Saturday, 23 August 2014

Funding Friday: The Saturday Edition! Comics & Crowdfunding News

Having skipped one week of this Funding Friday blog (I was busy, and it was going to be hard to follow that Twitter conversation with Neil Gaiman), I am pleased to announce that Johnny Canuck: The Return of a Lost Golden Age Hero, by Rachel Richey, is fully funded!

Thanks to you lot the campaign hit its goal of $23,000 four days ago, and the money hasn't stopped. Four hours ago we hit a stretch goal of $25K, ensuring that the reprinted volume will credit the names of all its backers, immortalizing you in print as someone who helped bring the Canadian Whites back to life. Rachel and Johnny have their sights set on the next goal, $30K, which will upgrade the entire print run to hardcover! This bodes well, as my hardcover Nelvana volume is truly a thing of beauty.

I've also had the absolute pleasure of watching art in progress. Following Scott Chantler on Instagram is a treat; you can see some of his work progress from thumbnails, to pencils, to inks, and it's pretty damn cool. With the last Kickstarter update in my inbox came the news that Scott's piece of original art for the campaign is FINISHED, though sadly already scooped up. I promptly fist-pumped in the air, because YES! it is scooped me! I could not be more excited to have this stunning piece of comics Canadiana proudly displayed on my wall.

And now, without further pumping of my own tires, and with no more ado, I present...

Concrete Martians Part Two 
by Keith Grachow and Mitch Cook

Those radio people, man...
Let us set the stage.

October 30, 1938. It was a dark and stormy night in Concrete, WA, a fitting prelude to Halloween. Much of America was sitting around their radios, listening to ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his famous doll, Charlie McCarthy. Anxious to skip over the musical interlude and return to the show they impatiently twiddled their dials...and found a news bulletin. It seemed innocuous at first, a discussion of weather and meteorological intricacies, until a Chicago astronomer reported observing "several explosions of incandescent gas occurring at regular intervals on the planet Mars". Then reports came in of an unidentified object crashing into a field outside Grover's Mill, NJ. Tension built, exacerbated by the thrashing winds and flashing lightning outside, culminating in a tortured declaration issued from radio speakers across America...


And then the power went out.

It was, of course, the night of Orson Welles' infamous War of the Worlds broadcast, an ingenious radio drama adapted from H.G. Wells' novel by the same name. Tuning in late on that fateful night, the residents of Concrete missed hearing Welles' opening disclaimer. When the power quit and the phones went down, cutting them off from the rest of the country, panic set in. This is approximately where Mitch Cook and Keith Grachow's first issue of Concrete Martians left us back in March when the book premiered at Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, 96 miles from the story's setting. The story follows sheriff Ted "Teddy" Wilson in his struggle to maintain order as bedlam overtakes this small northwestern industry town. As the promotion video for their campaign states,
See what happens when a harmless radio play conspires with mother nature to bring a small town to the edge. 
The broadcast was and is an iconic moment in America's history. The nation was poised on the brink of a second world war. Hitler's Germany was a brooding force on the other side of the world, the threat of invasion heavy on the minds of the Western world. Radio was the only non-print news and entertainment source available. In print, it was a golden age of Science Fiction; pulps in the Gernsbackian tradition were in full swing, fan zines were sweeping the nation, and the first superhero had appeared earlier that year. Welles' timing was impeccable; the War of the Worlds broadcast was his Halloween prank on America, the equivalent "of dressing up in a sheet, jumping out of a bush and saying, 'Boo!'" (in the words of the master dramatist himself). As the campaign page states, "The power that radio displayed in those early days of mass media showed us that, even without meaning to, the theatre of the mind can and often does wreak havoc amongst the masses." Would that we were still so new to media that we could find ourselves awash with that kind of wonder.

Sucker for nostalgia that I am (you may or may not have noticed, I don't know), this campaign is right up my alley. I thoroughly enjoy seeing projects form around historical events, finding the lesser-known facts, the neglected areas of coverage, and offering a newly crafted perspective on it. Good historical fiction, I think, ought to be both entertaining and informative, and Concrete Martians has pulled together a solid combination of those elements. it!

The rewards are a little steep; the lowest perk on the list sits at $20 (UPDATE! This situation has been remedied; backer rewards are now available at $5 and $10 intervals). The most interesting backer rewards, by far, are the cleverly named original art options: "Alien Andy" (Andy Stanleigh), "Mike Rooth Martian Madness", and "The Crippen Crater" (Jacob Crippen), among others. I'll always advocate for buying original art; it's a superb way to support an artist's career, and it carries the distinct appeal of being something that nobody else will ever have. This campaign's got some sweet art available. Jump on it.

Dan Holst Soelberg's martian art

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