Trying to Kickstart a Graphic Novel – Part 1

Transreality by Christopher Lackey

Transreality by Christopher Lackey

My name is Chris Lackey. I’m an animator, filmmaker, illustrator and writer. I’m also I podcaster and co-host of the H.P. Lovecraft Literary podcast. I moved from Los Angeles to Yorkshire, England, with my wife, around two years ago. I knew there wasn’t going to be a lot of film and animation work in Yorkshire (though there is some),  so I was going to have to adapt to my new surroundings.

I’ve always wanted to get into comics. It’s been a childhood dream of mine, but I never really knew how to go about it. Now being in a new world (which is actually the old world), I found this opportunity to take all my past experience and re-invent myself. I became good friends with the artist I.N.J. Culbard, who sat down and showed me, in detail, his process. I attended an amazing master class with Tony Harris. I read book after book about creating comics. I decided it was time to just go for it.  This is my story of how I’m launching my comic, Transreality through Kickstarter.

I’ve been totally into the sci-fi idea of transhumanism. The idea of ‘what humans will evolve into and how that evolution will blend with technology to the point where biology and technology are seamlessly integrated.’ There is a great role-playing game called Eclipse Phase that introduced this idea to me. And that lead me on to novels such as Accelerando and Recursion. I was surprised no graphic novel (that I could find) really tackled this subject. I was inspired.

I got a full script written (at first called Future, now called Transreality) and convinced some good people to read it and the response was great. I churned out the first 20 pages, but knew that I was going to need funds to complete the rest of the book. So I looked into Kickstarter.

Looking at other graphic novels that have gone that route I started to research and figure out what I needed to do to create a successful campaign. There are slew of articles about this all over the internet. It seemed the most likely way to be successful was to have some kind of web presence already, and with having a podcast that has over 70,000 downloads a week, I felt I had an advantage there.

Another thing I noticed about Kickstarter projects was that a video presentation seemed very important. Most successful Kickstarter campaigns have videos (though not all) and I really wanted something that shows of the uniqueness of the book, but also had a bit of my personality. I had this idea where I would explain some of the more complex ideas of the book in my video and do some neat, futuristic special effects. I’ve had After Effects on my computer for ages and never really did much with it. I started poking around and found amazing tutorials, one site in particular, Video Co-pilot, was amazing. With it, I taught myself how to make something that would really stand out.

It’s been two weeks since the launch of the project and I’m already over 50% of my goal. The amazing thing about Kickstarter, is that if you don’t reach your goal, then nothing happens. You don’t get anything and no one looses a dime. It’s great for your backers, but it’s also great for me. I don’t want to only get half-way through a project and run out of money, then not be able to deliver on my promise. If I’m going to do it, it has to be all or nothing.

I’ve used Twitter and Facebook to get the word out. Though I’ve pushed the project on many of the forums I lurk and contribute to. I’ve gone to my local comic book stores and handed out postcards with the project info, I’ve contacted the local news paper and had a little piece about the project and even have a full page in Bizarre Magazine. Success is about pulling out all the stops and trying everything you can to get attention to your project.

For the next few weeks I’m going to blog about what I’m doing to promote Transreality and how my project fairs. Hopefully, folks looking to do their own project might gain a little insight on how to make a successful (or unsucessful) Kickstarter campaign.

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