Crowdfunding Digital Heaven with ELYSIUM ONLINE OGN

What if the social network extended into the afterlife?

 

What if you could interact with electronic copies of your lost loved ones in a digital paradise?

And what if they don’t want to be preserved…and strike back at the real world?

To find out the answer, help out the Indiegogo campaign for Elysium Online, a graphic novel from writer/artist Illias Kyriazis (IDW’s Ghostbusters and Galaxy Quest books, the Zuda comic Melody and most recently a Vampirella Annual at Dynamite).

To publish the book as a 96-page full-color original graphic novel, Kyriazis has taken to crowdfunding, offering a 12-page preview of the finished book on his site along with multiple special offers for contributors, including original art from the book and commissions from some of his artist friends. He’s also gotten support for the books from the likes of Mark Waid, Mike Allred and Mike Carey.

With the initial campaign halfway over, Kyriazis has already raised almost $5,000 of his $7,500 goal. We talked with him about Elysium Online, his campaign to date, and how he created this unique apocalypse.

Newsarama: Illias , what's your reaction to the campaign's success so far?

Illias Kyriazis: I'm cautiously optimistic. We have a good, steady pace and I believe that the goal is within our reach. After we hopefully succeed, well… then I’m opening the champagne and kissing each and every one who supported us. 

 

Nrama: Why did you decide to go the Indiegogo route?

Kyriazis: I had difficulty finding the right publisher. Not mainstream enough for some, too mainstream for others. The more I looked into it the more attractive crowdfunding looked.

Also after a series of work-for-hire projects I wanted to… reconnect with the readers, if that makes sense. To get my hands dirty and to do everything myself and have no one come between me and the reader.

Nrama: Given that you've gotten a lot of the funding very quickly in the campaign, what are your plans if the results exceed your initial requests?

Kyriazis: If things go well we’d like to beef up the softcover edition, maybe even start thinking about a hardcover? And if we manage to have a decent print run, I’d like to see this comic have distribution into comic book stores.

Also, many people helped build this campaign without asking for money – nevertheless, I’d like to see them get some.

Nrama: On to the book – how did the initial idea for Elysium Online come about? 

 

Kyriazis: It goes way back. I was – still am, I guess – very into social media. One day an artist I was following passed away, and you could see his fans going to his page and leaving comments. It was quite touching. People kept writing, and I could see his profile pic whenever someone mentioned him and – while there were no new posts, of course — his profile seemed “in use.”

And I started to think… “What if?”

Nrama: What sort of research did you have to do for creating the environment and the future world?

Kyriazis: I won’t call the countless hours I spend on social media “research.” (laughs) It’s a subject that I know well by now. As for the future environment, I wanted it to look just like our world.

In fact the only difference and the only reason this is not set in the present was that I wanted everything to have net access. We’re what, a few years from that? 

 

Nrama: Tell us about your process for creating the book – I'm especially interested in the color scheme, which is very vivid and unique.

Kyriazis: Thank you. I really like flat colors. I focus all my energy on palette and color choice, and don’t care much about rendering and gradient transitions and such. I tried the more “Mainstream American” type of coloring, but it’s not for me – meaning I suck at it.

As for the rest of the process, I think it’s pretty typical: Script, pencils, inks… just as if this was done by a team. Most of the book was written at Starbucks, because the only way for me to write is if there’s no computer, TV or comics around. Then, it was drawn at a steady pace until I had to set it aside to take some paying work.

Nrama: How did the sequences by Dimitrios Kasdaglis with the ads for Elysium come about?

Kyriazis: Dimitrios is a successful illustrator over here, and I was in awe of his work ever since I first saw it. I was always pestering with to do more comics. He’d do a four-page story, win all the awards, and then go back to doing children’s books. Infuriating!

When I was writing Elysium Online, I knew I needed some one-page “TV spots” to break the action, provide information and get us in further into that world. And it’d work best if it was in a different art style. I’d draw the “reality,” they’d be the ideal, ad version of it. Well, Dimitrios was my first choice for that. 

 

Nrama: Do you see this as a one-shot, or do you have ideas for other stories in this universe?

Kyriazis: It’s definitely a stand-alone story. I have no plans in doing a sequel or prequel. I would like other artists play with that world, though… I think it’s the type of story that the “how else could this have happened” is more interesting than the “what happed after that.”

Nrama: What's the biggest thing you've learned from doing this campaign?

Kyriazis: That if you present something good, if you pick people’s interest, they will want to help. They’ll give not only money but time and energy and retweets. I think the key to a campaign’s success is if it’ll inspire people. You have no idea how much help I’ve had in this, both setting it up and running it!

Nrama: What do you think are the biggest advantages and challenges of doing a campaign on Indiegogo or Kickstarter? 

 

Kyriazis: First of all there’s little to no risk involved. You are not risking your money, if you get your funding then you’re fine. You’re not going in debt hoping to get your money back if and when you sell the comics.

On the other hand it’s a lot of work running a campaign. Much more than one would expect. Endless emails and tons of hours online and constantly thinking, “What else can I do? How can I reach more people?” And all that can go to waste if you fail to reach your goal.

Also…I don’t know if you can do it regularly. Could a creator have a new campaign yearly for every new project? Or it’d become tiresome?

Nrama: Something I noted of the guest artists helping out with the campaign is just how many talented Greek comic creators there are -- tell us about how they came on board, and I'm also curious about the Greek comic creator scene, i.e. some creators, how you know each other, work together, etc.) 

 

Kyriazis: It’s a small comics scene so most of us know each other and used to collaborate often. My artist friends saw this was important to me so they all stepped up to help with the campaign.

Tassos Papaioannou, who designed the amazing Elysium Online logo, is also a comic artist and publisher, Michael Dialynas, who contributes for the Art Commission Perk, is doing Amala’s Blade for Dark Horse right now, Yannis Roumboulias is now having his fantasy comic adapted into a movie and Pan Pan, who donated the haunting music for the Indiegogo video, is also a popular alternative cartoonist. It sometimes seems that all the people I know here are either doing or at least reading comics.

Before Greece’s economic collapse, there was a lot of activity in the comics scene. Many publications, stores, conventions… now, artists are looking for work elsewhere, mainly in the U.S comic market. I often say that my breaking in American comics was both a dream come true and the only way I could survive.

Nrama: How do you think you would fare in a post-apocalyptic situation? 

 

Kyriazis: Oh man! I'd suck. I can draw comics, I can cook a decent spaghetti carbonara and I’m good at grooming my beard. That’s it. That’s my skill set, not much help in post-apocalyptic scenarios!

Nrama: What are some other comics/creators you currently enjoy?

Kyriazis: I love what Waid, Rivera and Samnee have been doing on Daredevil, same with Aaron and Bradsaw's Wolverine & the X-Men. Locke & Key is one of the very best comics out there, and of course I love Saga.

Nrama: What's next for you?

Kyriazis: I don't think I'm at liberty to give many details... I'm drawing a mystery/crime miniseries for a publisher I can't name, I'm to do a short graphic novel and to start a children's digital comic series. On all of these I work solely as an artist, collaborating with some great writers. I have no immediate plans to write something else myself but the next comic I do I want it to be a superhero one.

Nrama: Anything else you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?

Kyriazis: I’d just like to thank everyone who is supporting Elysium Online and let them know that we’re putting all our efforts in making this the very best it can be. And please keep checking our Indiegogo page for updates, more perks are coming.

To find out more about Elysium Online and the Indiegogo campaign, Click here.

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