One perhaps unexpected impact the Coronavirus Pandemic has clearly had on the world’s comics creators is an acceleration toward independent publishing, with long-planned or dormant projects now being brought to life, many through crowdfunding appeals.
Many, such as Britain’s The77 anthology – a project gaining phenomenal support – and Sentinel projects were already up and running before the Pandemic hit. But time in lockdown and a sudden loss of commissioned work as its economic impact began to bite traditional publishers definitely seems to have provided many creators with the impetus they needed to try their hand at finding new ways to both make a living, and continue the work they love, despite the quite often harrowing situation we all find ourselves in.
Among the many projects that are now either seeking or successfully funded – some with deserved huge success – are those from a number of great British creators and independent publishers.
With organisations such as the Resolution Foundation thinktank warning that the current economic crisis risks pushing an additional 600,000 18- to 24-year-olds into unemployment in the coming year, as well as damaging their longer term pay and job prospects, no-one is pretending crowdfunding is a universal panacea for marked drops in income for many. There will need to be much more rebuilding in new ways to adjust to a rapidly impacted economy.
But crowdfunding is offering some hope for those recognising its potential prepared to work hard and make a success of the opportunity, alongside other new publishing routes and distribution changes.
I’ve already highlighted the terrific Skrawl anthology, but in case you missed the item, there’s still a couple of days to back it. The team includes (Mark Hughes (Silverbeard), Russell Mark Olson (Gateway City), Nick Prolix (Slang Pictorial), Martin Simpson (Needleman), Pete Taylor (Silverbeard), and Gustaffo Vargas (Manu), who formed during last year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival.
But other projects currently on my radar include Harker: The Book of Solomon Part One by Roger Gibson and Vincent Danks from Timebomb Comics, the Birmingham-based independent publisher using Kickstarter not to totally fund a creative comics project but as a pre-order opportunity, means to offer supporters of their many titles the opportunity to secure some great extras for those that want them and to offer the printed book cheaper than it will be anywhere else.
“To me, that’s an important part of what I believe Kickstarter should be about,” says publisher Steve Tanner, who’s successfully funded several books through Kickstarter, “so I can guarantee you won’t see this first volume of Harker being sold for less by me than it is here once the campaign is over. Also, I’m offering free postage to UK backers and at cost shipping everywhere else.”
Continuing the terrific supernatural-tinged detective series first published back in 2007 by Ariel Press, and then later part-reprinted by Titan Comics in 2010, Harker: The Book of Solomon Part One is the first, full colour, 68-page perfect bound volume of a crime series that is a unique homage to classic TV detective shows, filled with humour, wit, adventure and devil worshippers. Oh, and pubs. Pubs with beer! Hurrah!
Written by Roger Gibson and drawn by Vincent Danks, with colours by Ben Lopez, in this new story the discovery of a disembowelled corpse close to the British Museum points to ritualistic murder. DCI Harker and his assistant DS Critchley are called to London to solve the case, and the trail seems to lead to a shadowy group of occultists, but Harker has his own ideas.
This is just the beginning of one of Harker’s most disturbing cases – the first volume of a two part story, printed in full colour for the first time. Think TV detective drama, but in comic form and you’re partly hooked already. Harker has the shabby dress sense of Columbo, drives a car Morse would love, has the grumpy, old fashioned demeanour of Gene Hunt from Ashes to Ashes, possesses the quirky oddness of Monk and displays the dazzling brilliance of Sherlock Holmes. And his Detective Sergeant is all right too, if you can get past the posh suit.
Another smashing project running right now is Kickstarter Circus DeNiro – A Graphic Novella from Michael Powell and Marvel UK alumni Phil Elliott (The Real Ghostbusters, “The Man From Cancer” in Strip). If you like magic, adventure and monsters (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) this could be the book for you!
Circus DeNiro tells the story of twins, Edgar and Elsa, two children who escape the sinister grip of their evil father, only to find themselves in a strange new world
Join the twins as they run from their crumbling gothic pile, headlong into magic, mystery and adventure…
Included in the mix is art from Paul Grist, Robert Wells and Lew Stringer. The project is over 150% funded now but it’s the last six days of the Kickstarter and you can find out more here! Everyone who pledges for a physical copy of the book will also receive a colour print of the front cover.
Also one to check out: Saxon’s Second-Hand Books, a supernatural adventure from Mad Robot Comics, written by Ash Deadman (Murder Most Mundane, The Hanged Man, Cadavers: World Gone To Hell).
Set in a Neo-Victorian London, beautifully realised by the art of Gustaffo Vargas (Manu, L1ma, Trujillo, Crayta: Sunset). It looks fantastic!
Another project that has recently caught my eye include The Mañana Anthology, a collection of short stories made by Latinos from all over the globe. The project brainchild of P&M Press, and you can find out more here on Kickstarter.
There’s so much out seeking support, it’s nigh impossible to track and back everything… but hopefully this item gives you a few pointers to at least investigate!