There have been a lot of comic book success stories on Kickstarter, but the latest one has even the creators surprised.
Arthur Baltazar and Franco Aureliani, the creators behind the Eisner-winning comic Tiny Titans, are the latest well-known creators to turn to Kickstarter to fund self-publishing. And they've been so successful in the first day that they're expanding their campaign.
"Art and Franco," as they're known, started their Kickstarter campaign on Tuesday for a series of all-ages comics called Aw Yeah Comics! But they hit their goal of $15,000 within hours (at press time they were over $26,000, less than $4k from their new $30k stretch goal), so they've decided to expand the campaign to accommodate its popularity."Originally, we were going to publish these books by ourselves," Art told Newsarama Tuesday night. "But we ran into financial difficulties, hurdles if you will. But this made it all better!
"We hit our goal in like, seven or eight hours!" he added. "It proves that our fans are there! You know, when you sit home and draw comics all day and you never leave your house, you don't know who's reading your comics. And it's a whole different perspective when you see the people respond.
"Now we're like, 'Oh! People like what I'm doing!'" Art laughed. "It's very, very rewarding in that way."The two have a large fan following because of their time on the DC all-ages comics Tiny Titans and Superman Family Adventures. But both DC series have now ended (the latter comic's cancelation was just announced a couple weeks ago), so they've turned back to self-publishing.
The Kickstarter campaign for Aw Yeah Comics began as a way to fund six months of comics, but after the goal was quickly reached, it has now been expanded to include 12 months of funding. And if that goal is reached, the creators intend to offer even more incentives.
"We needed $15,000 to do six issues, so if we can double that, we'll do issues #7 through #12," Franco said. "We'll do a full year. So we'll see how it goes. People are responding well to it."
For people who already pledged for six issues, they are able to now upgrade their pledge to get 12 issues, the creators said. And they'll continue the campaign for the entire promised 30 days, with more ideas in the "wings," ready to add to the overall goal.
Aw Yeah Comics! will be an "all-reader friendly" comic book featuring characters that Art and Franco created themselves, like Action Cat and Adventure Bug.
"The main characters are ours from our store, our mascots," Franco said. "We don't have to be beholden to a higher-up saying, 'No, you can't do that. You can't do this.' We are those higher-ups. We can just say, 'Yeah, let's do it!'"
The series will also feature writing by a few guests, including Mark Waid, Brad Meltzer, Chris Roberson, Jason Aaron, and some lesser known writers like Denver Brubaker, Alejandro Rosado, Patrick Scullin, Jen Aprahamian and Chris Smits."There are a lot of people that you may not have heard of," Franco said, "so it's a blending of professionals who have been in the business for awhile and people who, this may be their first comics work. And that's so exciting for us."
But a few of the creators are also enlisting some new young writers to help them out.
"We were talking to a few people, and they knew that we were going to do this book, and we said, 'Hey, would you like to do a story?'" Franco said. "Someone like Brad Meltzer is just so, so busy, but he loved what we were doing on Tiny Titans and Superman Family, so when he heard about this, and we kind of asked him if he'd be willing to do a story, the first thing he asked us was, 'Well, can I do it with my son?'
"I said, 'Absolutely!'" Franco said. "We get ideas from our kids all the time. So it was a no-brainer. And within minutes of putting it that way to people, I got responses right away. It's all about kid-friendly, all-ages-friendly, and just fun stories."
The creators said Kickstarter not only ended up being the right place for them to go for the funding they needed, but it has surpassed their expectations.
"When we were going to start Aw Yeah Comics, it was just Franco and I thinking we wanted to go back to self-publishing, like we did with Patrick the Wolf Boy," Art said. "But we wanted to do a monthly book, and the expenses were just too great. And then we thought, well, maybe we could do a bi-monthly book. We never thought of doing a Kickstarter because it would just take too much of our time. We didn't think it was an option for us. We just wanted to make books and wanted to draw our own characters and stories.
But the two creators decided to try Kickstarter after their friend Chris Smits volunteered to run the "publishing end" of Aw Yeah Comics. He put together all the necessary information and incentives for the Kickstarter campaign."When these guys came up with the plan to publish the book, it was a good plan, but they really didn't have time to do everything themselves, so I just stepped in to do all the legwork and free them up to do what they do best, which is make comic books," Smits said.
"Chris did so much up-front work to get this going and it really paid off, because we hit our goal in less than eight hours," said Franco.
"One of the reasons we wanted to go with Kickstarter is because of the weight it takes off your shoulders," Smits said. "We'll be able to do it more and faster than if we were doing it ourselves. What we're hoping we're going to do is just create this ease to these comics that wouldn't have been there before."
Smits said they also hope to have enough funding that Art and Franco can utilize the wealth of ideas they have for the comic. "Art and Franco, being around them, they never have a lack of ideas, so the bigger we can get this Kickstarter to go, we've got plans. We've got plenty of plans. So the bigger this Kickstarter goes, the bigger we'll push it. We have a month to go."
To participate in the Aw Yeah Comics! campaign, check out their goal page on Kickstarter.