They have recently sought to publish their own work, but this time they decided to try their hand with the website Kickstarter. For those that don't know, Kickstarter is a website where budding creative entrepreneurs post their ideas and every day citizens pledge money to fund their dream project. The whole process is very reminiscent of how PBS does their funding as depending on how much you pledge will determine what kind of bonus package you will get.
Their premise was simple, raise enough money to self publish the first book. Their goal was $11,500 and they gave themselves a month to do it. I'm happy to say that they reached their goal in under half that time with the rest of the money raised going to further fund the series down the road. I got a chance to talk with Ellis and Gallaher about the project, the comic, and self-publishing in general.
Aaron Albert: You have had success with traditional and digital publishing, why the sudden change to self publishing? What are the pros and cons of going this route?
Steve Ellis: It's really not that sudden for us. We've always been interested in trying out new ways of creating projects and Kickstarter gives us the opportunity to take the time to develop the project the way we want. The project doesn't fit with most of the traditional comic publishers’ models.
David Gallaher: I think Kickstarter allows us to also narrow the gap between our online and print audience.
What are the pros and cons of going this route?
Steve Ellis: The pro is we can get the funding to make an ambitious project possible. The con is the uncertainty of the process... Waiting to find out the results is hard. It also puts you out in the world in a different way. You are relying on the fans to validate the project, and to help make it real. You are asking people to buy a project ahead of time.
David Gallaher: Exactly, our fans are putting their money on us and our project – sight unseen. And that can create some anxiety, which is absolutely a con. But, the pro, of course is that if feels good to see that something your putting out into the wild is getting attention and love.
What made you decide on Kickstarter to raise the money?
Steve Ellis: It seemed like a great platform to reach thousands of people and get their help funding the project. It has a great reputation of getting people their projects out there.
David Gallaher: It allowed us to do the project on our timetable.
How has the process been in working with Kickstarter? Would you recommend it to other creators or even new creators looking to break into the business?
Steve Ellis: The process has been a good one so far. The support from friends and fans and family has been fantastic, I don't know if it would be possible without the reputation we've built with fans over the last few years of creating compelling stories.
David Gallaher: Making the video was probably the most difficult from a logistical perspective, but the rest of it has been pretty great. I’d certainly suggest it.
You’ve created a ton of rewards for different pledge amounts, why so many?
David Gallaher: Five years of working with Steve on projects like High Moon and Box 13 have shown me that are fans have a broad range of interests. We created a reward palette that reflects the feedback and experiences we’ve received a shows and conventions.
It seems like this aspect of Kickstarter is a large part of the draw for people to pledge, do you agree with that?
Steve Ellis: Well, again, the pledge is a sort of pre-order mechanic that allows us to make the books, so the incentives are just extra carrots to throw in to encourage people to help us out.
If this is successful do you have plans for other Kickstarter campaigns?
Steve Ellis: Right now we're only thinking about this. I know some people have turned it into a veritable business of doing one Kickstarter after another, but I want to focus on this project right now.
David Gallaher: And if we exceed our goal, we’ll putting the extra funding towards the development of the rest of the series.
Tell us a little bit about The Only Living Boy? How did the idea for the comic book come about?
David Gallaher: It initially started a handful of years ago when they had shut down my block to film I AM LEGEND with Will Smith. From there the project grew, expanded, and transformed into something that really aligned with our previous work, but was very different at the same time. Basically, the story is about a boy with a fractured memory who finds himself on a fractured planet, lost, lonely, and bewildered. It’s a coming of age story – but with influences in things like Flash Gordon, John Carter, and the Jungle Book.
Since the launch, the response has been pretty amazing. You’ve raised over half of your goal in the first eight days? How does that feel?
Steve Ellis: It's a great feeling to know that people value the past work you've done and are willing to take a chance on a new project.
David Gallaher: Overwhelming and inspiring. We’re absolutely grateful for the support of our fans.
It seems like we are coming upon an age where publishers are going to be less and less needed with digital publishing and concepts like Kickstarter. Is this a good thing for comic books?
Steve Ellis: I think comics are growing with the times...there will be some kind of direct comic market in the foreseeable future, but these alternatives offer the opportunity to creators to stretch their legs in a way that many of the major publishers can't or won’t do.
David Gallaher: The greatest stories I’ve read from the greatest creators I’ve admired have always taken chances. Kickstarter gives new creators the opportunities to take those same sort of risks once more.
Good luck guys and thank you for taking the time to be interviewed!
If you wish to further their dream and see more of The Only Living Boy in print, check out their Kickstarter page. You have until March 31st, 2012 to pledge!