For developers of all creative trades, from video games to screenplays, Kickstarter has become one of the biggest and greatest ways to get your project funded.
This was the case with Adam Jack, a young man residing in the tourist driven area of Niagara Falls. Jack decided to throw up the comic he and long term friend Kyle McEwan had been working on, the Merciful, in hopes of receiving the financial aid he couldn’t get from anywhere else.
Unlike many of the projects on Kickstarter today, Jack and McEwan received the backing they had asked for, and then some. Launching the project on July 2, 2012 and asking for a backing of five thousand dollars, the project successfully ended on August 31, 2012 with a backing of $8, 272, three thousand more then their targeted goal.
“It takes an insane amount of money to make a comic book. Even with the $8,000 raised, it still worked out to be less than minimum wage for each of us, looking at the amount of work we put in,” Jack said.
Jack explained that while the financial constraints can be tough on writers, it takes its toll more so on the artists.
“The average page takes about two to three days to get completely drawn out. For a sixty page book, that’s a lot of time for someone to take off.”
Especially if there’s another job involved. When Jack and McEwan found MacKinnon, they knew they had found the artist of artists for their book. The only problem was with their lack of funding, MacKinnon couldn’t afford to take half a year off to draw a book they weren’t even sure was going to be published.
“We were working along Dan’s line. If he could take off some work to draw, then we’d go from there,” Jack said.
With an artist in hand, and the story for the Merciful ready to go, the team decided to take to Kickstarter and, “give it a shot,” as Jack has said.
This also didn’t come without difficulty. In order to set up a Kickstarter account and promote your project you must have an American bank account, address, and all in all, basically be an American. Once again, though, lady luck was on McEwan and Jack’s side.
“Dan’s soon to be mother-in-law is American, so we basically sent all the paperwork her way. She handled the logistics and we started promoting the book,” Jack said.
Promotion, according to Jack, was the key of their success when it came to the Merciful. Jack took to the “Twittersphere” and Facebook pages to flock friends and family members with updates on the project, and more importantly, to get the attention of their official 118 backers.
“It’s the heartbeat to the whole campaign. The idea of a Kickstarter project launch does not work if social networking is not used. I was tweeting dozen and dozens of times a day. Both Facebook and Twitter were the biggest mediums for us where the backers were found and the majority of funding came from,” Jack explained.
As well as using sites like Twitter and Facebook to find backers and update followers and friends, Jack said sites like Twitter allowed readers to give feedback about the book and express their anticipation, and in some cases, even ask questions which needed answering.
“We got a lot of feedback from people all over the world. but most of it was from Canada and the United States,” Jack explained. “It was interesting though. People from the States just wanted updates about the project, and Canadians wanted to know how we got the project up to begin with.”
Jack also noted that the small amount of criticism they received was from their Canadian fans, ironically, about the story of the Merciful being set in Toronto. He said that although it was surprising at first, it wasn’t necessarily unheard of in the Canadian entertainment world.
“Even with Canadian television and movies, it’s Canadian fans who won’t even give the piece a chance. We tend not to recognize talent as Canadians until it’s recognized by Americans,” Jack said.
He went on to further explain why the city of Toronto was visceral to the development of the plot.
“We had to have a place where people could move away from where the infection was spreading in the States. We used Toronto as a hub to where people could move to and receive shelter, food, and water,” he said. “It’s a shame that we’re afraid to tell stories in our locations because we’re afraid of how Americans are going to respond to them. As long as it’s a good story, they don’t care where it takes place.”
It’s also become a different take on a genre that has been told time and time again. Jack even admitted when McEwan approached him with the story idea, he was skeptical because of the genre. Post-Apocalyptic stories have been done, and a fresh take seemed almost impossible. Until they actually sat down and discussed the back story to the Merciful.
“It was the backstory that sold me on the story. I had written screenplays before while in film school, and was skeptical about the idea of doing a survival story. The backstory that Kyle had though, of just before the disaster hits and the events that lead up to it, that’s where the story is,” Jack said.
“My fiance wanted to kill me during the Merciful.”After the successful meeting between the two friends, they began work on the Merciful, a project that has kept them busy to date. With the first volume still under work, they have begun thinking of new additions they can add to the story and keep the project alive and kicking.
While the Merciful has kept Jack busy over the past year, he’s also working on two more graphic novels, one which will be hitting the Kickstarter pages soon.
“Hunting House Cats is the next one I’m working on. It’s a Tarantino flick and a John Hughes film all rolled into one. It basically follows three guys who are stuck behind in the weird transition where they’ve graduated high school but aren’t adults. It’s a coming of age story.”
Jack said he’s already set up a Twitter account for Hunting House Cats and, much to the dismay of his fiancee, has begun tweeting about the progress of it. It’s something he assures will only get worse once the Kickstarter project for the book has begun.
“My fiance wanted to kill me during the Merciful. We’d be in bed and I’d have my laptop open and she would just look at me and say, “really, no more comic books,”” Jack laughed.
The Merciful volume one is still under production and should be released soon. Head over to the Kickstarter page to find out more about the story.