I recently made my comic Next Door available online for free, and to commemorate that — as well as to make this post more interesting — I thought I’d share some info about the Kickstarter campaign that I’ve never released publicly.

First things first, you probably haven’t heard of our book Next Door (unless you were one of our 327 backers, in which case…thanks!). Next Door was written by myself (Zack Quaintance, reviews editor here at The Beat), and illustrated by my friend Pat Skott. It was colored by Ellie Wright and lettered by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, a pair of comics superstars in their respective roles. Pat and I did the bulk of our work on Next Door during the earliest months of the quarantine, when time seemed everywhere and no one had yet adjusted.

Now for some new behind-the-scenes notes. Working on a project together was actually Pat’s idea, although I was ecstatic when he came to me wanting to draw a book. He left the concept up to me with one request — nothing too fantastical. He wanted practice drawing everyday things. So, within that framework, we conceived a neighborhood crime comic, where misunderstandings and gentrification were the villains. 

It actually started as a five-page short, but we liked how it turned out so much that we decided to expand it (and bring Ellie and Hass on board). This arc is partially responsible for one of my favorite things about this book: the triple perspective. Within the first five pages, we had the story of the crime. When we decided to do more, we ended up retelling what happened in that crime from three different perspective, which (in my opinion) really enhanced our themes of misunderstandings so drastic and extreme, they ultimately lead to violence.

As for running a Kickstarter campaign — I’m not entirely sure you can ever really prepare for that. There’s plenty of great people out there to give advice (I’m indebted to David Hyde, Charlie Stickney, and Frankee White, among others). With that in mind, I think the two big takeaways for me where, 1. ask for help, and 2. know that it will be harder and more time consuming than you expect. 

You can download a copy of Next Door now for free, although if you do throw us a few dollars, all proceeds will be much appreciated, as well as put toward another independent comics project. 

You can find the download the book from either Gumroad or through itch.io. Check out a couple pages from the book below, followed by the variant cover by Anna Readman that turbocharged our Kickstarter campaign.