Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Patriot-1 is coming to Kickstarter

Creating comics is not an easy task. When you are the writer, creator and publisher rolled into one, it’s that much more difficult.

Why you ask? Because after crafting your script or idea, you have to find an artist. You have to find one that is affordable, understands the pitfalls and tiny budgets of creator-owned books and is also reliable. You also have to find additional artists if you need an inker or colorist. They have to be flexible and unless they are published by a major company, they have to be available. They also can't expect a fortune. Even with all of that, you have to make sure the art fits your story.

And while you are paying the artist(s), you are likely making nothing. Zero.

It's a tough road, an expensive hobby. But if you are like me, there are just stories you want to tell. 

And to think, my skill set includes pre-press, graphic design and lettering. But it's all self-costs I eat.

Patriot-1 is a character that has existed in some form or another for as long as I can remember. His name has changed, his look has changed and even the universe in which he exists has changed.

But he took on his current form in 2007. I’ve spent years researching and following the U.S. Military and World History and I’ve always had a fascination with Special Forces. With Patriot-1, I wanted to create something authentic and realistic without forgetting that it was a comic book. I'll be the first to admit I didn't have the stones to serve, but I'll be damned if I haven't learned anything I can. 

I've always been enamored with the real-life superheroes of special operations forces. I think of myself as a bit of an amateur historian on the subject. After all, I own and have read just about every book and watched every documentary there is on Operation Neptune Spear (and that's just one of many).

I graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in film with a screenwriting concentration. I love movies and comics, but over the past 7 years, I sacrificed a lot of time to craft this story into its current form because it is the story I’ve wanted to tell.

In that time, there have been a few insanely talented people that have come and gone. Whether it was delays, long development times or they just got better paying gigs; I eventually found the perfect team in Dexter Wee and Donna Gregory.

Originally intended to be a five issue series, I eventually let the story take the helm and it naturally found its way to a 176 page graphic novel. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past five years that I have created comics, it’s that having the entire story available for readers is insanely important.

For examples, Mack Turner: Slayer of the Dead and Steel Creek are two projects that have been halted for a couple of years because the artists got better paying gigs and I shifted focus a bit. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s that much harder to gain an audience when they are waiting for the next installments.

Thus it was very important to me that Patriot-1 be a complete story. After an earlier version was rejected by a publisher, I rewrote the entire thing and it became something else entirely. The core concepts were still the same, but it is undoubtedly the best thing I have ever written.  It’s exciting, the characters are deep and the action is non-stop.

Putting the book (finally) into production was a must. I wanted a completed project and now that I have it, the debate over how to release it took off.

Submit it to more publishers? Take out a loan? Print on-demand? Digital only? Release as a webcomic?

The possibilities seemed endless, the questions mounted.

But so-called “traditional” routes of publishing are becoming a thing of the past. In 2007, I was trying to figure out ways for Patriot-1 (Or U.S.Avenger as he was then) to be incorporated into a publisher’s plan or universe.

In 2007, Kickstarter wasn’t a thing. By the end of 2013, crowd-funding (Kickstarter and Indiegogo) made up 2 percent of the comics market. Considering Marvel consistently owns 40 percent of it… that 2 percent is massive.

I’ve contributed to a number of Kickstarters. As long as they are successful and the people behind them are passionate, Kickstarter is perhaps the single greatest outlet for creator-owned and small press comics.

Why? Because you can directly connect with your readers. You can offer cool incentives that a backer would otherwise be unable to obtain.

With all of this in mind, and after years of watching the growth of comics on Kickstarter, it only makes sense that it becomes the outlet for Patriot-1.

But here’s the beautiful part of it. Patriot-1 is complete. There are many projects that hinge on Kickstarter success before they even start production – but Patriot-1 is complete. I am not turning to Kickstarter to fund the project; I’m turning to Kickstarter to fund the print run.

Ideally, I’d like to offer a 200-page hardcover graphic novel. Complete with an alternate cover gallery and concept art, I’m looking to raise enough money to provide the book for backers and self-distribute to other outlets such as Amazon.

There will be incentives like prints, commissions, a custom cover and maybe even a collectible… but the book will be available at a (roughly) $25 level. That’s a 200-page, full color book for $25 (plus shipping).


I’m aiming to launch the Kickstarter on July 1 or before. So stay tuned.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

How X-Men Days of Future Past restored my faith in X-Men as a whole.

Like any child of the 1990s... X-Men is a HUGE part of my childhood. The 1990s cartoon was and is a masterpiece and glued many a young elementary and middle school students to Fox Kids every Saturday morning. I know people who have been profoundly influenced by that show... that's how great it was.

And although Blade is the film that kickstarted the current comic book movie craze, X-Men is the one that proved the mainstream heroes can be done in a smart, modern, and realistic way.

I loved X-Men. I'm one of those few who is also a HUGE Cyclops fan and quite frankly, what he has become in the comics is deliciously captivating. Actually, for the most part, the X-books have been consistently strong since around 2003.

I really, really loved X-Men. In the days before DVR, Cartoon Network used to play X-Men Evolution every night in the summers when I was in college. I would videotape every episode I could while I was at work so I could come home and watch them. It was really great.

And next to Superman/Lois Lane, Cyclops/Jean Grey is my favorite comic book couple. So there's that too.

So imagine my excitement during my college internship. I interned at Marvel Studios in LA back in 2004... shortly before they became the behemoth they are now... and what film did I have the opportunity to do some pre-production work that Marvel the licensor does for Fox? X-Men 3.

Mind you, this was before X-Men 3 became The Last Stand. This was after Singer but before Ratner. This was when X-Men 3 was intended to be completely awesome.

This was also when Grant Morrison's epic New X-Men ended (which to me, that whole run was Morrison's finest work), and the Joss Whedon fueled Astonishing X-Men began. The movies were good, the comics were good, being an X-fan was great.

Then of course, chips fells, X-Men 3 turned into The Last Stand and the rest is history. I was appalled by X3. The horrid adaptation of Dark Phoenix and Whedon's cure arc, the depowering of everyone. And of course, the unceremonious death of Cyclops. He was a bit flat in the first 2 films, but it seemed as though X2 was setting up a HUGE Cyclops/Jean story for the third.

But that did not come to pass.

It was bad. Really bad. X-Men Origins: Wolverine made things that much worse. That's what you did to Deadpool? My complaints about that movie are abundant. And, frankly, I've never been a huge Wolverine fan.

With the exception of the comics (which again, were really good). I kind of lost interest in X-Men. The movies really soured my overall feelings toward the franchise.

When X-Men: First Class came, I really enjoyed it, but I did not really care for the use of Emma Frost and Havok. The continuity errors notwithstanding, it was a solid movie, but it's prequel status did little to quell my fears.

Not to mention that fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe was in full force and The Avengers was coming and I want any movie based on a Marvel character to be done by Marvel.

For X-Men, I didn't see much of a future film-wise. The comics continued to be solid, but The Wolverine left me relatively underwhelmed.

Comics-wise, I enjoy All-New X-Men because I LOVE the original.five. Granted it's a bit muddy and they are from another universe notwithstanding, it's good stuff.

I literally had no desire to see X-Men Days of Future Past. The Marvel machine is in full swing and Captain America: The Winter Solider is one of the best movies I have ever seen.

So I had no desire to see X-Men. But a couple good bros wanted to go and I tagged along as we tended to do for these things.

Well color me surprised. Not only is Days of Future Past a fantastic adaptation of the source material,  it's a hell of a movie and it completely restored my faith, love and interest in X-Men.

But it wasn't simply the well-done adaptation or the "Star Trekking" of the timeline. There are still massive continuity issues, X3, Wolverine and The Wolverine have ceased to exist and X-Men and X2 are in some altered form.

No, no. The one thing that restored my faith in the entire X-Men franchise as a whole was the (spoilers) revelation that Scott Summers and Jean Grey are still alive in the movie-verse. That was it. That was all I needed.

Since then, I have rekindled a love of X-Men. I've purchased and upgraded my editions of Dark Phoenix, God Loves, Man Kills, Days of Future Past and more.

X-Men Days of Future Past is not perfect, and there are more questions about how they take the franchise than there are answers. Apocalypse? Fine. Set in the 1980s? Ehhh... not sure about that. You won't be able to keeps the original movie X-Men and have it make too much sense. The 1990s? Sure. Or time jump between the "Near Future" and the 90s? Sure. It will be interesting nonetheless.

So all it took was a good movie - a fairly faithful adaptation -the erasing of X3 and the return of Cyclops and Jean Grey in movie form and all my faith was restored.