• Wells Thompson

TOP 4 KICKSTARTERS OF FEBRUARY 2021

Indie and self-published comics are in a bit of a renaissance right now as the major comics powerhouses are on the decline and tools for independent creators are becoming much more plentiful and accessible. As a result, comic readers can find whatever niche comic they want to read just by going to Kickstarter and pitching in a few bucks to whatever suits their fancy.


But, with over 10,000 projects* running at any given point in time, how does the average reader find the right project to support? Hopefully, this article will help narrow things down, starting with...


#4 CODDLESWORTH'S CLOCKWORK CIRCUS, ISSUE #1

Coddlesworth's Clockwork Circus, Interior Page by Slobodan Jovanovich

Writer: Danny Oliver

Artist: Slobodan Jovanovich

Campaign ends: March 4th

Status: Fully funded, no stretch goals met


PITCH:

Two halfling sorceresses join a steampunk circus to save the world from arcane destruction. It's a steampunk fantasy adventure series with a large emphasis on world-building, visuals, language, and DnD tropes.


WHAT WORKS?

  • Jovanovich's art is ultra-detailed and the world is lush and beautifully realized.

  • The magical elements of the story are sparsely used and awe-inspiring, reinforcing the idea that magic is an unknown and mysterious force to most of the characters in the story.

  • There's barely any exposition or narration, conveying a trust that the reader can infer elements about the world without being spoonfed.


WHAT DOESN'T WORK?

  • The dialogue is sparse and can be a little stiff. This was probably a deliberate choice to highlight the art and make the foreign-language-speaking main characters seem more authentic, but it can be awkward to read.

  • The lettering is functional at best and amateurish at worst with some truly baffling balloon and FX choices.

  • The first issue does a poor job conveying the overarching story and what to expect from future issues.


WHY SHOULD I BACK IT?

Coddlesworth's Clockwork Circus is a feast for the eyes and imagination. It's no secret that the series reads like a DnD campaign, the marketing is explicit in this regard and even offers materials to do a tabletop campaign set in this world as one of the stretch goals. If what you're looking for is an uncut fantasy experience, material for your next campaign, or just a gorgeous book of art to dive into, this is a project to put some money into.



#3 DR. LOVE WAVE AND THE EXPERIMENTS, ISSUE #2

Dr. Love Wave and the Experiments, Cover by V. Gagnon

Writer: Greg Gustin

Artist: Kaylee Rowena

Campaign Ends: February 25th

Status: Fully funded, no stretch goals met


PITCH:

Dr. Love Wave and the Experiments tells the story of Milt Summers and his sci-fi surf rock band of the same name. On the one-year anniversary of his mother’s death, all Milt wants to do is play his way through the pain, but when an invasion force of water-stealing aliens arrives in his hometown of Madre Bay, a Musically Inclined Killer Android (MIKA) makes other plans for him. Soon, Milt will have to decide between continuing to move idly through his life, or finding it within himself to fight through his grief!


WHAT WORKS?

  • Though the art changed hands between issues 1 and 2, the thin lines, strong-jawed character design, and fluid feel of the first issue are retained.

  • Grief is handled with nuance and care in a series that also contains alien invasions and post-glam costume rock bands. Gustin's personal experience with grief serves the story well and keeps it from becoming tonally dissonant.


WHAT DOESN'T WORK?

  • Music in comics is hard to get right and, without the cadence and instrumentation, the written lyrics feel awkward and lackluster.

  • Not all elements of the story mesh well together and it sometimes feels as though two or three comics are being Frankensteined together.


WHY SHOULD I BACK IT?

Dr. Love Wave and the Experiments is a little rough around the edges but comes across as incredibly authentic. The creative team clearly have something important and deeply personal to say and do so in a way that is unique, fun, and infinitely likeable. If you like 80s sci-fi weirdness, character-driven struggles, or comics about bands and trying to make it as an artist, I'd give it a shot.



#2 PROJECT BIG HYPE

PROJECT Big Hype, cover by Sam Owen

Chief Editor: Doug Wood

Campaign Ends: March 18th

Status: 50% funded


PITCH:

PROJECT Big Hype is a manga-sized 300-page collection of stories modeled off Shonen Jump. We wanted to provide Western creators and audience an experience that we felt was lacking in the current comic landscape. Featuring 24 stories from 72 creators, we think that you will find a new favorite series within these pages.


WHAT WORKS:

  • It's a truly impressive collection of talent with some wonderfully compelling shorts and gorgeous art.

  • For a Kickstarter project with a $6000 goal, it's a massive book with a ton of content for its backers. Anyone supporting the project will surely get their money's worth.


WHAT DOESN'T WORK:

  • Like any anthology, people may view it as a mixed bag in terms of quality, with some stories they love, some they hate, and many in the middle.

  • The book is entirely in black and white, which some people won't like. The art mostly stands on its own without the benefit of color, but that can be a dealbreaker for some.


WHY SHOULD I BACK IT?

PROJECT Big Hype ambitiously fills a marketing niche in the western market, the Jump-style comic magazine. With tons of quality content and over 70 talented creators involved, there's no doubt going to be a story for everyone in its massive, 300-page first volume. If you wish western comics worked more like manga or love a good anthology, check out this massive project.



#1 SLIGHTLY EXAGGERATED, ISSUES #1-2

Slightly Exaggerated, Interior pages by Pius Bak

Writer: Curtis Clow

Artist: Pius Bak

Campaign ends: March 10th

Status: Fully funded, no stretch goals met


PITCH:

Slightly Exaggerated is a story set in a whimsical fantasy world where a dying treasure hunter must steal back a sacred artifact from a crazed cult leader in a world where religion is law. It's set in an over-the-top whimsical fantasy world filled with flying sea creatures, talking animals, and lots of other crazy, fun stuff! This setting makes for some really fun treasure hunting adventures. Think Indiana Jones/Uncharted meets a Studio Ghibli world. This story deals with a lot of deeper, mature subjects and themes like dying, leaving a legacy, religion, and questioning what you've been told.


WHAT WORKS?

  • A gorgeously realized fantasy world that stands out as unique and colorful. It's impossible to resist the charm of the delightfully colored pages of flying sea creatures, talking animals, and wondrous landscapes.

  • Taking a philosophically complicated element like mandatory religion can often overshadow character and make the comic seem preachy and arduous to get through. Clow does a good job making the protagonist likable and the story upbeat and fun.


WHAT DOESN'T WORK?

  • There's some prolonged nudity that smacks of fan service. I'm sure many will enjoy this as they are fans being serviced, but it's a distraction that feels mostly needless.


WHY SHOULD I BACK IT?

This feels like everything you should want out of an indie comic. It's a brand new fun adventure with great art, strong writing, high stakes, and lots of potential for strong themes and a compelling story. I don't have any real caveats for this one, if you're a comics fan, you should probably throw your money at this excellent project.



*DISCLAIMER: Comics are selected from a very large pool of projects sent to us for review; while we feel this list is representative of projects most worth the time and money of a comic reader, it is by no means exhaustive and there are many, MANY more projects that you can and should explore on Kickstarter.


–Wells Thompson, Content Editor


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