About this project
We've added a limited reward tier of commission sketches from former Impact Wrestling star, Samuel Shaw! He's amazing!
15,000 - Unlocked
We'll bring back former Impact Wrestling star, Samuel Shaw to deliver another amazing pinup!
We'll be adding a six page short story by none other than former Impact Wrestling Champion & Animal Planet star, Showtime Eric Young!
Welcome to our Kickstarter!
For those of you who know who we are and what we're about...you can skip ahead to the "Why Headlocked?" section!
What is Headlocked?
In one sentence, it's a wrestling cable drama in a comic book! Headlocked is a coming-of-age story chronicling a college theater major's quest to become a professional wrestler. It begins from the moment he unexpectedly falls in love with wrestling and follows his journey through the insanity of the wrestling business as he chases his dream of making it to the bright lights and the big stage of the WFW.
On a deeper level, Headlocked is an examination of wrestling as an art form. Our main character, Mike Hartmann, is a college theater major that drops out of school to try and break into the wrestling business. So the reader will learn more about the craft of wrestling through the eyes of a performance artist.
To further our theme of wrestling as art, we use wrestlers to contribute to the book artistically. Our interior artist, Michel Mulipola, is a wrestler from New Zealand. And our cover artist, you might have heard of him....
WWE Hall of Famer, Jerry "The King" Lawler!
If you read further, you'll see we have a metric ton of awesome guest contributors from the world of comics and wrestling lined up to help make this even better!Why Headlocked?
For almost 30 years, I've been a student and a fan of wrestling and comics. Over the years, I've suffered through tons of horrible, horrible licensed wrestling comics. After a while, I came to the realization that no one was going to make the wrestling comic that I, as a wrestling fan, wanted to read... so I set out to create it.
Despite being a longtime comic book fan, I had never envisioned the difficulties that I encountered in getting this book into the direct market. We were told that "no one would buy this" and "wrestling fans don't read." An employee from one of the largest comic publishers in the US literally laughed in my face when I pitched him the concept at HeroesCon in 2006. Those of you that know my story or have seen a panel or podcast have heard this stuff a million times.
We all love comics. But the dirty little secret is that comics are not cheap to make. I self-funded the production costs for the first five chapters of Headlocked by working two jobs for an entire year. Visionary Comics helped teach me the ropes and Markosia helped me distribute it.
But the other secret of comics is that to succeed, you need to be able to get it on shelves. To get on shelves, you need to build awareness. And as an independent, that is damn near impossible. Comic stores won't stock you and media sites won't cover you.
So I collected the first five chapters into a graphic novel called Headlocked: A Single Step and I spent the next three years traveling to every comic book or wrestling show that I could afford to attend in order to build awareness and to build a grassroots fanbase.
In that time, Kickstarter became a viable option for independent comic books to circumvent the direct market. So in 2013, we were able to fund Headlocked: The Last Territory and in 2015, we were able to fund Headlocked: The Last Territory Volume 2.
And slowly but surely, we're building something. One reader at a time.
So what is this campaign all about?
Headlocked: A Single Step was produced on less than a quarter of the budget we had for Headlocked: The Last Territory. To bring the book to market, we had to cut a few corners out of necessity. In light of the substantial production upgrades that we've made, I feel there are certain aspects of the book that need to be upgraded both aesthetically and narratively.
1) To save money, we skipped the inking process and dropped Jessika Gravel's colors right over Randy Valiente's pencils. While this is a reasonably common practice these days, I don't think any of us were experienced enough to pull it off as successfully as we would've liked.
2) When I initially conceived Headlocked back in 2007, I had every intention of creating a linear story that followed Mike Hartmann from Day Zero to the end of his wrestling career. When we published Headlocked: A Single Step in July of 2010, the plan was for the follow-up series to pick-up immediately after the end of The Tryout #3. However, we were stymied in our efforts to continue the series. When we jumped to Kickstarter, in order to make the series accessible to everyone, I had to give it a fresh starting point. To do so, I shifted Mike Hartmann's story ahead a few months and created the Paul Ambrose character to fill in the gaps. The downside is that the end of Headlocked: A Single Step features a cliffhanger that doesn't get paid off right away and now it feels like there is something missing between where it ends and The Last Territory begins.
Why is this that big of a problem?
After a few years of constant touring, we're starting to get noticed. I'm hoping to bring Headlocked to the direct market and Amazon late this year or early next year. This is the first book in the series...its going to be the first impression that most people have when they see our product. It needs to be able to stand on the shelf alongside the books we've produced since. And right now, I don't think it does. We need to take care of this before we move forward.
It would kill me if someone purchased A Single Step and didn't feel like it was worth continuing, completely unaware just how much we've all stepped up our game.
Bottom line: We can do better.
What about Volume 3 of The Last Territory?
We're launching the Kickstarter for Volume 3 in July. We already have Mick Foley and Rey Mysterio attached and we're talking with some really interesting names. This is just something we need to do first.
So what's the plan?
I want to create a remastered version of Headlocked: A Single Step...one that aesthetically matches up with The Last Territory and one that flows better into The Last Territory...one that fits on a bookshelf with the other two.
Please understand, this isn't some George Lucas thing. We're not changing the story, we're not changing the pencils, we're not adding Jabba the Hutt into the strip club scene.
This is what we're going to do:
1) Right from the get-go, we're gonna slap a brand-new cover on this thing painted by the one and only Jerry "The King" Lawler. If you like the Rockwell homages we've done in The Last Territory, you're gonna dig what we've got lined up for this one.
2) We're opening up with a brand-new six page prelude story by Michel Mulipola & Chuck Obach to lead into the series.
3) Four brand-new chapter breaks by the one-and-only Jill Thompson! Super excited to see what she'll be cooking up for this one!
4) We're inking and re-coloring the entire book. I think if we inked it, we could really add something to the art. And as much as I loved Jessika Gravel's work on the book, she's not working in comics anymore....so I've brought on Jules Rivera, colorist of Chapter 5, 9, & 10 of The Last Territory to ink and re-color the entire book.
You wanna see what that looks like?
I really enjoy working with Jules and she's starting to build a strong reputation in the industry so we're really excited to have her on this!
5) I'm cutting the last three pages (the warehouse scene that ends in a cliffhanger that does not flow) and adding a seven page epilogue by Michel & Chuck that bridges HL: A Single Step and HL: The Last Territory.
So what's in it for me?
In addition to getting a great looking book, we're giving backers a bonus edition of the book with roughly 30 extra pages featuring stories and art from some of the best wrestlers in the world. You can't get this version of the book anywhere else!
So what's the lineup?
The wrestlers that I've chosen here are really important to me. Headlocked has been a completely grassroots built project. When we started, everyone told us that it wouldn't work...we dug in our heels, we stuck to our guns, and we're proving them wrong. So I wanted to make our remastered version of A Single Step a celebration of that idea...so I've chosen wrestlers to contribute that have also found success by defying conventional wisdom.
MVP - former WWE/TNA/NJPW star. MVP has long been one of my favorite wrestlers for both his in-ring ability and his social consciousness. And we've come up with a super fun story that's completely different than anything we've ever done.
Samoa Joe - WWE/NXT star and one of the first wrestlers to offer public support for Headlocked waaay back in 2006. True story: without Samoa Joe, there's no Headlocked. It was Joe (along with CM Punk) that reinvigorated my love of wrestling back in 2005 and inspired me to write a wrestling-themed comic book.
The Young Bucks - current ROH/PWG/NJPW stars and two of the most innovative wrestlers on the planet. We've already collaborated once on a sweet, sweet SDCC exclusive art print and now we're going to be bringing their creativity to Headlocked.
Independent Wrestler Pinup Gallery - It's no secret that I LOVE independent wrestling. I would rather go to an indie show over a giant televised spectacle any day of the week...the format allows for so much more creativity and diversity. To celebrate that, we wanted to showcase the diverse artistic talents of several top (or former) wrestlers from the independent scene.
Thomas La Ruffa - formerly known as Sylvester LeFort in NXT and featured on the World of Hurt reality show, this French superstar is an incredibly skilled painter as well! We're excited to see what The French Stallion has in store for Headlocked!
Scott Lost - one of the six founders of PWG, "The Professional" has since hung up his tights to focus on his successful career as a comic book artist and his creator-owned series, 2nd Shift. Scott had his first comic book pinup featured in the original A Single Step so it's only fitting to have him back to contribute to this one!
Papadon - known as "The Greek God," this veteran of the Northeast independent scene is just as skilled in the ring as he is at the drawing table! I've been dying to get Papadon into Headlocked for a while now and this book was the perfect opportunity!
Danny Havoc - in the ring, Danny Havoc uses barbed wire, thumbtacks, and panes of glass to create his art. Surprisingly, he's just as proficient in pen and ink. I'm super excited to have such a highly decorated deathmatch star contributing a pinup for this book!
And you know before we're done there's gonna be even more cool stuff jammed into this!
Kickstarters are the lifeblood of Headlocked. Without Kickstarter, we don't exist at the level that we do. So its important for us to reward you, the backers, for that. The versions of Headlocked that you get from backing us on Kickstarter cannot be obtained anywhere else. Each book you get as a backer contains a bonus section of art and stories from some of the top wrestlers in the business!
Our 4 Color Fight Club shirts can be added to any reward tier by adding 20.00 above the pledge level!
For the first time ever, we have hoodies available and for the time being, they can only be obtained through Kickstarter!
Where does all this money go?
3600 dollars - costs of inking and recoloring 110 pages of Headlocked: A Single Step
4600 dollars - costs of producing the new content including the cover, Jill Thompson's 4 chapter breaks, the 6 page prelude, the 3 wrestler short stories & 4 pinups.
800 dollars - estimated shipping costs based on previous campaigns
1,000 dollars - Kickstarter/Amazon fees.
As you can see this doesn't even cover the printing expenses, which I usually cover out of my own pocket. We're not trying to gouge anyone, we're just trying to get these books made and out into the world.
Risks and challenges
This one should be pretty straight-forward. Obviously, we've produced two kickstarter books and if you're reading this, it can be assumed that you were satisfied with the results. This book has about 1000% less chance of delay than our previous two endeavors.
The book has been re-inked and its in the process of being re-colored. Michel is working on the new content...it really should be quick.
Plus, we've got plans to launch the Kickstarter for The Last Territory Volume 3 on July 1st, so we gotta get this baby done by then at the very latest.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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