Fabian Rangel Jr. and Ryan Cody debuted Doc Unknown # 1 two years ago, and the project was financed entirely by Fabian out of pocket. They launched a Kickstarter project to fund BOSS SNAKE: Cold Blood, Cold Streets. The duo raised $7,540 to fund the project based on a character from the introductory issue, but the fruitful Kickstarter ventures put the creators on the map and helped with further projects with IDW and Dark Horse. Fabian and Cody raised $12,250 to publish DOC UNKNOWN: Winter of the Damned & other. The second Doc Unknown kickstarter project offered a number of enticing rewards that made publishing the comic with a cover by The Goon’s Eric Powell that much sweeter.
Third time’s the charm? The ambitious creators are attempting to fund their final installment of the series:
DOC UNKNOWN: THE WAR FOR GATE CITY is a 104 page graphic novel collecting the final four issues of supernatural pulp series DOC UNKNOWN. The third and final volume will be 94 pages of new story, featuring an introduction from ED BRISSON (SHELTERED, CLUSTER, MURDERBOOK) an afterword by me (Fabian Rangel Jr) and will include a pin-up gallery featuring MATT SMITH (BARBARIAN LORD), ALEXIS ZIRITT (SPACE RIDERS) LOGAN FAERBER (OH, KILLSTRIKE), DAVID RUBIN (THE RISE OF AURORA WEST), and MIKE MIGNOLA (HELLBOY)!
The series has raised (not taking account the Kickstarter and Amazon fees) $19,790. So, it’s safe to say they know what their doing when it comes to launching a successful Kickstarter, following through a quality product and rewards. I had a conversation with my Southern Arizona dive bar drinkin’ buddy and AMCE director, Ryan, about the success of the series, what to expect from DOC UNKNOWN: THE WAR FOR GATE CITY, and offers advice to Kickstarter comic creators.
Henry Barajas: Let’s cut to the chase. You and Fabian have raised $19,790 for this series. You’re already over 50% of goal. What’s your fuckin’ secret?!
Ryan Cody: Our backers are comic and pulp adventure fans who appreciate the world we’ve built. I think we really built on a successful first volume and good reviews and word of mouth. Doc Unknown Vol.1 was totally financed by Fabian on his own, then we did a small Kickstarter for a spin-off one-shot featuring Boss Snake and the enthusiasm was overwhelming. We noticed that there could be a market for more of these characters and Volume 2 of Doc was funded via Kickstarter within two days and did incredibly well. By delivering on time a high quality product, we eliminate any fear backers may have, and they in turn feel confident in telling their friends about it. It’s very grass roots and organic.
Barajas: Without giving anything away, what can backers expect in the last Doc Unknown adventure?
Cody: Everything. It will reward long time readers and include practically every character we’ve seen before. All of our villains are banding together to take out Doc. It’s also welcoming to new readers as the book is designed to be very accessible. There are alternate universes, magic, science, fish monsters, motorcycles, explosions, ghosts, lasers and plenty of punching. What else could you possibly want in a comic book?
Barajas: I noticed some big names are doing some pin ups of the character. How does it feel to see your character reimagined by someone like Hellboy creator Mike Mignola?
I was floored when Fabian told me. These guys are really busy with their own work, so the fact that they will take time out of their schedules to draw a character Fabian and I created is pretty amazing. Volume Two had Scott Godlewski and James Harren pin-ups in it, two of my personal favorite artists, and now to have someone like Mignola drawing a character I designed is absolutely nuts. It’s really cool and it’s fair to say he’s one my biggest influences. I think it just shows how timeless and fun our book is, it has a bit of everything we all loved growing up in it.
Barajas: What are some things you’ve noticed with unsuccessful kickstarter comic book projects?
Cody: I think there are two major factors in why kickstarters can fail. #1 is poor production and art. If your comic does not look like it could stand up with other books on the shelf, it’s probably not ready and the art and story is probably not up to par. Poor design, coloring and lettering can make even a good artist look like an amateur. The other reason I see is people asking for way too much money. The theory on these Doc Unknown books is to ask for the absolute minimum and then hope it makes considerably more than that to actually cover all the expenses. I think Fabian has really done well planning them out that way.
Click here to learn more or support the project.
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+.