Comic book creators Mike Raicht and Zach Howard are using Kickstarter to get their newest project off the ground. Here they are to tell us all about it!
While Kickstarter is thought of as a great haven for up-and-coming unknowns to get their first creative projects off the ground, the realities of the comic book business have necessitated that even industry veterans need a bit of help from the site. Mike Raicht and Zach Howard have both worked in comics for several years, but for their newest project together, entitled Wild Blue Yonder, they're turning to crowdfunding in order to raise enough money to get the art, by Howard and colorist Nelson Daniel, paid for. Wild Blue Yonder, a five-issue series that will be published by IDW, takes place in a post-apocalyptic future when land and sea are rendered uninhabitable, so humanity has to live in flying airships.
Raicht, who was an editor at Marvel in the late 1990's and early 2000's before becoming a freelance writer, and Howard's art was last seen on The Cape, writer Joe Hill's adaptation of his own short story for IDW, are joined by Austin Harrison, who is new to comics but works as an idea man for film and television, as well as highly-regarded internet media companies. Raicht and Howard took a seat in The Outhouse to talk to us about Wild Blue Yonder, why they took the project to Kickstarter, and how they've been able to incorporate the wishes of their fans into they Kickstarter Rewards structure.
Outhouse (OH): What was the genesis of this project? Where did the story originally come from, and how did the three of you decide to to work together on it?
Mike Raicht (MR): Wild Blue Yonder was something I had been thinking about for a little while. Probably close to 5 years ago I first presented it to Zach, in a very young form, after we worked together on an Exiles one shot. He dug it and had a lot of cool ideas about the world and how everything would work in it. From there, we were just trying to find the right time to work on it, which can be tough on a creator owned book. Austin, who is a writer/producer, had been working with Zach on some projects. The two of them discussed Wild Blue Yonder and Austin was interested. He came on board and really pushed and pulled the project. Zach kept designing the world and suggesting cool things for it and Austin and I kept pushing the storytelling and character arcs as hard as we could until we felt we had something exciting on our hands. I think everyone has brought a lot to the table and made Wild Blue Yonder something better than if any one of us worked on it alone.
OH: Wild Blue Yonder has something that a lot of other comic book Kickstarter campaigns don't, namely a publisher for when the issues are all produced. Talk about how that came about, and what pressures that alleviates or creates for you.
Zach Howard (ZH): Things like this don't give me that much pressure. Only deadlines. I've been doing this for a decade and I know what I can and what I can't do. We stayed modest with our Kickstarter goal and I don't see any problems in making it. Then we'll have enough money to keep this ball rolling.
MR: I kind of feel like there's more pressure in certain aspects. IDW wants to do the book. So do we. That means we really have to hit our goal. It's clearly better in that we have a place to take the book and an amazing publisher like IDW behind us when we're ready to go. You can't beat that.
OH: Specifically, what part(s) of the production process are going to be covered by the funds raised by the Kickstarter?
MR: It will mostly cover Zach's time on the book. Zach takes around 2 months to pencil and ink an issue. It's not easy for him to give up on that work. We believe in the project and that there would be some interest in this type of book so we decided to take that chance.
ZH: That pretty much sums it up. I need to pay my bills while I crank this out. I have to build a world here and that's not the most timely thing I could devote my time to.
OH: You guys have both worked in comics for some time now. What made you go the crowdfunding route for this particular project?
MR: This is a creator owned book that we wanted to approach as a full time gig. As a comic writer, I can work on multiple projects at once. Zach, as a working artist, can't realistically take a break for 10 months while he works on Wild Blue Yonder. We thought that if we were successful, this Kickstarter would give Zach the time he needs to move forward on this book and to keep him afloat.
OH: Zach is working again with colorist Nelson Daniel. Talk about how the artwork has been coming together.
MR: Zach and Nelson have a pretty stellar track record together. The Cape is an amazing book to look at and read. When we started discussing Wild Blue Yonder Zach really wanted Nelson and that was pretty much the end of the discussion. They clearly have a great give and take on every page. Working with Zach as a storyteller and as an artist has been a great experience. I think we're getting into a great groove as we find out each others strengths and play to them. It's like a great band coming together. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a long run of cool projects together.
ZH: Nelson is a dream come true. If I can work with him for the rest of my career I will. For the first time in my life I feel like I have harmony with someone else's work.
OH: How did you come up with the rewards you're offering in this campaign?
MR: We have been going back and forth between us over the last few months while we were getting ready. We had a list brewing. We got some ideas from some of the other successful sites that we had backed and thought had interesting and fun rewards. The coolest offer came from IDW editor and writer Bobby Curnow, who offered his services to look over portfolios and scripts. For an upcoming artist or writer, having a current editor look at your stuff is a pretty amazing incentive. Some of the rewards we've been adding have been suggested by people pledging. We're honestly just trying to deliver whatever our readers want in order to excite them about the book. We're really hoping to deliver a fun Kickstarter with rewards that people enjoy.
OH: A lot of creators have talked about how time-consuming a Kickstarter campaign can be, in terms of contacting people, marketing, etc.. Have you found that to be true? Other than this interview, how have you been getting the word out about the project?
MR: It is definitely time consuming. You always feel like you can be doing more but you don't want to drive people crazy with updates. We've been extremely lucky to have a lot of friends spreading the word on Twitter, Facebook, and beyond. A lot of fellow creators have stepped up and gotten the word out. It's pretty humbling. I'm really excited about how many people have gotten on board. Austin has been pushing really hard on that front. His efforts, especially with putting the site and video together and pushing Zach and I in certain aspects, have been immense.
OH: Is there anything else you'd like to say about Wild Blue Yonder and the Kickstarter that we haven't asked?
ZH: We wouldn't be putting aside high paying gigs to do this one if we didn't believe in it. All I ask is that people check it out. It's going to be the best thing I've ever touched.
Mike is a comic book writer and a former Marvel Comics editor (X-Men line). He has written stories for multiple publishers including Marvel Entertainment (Spider-Man, Hulk, X-Men, MAX Zombie), DC Comics (Batman, Superman), IDW (GI Joe, Godzilla), Dynamite (Dark Shadows, Army of Darkness, Raise the Dead II) and BOOM! Studios (Finding Nemo). His creator owned work includes The Stuff of Legend, which he is a co-creator and co-writer on. The 1st graphic novel of The Stuff of Legend was picked up by Villard, an imprint of Random House, and launched at #2 on the New York Times Paperback Graphic Novel list.
Zach is a comic book illustrator who has been nominated for an Eisner Award for Best Single Issue in 2010 and has been nominated for a Scream Award. Zach has worked for Marvel, DC, IDW, Image, Dark Horse, Boom, and Simon & Schuster with notable works including Batman, Spiderman, Aliens: Almost human, The Hulk, Shaun of the Dead, and The Cape. To focus on the creator owned side of the comic’s medium, Zach has left the comforts of the mainstream industry, and has been busy producing indie projects.
Austin worked for Hasbro to re-develop The Transformers as an Animated TV series. He wrote and developed the animated series The Geezleys in a partnership with Kelsey Grammer and several projects for Disney. Austin also wrote the story for Show Dogs sold to New Line Cinema. Austin created a company called MediaTrip to produce original animation properties using the Internet for marketing and distribution and later partnered with Revolution Studios (Black Hawk Down, Anger Management & XXX). MediaTrip achieved critical acclaim including the Entertainment Weekly #4 ranking “Internet Phenom of the Year”, Fortune Magazine Best Entertainment sites of the Year, and an A+ rating from Entertainment Weekly.