About this project
UPDATE: Preview the issue HERE. For details on the background and concept behind this unique comic Kickstarter, read the Sequart interview HERE. For more, including sketch and ink version of the first comic's page, read the 13th Dimension interview HERE. Julian's thoughts on crowdfunding comics and a nice version of Darick Robertson's cover are on Bleeding Cool HERE.
UPDATE #2: You can add the T-shirt, featuring Darick Robertson's beautiful cover art, to any level! Just increase your pledge by $27 (plus $15 international shipping if applicable), and tell us you want the T-shirt. Thanks!
UPDATE #3: Sequart Organization has graciously allowed us to offer downloads of its movies The Image Revolution and Comics in Focus: Chris Claremont's X-Men! In addition to the reward levels with them, you can add them to any level by increasing your pledge by $12 and letting us know you want the movies! Thanks!
If you like gimmicks like variant covers and a half dozen different print editions and personalized sketches, this isn't the Kickstarter for you.
If you want a story that can be encapsulated in a single image -- like "it's a cowboy but... he's a robot!" -- this comic isn't for you.
This is a comic for the disaffected kids. Who think too much. Who maybe feel a little out of place. Not only with society but also with most comics today.
This is the story of Izzy Montoya. An undergrad who lives with in a sci-fi world of smart phones and flat screens, yet feels bored and directionless. She has visions of a very different world: a utopian paradise of technological marvels and personal freedom. This other life is so strange, it might as well be Mars. In fact, that's exactly what she thinks it is. In this other life, Izzy is a four-armed, blue alien being, surrounded by wonder... yet who feels as bored and directionless as Izzy on Earth.
This is a story about what Warren Ellis termed "the unfinished business of the twentieth century." It's a story about our missing jetpacks. It uses the pulp sci-fi tradition of depicting Mars as a metaphor both for these inherited cultural dreams of what a sci-fi landscape "ought" to look like and for otherness or alienation. In the guise of an adventure yarn, our story explores how we can feel so empty and alone while living in affluence and abundance undreamed of by 99.9% of the humans who have ever lived on our own planet. As the story continues, it also explores how we get inspired, how leadership and charisma work, the role of the military-industrial complex in America's post-war rise, and whether it's possible to know or trust or love one another, or find a different way.
That's not stuff you can summarize in an elevator pitch. But let's try:
This is the story of a Martian girl who took a vacation and wound up confronting the greatest evil both planets had ever known.
Or if you prefer, it's the story of how college student Izzy Montoya learned to embrace and take control of her own life.
But it's not only the high concept that makes Martian Comics different. It dares to be literary, mixing the sublimely poetic with twists and ideas inspired by Grant Morrison and Philip K. Dick. There's a villain, there's a friend, and there's a love interest. The stakes are both grand and personal. But there's not a fight scene in sight. And none of these dramatic elements work the way you'd expect.
The story even has super-powers, but only the super-power is the ability to influence people, which is indistinguishable from confidence or charisma. How is this different from love? And does it matter? How might this be abused? And in exploring this, can't we tell a compelling tale that's also a metaphor for how we can feel politically powerless in a democracy, for how we create celebrities and heroes only to later reject them, and for how we fall in love?
And yes, there's a little nudity and sex, expressing the sexual liberation of Mars and playing with sci-fi comic traditions. But this isn't a "bad girl" comic or a porno because breasts exist. Sexuality is just part of the story, and we believe that's a lot more "adult" than what some erroneously call "adult comics."
The way we tell this story is different too. In an era in which single comics often feel like incomplete chapters, we're offering multiple chapters per issue. We're mostly using short chapters, and we're making sure that each one not only advances the story but has its own identity. Each even has some narrative device that makes it a little different. We jump forward and backward, and use multiple perspectives. Different chapters even have their own visual motifs and page layouts. Each chapter is a new experience, and we're offering multiple new experiences per issue. This short format reflects pulp traditions, but takes them to a new literary level you can only do in comics.
But that's not all. Our main story, "The Girl from Mars," is augmented by side stories. For example, our protagonist mentions something in Martian history, and then we see that part of Martian history. Later, when a minor character dies, a side story shows us what this death means to the character's loved ones, to whom this character wasn't "minor" at all. These aren't back-ups, nor really secondary material. In fact, they're weaving an entire counter-history of humanity that fleshes out the mythology of our series and explore subjects such as how traditions change and get humanized over generations.
This is high art and low art simultaneously. It's indisputably pulp and indisputably literature. Just like comics.
How long has it been since a comic pushed the medium forward? Martian Comics does so, without ever putting any of its philosophical or artistic agenda above telling damn fine stories.
Can Kickstarter be used to do that? Let's find out.
How this Kickstarter's Different
First, you can already get the eight-page first chapter of "The Girl from Mars" HERE. For free. Through this link, you can also download a free PDF or CBZ of the same complete first story.
We think it's visually beautiful. The language is pretty poetic, and the eight-page story's got a multiple-twist ending. The chapter's unorthodox in its dominance by captions, which isn't really true of the other chapters. (Like we said, each chapter's different.) Go read it now, if you haven't yet. It's okay; we'll wait.
This Kickstarter's also different in that we want Martian Comics to be an ongoing. We've got a detailed outline for "The Girl from Mars," which has a definite ending. But we've got plans beyond that. Those side stories aren't just establishing a backstory for the series; they're building an entire universe that can function as a playground for other mind-bending sci-fi stories.
So we’re asking for $2500 to finish the first issue, but for every additional $5000 we raise, we’ll complete another full issue, up to a commitment to 12 issues. As we hit these stretch goals, every single reward will not only include digital copies (PDF and CBZ) of Martian Comics #1 but these additional issues too! So if we get $12,500, we’ll complete the first three issues, and every single donor (starting at just $3!) will get all three. If we raise $57,500 (one can hope!), we’ll complete the first 12 issues, and every single donor (yes, even at $3!) will get all 12 issues. (Yes, that's 11 issues for free -- or a quarter an issue, for new comics!)
And yes, if you've selected a reward that includes the first two issues, those will also be bumped up, as we hit our stretch goals, to include further issues.
As you help us reach these stretch goals, you’re ensuring the longevity of the ambitious experiment that is Martian Comics. But you’re also helping to give every single donor more issues for free! (Note that these extra issues will take longer to deliver than the delivery times listed on the rewards.)
We’re not in this to get rich, and we know money’s tight. That’s why we’d love to give away a dozen issues for $3! And we want to make it super easy for you to tell your friends to chip in $3!
Of course, we want your rewards to feel special. But digital rewards can be just as special as physical ones, and they don't suck much money or time from the comic itself. We've tried to do this with our campaign, offering scripts and black-and-white artwork. We're not planning on letting anyone except our Kickstarter pledges see this stuff, so it's truly special.
Doing this -- and not offering a print edition -- means we can ask for less from you. It means more of our time and more of your money goes into producing the comic. We put the money on the page, and we stay focused on constantly planning and revising to make the comic the absolute best comic possible.
Everything else is a distraction.
That's not to say we're not offering any merchandise. We've chosen to offer a single piece of merch: a T-shirt featuring the immortal Darick Robertson's stunning cover art, colored by Diego Rodriguez.
Like we said, there's nothing wrong with merchandise if you really want it. We might not like variant covers or posters, but there's nothing wrong with a T-shirt if it's really special. And this is something we want to exist because we want to wear it ourselves! It's beautiful, and it's printed on a black tee to make the image pop.
NOTE: You can add the T-shirt to any level. Just increase your pledge by $27 (plus international shipping if applicable), and tell us you want the T-shirt. Thank you!
Finally, let us just say thank you for your pledge. Thank you for sharing this Kickstarter with others. Thank you for anything you can do. This wouldn't be possible without you, and your kindness is appreciated more than we can express.
About the Creators
Martian Comics is written by Sequart’s Julian Darius and Kevin Thurman, with art by Sergio Tarquini. Darick Robertson drew the cover. Interior colors are by R.L. Campos, cover colors by Diego Rodriguez, and lettering by Colin Bell.
Risks and challenges
We got this. We've got a lot of issue #1 done, and we're confident we can wrap it successfully.
Of course, as we hit our stretch goals, producing additional issues means more scripts to write and lots more pages to draw, color, letter, and deliver. The more issues, the more time is required and the more things can go wrong. But we know what we're doing. Delays may occur, but we will produce the issues we promise.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
We love print. But it's expensive. Printing comics in full cover is especially expensive. In order to pay for that, we'd have to add four figures to what we're asking for (as well as to each of our stretch goals).
A lot of comics Kickstarters offer printed issues, as well as a whole array of trade paperbacks and limited edition hardcovers. Some even have alternate or variant covers. And because these print runs are pretty small, the costs are even larger. While all these various printed editions are enticing to donors, the costs associated with them represent a huge percentage of the entire Kickstarter campaign. In other words, you're being asked to donate to a campaign that might mostly be going to printing all these various printed products. Rather than, you know, actually making the comic.
We'd rather make the comic. And then make the next one. Instead of spending tons of our time and YOUR hard-earned money printing what kind of amount to a serious of vanity editions, we've made the choice to focus on the comic -- and getting out as many issues as possible.
Digital is fast, convenient, and reads well. It's here to stay. And although some digital comics are in low resolution or have awkward pagination, ours are beautiful. If you don't believe us, check out the first chapter of MARTIAN COMICS as a free download here: http://martianlit.com/magazine/1826/martian-comics-1-preview/
If you'd like to know more, Julian Darius answers this question in more depth in his interview on Sequart: http://sequart.org/magazine/41625/julian-darius-on-martian-comics/
Absolutely! Just increase your pledge by $27 (plus international shipping, if applicable), and let us know you want the T-shirt. We'll be happy to oblige, with our thanks!
Everything we get goes to the artists involved, and if we have anything left over, it'll get rolled into the next issue.
We've invested a lot of time and money into issue #1 already, and we don't expect to get that back. In fact, we expect to have to borrow to keep going. What we get from Kickstarter will help us finish paying for the first issue, and from there we'll just keep begging and borrowing for as long as we need to.
Fortunately, because we're not making a print edition or much merchandise, the expenses associated with the Kickstarter should be minimal.
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