The Outhouse takes a look at some of the coolest comics on Kickstarter, beginning with Michael Neno's The Signifiers!
Kickstarter is the fundraising website that's become a home for comic creators looking to raise funds for their self-publishing projects. Kickstarter allows creators a set amount of time to raise money for a specific project. Projects receive pledges from members of the site to fund the project. However, members only have to fund the site IF the project is the project is 100% backed by the deadline date. If short by even one dollar, the project is left without any funding, giving a certain do or die mentality to the projects on the site. In an effort to provide some of these projects an extra boost, Kickstarter Corner will periodically take a look at Kickstarter projects that look to provide a something fresh and different to the world of comics.
Our first project comes from our own Michael Neno, a Columbus, Ohio creator that posts on the Outhouse as Fandral_the_Wasted. Neno is the creator of The Signifiers, whose first issue received rave reviews from Comics Bulletin and IndiePulp blog.
"The Signifiers takes place in a world of chaos and mutations, where a civil war is being fought against and for a mysterious, mind-altering presence called The Voyst," explained Neno, when asked about the series. "The characters introduced in the first issue, Splash, Thelma (once normal, now a dog) and Val Crocodile, Associate Professor of Linquistics, live in a sealed off neighborhood, Millbrook, originally designed as a haven. Someone on the outside, though, wants Splash dead..."
Neno admitted that The Signifiers was a hard series to categorize. "It's comedic and serious," stated Neno. "It's cosmic in scope but intimate and autobiographical. It has some of the trappings of '60s and '70s genre comics and '40s adventure strips but is no way meant to be retro or a homage to anything. The series is "about" my own, sometimes inscrutable personal concerns." Neno's influences include a variety of film directors including Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Buster Keaton, Paul Thomas Anderson, David Mamet and Jacques Tati. Neno also stated that music factors very heavily into his work. "The book is also drenched in music of all sorts, as is my drawing process," stated Neno. One of the most prominent examples of this is the trailer to The Signifiers #2, which features a dark trippy soundtrack provided by the Squealing Eels. Neno also stated that his work was influenced by Jack Kirby. "I should mention that all of my work is in some way indebted to the example of Jack Kirby's '70s work, " Neno said. "Wherein he packed his own very personal philosophic and satirical concerns into, what seemed on the surface, just mainstream genre material."
This is not Neno's first foray into the Signifiers' Universe. "The Signifiers Universe is comprised of several series all taking place on the same timeline," Neno said. "This Eternal Flaw and Larvae Boy, Emperor of the Insect World previously debuted in my Xeric Grant-funded Reactionary Tales. Landlark the Heat-Seeking Dwarf (the backup series in The Signifiers #1 will be getting his own book in late 2011) while The Signifiers is the "main" series." Copies of the first issue of The Signifiers can be found at many local Columbus record and book stores, including mainstays such as The Laughing Ogre, Lost Weekend, World's Greatest Comics, Packrat Comics and Spoonful Records. Copies of both Reactionary Tales and The Signifiers #1 can also be found online at Neno's website.
The Signifiers was not only praised by various comic book blogs and website, it also received high praise from other creators, such as Tom Scioli and Paul Pope. Pope stated that The Signifiers was one of the strangest and coolest comics he had read last year. "Unfortunately," Neno said. "The good reviews didn't translate into orders from retailers through Diamond. " Neno explained that despite sending promotional materials to many hundreds of retail shops across the US, the UK and Canada, the first issue didn't sell enough issues through Diamond for the company to distribute the second issue.
Neno turned to Kickstarter to help distribute the second issue. The Kickstarter funds would allow Neno to print the minimum number of comics allowed by comiXpress, a printer for independent comics. The Signfiers #2 would be 52 pages long with illustrations in black and white.
So far, Neno has raised about 46% of his goal of $1,500. "Kickstarter's provided a good showcase to present the book and get the word out from a venue that readers are already checking out," said Neno. "Of course, if my goal isn't met by June 5th at 5:51 pm, it all goes down in flames (well, not totally - I can still contact those who pledged and provide a similar deal). " Neno has provided a variety of incentives for backers of his project, including signed copies of The Signifiers #2, a Signifiers coffee mug and a sketch of characters from the Signfiers universe.
Neno expressed hope that Kickstarter and his patrons would fund the project. "It would be gratifying and helpful to make Kickstarter's faith in the viability of the project not be totally misguided," Neno said. "I'm nearly halfway to the goal. Readers who liked The Signifiers #1, who enjoy my work or who just want to try a comic book that's not - and not trying to be - assembly line work by numbers, please consider supporting this indie venture!"
If you're interested in supporting The Signifiers #2, click here for more info.
Written or Contributed by: Christian Hoffer