.”

“Yeah, yeah. I still don’t get why they sent the two of us to rescue som—“ Benson lurched forward as if he had tripped on his own foot. Head slumped and knees buckled, Walter hung mid-fall like a clumsy marionette. A shadowy tendril pierced his chest, pinning him in the air.

Another apparition flew toward Abrams. The ethereal spear appeared as an absence of light even darker than the shadows cast by the red glowing lamps. Henrik tried to roll forward to avoid being impaled moments too late, yet the tendril passed through him without effect.

He had no time to ponder the implications of his immunity. Henrik sprung up from his somersault and darted for the chamber. Only a few paces in, all the emergency bulbs overloaded, lining the walls with a brilliant flash of sparks before the lights went out.

Abrams cracked open a glow stick. It took a second for his eyes to adjust to the soft, neon-green hue that barely lit the room. He could make out the dark outline of a huddled mass in a corner.

“Hello?” Henrik called out as he approached.

He paused when he was close enough to confirm his suspicion: the children he was sent to save were discarded, tossed into a pile, each with a black puncture wound in their chest just like Benson’s. Abrams took a step forward.

“NO! Get away!” a voice cried out.

Two tendrils snapped toward Abrams but again both passed through him harmlessly.

“I’m not here to harm you.” Henrik took another step.

“Leave me alone, I said!”

Henrik could see a concentrated dome of dark energy when he peered through the mound of orphans. The voice of a frightened child emanated from it.

“Where did everybody go?” She started sobbing.

Abrams reached into the darkness and pulled out the scared little girl. The dark protrusions impaling the rest of the orphans writhed as they shrunk away, dissipating into nothingness by the time he set her on the ground. Henrik rushed to every tiny wrist hoping for a pulse. None were found.

Kneeling down, Abrams looked into the eyes of the little girl. A blackness reminiscent of the tendrils lingered for a moment before fading to reveal an otherwise normal pair of green eyes.

“I’m Henrik,” he said, forcing himself to remember she was still a child despite whatever energy might be flowing through her. “What’s your name?”

“Juniper.” She responded.

“Do you know what happened here, Juniper?”

“They… they told us to climb the ladder.. and took us here, to the dark place,” Juniper stammered between sniffles.

“Then what?”

“I… I.. I don’t know. They left us. I was afraid, so I closed my eyes, and then all the others stopped talking. What’s hap.. happening to me?”

“It’s okay, Juniper. Let’s get you out of here,” Abrams said. “Follow me.”

As Henrik approached Benson he expected the man’s fate to be the same as the orphans’. That Walter was once again stubborn enough to prove him wrong came as little surprise. The barely-conscious agent’s breathing was shallow but stable.

“Sit tight there, bud,” Abrams offered in consolation, setting down his glow stick near the wounded man. “HQ’ll send in the med team as soon as I get topside.”

“Make sure they knock,” Benson said as Henrik started his climb up the ladder, Juniper clinging to his back.