Exclusive Preview | Take a look at Vince Locke’s artwork from ‘Essentials’

The graphic novel by Luke Arnold, Chris ‘Doc’ Wyatt and a host of artists will wrap up its crowdfunding campaign this week.

With less than three days left on the clock, we’re pleased to present an exclusive preview of Essentials, the graphic novel by Luke Arnold, Chris “Doc” Wyatt and a host of artists that’s currently winding down its crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.

Essentials is about a mathematician who predicted the end of the world but failed to prevent it. He discovers there are other survivors, but they’re trapped in alternate “dream” realities full of zombies, robots, mythical creatures and more. Each of these alternate realities will be illustrated by a different artist, including Vince Locke, Andrea Mutti, MK Perker, Brendan McCarthy, DaNi and Jason Howard, with colors by Jordie Bellaire, Brad Simpson and Wesley Wong, and lettering by DC Hopkins.

Today we’re sharing pages from Locke’s chapter, which appropriately is set in a reality filled with zombies.

“Somehow Essentials feels deeply personal but also the greatest collaboration I could hope to be a part of,” Arnold said. “I love writing novels on my own, but a comic is always going to be a group project, and it’s all about embracing and celebrating that partnership. Because what we write isn’t going to an audience, it’s going to a team of dedicated, talented artists who turn our dreams into reality. And then there’s The Lab, who have been with us the whole way, pushing to make this book as impactful as possible.”

Arnold told me when we initially talked about the project that he and Wyatt were afraid their publisher, the Lab Press, might shut them down when they suggested using different artist for each reality. But they were into it.

“The people at The Lab Press are deeply, deeply weird people,” Wyatt said. “Just hanging out with them, you’re like– these are strange people. Really. It’s a lot. But it worked great for us, because we had a strange story, and they were excited to publish it.”

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Smash Pages Q&A | Luke Arnold + Chris ‘Doc’ Wyatt on ‘Essentials’

The writing duo discusses their crowdfunding project for the new graphic novel from The Lab Press.

Luke Arnold is an actor and writer best known for his roles as Long John Silver in Black Sails and INXS frontman Michael Hutchence in Never Tear Us Apart. His first novel The Last Smile in Sunder City came out in 2020 as part of the ongoing series The Fetch Phillips Archives.

Chris “Doc” Wyatt is a writer and producer whose work includes independent films like Napoleon Dynamite and Coyote, as well as animated series like Rocket and Groot, Lego Ninjago: Dragons Rising, Ultimate Spider-Man, Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and many more. He’s also written comics for Marvel, Dark Horse, 1First Comics and more.

Together, they are the writing team for Essentials, a new graphic novel coming from the newly formed The Lab Press. The story centers on a mathematician who predicted the end of the world but failed to prevent it. He discovers there are other survivors, but they’re trapped in alternate realities full of zombies, robots, mythical creatures and more.

Each of these alternate realities will be illustrated by a different artist, including Vince Locke, Andrea Mutti, MK Perker,Brendan McCarthy, DaNi and Jason Howard, with colors by Jordie Bellaire, Brad Simpson and Wesley Wong, and lettering by DC Hopkins. Bill Sienkiewicz provides a chilling main cover.  

The graphic novel is currently up on Kickstarter, and has already reached its goal. (Please note that the interview was conducted prior to the project’s launch). I spoke with Arnold and Wyatt about the project, working with seven different artists and what’s “Essential” in this story. My thanks to them both for their time.

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Crowdpuncher | Comics Are Dying, Vampires on Mars, Tanga + more

Check out crowdfunding campaigns you can support by Louis Southard, Kevin Maguire, Oliver Mertz and Alex Diotto, and more.

Welcome to Crowdpuncher, where we round up cool comics crowdfunding campaigns. If you’re looking to biy from or support a creator directly, you’ve come to the right place.

If there are two axioms about comics that you hear over and over, it’s that they’ll break your heart and that they’re dying. Writer Louis Southard is taking one of those axioms and running with it in the anthology Comics Are Dying: The Comic.

For the better part of a century, people have said that comic books are dying. Crisis after crisis, the comic book industry has survived and lives to this day. So, to celebrate its harrowing journey into the 21st century, a satirical OGN about the history of comic books has taken shape. Introducing the ironically named Comics Are Dying: The Comic – a brief history and celebration of the comic book industry!

Southard has written 100 single-page stories about the comics industry that are being drawn by artists like Roger Langridge, Jacob Edgar, Beetle Moses, Ben Matsuya, Andrew Farago, Angela Wu and more.

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Take a look at one of the stories from the ‘Death of Comics Bookcase’ anthology

Zack Quaintance and a host of great artists are crowdfunding an anthology of stories as told by a talking bookcase.

Comics blogger Zack Quaintance left his former blog, Comics Bookcase, behind a few years ago, but now he’s circling back to finish it off in Death of Comics Bookcase, Vol. 1, which is now up on Kickstarter.

“I shut down my comics site a couple years ago to focus on creating comics,” Quaintance said. “Now, I’m dusting it off to tell the tale of the titular Bookcase’s demise. There will be blood…and bookcases…and comics. It’ll be great!”

The 48-page anthology features six stories, all written by Quaintance and featuring artwork by Anna Readman, Nick Cagnetti, Luke Horsman, PJ Holden, Pat Skott, Ryan Lee and more.

Courtesy of Quaintance, we’re pleased to share a preview of one of the stories from the anthology titled Next Door #2, a “subtle neighborhood crime short” that follows up the 2021 comic Next Door, which features art by Skott, colors by Ellie Wright and letters by Rob Jones. You can check out the preview and more information about the book below.

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Oni’s ‘Cult of the Lamb’ comic crowfunds more than $200K on its first day

The campaign will run on Kickstarter through April 11.

Earlier today Oni Press launched a Kickstarter for a new Cult of the Lamb comic, based on the video game of the same name. Within six minutes, the campaign hits its measly $10,000 goal, and a few hours later was well over $200,000 in pledges.

If you’re not familiar with Cult of the Lamb, it’s a roguelike crossed with a social simulation game — kind of like if Hades and Animal Crossing had a baby, and that baby let you run your own cult. Your character is Lamb, who begins the game being resurrected by an ancient deity and then begins gathering his followers and exploring dungeons. It’s a clever, addictive game that is both super cute and disturbing at the same time. The game’s deveklopers, Devolver Digital and Massive Monster, recently released new DLC for the game, Sins of the Flesh.

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Smash Pages Q&A | Sarah Byam on ‘Billi 99’

The writer of one of Tim Sale’s first comics projects talks about the new hardcover being crowdfunded by Clover Press.

Before Long Halloween, Superman for All Seasons or the various shades of Marvel miniseries like Hulk: Gray and Daredevil: Yellow came Billi 99, the first major comics work of Tim Sale.

The legendary artist teamed with writer Sarah Byam on the project, which was first published in black and white by Dark Horse back in 1991. The four-issue miniseries told the story of a teen vigilante, Billi Chadam, who took up her father’s sword to battle corporate greed and a corrupt government.

And now, more than 30 years later, Billi 99 is back. Clover Press is currently crowdfunding a hardcover collecting the almost 200-page story, with added color by José Villarrubia. The project has surpassed its goal by a landslide, and offers several editions and add ons in addition to the hardcover.

I spoke with Byam about the project, the addition of color, and what it means to see her and Sale’s vision for Billi 99 realized.

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Smash Pages Q&A | Zac Atkinson on ‘The Omega Eleven’

The artist talks about his inspiration for the project, creating his own versions of well-known characters and more.

Last week James Aquilone and Zac Atkinson’s Kickstarter for The Omega Eleven #1 launched, making short work of its goal in a matter of hours. The comic series stars history’s greatest thieves in a time travel heist, as they attempt to steal the Philosopher’s Stone from Merlin.

I spoke with Aquilone about the project when it launched, and today I’m happy to share my interview with Atkinson. We talk about his inspiration for the idea behind the series, his character designs for well-known characters like Merlin and Artful Dodger, and more.

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Smash Pages Q&A | ‘The Omega Eleven’ creators James Aquilone + Zac Atkinson

The duo are crowdfunding their latest collaboration, a comic about history’s greatest thieves attempting to steal the Philosopher’s Stone from Merlin.

What do you do when you need to steal a powerful artifact from history’s greatest wizard? Assemble a team of history’s greatest thieves, of course. That’s the premise behind The Omega Eleven, a five-issue series by Bram Stoker Award-winning writer James Aquilone and Young Justice and Teen Titans artist Zac Atkinson.

The story follows time traveler Doctor Omega and his companion Jack Dawkins, aka The Artful Dodger, as they recruit a team to travel to Camelot to steal the Philosopher’s Stone from Merlin. 

The campaign to fund the first issue of The Omega Eleven is live on Kickstarter, where it has already met its funding goal. This isn’t Aquilone’s first crowdfunding rodeo — through his publishing company Monstrous Books, he’s funded projects like the Kolchak: The Night Stalker 50th anniversary graphic novel, the prose collection Dead Detectives Society and the first issue of the pulp/horror-themed Monstrous Magazine. A new, second issue of Monstrous is a reward in this current campaign.

Aquilone was kind enough to answer my questions, and even pulled in Atkinson on some of them as well.

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Image will publish ‘Drawing Blood’ as a 12-issue series

Originally crowdfunded as a graphic novel, the series fictionalizes Kevin Eastman’s life as a comics creator.

Drawing Blood, the semi-autobiographical tale of Kevin Eastman’s rise in the comics world that was successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter back in 2017, is coming to Image Comics as a 12-issue maxi-series in April.

“The completely fictional true stories of Shane ‘Books’ Bookman sums it up the best,” said Eastman. “Set squarely in our collective world of Comics, part autobiographical, part tall tails and legends, I wanted a fictional character we could really put through the paces. Drawing Blood is all that and a basket of kittens…”

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Mat Groom + Kelly McMahon crowdfund a 1920s speakeasy-themed ‘Bad Blood’ card game

The campaign, which includes a comic by Groom and artist Nicoletta Baldari, launches on Kickstarter today.

When I spoke with Mat Groom a few weeks ago about the Kickstarter campaign for the second volume of Inferno Girl Red, he mentioned he was working with designer Kelly McMahon on a 1920s-themed murder mystery card game called Bad Blood. The crowdfunding campaign for the game is now live, and not only did Groom write the game, but he also wrote a tie-in comic for it.

The comic features artwork by Nicoletta Baldari and is available via one of the many tiers being offered to backers of the campaign. The comic provides some of the back story for the game, showing what life was like for Dee Dumas, the murder victim, and Joseph Field, the journalist who would wind up investigating her death (and who you play as in the card game), before the murder.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve been enthralled by the mystery genre, be it film, television, literature or a good old fashion internet stalk, I love to be the detective!” said McMahon, a graphic designer and illustrator based in Los Angeles by way of Melbourne, Australia. “The romanticized glamor of the 1920s masquerades for the realities of the era. A ritzy elegant design, lavish lifestyles and devious underground happenings. There is a similar romance in moving your life to the otherside of the world, the dream sparkles but the reality is much less polished. All of this led to Bad Blood, my idea for a card game and murder mystery experience that harkens back to my love of the 1920s and my love for a good whodunnit.” 

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Smash Pages Q&A | Joshua Viola on ‘True Believers’

The writer and owner of the publishing house Hex Publishers discusses his new comic with co-writer Stephen Graham Jones and artist Ben Matsuya about cosplay gone very wrong.

This weekend the Colorado Festival of Horror returns to Denver, giving fans the chance to interact with creators, actors and more, and even dress up like their favorite slashers, from Jason to Freddie to … Killr™?

If you aren’t familiar with Killr™, don’t fret — this serial killer is a new creation debuting in the pages of True Believers by Joshua Viola, Stephen Graham Jones and Ben Matsuya. The trio has teamed up to tell the fictional story of cosplay gone wrong at the very real festival.

Viola, who in addition to being a writer is also the publisher and owner of Denver-based Hex Publishers, was kind enough to answer some questions about True Believers, which is currently on Kickstarter.

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Smash Pages Q&A | Mat Groom returns to discuss the second ‘Inferno Girl Red’

The writer returns to the Massive-Verse for the second volume of the graphic novel series, which is currently up on Kickstarter.

Following a very successful campaign on Kickstarter for the first book back in 2021, Mat Groom, Erica D’Urso and the rest of the team have returned to crowdfund Inferno Girl Red Book Two. The new campaign is currently live.

If you aren’t familiar with Inferno Girl Red, it’s one of the many titles that make up the Massive-Verse, the collection of titles overseen by Kyle Higgins that include Radiant Black, The Dead Lucky and Rogue Sun, among others. It combines Groom’s love of tokusatsu superheroes and boarding school dramas, and it looks great thanks to D’Urso, colorist Igor Monti, letterer Becca Carey and design group For The People.

At press time, the campaign has brought in just over $45,000, which is more than halfway to its $85,000 goal. I spoke with groom about the new campaign, what he learned from the first one, how Inferno Girl Red fits into the Massive-Verse and more. He also shares a few details on his involvement with the upcoming Bad Blood playing cards/murder mystery game.

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