Have you ever read a comic book that you thought was boring or too by-the-numbers? Hundreds of comic books and graphic novels get released every month. At the end of the day, what drives them is one of three things:
- Familiarity: The appeal of seeing familiar characters, whether they're childhood favorites or characters who resemble folks you know on the street.
- Name Recognition and Buzz: Nobody wants to be the last person to hear a spoiler for a new movie or TV show. When fantastic creators like Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Jonathan Hickman, Robert Kirkman, or Charles Soule tell a story, folks want to be on the cutting edge of it. There were only about 20,000 of you who were reading Guardians of the Galaxy when Disney decided to turn it into a movie and you get bragging rights for your good taste.
- Escape: Sometimes, the best thing in the world is just to lose yourself in the problems of fictional characters or with ideas that are weird and challenging, unrelated to the problems of your daily life but which can inspire new ways of thinking and feeling.
My name is Patrick Gerard and I created Ungrounded around three years ago, building on ideas I'd been accumulating since 2005. I don't have the rights to do a comic book about Batman or Mickey Mouse, although I'd love to have a hand in something like that and I have actually been referenced by and contacted by TV and film producers, comic book creators, and video game developers about my ideas. That's an exciting thing when it happens out of the blue.
You may or may not know me and if you do, it might be from jobs we've worked together, from plays I've been in, or maybe you know me from Kickstarter. I have a reputation for rants and harebrained theories. In college, the guys at my dorm called me "Jetpack" because my harebrained ideas for things that would be cool always involved access to a jetpack.
At the end of the day, I don't have the money or resources to create something with other people's characters. (I'll take that job the minute it's enough to cover the rent, though!) I'm not famous even though I'm just weird enough that I could be someday. (Times that I have met my heroes at conventions always made me feel like I was on my home planet for a change.) So what do I have for you? Howabout escape?
Ungrounded is a comic book about a physicist in a costume named Joe (he also answers to Mr. Solenoid) and cape and talking, flying polar bear (Prince Ulysses of the Interdimensional Clan Ursae). They fight crime but, mostly, they end up being used by the United States government (which has six secret states whose stars are printed in invisible ink on every flag produced) and a police force called D.E.P.O.T. which is run by Inspector Halfaway, a man who lost the left half of his body, and Lt. Lizardo, a beat cop with gills. Joe is dating Vivian Von Valiant, a billionnaire treasure hunter with a heart that is literally made out of gold. They've encountered cosmic beings like the Egyptian deity Thoth and the Allfather Christmas, the deity Odin who has gotten a holiday themed wardrobe makeover.
Ungrounded is primarily written by me and my main artist, Eryck Webb, who might now be best known for his comics work in Transformers Collector's Club Magazine (The "Another Light" storyline)as well as having designed official Transformers and He-Man T-shirts. Ungrounded also includes work by Brian Augustyn (The Flash, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight), Tom Peyer (Legion of Super-Heroes, Batman '66), Art Thibert (X-Men, The Flash), Dennis Culver (E is for Extinction, Edison Rex), Armand Villavert (Gladstone's School for World Conquerors,), John Derrick West, James Ritchey III, and more.
The 111 page collected edition is nearing completion. We have a section of the book devoted to profiling the characters and setting of the book and we'd like to upgrade the printing.
We've run Kickstarters before but none managed to push up quite to the point where we had the funds to get the minimum order for a higher quality printing or provide some of the extras we'd like to. I've put almost all the money I have into making the book a better book but we really have several more thresholds we need to hit that are outside of my ability to cover. If I weren't passionate about these improvements, I wouldn't be here asking you to help with them.
This campaign represents one last chance for us to upgrade the book.
The last campaign managed to unlock 7 upgraded profiles to be added to the book. With this campaign, we'll be adding the 3 that were not unlocked and raising funds to produce as many as 73 more to chronicle the characters and settings featured in Ungrounded: The First Revolution with a potential 73 new pages of content and 10 pages of additional story content that will bring the finished book to 200 pages if all our stretch goals are met, as well as improving the printing quality of the book.
The profile pages and extra features this book is financing are included in the UNGROUNDED: THE FIRST REVOLUTION trade paperback, available in digital form at $10 and in digital and physical forms at all tiers above that. Also, yes, we will include a PDF download option for people who are JUST getting the ball cap.
The following is an outline of our stretch goals for the project:
Want a sample of our profile pages?
Put simply, this campaign is about putting the finishing touches on what is the definitive edition of the 114+ (111 prior to this campaign but the goal tells me there's interest in those 3 extra pages) page book. The book we're assembling has everything from the first story through the last and this campaign is about ensuring that this edition truly has EVERYTHING. This is one last push at making sure that the book has EVERYTHING. Our main funding goal is for a simple upgrade and some story pages.
Our next big hurdle after we get a bit more funding for story pages is to cross a line where we can get a high quality, bulk print run produced using offset technology on glorious glossy paper.
Once we have the funding for a high quality, bulk offset run of the book (all printings we have done so far have been short, digital printing runs), adding more pages gets more affordable, at which point we can look at getting the final book up to 200 pages full of in-depth profile pages.
When artist Eryck Webb and I set out to create the Ungrounded comic book universe nearly three years ago, we were both bursting with pent-up creative energy and the overfunding allowed us to expand the original book's page count and secure cover artwork by the amazing Art Thibert. Earlier this year, you helped us fund the creation of the Ungrounded: The First Revolution trade paperback, which heavily expanded the size and scope of that universe and brought on a vast array of talents including Tom Peyer, Brian Augustyn, Armand Villavert, and more and a truly definitive collection.
That book is nearing completion.
As The First Revolution began to approach the point where it's ready to go off to the printer, I started to look back at the previous campaigns' stretch goals that we didn't hit and I reviewed the book's nearly 80 characters, some of whom are only elaborated on in the script... And I realized that there was still more that we could do to make the book TRULY definitive before it goes to press.
We now have a universe so vast that it deserves profiling in the style of Marvel Comics' Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe or DC Comics' Secret Files and Who's Who in the DC Universe. That is what this campaign is about: unfinished business.
Our basic goal for this campaign is a low bar aimed at adding 3 profile pages and covering the expense for an additional 6 page story to be featured in The First Revolution. If we hit that goal, we can cover the extra 6 pages of production expenses and comfortably expand the book's pages to include that.
We're really hoping to not only hit that target but to keep going, hitting additional stretch goals that allow us to create 73 BRAND NEW PROFILE PAGES for the people, places, and things that make up the universe of Ungrounded as well as updating the character art for profile pages where the character has undergone some visual transformations.
Note: If you backed the campaign for Ungrounded: The First Revolution, any extra material we generate with this campaign will be included in your copy from that campaign. This campaign is about making one last go at improving and expanding that book before it goes to the printer. If this were a movie, you could think of that campaign as being for the DVD and this one as being for the special features and commentary tracks. You're welcome to back this campaign for an additional copy. We'd be very grateful if you choose to back this campaign. That said, if you backed the last campaign, you'll be getting all the upgrades. The one exception to printing upgrades is that the international printing -- the $25 tier here -- will not be receiving printing upgrades from the stretch goal; shipping has reached the point where it's cheaper to have our European and Asian copies printed in Europe. If you're outside the U.S. and you want the U.S. version or the ball cap, there is an option to pay shipping. But I'm providing the option to have a copy sent directly from a European printer, produced on demand, to offer a cheaper option.
This might also be a great time to tell your friends and get them to back this campaign if they missed out last time.
Our book has a budget of around $200 a page for story pages. This includes the pencil artwork, finishes/inks, coloring, and lettering. We can produce character profiles a bit cheaper (every profile still needs new artwork created for it) but when you do the math, a page of our book has about 20-30 hours of labor put into it by 3 to 5 different people, from the writer to the various stages of artwork. That's before any printing or fulfillment expenses.
As a rule of thumb with this campaign, about 45 cents of every dollar goes into printing, shipping, and fulfillment and about 45 cents of every dollar goes into paying artists for their time and effort. About 10 cents of every dollar goes to Kickstarter and credit card processing fees.
With digital rewards, a bigger share can go into production but all rewards push us towards stretch goals that increase our costs. That's why we're asking $10 for the digital book. On the plus side, you're getting 8 digital issues collected there.
With ball caps, we need to allocate a portion of that money towards our stretch goals. Because we have a stretch goal for a printing upgrade, we have to be prepared to order a large number of books to hit that printer's minimum order. We had a credit with a printer for a limited number of custom made products, which is the only thing that allows us to offer the "early bird" ball caps for less.
Also, maybe this is helpful: The book's print run is small enough that I am ordering them individually at this point rather than in blocks of 1000 or something. That means my current need is for around 150 copies. If one more person backs the physical book, I order 151. If one more person backs after that, I order 152. There isn't currently a surplus or backstock planned; those costs are all variable. I could see where it would be double dipping in the eyes of some people if I had any projected backstock but I don't, which is why I estimate the cost and profit on a per unit basis. I incur a new printing cost with each additional book ordered. I will only have a large, fixed print run if we trigger the $6000 stretch goal because that is what it takes to justify a bulk order. THAT is why the stretch goal rewards start flowing a lot more at that point. (And, yeah, I've done the math to make sure that I wouldn't be better off ordering a large quantity instead of one at a time. The $6000 funding mark is pretty much the point I need to hit where it would be cheaper than the on-demand printer I use.)
Most of the serious potential for profit only comes when we're ordering enough books to justify a bulk run and, at that point, you'll see that we've got fairly large scale rewards coming in fairly close together to redirect that back towards backers. I would love to see this book smash every target but I appreciate every dollar.
It's through the help of the Kickstarter community that we're making this book a reality and it's only with your help that we can make the new volume and even bigger, better reality.
Having done my homework on this, this seems to be a question that needs to be answered upfront.
This campaign is NOT being used to sell pre-existing inventory. The book is in development as a 111 trade paperback. For $1 worth of interest from backers, I am willing to incur the printing costs of expanding that by 3 pages. Increasing the size of the print run when the book does print will further offset the cost of those extra 3 pages, which I went ahead and produced out of pocket, on my own time. Based on the book's current projected printing run, the cost of those extra 3 pages will be $12.67, not including time spent or artwork costs. Rather than start off this campaign asking for $12.67, I am willing to incur $11.67. I typically spend more on my books that my Kickstarters raise in revenue. That $1 is all the incentive I need to put those 3 extra pages in. It's a low bar but I need to see interest in the book and I'd love it if we could do much, much more, which is where this campaign can kick into overdrive.
This campaign helps finance that extra 3 pages, showing that, yes, you want to see them. Those pages didn't cost much because I already had the artwork needed for them and I spent my own time prepping them for the new profile page design. From there, we have stretch goals, all of which are targeted at further upgrades and expansions of the book, as well as the benefits of a larger printing run. None of these further upgrades can exist without the help of this campaign.
I realize the $1 Kickstarter is a controversial premise but I personally believe it is legitimate (the book itself would happen with or without the campaign so the bar can be low; the profile pages and bonus pages need the campaign -- I can't put that kind of funding on a credit card) and after seeing really excellent projects from creators I respect fail or struggle to attract substantial attention beyond their basic target, I believe that this is the best way to launch an upgrade project whose expenses are, at this point, significantly made up of variable expenses and almost all optional (but really cool improvements that I have my heart set on making).
We're as indie as it gets. I pumped six months worth of my own savings into making the last Kickstarter for Ungrounded: The First Revolution happen above and beyond what the campaign raised. I have big education debt and a big passion for comics. That passion has opened the way for me to get a chance to work with professionals who have great resumes but along the way, I didn't raise quite enough even with my matching personal contributions to knock out every stretch goal and pay my contributors a fair rate.
This campaign is a second chance at hitting those extra goals and was very nearly a campaign for a separate guidebook before I crunched numbers and realized that folding any guidebook content back into the collection would be a better value for backers. Every dollar adds 100% to the total because every dollar matters and because I'm committed to making the book happen either way -- the only question here is what extras we can afford. That's why I spent more than $1 of my own money, maxing out every financial resource I had, for every $1 raised in the first campaign. Backers of the first campaign will receive every additional upgrade to the book unlocked at the end of this campaign just as backers in this campaign receive the benefit of a book financed by the generous backers of the first campaign.
This is a campaign to finance extras and printing upgrades for a book that a previous campaign financed the main story content for. This can expand the book's extra features from the 7 profile pages promised in the previous campaign to potentially more than 70.
By doing this as an expansion of the previous book rather than a separate book, it allows us to start small with the goal, put every dollar to work, and increase the size of the value for backers of both campaigns with a bigger print run that can potentially free up funds for higher quality and more content.
Risks and challenges
The book is happening and the basic work is very near complete. We've fulfilled successful Kickstarters in the past.
The book is a solid level of quality. We've been told by independent booksellers that the original Ungrounded is one of their best sellers. Our creative team collectively has hundreds of comic books worth of experience and includes work by creators who have worked professionally on a range of iconic brands including Batman, Superman, X-Men, Justice League, Transformers, Masters of the Universe, Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen, Miracleman, World of Warcraft, and The Muppets.
This campaign is a final attempt to upgrade, enhance, and expand the graphic novel collection. We have the tools. We have the technology. We can make it better, faster, stronger.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)