I am launching this Kickstarter to fund the sixth issue of SHIRTLIFTER, a 64 page collection of 15 short autobiographically themed comics. Two thirds of the comics are from anthologies published over the past ten years; one third is new, unpublished work.
I have been self-publishing SHIRTLIFTER since 2006. SHIRTLIFTER is a venue for me to draw comics that explore various aspects of gay culture, and each issue has had its own identity: SHIRTLIFTER 1 was a short story about an ex-pat couple living in Tokyo; SHIRTLIFTER 2 was a collection of short autobiographical pieces that had been created over a five year period, plus some new work; and SHIRTLIFTER 3 - 5 serialized my graphic novel "Unpacking", documenting the relationship between a gay guy and a straight, married man.
SHIRTLIFTER 6 is a sequel of sorts to the second issue, featuring a number of autobiographical short pieces authored over the past 10 years. I'm sort of an accidental autobiographer; when I started doing comics I really had no intention of doing them, and the majority of pages I have produced over the 17 years I have been drawing comics are straight up fiction. However, when thinking about stories, sometimes the issues I want to bring up are ones in which I have personal experience; in that context, inventing some thinly-veiled fictional avatar to stand in for me seems pointless. There is a power in having the events be real, or as "real" as my biased perspective can possibly make them. Fictionalization is an inescapable part of all memoir, and these comics are no different: people have been combined, dialogue has been invented or distorted by memory, body fat has been trimmed down. The results are emotionally and thematically accurate to the events of my life, if always literally true.
Two thirds of this book consists of short pieces that were created and published in anthologies between 2008 and 2018. Some of these anthologies, such as QU33R and ALPHABET, were comics focused, while others, such as I LIKE IT LIKE THAT and QUEERS WERE HERE, were prose-oriented but asked me to contribute. Much of this work has been been virtually unseen, and the two stories from prose anthologies are appearing in color for the first time.
SHIRTLIFTER 6 will also include a 17 page suite of extremely short stories that I have worked on in collaboration with my husband, Todd Brower. This group of short short stories, between 1 - 4 pages in length, are an attempt to show, in a humorous way, the dynamics of our relationship. The back and forth in the comics mirrors the back and forth between us in writing these stories; at this point I honestly don't know who wrote what; both of us generated ideas and scripts, and then watched as the other revised the other's ideas, changed dialogue, changed ending. It's definitely a product of both of us, which is appropriate, given the subject matter.
Todd also wrote two of the other stories in this collection, "Food for Thought" and "Ex Communication" the latter of which was included in the BEST AMERICAN COMICS 2010 anthology.
I'm very happy to be able to finally have enough autobiographical material to fill another issue. The next project I will be working on is fiction, so it will be a while before I do any more autobiographical comics. Then again, when I started out I had not intention of doing any, so who knows? I shouldn't make promises I might not keep.
The goal for the campaign is the minimum needed to cover the printing costs. If the campaign exceeds the minimum, the following stretch goals will become possible.
$4000 - Improved paper stock
$5000 - Exclusive print to all backers at the $10 level and above
Risks and challenges
This is the second Kickstarter I have run by myself, in addition to assisting with my publisher Northwest Press to collect my Unpacking story into one graphic novel. One thing that I have learned is to keep things simple, and not overpromise too many crazy, time intensive rewards. The issue is almost, but not-quite, finished as this Kickstarter is being launched, and I anticipate having books back from the printer by mid-May. This means backers should have their ebooks, signed copies and prints by the end of May (international orders will take slightly longer). T-shirts will take slightly longer, but no more than a few weeks.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (20 days)