By: Henry Barajas
These Kickstarter projects are history in the making and it’s up to you to make it happen.
Talent/Project Manager: Phil Yeh
Days to Go: 39
Phil Yeh has been using comic books and art to promote literacy for 25 years. He has traveled the world painting over 1,800 murals in 49 states and 15 countries. Yeh has written and illustrated over eighty published books and created one of the first modern American graphic novels in 1977. Now the “Godfather of Graphic Novels” needs your help to make another mark in history.
Yeh is trying to raise $3,000 to finish his mural on the first McDonalds establishment on Route 66 and re-print “Dinosaurs Across Route 66” comic book. He started the new colorful mural a few weeks working with local high schools and his artist friends; most notably Rory Murray, Greta Grigorian, Lieve Jerger, and Sandra Fisher Cvar. On May 1, his partner from Hawaii, Jon J. Murakami was on hand for Mayor Morris’ dedication ceremony.
The incentives are limited but worth the support. You can get your name on the mural, your name listed in the book, signed copies and for $500 you can get your name or business logo with website in the mural. They will also send you a photo with the section featuring your information.
Project: The Art of Hotel Whiskey Tango
Talent/Project Manager: Ron Domingue
Days to Go: 11
Ron Domigue, the creator, is using Kickstarter to help complete his “Mission to Print“ and get Hotel Whiskey Tango in your hands. The book was first published through iTunes and Amazon and Ron is now trying to reach a wider audience that may not have inclination or access to the book on the internet. The story revolves around Jack Landry, a retired Marine sniper who gets entangled in a global heroin operation on a POW rescue mission.
The rewards include signed prints, American Apparel HTW t-shirts, signed books and the 7” vinyl soundtrack featuring The Viatones, Steven Achord, and Holly Hobbs. This project really stands out for me and offers something unique that you won’t find elsewhere.
HTW only has nine days and needs to raise $2,476 to reach the $5,000 goal. Click here to pledge and help get this project funded.
Domingue was kind enough to answer some questions I had and discuss how this Kickstarter is going to help him earn some “street cred” in the comic book industry.
Why is this story so important to tell?
I had an inspiration to do an action/adventure story ala Inglorious Bastards, albeit with a Vietnam POW rescue mission as a backdrop. Primarily set in the ’70s and inspired by films and television shows such as Apocalypse Now, Platoon, American Gangster and Breaking Bad. I did a lot of research with the heroin trade involving Air America and the CIA in Southeast Asia and thought it would make an intriguing story. My main character is a decorated Marine sniper and I use New Orleans in 1979 as distribution point for heroin and try to give the story a little grit along the way.
Have you tried pitching Hotel Whiskey Tango to publishers or did you go straight to Kickstarter?
We wanted to do things differently and really experiment with digital publishing and distribution so we established Epilogue Publishing. I recognized early on that that this would be the easiest way to get a story in an audience’s hands, but also acknowledged the fact that fans still wanted a printed edition. To really get the community behinds us we needed to service the comic and specialty shops and this is an effort towards that. The Kickstarter project is an opportunity to service people who don’t have iPads or want to have a printed compliment to the story.
What kind of research did you do before establishing the Kickstarter?
I had a few friends running Kickstarter projects that were successfully funded and was actually suggested doing one as a marketing opportunity for Epilogue. I also spoke at a conference called Tribe Con in New Orleans last October with Perry Chen, the CEO of Kickstarter, so I was very familiar with the execution of their service. I met him at a previous conference a few months earlier and really got to see what the buzz around Kickstarter was from its inception.
As far as advertising your project what has been most useful?
I think getting the word out through social media has always been an obvious strategy but since digital publishing is a field with a lot of innovation and because of the competitiveness within eBook readers, it’s an exciting time to position you as an expert. There are simply not a lot of people doing what we’re doing right now, not with illustration, graphic design, and stories at least. I see a few people flirting with it but no one committing them to publishing exclusively on the iPad or Kindle Fire. We’ve been getting a lot of organic support from blogs and small media outlets but I think the real pressure point for us is to eventually get the retailers behind us. We just have to be smart about it. I don’t want to print a comic and then do the digital version for the sake of redundancy. I like us to offer something unique for each fan base, purists would enjoy the art book, tech and interactive people the iPad and music collectors the 7″ vinyl. We got a chance to work with I Am Always Hungry Studios with the branding of HWT and Epilogue; they have been doing phenomenal work, ranging from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Contagion, to Batman.
How are you going about getting retailer support?
That’s the challenge is that we want to do a printed art book to garner retailer support. There is a lot of apprehension from retailers when it comes to digital and we want to be able to service both platforms. I think until you have a real product out there, the response from retailers will be negligible otherwise. I’m simply not helping or hurting them right now — the product has to be mutually beneficial for both the creator and the physical retailer — with Amazon or Apple it’s a transparent relationship.
Did you face any challenges from taking the book from digital to iPad?
Well the reverse is true in this case, I wrote part one of the story and now I’m trying to get funding for a printed companion. Essentially I knew I couldn’t exactly replicate all the interactive elements from the iPad to print. I know I garnered a lot of interest with my work and I wanted to create an art book instead, something more palatable than a book on iPad.
You mention in the video printing HWT was a way to get you “street cred.” Have you tried getting a motorcycle or a neck tattoo? Or both?
I probably could have used a better word than “street cred” but basically, I worked as a production artist and graphic designer for a couple of comic companies in the past, namely Wildstorm/DC and I shared a studio with Kody Chamberlain, a prominent comic creator, thus printing an actual art book is distinctly different than publishing digitally. It added a little more weight for me to have my own “book” especially being mostly known as an interactive and user experience person.
How did you come up with the soundtrack for the book?
It started with a Spotify and Rdio playlist of songs from the Vietnam era and late ’70s, also living in New Orleans, where there is no shortage of musicians and we found a few talented artists who wanted to contribute a score. My business partner, Justin Fontenot , and our Marketing Director, Marc-Alain Reviere, suggested we produce a 7″ vinyl, basically we wanted to do more with a digital platform than just emulating a book or graphic novel on the iPad. We also added a video segment and 3D models as ways to expand the story.
Listen to the play list http://www.rdio.com/people/rondomingue/playlists/171378/Hotel_Whiskey_Tango/?utm_content=342919&utm_source=embed“>here.
Kick-Watcher recap: In my previous article I talked about Golem and MOLLY DANGER. The Golem project has 14 days to go and hit the $8,000 gover over by $885. Igle’s MOLLY DANGER is only at $16,102 with 16 days left. Igle needs to average $1,801 a day to get to the $45k mark.