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Graphic poetry, like Twilight Zone episodes. Illustrated by Bob Hall, Nate Hamel, Julian Peters + 7 more. 48 pages. Fun.
107 backers pledged $2,338 to help bring this project to life.
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THE STORY

Hi, I’m John Johnson, and I’m a poet and a writer, mostly doing science fiction and fantasy. I write poems like little Twilight Zone episodes. I’m working with some really talented artists to bring out our second collection of graphic poetry. The purpose is to bring you joy – and help advance the cause of poetry!

These collaborations combine poems that I’ve been fortunate to publish in top venues, along with some fantastic artists' interpretations. The resulting work is not just an illustration of a poem; it is a partnership that combines both talents into one singular experience.  

Bob Hall takes you to the Edge.
Bob Hall takes you to the Edge.

 Collaborating with me this time are DC and Marvel Comics legend Bob Hall (Spiderman, Batman), Nate Hamel, J. M. Lewis, Julian Peters, Brie Underhill, Mike Lawlor, Adam Martin, Seth Goepel, Bernadette Johnson, and Sue Kouma Johnson. All solid professionals. Plus, we have a guest appearance from science fiction scion Kendall Evans, co-writing the poem, “Lament of the Four Moons.”

Our first collection, Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town, was a big hit. We reached over 500% of our Kickstarter goal! After that, it sold well, got good reviews, garnered some nominations (and two second place finishes!), and was enjoyed by people from late elementary school to PhD students to octogenarians, in over twenty countries around the world!    

Brie Underhill's lucid dreams
Brie Underhill's lucid dreams

The publication venues include Rattle, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, F&SF: The  Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser’s newspaper column, “American Life in Poetry,” the Poetry Foundation’s website, and elsewhere.     

Unsolicited internet comment from a regular guy.
Unsolicited internet comment from a regular guy.

We’re hoping this new comic book will continue to win friends for poetry and be a lot of fun. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that while they usually don’t like poetry, they like mine. Most Americans, when they’re done with high school, they’re done with poetry. Why is that? They still like other art forms, like music, paintings, movies – so why not poetry? Because they don’t know poetry can be enjoyable. Instead, it's like Billy Collins says: we're taught to strap a poem to a chair and beat the meaning out of it with a rubber hose. Tough on everybody. But reading poetry can be like going to a toy store! That's why we're making a comic book! 

NOTE FOR TEACHERS: Free Lesson Plans coming out September 30!

Mike Lawlor brings us the battle.
Mike Lawlor brings us the battle.

So, if someone likes poetry or a good read, I think they'll at least enjoy this collection, if not love it, and if they like Twilight Zone-type shows or comics or science fiction and fantasy, they'll probably LOVE this. Hint: We’ll be shipping in October, so you will receive it in plenty of time for Christmas!

By helping with this Kickstarter, you can get a discounted price, get a cool gift for your cool friends, be on the cutting edge of something pretty much new, and help make friends for poetry, which needs them. Which deserves them. And you can have a good time, too.

Thanks for your support.


Julian Peters and the Cold War. This poem has been widely quoted. Click for entire comic at Rattle.com
Julian Peters and the Cold War. This poem has been widely quoted. Click for entire comic at Rattle.com

THE PROJECT

With our first Kickstarter, we had a goal of $500. Thanks to126 backers, we reached $2,625! We printed 1350 copies, most of which have sold. For this comic, we’re setting a minimum goal of $1750. We are hoping for a lot more, but that would be enough to print about 1000 copies. 

If we can reach $2500, then most of our patrons will get an EXTRA COMIC BOOK, and we’ll be able to print about 1500 copies. If we can get to $3000, then we plan to take a leap of faith and print around 3000 comics. If we hit $4000, we can afford to put more money into the classroom side of this project. If we hit $5000, we can bring the retail selling price to UNDER $3 each!!! That will help make a lot of friends for poetry!

MY OVERALL GOAL isn’t to make money on this, but to break even with as many copies as possible distributed! For me, this is not just a project – it’s a mission! I do it for the love of the game and the love of poetry!  

A student's internet comment on the first comic book, Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town
A student's internet comment on the first comic book, Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town

NOTE FOR TEACHERS:

CLASSROOM USE: The first comic was used in classrooms from middle school to college and got favorable reactions from curriculum directors. We are currently contracting lesson plans to be delivered by September 30, weeks before the October publication date. In a previous life, I sold curriculum products (and school supplies) for about twenty years, and now I teach English, and based on my experience, I believe this comic will work in a lot of classrooms. Pearson Education Publishing is already using one of our comic poems in an English textbook. 

CLASSROOM USE, PART 2: If you’re an English teacher, you probably like poetry, but your students probably don’t. This comic book is a great way to get your students liking poetry! My high school English teacher, Kerstin VanDervoort, tricked me into liking poetry, and it changed my whole life!


OUR COSMIC MISSION IS ...

Even if we get to 3000 copies, I know that isn’t a hill of beans in this big world. But I completely believe that however many copies we print, they will have a small but true impact on the poetry world. Yeah, I know. Crazy. But I can feel it in my gut. I really believe we are going to nudge the poetry world just a bit, and the comics world, too. And all it takes is a couple of bucks from you, my friend, to make it happen. Thank you for joining me on this mission!


FREE SAMPLE

A fully illustrated sample can be seen here, the Rattle poetry magazine website. It is Julian Peter’s fantastic version of the poem, “There Have Come Soft Rains." It’s about Annette, my kindergarten crush, during a bomb drill, and that’s actually what she looked like. We’re still friends, and she sent me the photo Julian drew from. This poem has been widely quoted around the internet and used in student projects across the country, and it’s the one Pearson Education is using in their textbooks. (https://www.rattle.com/there-have-come-soft-rains-by-john-philip-johnson-and-julian-peters/)

Seth Goepel's Iconography
Seth Goepel's Iconography

THE CREW

 John Philip Johnson lives with his wife and their five pretty much grown-up children. His work has been in many journals and reviews, including Rattle, Southern Poetry Review, Asimov’s, F&SF, Strange Horizons, Apex, Mythic Delirium, Dreams & Nightmares, The Pedestal, Phantom Drift, Mithilia Review, Daily Science Fiction, Word Riot, and elsewhere, including former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser’s newspaper column, “American Life in Poetry,” and at the Poetry Foundation’s website. He has had Pushcart, Best-of-Web, and Rhysling noms. He would love to go to Mars if he could, but only if his wife went with him.

Kendall Evans’ stories and poems have appeared in nearly all the major science fiction and fantasy magazines, including Asimov’s SF, Analog, Abyss & Apex, Weird Tales, Strange Horizons, Weirdbook, Mythic Delirium, Amazing, Fantastic, Nebula Award Showcase 2012, and many others. He is the author of the novel The Rings of Ganymede and a number of chapbooks, and he has won two Rhysling Awards, so far. 

Bob Hall is a legend. For over thirty years, he worked for Marvel and DC as a comics illustrator, doing such titles as Spiderman, Batman, and many others. That was just his day job, because what he loved even more than comics was directing plays, doing many Shakespeare and other productions. This Shakespeare–Spidey combination was the perfect blend of serious–fun for this project. He recently finished his Master of Fine Arts degree and is extremely popular at Comic Cons all over the country. He is providing TWO YES TWO of the poems in this new book, the first and the last! 

Julian Peters’ graphic treatment of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” went viral and captured poetry lovers all over the world, and it was the original inspiration for our first collection. When I saw his manga version of Yeats’s “When You Are Old,” I knew I would be a fan for life. Although not quite the first person to do poetry comics in recent decades, in my opinion, he is the leader, the one who is responsible for the current uptake in this art form. His work has been featured in many venues, such as Slate, University Bookman, The Boston Globe, and elsewhere. 

Nate Hamel has worked for many comics and games publishers, spoken at many Comic Cons, and has delighted his large and growing fandom by delivering a full-contact style of art, especially with his treatment of monsters and zombies and such. His goal with his art is to create an "immersive" setting for the viewer, drawing his reader deep into the story. We are delighted he brings his gusto and expertise to the project, giving us a six page treatment of the Asimov’s published poem, “The Lament of the Four Moons.” 

Brie Underhill is an illustrator, comic, and installation artist, focusing on the details, both internal and external. She is interested in the beauty and sadness that the mind creates and the dialogue and images that are born from it. His first collection, EXPERGEFACIPHOBIA, came out in July, 2018, composed of short comics with poetic texts and occasional narrative frames. 

Mike Lawlor is an architect and a fine artist in Salt Lake City, and earlier in his life he had a subversive comic strip called Leisureman, which satirized American life through the eyes of an unemployed philosopher who traveled the world in his brown bathrobe. Unfortunately, the movie version of “Our man of the terrycloth” fell through, but Mike abides, along with his comic chops, and he has done some beautiful watercolors and ink work to create a vision for “Mothsong,” about a moth’s epic battle. 

J.M. Lewis sprang from the depths of Omaha, Nebraska and got as far as Lincoln before deciding this would be the place where they could do the most harm. Formative inspiration came from 80’s indie comics, Doctor Who, new wave sci-fi, cosmic horror and a whole lot of 90’s ambivalence. Over the years they have attended many cons in the region and have won numerous awards for their artwork. Their longest running projects include the webcomics Eye-Eighty and Outpost Zeta, their blog dedicated to B- and Z-grade film. Horror and the uncanny dominate their aesthetic, with shadow and vivid color acting as antipodes between which dark things play.   – with thanks to Joshua Sterns

Adam Martin is an artist from south west England who specialises in exploring and adapting stories in creative artwork, with a deep interest in folklore and mythology. Experienced in a variety of projects in design and illustration and who believes in the power that creativity has to change the world and whom is working on independent publishing projects alongside freelance activities to help form an abundant life of creativity

Seth Goepel is a self-taught artist living off-grid in the woods of Western Maine. Inspired by traditional Iconography (particularly Russian and Ethiopian), as well as folk motifs from various cultures, his work is an attempt to create a new aesthetic from various sources; to serve as both its own insight into beauty as well as an introduction to these rich and respected traditions.

Bernadette Johnson has done many spoken word performances of her poetry at venues across the Midwest and has been involved in many art projects. She studies art at various colleges. She brings us Solon-Fly, The Lawgiver, and many incidentals, including Martian barcoding. 

Sue Kouma Johnson earns her living as a fine-arts painter. She is also the love of John Johnson’s life and the subject of the Rhysling-nominated poem, “Martian Garden,” which is about a couple homesteading Mars. She contributes several beautiful Martian landscapes to this book, which are implicit in the meaning of the poem in a cool way, as well as helping shape the overall spirit and tone. She does not really want to go to Mars but holds out the ever-ever-so-slight possibility.    

Tim Green, Editor of Rattle, one of the largest and best poetry magazines in the world.
Tim Green, Editor of Rattle, one of the largest and best poetry magazines in the world.
Adam Martin appoints Žižek and Brester with awesome.
Adam Martin appoints Žižek and Brester with awesome.

Risks and challenges

There're not too many risks. We pulled off the first comic books smoothly, delivering a quality product on time. We learned from the mistakes we did make and hope this time it will go even smoother. We've got all the artwork done and paid for, we've got the printer lined up, and unless some kind of disaster strikes, we should be okay.

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    DIGITAL COPY.

    Get a digital copy of the finished 48-page comic book. This is 1/3 off the retail digital price of $2.99. Plus your name goes on the sponsors list printed on the inside front cover!

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    DIGITAL COPIES of BOTH COMICS.

    Get a digital copy BOTH comics: The new one, THE BOOK OF FLY, and the first one, STAIRS APPEAR IN A HOLE OUTSIDE OF TOWN! This is 1/3 off the retail digital price of $5.98. Plus your name goes on the sponsors list printed on the inside front cover of the comic.

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    PAPER COPY.

    Print copy of the comic book with free USA shipping! That's a $10 value ($5 + shipping + tax)! But wait, there's more! Signed by author. Bagged and boarded. PLUS Free digital copy of both comics, The Book of Fly and Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town! PLUS postcard swag! PLUS your name on the sponsors list on the inside front cover!

    PLUS, IF WE HIT OUR STRETCH GOAL OF $2500 -- and we raised more than that for the first comic -- then this pledge level will receive a FREE SECOND COPY! A lot of stuff for $7!

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    PAPER COPIES OF BOTH COMICS

    Get paper copies of BOTH comics: The new one, THE BOOK OF FLY, and the rare first edition of STAIRS APPEAR IN A HOLD OUTSIDE OF TOWN! Plus get free digital copies of both. Plus postcard swag. Plus your name goes on the sponsors list printed in the comic.

    IF WE HIT OUR STRETCH GOAL OF AT LEAST $2500, which is less than we raised in our successful first comic Kickstarter, this will turn into FOUR PAPER COMICS! TWO OF EACH TITLE! 2x2! Free USA shipping!

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    SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION PAPER COMIC

    Limited Edition print copy! With Bonus Content, not available elsewhere! Numbered and signed by the author and several of the artists, tba. Bagged and boarded. Plus a regular print edition of The Book of Fly. Plus free digital copies of both comics (regular editions). Plus postcard swag. Plus your name on the sponsors list on the inside front cover.

    IF WE HIT OUR STRETCH GOAL of $2500, which we think we have a pretty good chance of doing because it's less than our successful first Kickstarter, this will also include 2 MORE PAPER COMICS: a second copy of the regular edition of The Book of Fly, plus a rare first edition of Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town! All signed by the author and several of the artists, tba. A LOT OF GOODIES!

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    BOX OF TEN COMIC BOOKS.

    Signed by author and some of the artists, tba. Great Christmas gifts for those fun-loving people on your list! Bagged and carded. 10 copies of The Book of Fly! Plus 2 copies of the rare first edition of Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town! Plus at least thirty postcards of swag, assorted! Plus digital copies, too! Plus your name on the sponsors list printed in the comic! Free USA shipping!

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    PATRON

    Your name will be listed in a large font on the inside front cover below “Much Thanks to Our Patrons." This is a separate list from the Sponsors list, which will be less prominent. Also a free Limited Edition print copy, signed by the author and some artists, tba. PLUS a regular edition print copy. PLUS free digital copies of both comics (regular editions). Plus free postcard swag. And a big thank you!

    IF WE HIT OUR STRETCH GOAL OF $2500, which is less than we raised on our first comic, then YOU'LL GET TWO EXTRA PAPER COMICS, one regular edition The Book of Fly, and one rare first edition Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town!

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    CLASSROOM PACK 25 COMICS + AUTHOR SKYPE

    A pack of 25 regular edition The Book of Fly comic books! Free lesson plans! Middle school through college. PLUS THE AUTHOR AVAILABLE FOR SKYPING WITH YOUR CLASS, ONE HOUR! Plus you get your name on the inside front cover on our sponsors list! A $135 value just in merchandise! ($5 x 25 +$10 shipping). Free USA shipping!

    If you're an English teacher like me, then you probably like poetry. But if your students are like mine, then most of them probably don't. So what to do? Use this comic book to trick them into liking it! They won't even know it's poetry until you show them what it looks like in a column of text! (Included in the back pages with commentary and a special "How to Collaborate" piece!)

    Extensive lesson plans covering various objectives are contracted this summer with numerous teachers and curriculum writers to deliver by Sept 30, before comics ship in October. FREE AND USEFUL!

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    DEDICATION

    You will share the dedication of the book with James L. Aitken. A sketch of you by one of the artists will be on the inside front cover. A digital copy of the sketch will be sent to you. PLUS a copy of the special Limited Edition. PLUS a copy of the regular edition. PLUS a copy of the rare first edition of Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town. All signed by the author and some of the artists, tba. Bagged and boarded. PLUS postcard mementos. PLUS digital copies of both comics (regular edition). And a really, really big thank you!

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Funding period

- (31 days)