What is Cartozia Tales?
A little over two years ago, I assembled a team of smart, dynamic indie cartoonists to create a world together. What we came up with is really something special.
Cartozia Tales is an all-ages comic with nine fantasy stories in each issue, and all the stories are set in the same world. It's got wind-up men, otterfolk, underdraaks, tickle crabs, vicuñicorns, heron-headed enchanters, dinosaur witches, cloudherders, cartographers, and short-order cooks. It's a rich setting, full of characters we really love.
It showcases work by some really excellent indie cartoonists. In addition to the core group of creators, each issue includes stories by two guest stars who visit Cartozia long enough to leave a few fingerprints, introduce a few new creatures, or twist a few plots. You might not be familiar with all of these names, but once you read the book, you'll want to know their work better.
We're serious about making Cartozia Tales an all-ages book. That means we work hard to let kids and adults enjoy the stories for the same reasons. We think kids like complex characters, rich world-building, and stories with real stakes, just like adults do. We think kids would rather be challenged by their reading than condescended to, so we keep it smart.
Really, it's a very good little book. You'll see.
What's going to be in the new version of the first issue?
It'll have the 44 existing pages of Cartozia Tales #1, in some cases cleaned up or adjusted for better printing. That includes stories by our regular crew of contributors: Sarah Becan, Lucy Bellwood, Isaac Cates & Mike Wenthe, Shawn Cheng, Lupi McGinty, Tom Motley, and Jen Vaughn. It also includes stories by our guests Jon Lewis and Dylan Horrocks, a pin-up by Caitlin Lehman, a map of Cartozia, and a few short pieces about maps and cartography.
We will add eight new pages, which will include work by:
Chris Schweizer (Crogan Adventures, The Creeps)
Roger Langridge (Snarked!, The Muppet Show comic book)
C. Spike Trotman (Poorcraft, Iron Circus Comics)
Tom Kaczynski (Beta-Testing the Apocalypse)
Dylan Meconis (Family Man, Bite Me!)
Graham Annable (Grickle, co-director of The Boxtrolls)
Zander Cannon (Heck, Kaijumax)
And may be still more that I can announce during the campaign — but really, getting these eighteen show-stoppers into one $8 book has got to be enough to get you supporting the campaign.
Do you have any stretch goals?
Indeed we do. And I think the first one, at least, is well within reach, even without any extraordinary internet interventions.
$7300: New cover by Kate Leth. A new edition deserves a new front cover, and I think Kate's friendly, energetic, cartoony style will be a nice introduction to Cartozia Tales for new readers.
$8100: Full-color map + 2 more color pages. If we make it this high, we'll print the interior (center) map by Sarah Becan in full luminous color. Plus, we'll get to add color to two of the one-page stories in the book.
Both of these upgrades will help the reprint of the first issue that you're signing up to support — and they'll come to every backer who signs on for a copy of the new edition, as long as we hit these benchmarks.
Can I see some of the first issue?
Sure! We've got a few of the stories up on our website — "Welcome to Cartozia," by Mike Wenthe and Isaac Cates, which Lupi McGinty will color for the new printing; "Master Cyrus and the Boy," by Shawn Cheng; and "Tea with Tentacles" by Lupi McGinty.
If you back the project, you'll have access to a backer-only update (our first update) that will point you to a PDF of the first issue you can read for free. Of course, that won't have the new material, the small corrections, or the creamy, luxurious paper we print on. But it'll give you a sense of what we're trying to do here.
And, hey! Here are three pages from issue #1, right on this very page:
What about this "map-based collaborative trick"?
Oh, yeah, I should explain that. It's one of the first things I usually tell people about Cartozia Tales. Because we're all telling stories in a world we share, the map is the thing that ties us together and connects our collaborative work.
When we start planning each issue, each cartoonist is assigned at random to a different part of the map — an area where he or she hasn't drawn a story before. That means no cartoonist gets to carry a plot or a set of characters forward from one issue to the next, but it also means that we all get to develop each other's ideas.
For us, the whole experience of writing Cartozia Tales feels like getting to play with all your friends' coolest toys. It's totally fun, and that fun shows through in the stories we tell.
Your first Kickstarter was a success — why do you need more money?
Although I couldn't calculate all of the costs accurately (not knowing how postal rates would change, or what the price of paper would be, for example), I knew when I was assembling the first Kickstarter that we'd really need between $6,000 and $7,000 per issue of Cartozia Tales to pay the contributors, print the book, and ship each one. (About a quarter of the money we bring in goes to postage.)
In our first campaign, I set the goal at a figure that would (by my estimate) let us print enough of the series that new readers would arrive to fund the last four or five issues by the time we got there.
My miscalculation was in the print run of our first issue. (You can forgive me for being a little conservative there, since I paid for that one personally before we even went on Kickstarter.) We're down to just a dozen or so copies!
If we had more subscribers, I might be able to go print more right now, but to get those new subscribers, at this point, I need to have copies of issue #1 to sell them — so I'm in a Catch-22. But Kickstarter should be perfect to solve it. If you support our campaign, we'll get new readers and new capital to supply their books. Plus, the new version of our first issue will be extra awesome.
Why does it cost $6K to print one comic book?
It seems like it should be cheaper, doesn't it? Part of the reason is, as I mentioned earlier, each comic book costs something like $2 to ship to a US address, and sometimes a lot more to ship overseas. We have to be ready to shed as much as a quarter of our pledge money in the process of delivering rewards.
About half of the money will go directly to our print shop, Queen City Printers, which is right across town from my editorial desk. I deliver the files to the shop by hand, and I get to check the printing in person while it's going on. We could probably make the book for less money by printing it far away, or by using less expensive paper or a cheaper printing process, but we don't want Cartozia Tales to feel cheap, and I like supporting local businesses. When you have a copy of the book in your hands, you'll understand why we're not skimping on the printing.
And we pay the artists. For this issue, most of the work is already paid for, but we have to budget some money for our stellar new guests.
One final note:
Our thanks (and props) go to Bensound for the music we used in our video.
Risks and challenges
Most of issue #1 is already in the can, and the new pages are coming from reliable professionals who have committed to an end-of-the-year deadline. We've got practice with our press and our shipping methods, and we're not planning to offer any rewards that require new commissions or new printing. (In other words, we're eliminating the things that made delivery of some rewards slow for our first Kickstarter — keeping it simple so we can do fulfillment easily.)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (21 days)