[This just in! We now support the http://www.kickingitforward.org movement! We pledge that 5% of all profits for The Last West will be contributed to one or more Kickstarter comic book campaigns in the future!]
Welcome to the Kickstarter campaign for our beloved project, The Last West!
Whether you have stumbled here by accident or you are a family member or close friend, let us first say: thank you so much for stopping by and having a look at our Kickstarter project page. We hope you've watched the video above... and we hope that you'll read the following article from Dr. John Barber:
And now, we hope that your interest is piqued!
But, seriously though, first things first.
Just who the hell are these guys, Evan and Lou?
The story goes like this... Evan Young and Lou Iovino once worked in cubicles. Lou’s cubicle was better than Evan’s. Lou’s was a corner cubicle, highly envied among the cubical dwellers of the office. So jealousy, unfortunately, marked the early days of their work together.
Lou, however, was uncomfortable with his geographical superiority and, being the bigger man, extended an olive branch to Evan by inviting him for a lunch of cheap, greasy, South Jersey Chinese food. And through that one magnanimous act, the two men made an astounding discovery. They had both grown up on a steady diet of science fiction, D&D and, most importantly, comic books.
From that day forward, they beat back the darkness of corporate life with stories and comics. In 2010, after more than a decade of musing about “someday, when…” they buckled down and co-authored The Last West.
Evan’s collaboration with Lou, however, wasn’t his first foray into comics. In the early 2000s he wrote The Forgotten, a comic that was optioned by Warner Brothers and is currently in development as a feature-length film. In 2009, he wrote and developed The Carrier, a groundbreaking iPhone and iPad digital graphic novel. Evan has since been recognized by the Library of Congress, which displayed The Carrier in its first-ever Electronic Literature Showcase, as an influential pioneer in digital literature.
Meanwhile, Lou worked as a writing professional for many years and taught writing and literature at Rutgers University for nearly a decade. He also used his affinity for storytelling to become an advertising executive in New York and elsewhere. The Last West is his first effort in comics.
Which brings us to...
As mentioned in our intro video, The Last West was inspired by a 2008 article by Steven Levy in Wired about Jay Walker’s personal collection of culturally and technologically significant artifacts from around the world.
When you see the pictures of the "Walker Library of the History of Human Imagination" you’ll understand how the wheels got spinning on The Last West. The library is an evolving testament to human progress, innovation and imagination. You cannot help but marvel at the speed with which humanity has grown across the centuries.
But... we wondered... what if there was nothing left for Walker to chronicle in his library? What if all progress stopped? Not just scientific, technological and artistic progress, but social progress too? We explore these questions in The Last West. And, in doing so, we send our readers on a journey through a different kind of American history.
The first tests of the atomic bomb, the stock market crash and the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, the bombing of Pearl Harbor – all of these world-changing events serve as the backdrop for The Last West. But, more importantly, they are the dubious legacy of the story’s central characters, the West family, and its most important member - the man responsible for the world being trapped in amber and held in a global stasis. A man named Steven West.
And now that you know the basic story, let's talk about...
The Last West is a 10-issue, full-color comic that will appeal to fans of comic books such as The Unwritten and Sandman, TV shows like Lost and The X-Files, popular fiction like Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon or Stephen King’s The Stand, and movies like Chinatown or Spy Games. It is a bit of "what if?" historical fiction mixed with some action, mystery, and noir.
The story is completely written, all 10 covers are finished, and we have two full issues completely finished!
Our hope is to publish the comic both digitally and in print ourselves, most likely digitally first and print second. We have added three reward levels to address demand for a print edition: see them at $30 (a trade paperback of issues 1-5), $55 (a bare-bones trade paperback of all 10 issues), and $85 (the "absolute" version of the complete graphic novel, all extras included).
Our other hope is to find the right publisher for the work and let them help us get it out into the world. So while a final printed & perfect-bound (or hardcover! wouldn't that be awesome!?) edition for the rest of the non-Kickstarter public is the ultimate goal, the current goal for this Kickstarter drive is simply to get this entire project finished. We can only do that by raising the money to give our creative team the funding and time they need to finish the artwork - pencils, inks, colors, and letters - for the final 8 issues.
So here we are. The entire team is ready to get moving on the remaining 8 issues... and we need your support!
Which brings us to...
In 2010, shortly after completing The Last West and while auditioning artists, we met with a very seasoned industry professional, an editor, who graciously agreed to read our overly massive manuscript (at 505 pages, 200 visual references, and 100 footnotes... it kinda got away from us).
On the floor of the New York Comic Con, this editor delivered his verdict: “A really impressive, strong story... in the wrong era of comics.”
And he went on to say the singular thing that has fueled us through this whole process, and that got us to reach into our own bank accounts to prove him wrong and get the first two issues made.
"I seriously doubt that Sandman would have survived past issue 3 or 4 in today’s comic environment.”
Read that again. It's important.
We know the industry is struggling. And, we get that people have a TON of entertainment options these days. But we refuse to accept that there is no longer a place for thoughtful, multi-layered, smart stories that have interesting themes and ask big questions.
The above quote hopefully makes you as upset and disappointed as it makes us. To think that market pressures mean there might never be comics on par with titles like Sandman or Watchmen is nothing short of incredibly sad.
These are the comics we love. This is the comic we tried to write. We may not have written the next Sandman - in fact, we most certainly have not - but we do think we have a chance to bring a great story to life.
Please help us make it happen. Thank you!
So now that you're convinced, let's introduce you to...
So now that you know pretty much everything about Evan & Lou, what about the rest of the team?
Novo Malgapo, artist. A relative newcomer to comics who already has strong credits to his name. Novo has penciled Zenescope's Grimm's Fairy Tales, Wonderland, and Charmed.
Liezl Buenaventura, colorer. Liezl is an artist based in Manila, Philippines. She graduated from the UP College of Fine Arts (Majoring in both Visual Communication and Studio Arts). She has worked with various publishers and independents, which include Zenescope Entertainment, Arcana Studios and Ronin Studios.
Kel Nutall, letterer. Kel began his career in comics as a writer and letterer in 2000. His lettering credits cover the spectrum of the industry, from Beowulf for HarperCollins to independents like Big Dog Ink and Devil's Due to diehard self-publishers. His writing credits include the original graphic novel Nothingface, Island Tales from Big Dog Ink, and contributions to various anthologies.
Kody Chamberlain, cover artist. Kody is known for working in a diverse range of styles and will often adapt visually to better suit the tone of the story being told. This is most obvious by comparing the award-winning Sweets to his first creator-owned series Punks: The Comic with co-creator Joshua Hale Fialkov, a project that was recently picked up by MTV for their new line called MTV Comics. His publishing credits include work for Marvel Comics, DC/Wildstorm, HarperCollins, Image Comics, IDW Publishing, 12 Gauge Comics, BOOM! Studios, and Digital Webbing Press.
Together, here are some samples of the work that they've put together for The Last West:
So now... let's talk turkey!
We have littered our reward levels with some pretty cool swag. With any contribution, you get our thanks - of course! But we've unlocked the collectibles cabinet here and are creating, by hand and through hard work and sweat, a series of items that all have direct ties to actions, themes, or important objects in the story.
Here are some examples:
The central action in issue 3 is a game of darts between Frank West and a number of power players in American history. It takes place in a small Manhattan pub in 1845. Thus, one available reward is a genuine feathered wooden playing dart, numbered and limited only to our Kickstarter contributors.
Here's another example. Painting is a major theme in Elizabeth West's life; as she descends into madness in issue 5, she starts expressing herself through painting, cooking, and other hobbies that all blend together in the delirium of her mind. As such, a Last West numbered collectible paintbrush is another available collector's item.
One of our favorites is a collectible West Bourbon Company bourbon bottle (sorry, but it comes completely empty - maybe because we drank it...?). The West family fortune was born during the Prohibition era, amassed by the patriarch of the West family, Arthur West. Arthur's life is detailed in issue 4; you can see the West bourbon bottle right there on the cover.
Now, of course we're offering other fun items - from a t-shirt at an early funding level to a portfolio or screenplay or comic script review at a higher level.
Have a look at the right of the page and you'll get all the details. We hope you find something you like, and that you contribute - because we truly need your support!
As a final note, please understand that this project is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by Jay Walker or Priceline.com, or Wired, or Steven Levy, or even William Shatner for that matter. Mr. Walker and his library were the inspiration and Mr. Levy's article made it all happen, but otherwise they have no connection to The Last West in any capacity. (Although if they did want to get involved, we'd welcome their participation!)
BUT... if you have read all the way down to this point... you will be rewarded to know that the Library of the History of Human Imagination - our fictional version of it, at least - plays an absolutely massive role in our story. One might say... it is where the last West himself is hiding away and spending the remainder of his days. So there ya go! Easter egg!
Laslty, music for our Kickstarter video is used under Creative Commons license and supplied by artists DoKashiteru, zikweb, and John Pazdan. Check them out!