Posts tagged kickstarter

“NAILED IT!” World’s First Nerd Nail-Art


Espionage Cosmetics launches premier

Nail-Art Line via Kickstarter

You’ve seen the Espionage Cosmetics team at every con you’ve attended in the last 3 years. You’ve played with the tiny Jayne hats that top the Browncoats collection, and you’ve squeed over the facebook pics of Bonnie Burton and Felicia Day with the shadows as you sign up for giveaways hosted by your favorite bloggers. Here’s what’s next from your favorite purveyors of geek-chic cosmetics…
Final PromoNAILED IT! On August 5, 2013, Espionage Cosmetics—the makers of hugely popular mineral make-up by and for nerds—launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign ( for their latest product line, “NAILED IT!,” the world’s first nail-art line designed exclusively for nerds and lovers of all things glitter. 8 nerd-inspired designs are printed on high-quality, self-adhesive nail wraps that can be filed to a custom fit, with the potential to unlock up to 24 nerd-tastic designs. According to Espionage Cosmetics representatives, NAILED IT! is designed for “those of us who don’t have the time or talent to make our nails look like a Pinterest board.”

NAILED IT! is designed with you and your crazy eclectic, nerdy interests in mind. How about these gems: Cthulhu-inspired glitter tentacle wraps; turtle nails with glitter masks and googly eyes (googly eyes!); zombie nails dripping with glitter blood… and that’s just the first level of products available for pre-order on the Kickstarter.

Not just another Kickstarter. Espionage representatives say, “We know everyone is so tired of hearing about Kickstarter. That’s why we’re using this like a pre-order. Instead of rewards, you get the actual product, and help to fund the line for other customers.” Espionage Cosmetics is aiming for a goal of $20,000 in pre-orders with an “unlock achievement” feature, where sales past the goal unlock bigger rewards for all subscribers. As soon as the first achievement is unlocked, everyone who has ordered product at or above $100 automatically gets more nail-art—for free!—in their cart.

After the Kickstarter, for those who can’t make it to Espionage Cosmetics table at a convention, your best bet is to head over to… they’ll be carrying the entire line in fall 2013.

The NAILED IT! Kickstarter includes products and rewards at every price point, from $15 to $10,000 and several points in-between. What does that get you? Some examples: $15 for a single nail-art set; $200 for a grab bag of Espionage Cosmetics products valued at $300; at $10,000 you can “Get Espionage’d.” At that level, you’re invited into Espionage Cosmetics design studios where the creative team (whose work has been published in Rolling Stone and other big-name publications) will design and shoot a photo concept for you, including professional wardrobe, hair, make-up, and graphic design. “This offer is ideal for people who are rebranding an existing product, getting started with a new business, or for anyone who just wants to live out an ultimate cosplay or fantasy photo-shoot experience.

Circuitboard nailsNerd-inspired designs, you say? Other NAILED IT! designs to look forward to include: Cats (“the Internet on your nails,” in high-quality photo format), chain mail, circuit boards, and full sets of glitter nails in versatile colors specifically designed for cosplayers (Black Widow? Wonder Woman? Covered).  Espionage reps say they’re especially excited about the Nebula Nails set: wraps bursting with neon cloud
swirls and black holes. “You can find galaxy designs all over Pinterest and the Internet, but none of them are real, existing nebulas. We’re nerds and we like accuracy, so we scoured the night sky for the prettiest, coolest nebulas.”

Espionage Cosmetics: All girl, all nerd, all amazing. Espionage Cosmetics is a small, woman-owned business based in Tacoma, Washington, creating make-up for nerds, by nerds. “We’re a niche make-up company,” say Espionage representatives. “We have other things going on besides the perfect eyeliner. You’ll see us where we hang out, where our customers hang out. We’re at comic book stores and conventions.” …with the perfect glitter eyeliner, of course. Like you have to ask.

Founded in 2011, the company has seen enormous growth in their niche nerd market. In the last year alone, Espionage Cosmetics has expanded from a living-room operation to a Tacoma-based studio space with 3 fulltime women employees. Bi-monthly product launches and fully produced ad campaigns pour out of the studio manned by a full-time wardrobe master/cosplay expert, an interns and conventions coordinator, and the CEO/artistic director/marketing coordinator (her business card says Glitter Jedi).

NAILED IT! nail art is the latest Espionage Cosmetics product line, joining the newly released lip-gloss lines and the Espionage staple, “Everything Shadow,” a large range of mineral make-up colors that can all be used for 17 different cosmetic uses and counting. Everything Shadow has been featured on the Geeky Hostess, Fashionably Geek, and by popular youtube stars. Espionage also continues to draw clientele from high-profile Nerd Celebrities, including Bonnie Burton, Felicia Day, Chloe Dykstra from Heroes of Cosplay on Sci-Fi
network, and Ashly Burch (the voice of Tiny Tina on Borderlands 2).

Last words? Kickstarter pre-orders will be delivered in December 2013.

TOME by 44FLOOD Kickstarter

44FLOOD is a brand new publishing project comprised of Menton3 (Silent Hill, Monocyte), Kasra Ghanbari (Monocyte), Ben Templesmith (Wormwood: Gentlemen Corpse) and Nick Idell (Owner of Alley Cat Comics, Chicago). It’s a true creator owned company, committed to bringing readers top notch material. The first thing 44FLOOD has planned is a Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of an amazing collaborative art publication called TOME.

TOME will be an annual anthology in an oversized format showcasing world-class artists as they explore a single theme using  comic book, painting, and music mediums.  The first theme of TOME is vampirism. TOME will gather together a huge lineup of artists presenting their unique interpretations of vampirism in whatever form they choose, including artist to artist interviews. The Kickstarter launches today. If you love art, comics and everything they could be, when given the right medium and environment to grow, you must get in on this.

Nick Idell, Menton3, Ben Templesmith, Kasra Ghanbari

Not only will you have the opportunity to be part of the beginning of a huge creation that will packed to the hilt with super talent, you’ll get endless chances to be rewarded with some truly incredible, limited edition swag. I’m not bullshitting you when I say every donation to this Kickstarter will get you something brag worthy.

44FLOOD is a great group of guys with outstanding talent and I promise you that whatever these guys produce will blow you away. Please jump on the Kickstarter page, check out the details and consider supporting TOME. I damn sure will be!

Kickstarter (search for TOME)

44FLOOD on Facebook

44FLOOD Twitter


Kickstarter Campaign: Reprint of Fuzzyface: The Agnew Chainsaw Massacre 3

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with John Chihak about his Kickstarter campaign to fund a reprint of Fuzzyface: The Agnew Chainsaw Massacre 3. I have not yet read Fuzzyface and have contributed to the campaign to make sure that I can! Fuzzyface debuted at the 2010 Phoenix Comic Con and has completely sold out of its initial print. This looks like an amazingly awesome book and I cannot wait to read it! You have until September 18th to contribute!

Do you think that you will be able to reach a new audience with the reprint?
Absolutely. We’re going to have a much larger print run this time around. Plus, with everything I have learned from a few friends about promotion is definitely going to help out. Plus we can also say that we had a successful first run, add quotes and reviews to the table. Knowing that Fuzzyface is not just a comic, but a horror comic gives a whole other outlet of press and promotion. The first three websites that carried the story about us on Kickstarter were horror sites.

Why did you choose kickstarter? With the other options out there what about kickstarter did you like?
Well, in all honesty, last year about this time we attempted to get a Xeric Foundation Grant. Unfortunately we didn’t get it, but the experience has also helped in learning how to promote properly. Kickstarter was a no brainer, cause they are exclusive supporters of art in all its forms. Comics, are a huge part of their funding abilities. Plus there has been a great success rate with them. The guy I learned from had a 3 times over successful funding campaign with Kickstarter. And they promote. In 2010 they had a few panels at San Diego Comic Con on how to promote and fund your comic project. Plus Kickstarter is so easy to use. When I submitted my proposal for the Fuzzyface project they responded within 24 hours. I like that about them. They need projects to promote and I needed to promote a project, and they worked on it super fast.

Is there anything you would have liked to change about the story or do you love it as is?
I love it as is, however, with that being said, we are going to add to it, but not change it. Venus of Necro did such an amazing job with the story that I wouldn’t want to alter it for fear of making it crumble. She put such passion into Fuzzyface that it would be almost immoral if we did anything to alter it. I would like to improve the artwork at places, but I honestly feel it’s the best sequential storytelling I have ever done. And every time Venus saw the artwork as it progressed she just smiled and said for me to keep going in this direction.

We are going to gray scale the pages and reletter them. We’re also going to ad a prologue and epilogue to help the main story flow a little more. And we’ll have some new pinups and two new covers in store. But the main story stays in tact as is.

Do you have any plans for any other books?
Absolutely! There were some people who didn’t get the joke in the title, but it screams for sequels. Venus has been thinking up more Fuzzyface ideas since she finished this story. I can’t reveal too much about that, but I can only say it will be equally hilarious and puppetcidal in nature. Leatherface is my favorite horror icon, but I and so many others grew up with dozens of horror movies and the amazing “heavies” that carried those stories. There are so many possibilities for appeal and story ideas, it’s ridiculous. But that behooves us even more. Plus, I think working with Venus really brings out a lot in me, creatively. She and I know the characters so well, it’s a real symbiotic relationship.

But Anti-Hero Brand Press has been doing comics since 2006. There’s Youth in Asia, where Agnew and the human characters in Fuzzyface come from. The Book of Grrry which is a spin off of YiA, and Got Crayons? Agnew’s colouring book series. In Got Crayons? Agnew dresses up as different pop culture characters from some of our favorite movies, video games, television shows and comics. The series predates Fuzzyface, but was also a catalyst for the graphic novel.

If you were to be a serial killer what would you do with the bodies?
If I told you, I wouldn’t be a very good serial killer would I? I know one thing though, I wouldn’t use a gun. That’s way too easy, and unoriginal.

I have seen a lot of references to Fuzzyface being “Jim Henson meets the Texas Chainsaw massacre” is this a comparison you agree with or no?

I absolutely agree with the comparison. Honestly I would kind of be insulted if people didn’t make that comparison. It’s partially how the whole project happened in the first place. I think it was 2005, I was sitting in Safehouse Espresso Bar in my home town of Tucson and I was drawing in my sketchbook. I drew a picture of Grover, with both arms ripped off and his gut slashed open and stuffing pouring out. It was gonna be a t-shirt design. But then I started to think, what if Agnew took on the persona of Leatherface, but went after the Muppets? It just sat in my head until 2008 when I told Venus about the idea. She immediately jumped up and said, “I’m writing that.”

Venus and I both, like many grew up on the Muppets. The movies, the television show, Muppet Babies, Fraggle Rock and so many other things Jim Henson did. The man is a god in my book. And I won’t throw that term around willy nilly. But when I hit my teens, I started watching horror movies. And that became a new love and passion. And after so many years, I decided the two should come together in yet another passion of mine, comic books.

Official Press Release:

Ever wondered what would happen if a diminutive, chainsaw-wielding, puppetcidal maniac were running amok in the Jim Henson universe?
Of course you have! And here’s your chance to see it in all its printed glory.
Fuzzyface: The Agnew Chainsaw Massacre 3 is the graphic novel that’s a must read. And now, it’s being made available in a reprint campaign on

Originally published and debuted at Phoenix Comic Con 2010 by the comic book imprint Anti-Hero Brand Press, Fuzzyface was written by the enigmatic Venus of Necro and drawn with the original character created by John Chihak, creator of Youth in Asia.

Simon Bisley, the artist behind DC Comics’ “Lobo’s Back,” and Heavy Metal magazine calls Fuzzyface, “Bloody Frankenbear!” Fuzzyface is also supported by the likes of Jimmie Robinson, creator of Bomb Queen from Image Comics and Mike Debaflo, comic book cover artist at Zenescope, not to mention a horde of rabid fans and creators alike.

This press release is already being carried by, (calls the $20 tier, which includes a signed copy of the book, postcard and button, our best reward), and

Fuzzyface is the tale of professional sidekick Agnew Pennyworth, who has ridden around in John Chihak’s backpack in Tucson, Arizona, for the past decade and a half.
One day, Fuzzyface decides he’s going to don the faces of his often furry and usually inebriated victims.
But don’t get the wrong idea, Fuzzyface: The Agnew Chainsaw Massacre 3 is a love story under all the stuffing that hits the fan.

Page One

Fuzzyface will be posted on as a project Friday August 19, 2011. To help fund the project, pledge to the campaign. Only if we reach our goal will backers’ pledges be collected. Our funding goal is $3,500. This will get a large reprinting of the book, buttons, postcards and other promotional material to spread the gospel that is Fuzzyface. If we ecee
We are offering special incentives to our backers . Included are original art from the book, a chance to have your pinup style picture of Fuzzyface added to the graphic novel and in four very special instances, backers will be added to the mayhem where they will be victims of Fuzzyface. Meaning, your likeness will be comic book, puppetized and put into the book and you’ll be one of Fuzzyface’s many victims. Every backer gets something. From a “What Would Fuzzyface Do?” postcarsd or buttons with new artwork, to signed copies of the book, or one of five original pages being offered. Not to mention the eternal thanks and gratitude of two creators who know that sometimes all it takes is a smidge of furry mayhem to make the world a little bit happier.

Writer Venus of Necro lives somewhere in the Western Hemisphere. Fuzzyface is her second time writing comics. The first was G2: The Book of Grrry, which she also collaborated with Chihak. She sends her love to those who support the book and small press.

Illustrator John Chihak lives in Tucson, Arizona with his three baby dogs, Sabu, Foley and Grrry and his sidekick, Agnew Pennyworth. When he’s not coming up with the “next big thing” in comics, he works overnight shifts at a group home for adults with developmental disabilities and on call shifts at Emerge Centers against domestic abuse. To him, Fuzzyface has been the best experience working in comics to date. Oh and his three dogs appear in Fuzzyface too.

Don’t miss this opportunity to be a part of the process of creating a story made by two young up and coming creators in the comic book industry

Untold Tales of the Comic Industry: Documentary in the Works!

It all started with a tweet from comic artist and writer Ben Templesmith announcing to followers that he’s getting involved with a new project that needed some support. Being a fan of his work, I followed the link, expecting some new book or maybe a convention appearance, something like that. The link led to a Kickstarter page for Untold Tales of the Comic Industry, the pet project of Brandon Jerwa and Tom Nord; a collection of interviews conducted behind the scenes at the conventions, in bars and restaurants, anywhere that comic book creators, publishers and supporters are talking and sharing experiences.

I couldn’t wait to hear more about the project and Brandon and Tom were happy to take the time to tell me more.


Melissa: Let’s start with credentials. Where do you fit in to the comic industry?

BRANDON JERWA: I wish I knew! I occupy a fairly unique place in the industry. I’ve written a ton of books over the last 8 years, most of them related to some kind of licensed property (G.I. Joe, Highlander, Battlestar Galactica), but I’ve also managed to break into DC and Vertigo recently. People know my name, I continue to work regularly, and I have some very loyal fans…but I don’t think I’ve even come close to reaching the peak. Most days, I feel like I’m still at the bottom of the mountain in terms of becoming a “big name”.

On the other hand, I’ve had some pretty amazing things happen in my life because of comic books: I’ve been made into a G.I. Joe figure (“Dragonsky”), an honor that led to me becoming a guest on the Game Show Network’s “I’ve Got A Secret” in 2006. In 2010, I represented the U.S. at the FIBDA festival in Algiers, Algeria ( , which was an incredible, overwhelming honor – and I’m returning to the festival this year as well.

And then, of course, there’s this film. Nobody saw that one coming, but I’ve been shocked by the warmth and willingness that my peers have shown to myself and my crew. It makes me think that I might have a firmer footing on the mountain than I thought.

Melissa:  Where did your own love for comics begin?

TOM NORD: Like so many others, my love began at a local grocery store. For obvious reasons, the toy aisle at the grocery store was the most interesting part of the store and as it happens, the comics were right next to the toys. Since it was easier to convince my mother to buy me a comic than a new toy, I quickly picked up the habit. It started with single issues of The Amazing Spider-Man but quickly grew to incorporate any Spider-Man title I could get my hands on. As a kid, I used to be glued to the television whenever the old Spider-Man cartoon was on, so it was just like reacquainting myself with an old friend.

BRANDON: I’m pretty sure my first book was a Marvel Star Wars comic when I was 4 years old, which is a serious bit of foreshadowing for my career. My parents had no problem with me reading comics; I was an excellent reader at a very young age, and there’s no question in anyone’s mind that comics played a big part in that. There were superhero books in those early days as well, Batman and Spider-Man for sure. I was hooked from the get-go.

Melissa: How did the idea for the documentary start?

TOM:  With an excited email from Brandon.

BRANDON: The first pass at this came in the form of an event I was trying to organize here in Seattle before the 2010 Emerald City Comic-Con. I wanted an evening for the fans and creators alike, featuring an open panel discussion with no agenda or promotional imperative attached to it. There are so many incredible conversations that happen when you get a group of comic folks together, but they’re usually restricted to a dinner table or the bar after a convention.

The event didn’t end up happening, but I was left with this sort of crazed desire to keep the concept alive. I had been working on various projects with Thomas Nord for a year or so since he had first approached me to work on a 48 Hour Film project in 2010, so I brought this to him.

Tom deserves ALL of the credit for me being involved with film; the medium had always been of great interest to me, but I certainly didn’t have any means of actually making a movie. After that first 48 Hour Film and a couple of projects with other collaborators that just didn’t come together as we’d hoped, Tom and I (and our partners-in-crime Tim Kurkoski and Jess Neher) started to search for a film to call our own. I was thrilled when the documentary suddenly jumped to the top of the to-do list, because it felt like I could do right by the team. I have nothing but immense love and respect for those three and our extended film family, and I felt confident that we could pull this off. There was still one missing element, however.

Enter Ali Mohsenian and his company, Arc Media. We had worked with Ali very briefly once before, under some fairly tough circumstances for all involved, and it’s fair to say that we all ran away in opposite directions to regroup. Soon enough, we found ourselves talking, and we decided that we’d definitely work together again if the right project came along. When I called Ali for this film, he didn’t even hesitate to say yes. Ali is a consummate professional, and it’s pretty clear to me that fate wanted to put us through the paces before allowing us to come together to make something great. He and his team do this for a living, and I’m reminded of that fact every time I get an email or phone call advising me of some new development.

Melissa: You touch on the subject of comic book characters being discovered through film and other media sources rather than through comics. How do you think this changes the face of the average comic book reader?

TOM: I think the popularity of the movies and games serves as a sort of validation for the industry. More people are picking up a comic book and regarding it as a respectable medium for telling stories instead of just something the nerdy kids read in their parents’ basement.

BRANDON: At the same time, though, I find myself wondering why there’s such a disparity in the size of the audience for a Batman movie or video game versus a Batman comic. I want the people who are shelling out their hard-earned cash on the ancillary media to bring a little something over to the source material. Is that just overprotective thinking on my part? I don’t know, but the fact that two of the people working on this film have different viewpoints on the question is exactly why we’re asking the question in many of our interviews.

Melissa: Do you feel there is an obvious separation between the old school store shoppers and the new fans brought in from TV and film?

TOM: To some degree I suppose that is true. There has been so much talk lately about “this group of readers” and “that group of readers”, but at the end of the day we all love comics. I think it’s important to understand where readers are coming from, but once you’re a part of the world of comics that doesn’t really matter as much.

David Gallaher (video clip)


Melissa: Digital readers have had a big impact on the print industry as far as novels, magazines and newspapers go. Do you think the same impact is being felt in comic books?

TOM: Absolutely. It’s been coming for a while now, and I think to some degree the comics industry has done a better job of embracing it than a lot of other parts of the print industry. The comic industry’s approach has certainly been slower than a lot of their counterparts, but that has mostly served to help as it allowed them to learn from other’s mistakes. For example, DC probably took the longest to jump in to the digital game, but I think the general view of the average reader is that their approach has been largely successful.
The bottom line of going digital is that the industry will be able to reach a much larger audience and that audience will have a lot more to choose from. A lot of small towns simply don’t have local comic shops where kids can go get the latest issue of Superman or The Avengers; the best they can hope is that their local book store or grocery store will carry them. Now, those same kids can get easy access to a much wider selection of comics through their computer instead of a non-comic store rack that is filled by someone who has probably never read a comic themselves. In cases like this it’s a win/win.

Melissa: I feel like women are much more prominent in comic fan culture now then, say, 5 years ago, but you seem to feel comics is not reaching a wide enough audience. Why is that and how do you think comic writers and publishers could change that?

TOM: Women are absolutely more prominent in comics readership than they were 5 years ago, but I think there’s more market potential there that simply isn’t being tapped in to. Some of the most avid readers I know are women, but how many women have ever picked up a comic book? I’m willing to bet that number is a relatively low one. Well, why is that? Hopefully that is something we’ll be exploring a bit more in our documentary. If someone likes to read, why not read comics?

BRANDON: That’s certainly the million-dollar question du jour amongst the fans and within the industry, but nobody has the answer. For every opinion expressed, there’s a hair to be split or a subjective qualifier to be examined.
Right or wrong – and please note that I’m saying I could very well be wrong here – I’m not sure if “making more comics that appeal to women, or people of varied ethnicity, or INSERT CATEGORY HERE” is any kind of catch-all solution, either.
I know women who like Hack/Slash, some who like Spider-Girl, and more than a few who like both, and Incredible Hulk to boot. There are hundreds of comics available every month; if a comic reader – regardless of sex, race or any other specialized designation – can’t find something they like, isn’t there the tiniest chance that they just don’t like comics? Or have they just not been exposed to the right book?
The bottom line for me is simple: We need more readers, period. We need to increase awareness in general, but I’ll be damned if I know the one perfect way to do that.

Melissa: You plan to hit several US cities to interview industry personalities. How do you intend to gather everyone together and nail them down for camera time?

TOM: With donuts. I hear writers and artists alike love donuts, so I figure we’ll leave a few boxes out on a table somewhere and see who bites.

BRANDON: That’s actually not a bad idea, but to give you a serious answer: when we filmed our first set of interviews during Comic-Con, we spent two very long days tracking down the people who had agreed in advance to film their pieces. We ended up with 20 interviews over those two days, but we missed about 15 others due to the chaos of the convention and the limited time-frame we had for shooting.

Our plan for New York and Los Angeles is to book as many people as we can in advance – we’ve already started getting emails from creators on both coasts who heard about this and want to participate – and spend a week in each city working our asses off to get everything. I’m crazy with the charts and checklists when we’re doing this, so it’s an organized strategy. At the same time, you have to be prepared for the random email or sudden opportunity that comes your way due to word of mouth or just dumb luck.

Plus, we’re going to do everything within our power to convince the publishers themselves to open their doors and let us in for a day. This isn’t an intentionally controversial or confrontational documentary, so I’m hoping they’ll realize that we’re doing this out of love for the industry we’re all working in together.

We have an amazing roster of interview subjects here in Seattle and down the road in Portland. What you’re seeing so far is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the talent lineup. And that’s not even factoring in New York and L.A.!

Melissa: I realize this project is still in very early stages of development, but can you share a few of your favorite moments so far?

BRANDON: Lucas Siegel of shared an amazing story with us about his time in the military and how comics related to that experience. Ali and I are both grown men, and we’re standing in the midst of literally thousands of people, getting misty-eyed and sniffly. Sterling Gates left me choked up; I love that guy to begin with, but some of the things he said just reached in and held onto my breath for a minute. The list of examples could go on for a while.

The entire experience has been pretty amazing, and I want to stress again how moved we’ve been by the goodwill and honesty that we’ve seen from our interview subjects.

Melissa: What have been the toughest challenges at this point?

BRANDON: This project requires a lot of work, period. At the end of the day, we’re a very small team that has to perform the functions of a very LARGE team, and all while juggling families and jobs and comic deadlines. I love the work and we’re doing a pretty good job of it so far, but I’d give my right arm for two extra right arms.

Melissa: How has the Kickstarter program been working for you as far as helping to get the film exposure and support?

TOM: I think it’s been great. I’m a big fan of sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I think it’s great that someone can donate to a project and actually feel like a part of the community built around that project instead of just handing someone a check and wishing them luck. Our documentary stems from our shared love of comics; once we decided to go out and raise money for it, tapping in to that love we all share for comics through crowdsourcing seemed like a no-brainer.

Melissa: What sort of big things would you love to see happen in the making of this? Are you just looking to share a unique, inside view of the comic industry or do you hope to make more of an impact?

BRANDON: I want the fans and our peers to see this film and be able to say, “This speaks for us.” But I also want this film to reach beyond the comic fan audience and speak to the world at large on behalf of our industry. If people who don’t understand comics at all can see what we’re made of, and see how much heart, soul and intelligence we have lurking behind the superheroes, robots and monsters, maybe they’ll start thinking differently about comics in general.

TOM: I’d certainly like to see it make some kind of impact. There are so many great discussions going on right now about gender, race, digital distribution, and creator rights that I think it would be fantastic if we were able to contribute to those discussions and bring them to an even larger audience.

Melissa: Any idea at this early stage how long it could take to get the documentary finished and on the market?

TOM: That’s a tough one. Our goal is to certainly be finished by Summer 2012, but a documentary isn’t like your traditional narrative where you can set a schedule with a solid deadline. Part of the fun of a documentary is watching it take twists and turns you never imagined. However, those twists and turns can also affect the schedule in a big way. I’d certainly like to see us meet our goal of Summer 2012, but I also want to make sure we’re accomplishing what we set out to do and if that takes a little longer, so be it.

BRANDON: We have a plan. Of course, plans always change whether you want them to or not, but we’re doing our best to be prepared for those shifts as they come. I hope I don’t sound like a cheeseball when I say that it’s a labor of love, but there’s no better way to describe it. That’s the unifying concept here, and there’s no better motivation that I can think of.

As a comic book lover, I’m super excited about this film and everything it represents. I mean, who doesn’t love to hear their favorite writers and artists talk about how they create, why they create and what inspires them to create? Please check out the links below for more details and help support the documentary by donating to the Kickstarter.

See the trailer here: trailer


And to help make this happen: Kickstarter


Webseries Spotlight on The League of S.T.E.A.M.

With the plethora of web series out there right now, it’s difficult to find one that really captures your imagination. I, like so many others, watched a hilarious silent video for a group called the League of S.T.E.A.M. that reproduced the Ghostbusters, “we’re ready to believe you” commercial. Done in the classic 20’s black and white style, this commercial was gorgeously shot, fascinating to watch and made me laugh out loud. I soon discovered that the League had an entire webseries available and the commercial was simply a teaser for what was to come. As it turns out, I was late to the party. When I started becoming active in the Steampunk community in Los Angeles, I would hear mention of the “League” more often than not and when I hosted my first Steampunk happy hour, most of the League happily showed up for the party. While I was introduced to the lively bunch online, their story goes much further back and is grounded in live-performances. I was lucky enough to speak with a few members of the League recently and found out about their origins, how they journeyed to the web and about their plans for Season 2.

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Baron Andrew Von Fogel shared the charming story of how the League first came to be a little over 3 years ago. The Labyrinth of Jareth is a masquerade ball (that just celebrated its 11th year) and is a beacon to those in the Los Angeles area looking to make a splash with their one-of-a-kind costumes and mechanical inventions. It was there that Von Fogel first met Nick Baumann, his lovely wife Robin Blackburn and several of their friends. Apparently Blackburn herself was the catalyst for the formation of the League with her choice of costume for the evening.

Obsessed with Marie Antoinette and 18th century clothing, Blackburn wanted to add something special to her Labyrinth costume that year and she thought back to the ghosts in the Harry Potter films. “I loved the ghostly texture of their garments, and how that texture was applied to the different time periods of each ghost character.  I was hooked and truly inspired by the detail of the 18th century and the use of texture to create an ethereal look.” Baumann quickly caught onto her idea and decided to join her as a ghost hunter and got a small group of friends together to create a group costume. They were the hit of the ball that year and attracted a lot of attention, including from Von Fogel. The newly-formed group quickly bonded over a love of Steampunk costumes and inventions and they found themselves making a regular appearance at the Labyrinth where they are still a highlight of the festivities every year. This year, two members of the League even got engaged on stage. So sweet!

The League started making public appearances all over Southern California and eventually, the whole country. Their live act became so popular that they decided to find a way to move beyond their geographical limitations. Von Fogel had just gotten out of art school and had the necessary equipment and desire to try making a webseries. They started small, filming “Monkey Business” in Griffith Park in five hours and editing the entire thing themselves. They put it up online and the response was overwhelmingly positive and thus the series was born. As a way to get new viewers hooked, the infamous Ghostbusters homage commercial was filmed and placed online. Von Fogel knew that using “pop-culture shorthand” was a great way to get the attention of anyone who had seen the 80s hit and it was a quick and easy entry to the series.

Post-production on the series is performed by League members and comrades which is impressive to say the least considering the incredibly high production value on the series, including some pretty impressive special effects. Von Fogel does the “color grading on all of our episodes, as well as a lot of the visual effects and compositing.  A lot of these skills are self-taught, and others I learned while studying filmmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design.  We’re also so thankful to have Russ Isler in our group – he’s a very talented visual effects animator, and his help has been invaluable for some of the more difficult effects shots!”

Season One of the League of S.T.E.A.M. contained seven hilarious episodes and even resulted in a spotlight appearance in a Panic at the Disco music video. When asked why she thought the League has become so popular, Blackburn, who plays Lady Potts in the series mused, “maybe it has to do with the “every-person” aspect of what we do.  The characters are the common person with dreams and goals to make things better in their lives.  And though they are constantly met with opposition, many times by their own doing, they get back on their feet and keep going. Or maybe the fans simply love all the cool props and costumes. Or maybe the fans can sense the League is a group of friends with a wild creative streak and an affinity for laughter, that we like to explore and share.  We love what we do, so maybe that’s it.” As a fan of the League myself, I would have to agree with her on all of those points. The series and the group itself are wickedly funny, insanely creative and incredibly grateful for their success.

They have great plans for Season Two of their webseries and of special interest to our readers, Von Fogel announces that “in addition to some more detailed roles for Lady Potts, we’re happy to be adding some great new female characters to our cast, including Ellie Copperbottom – Co-founder of the Jr. League W.A.T.C.H; Katherine Blackmoore – zombie head-basher extraordinaire; and The Russian – cryptozoological researcher!  One of the great things about all of the female characters in the League is that they’re generally smarter and more competent than the men are!”

Just this past weekend, the League reached their funding goal of $10,000 on Kickstarter with the help of their many fans. There’s still a bit more time left on the campaign though, so if you’d still like to donate, they are offering some fantastic incentive packages for donors until August 27th. Additional monies will help them add more locations, monsters and gadgets. I know I’ll be awaiting Season 2 with bated breath and I hope you’ll give these crazy kids a chance if you haven’t already.

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Kickstarter Campaign:

You can catch up on Season 1, find out live appearances & find out more about the League at:

Twitter: @LeagueOfSTEAM

Ascended Masters: Help Fund This Film!

I’m sure many of you have heard about a website called “Kickstarter”. If you aren’t aware of it, it is a way to fund and follow creativity.

Recently I was drawn to a kickstarter campaign for a feature film called Ascended Masters. I had the priviledge of conversing with Shawna Baca, the writer/director and she was gracious enough to answer some questions for me.

How much of the work for the film has already been completed?
The first feature screenplay is complete, II and III are outlined. I have concept art, test visual effects, did some animatics on the short and put together a Vision Book for the trilogy. I am now gearing up to do costume designs.

Your world is extremely well thought out and quite different from the one we currently live in. Are you worried that the story might be lost between massive amounts of exposition?
I have been developing the story for three years now. It is actually set in pre-apocalyptic times and the apocalyptic war that is strategically aligning itself to take place. I’m not worried about expositional dialogue. My screenplay is not just filled with “Watch out…” “Run!” “Move…” I am a storyteller and a filmmaker and it’s my first and foremost job to tell a compelling story that has action scenes that make sense and visual effects that compliment the storytelling of my characters journey.

Your video on kickstarter explains a lot about what the story will include, but is there anything that you realized you had forgotten until after you uploaded it? (happens to me all the time)
There is so much that is not in the Kickstarter video. That would be an hour video explaining who all the Ascended Masters are, who are comprised of the Dark Brotherhood, what the war is really about, the story arc, and all the plot points. It’s so much more than just destroying mankind and Earth. What people see in the video is just an tagline and glimpse of the story. I will say this, it’s centered around one Ascended Master, who has to be born back into human form to fulfill a mission that will end the war.

$20,000 isn’t much of a budget. How did you choose that number as a goal?
$20,000 is not a lot of money when you are trying to add visual effects and stunts into the equation. Any money raised on Kickstarter is going to production insurance costs, costumes, special effects make up, wire and rigging equipment, visual effects and post costs. If you add those numbers up, we still have to depend on some favors, friends and family rates, and in-kind sponsorships. The idea of making a small piece/short film of the feature trilogy is to showcase the world I am trying to create. Also, being a female writer/director in the sci-fi world is an uphill battle. I thought it was important to get a jumpstart.

Is this your first kickstarter venture? How did you come upon that site?
Yes, this is my first venture. A few friends of mine had projects on the site. I thought I should give it a try, move with the current trend and also really to get the word out about what I’m trying to do. I’ve listened to some audio lectures that Thomas Mai, conducted on crowd-funding platforms and social media. He talked about how social media is a good tool to see if there is an audience your film. People on the internet are not afraid of expressing their opinions and they will tell you if your concept sucks or not. Fortunately, I have received a lot of messages from people all over the world, who have expressed a liking towards my Ascended Masters project. That’s a good sign! Now, I guess I put it out in the universe and I will have to see what she brings back!

What drove you to put your project up on kickstarter?
I have never raised money through a crowd-funding platform before. It’s a whole new thing for me. Although, social networking and crowd-funding are now coming to the forefront because of where we are at with technology. Today, I can reach out to people I don’t know across the world, that I would have never been able to reach to before. That’s exciting. I think Kickstarter is a having a great impact on fulfilling artists dreams for those projects that are successful. I think it gives more independent filmmakers power to create. It’s harder to rely on production companies and studios to read your projects and greenlight them. This way, you are getting out there.

I finished my barrage of questions by asking her to tell me in 140 characters or less what Ascended Masters is about.
“Ascended Masters is about a group of celestial beings who descend down to Earth to stop the Dark Brotherhood (an allegiance of Underworld Gods and demons) from killing off mankind and destroying Earth.”

Technically, she went over by 60 characters, but she’s a writer so I’m amazed she reigned it in that much. 🙂

Please visit the Ascended Masters kickstarter page for more information on the feature. The pledges need to reach $20,000 by April 22, or all of the current pledges will be refunded.

To find the Kickstarter Page for Ascended Masters and/or to make a pledge, please click here:
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