NOBODIES vol. 2 is the most auspicious comic book project to grace Kickstarter.
By: Henry Barajas
Project: NOBODIES, Volume 2
Talent/Project Manager: Victor Ochoa
Days to Go: 13
The spiel: Mark Waid once said “There are more ideas in one Wednesday in one comic shop than in three years of Hollywood.” One can argue that this project embodies that very quote.
This comic anthology is a full color 120+ page perfect bound comic by comic creators from all around the world. Creators contribute all new original stories to the book to go with our theme of “nobodies.” We want to create art because we love it. We aren’t scared of the bumps and bruises, (that comes with the territory). We’re here to make the work we want to read. There are no restrictions and anything goes.
Victor Ochoa and the creators on this project include OMOCAT, Nicholas Doan, Josh Gowdy, JD Smith, Frank Reynoso, Steve Orlando, Artyom Trakhanov, Gerhard Human, Ellen T. Crenshaw, Sham Sharpe and Renee Keyes. Even though the incentives are limited, the best deal this project has to offer is the $50 pledge. You get printed and PDF copies of volumes one and two, a colored print by Ochoa and a 3D t-shirt of Shakey Kane’s art work.
We spoke with Ochoa about his Kickstarter campaign and his thoughts on how his bold anthology compares to the 112 other comics trying to reach their goal.
Henry Barajas: I was immediately attracted to this project because of Shaky Kane’s cover. How did you get this SOMEBODY to do a cover for a bunch of NOBODIES?
Victor Ochoa: I wish I could tell you that I saved his life from a robot dinosaur invasion but the truth is I just asked. I am a very big fan of Shaky’s work and sent him a message about the project and asked if he’d be interested in doing the cover. I was extremely happy when he said yes. One of the first things he told me when was, “I just draw stuff because I like doing it, I’m no different than any of you guys.” And that there is the perfect example of what NOBODIES is about.
Victor, you don’t have a Wikipedia page so I don’t know any made up facts about you. Please tell us about yourself so some day your obsessive fans can create a page for you and use this as reference.
Hmmm…maybe I should get a Wikipedia page. But then ex-girlfriends would have a heyday. I was raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, (before it was cool) and would’ve gone into the Navy if I didn’t get into art school. Oh, and I traveled to Northampton, England, once on an artist grant; but really I did it to meet Alan Moore, who I did in fact meet along with his lovely wife, Melinda. I guess that makes me an obsessive fan huh?
You mentioned in your video breaking in the comic book industry is the hardest thing in the world, what has your journey been like and do you have any horror stories?
I don’t know if I have any horror stories, but I have sent proposals to publishers time and time again. It’s frustrating nothearing any kind of response, even if it’s a “hey sorry but you suck” email. I don’t want to go into details but I’ve had publishers tell me they were interested in pitches I’ve sent, and then taken months to finally follow up with an email saying they were passing and calling me by a wrong name. And I wanted to be a comic editor but that road failed too. Even if you know all the right people the industry just seems to either play politics or hire in-house, which is fine but I think there are people out there who deserve shots–or even just interviews–who can’t get one toe in the door. I’m not trying to bash anyone, and I’d still love it if a publisher came to me and was interested in publishing some of my stuff, but after a while I didn’t want to wait anymore and decided if I wanted to be editor/creator in this field, I’d just do it myself. So I started DRAWMORE INC., which is the small press publisher I use for any comic book projects I start.
How did this project come together?
I think it was a little over two years ago. A writer friend of mine, Ben Philippe, and I were at Forbidden Planet talking about the proposal rejections and how the frustration was building. We wanted our books out there and we knew we couldn’t be the only ones trying to make a name for ourselves. So why not try to make a refreshing new anthology?
The main reason for the Kickstarter was to get word out there about this project. I want eyes on the book because I think we’re doing something very important. The funding of course is important and I thank everyone who has contributed. Printing books is damn expensive. And any profit from the book will go back into printing costs for future volumes. I want the project to fuel itself and gain an audience that comes to expect quality work from these books.
You’re going the same route everyone in comics is taking, the do it yourself route. Do you think it’s going to make it even more difficult for creators to put their work out there because now people have to choose between your book and projects like LEAVING MEGALOPOLIS or MOLLY DANGER?
That’s a good question. I mean it’s Gail Simone and Jamal Igle. They’re big names. You can’t really compete with them fan wise cause they’ve been around a long time, they’ve worked on everything. But what we can compete with is the level of content and quality in our stories. Every creator in this book is talented and they want to do their own thing. We’re not trying to write or draw Batman. That’s cool and everything but what we want to do is produce the best work that is ours.
Yes, we’re all competing for eyes but as long as our quality is true to our standard I think we’ll be fine. I don’t think any creators should be scared to put themselves out there. So what if a big name is doing the same thing? People are going to find you and what you’re doing eventually. I don’t think people go on Kickstarter to just window shop. They want to give money to projects, and we think ours is worth it.
And of course having established writers and artists doing Kickstarter campaigns helps us, if you think about it. If they can bring in hundreds of new visitors to Kickstarter who didn’t know what that site was about then that’s awesome. Hopefully those people will keep exploring the website and they’ll find other projects they might be interested in funding.
Anthologies are a hard sell, wouldn’t it be easier to do your own book?
I find anthologies are easier to sell, actually. I’ve put out a few books of my own and when I’m at conventions, talking about the work on sale, people seem to gravitate more to the anthology. For one, people seem to like the idea of different creative teams and stories in a book together. It gives them a range in style. And I also think that it’s easier to get into. There’s less commitment to actually have to follow a storyline past the first book since the stories in the anthology are self-contained.
This is your second anthology, what have you learned and what wisdom do you have to give for those who are working on their projects?
I think what the most important thing I’ve learned is how to talk with other artists. The 1st anthology was sort of my firstchance being a comic editor and I learned a lot about how writers and artists work. We each have our own creative process, and we manage time differently. I learned to respect that and to approach each person differently. And I also learned that things always come up so you should plan way ahead of your deadline or else the ending is going to be rough. Things happen, people get sick or they are busy with real jobs etc. But I feel like if you have a good connection with the creators you’re working with they’re going to want to step their game up and be proud to work with you. And as for advice for anyone self-publishing their work, just do it. Please don’t expect any publisher or person to just offer you something. If you want to make an awesome story, make it. Don’t just think about making it. Make it. You’re not doing yourself any favors dicking around. You’re going to lose money and get stressed out and a lot of times you’re going to want to go drinking when your friends call to hang out instead of working but let me tell you, when you have that book in your hands from the printer, there isn’t any other feeling that comes close.
What’s next for you after NOBODIES?
Well I’m going to finish up a short story I’ve been trying to complete since forever called “The Confidence Man,” which is on my website. And I’ll be starting Volume 2 of my noir trilogy TOXICITY. Aside from that I’ll probably try and do a short story in between things and of course NOBODIES, Volume 3 will get started early next year.
Henry Barajas is the co-creator, writer and letterer for El Loco and Captain Unikorn. He has also written and lettered short stories for two successful Kickstarter SpazDog Press projects: Unite and Take Over: Stories inspired by The Smiths and Break The Walls: Comic Stories inspired by The Pixies. He is the Newsroom Research Assistant for The Arizona Daily Star and was nominated for the Shel Dorf Blogger of the Year award for his work at The Beat. You can follow him on Twitter @HenryBarajas and Google+.