Those delightful chaps from Wart Comics, writer Chris Welsh and artist Ammar Al-Chalabi are returning to the Kickstartertrail following their devastating exploits on their previous Wart crowd funding campaign. The aim is to bring the next instalment of their Lovecraftian infused cosmic horror/comedy to print.
The previous campaign was noteworthy for a well crafted Kickstarter with some cool and high quality rewards for those lucky enough to jump on board.
We were lucky enough to grab Chris for a bit of an overview:
J:“It’s only been a few months since you and Ammar slaughtered your previous crowd funding campaign – were you surprised at how well you did the last time out?”
C: “We were very surprised! In the end we got just under a £1000 more than we asked for, almost £2500 in total. What we expected to be a struggle turned out to be a pleasant surprise – people really responded to the first Kickstarter in a way we didn’t anticipate. The whole thing was tremendously exciting (right up to the point where I had to make a dozen trips to the post office, and make the kindly old lady working there my enemy for life).
A lot of effort went into the set-up and prep of the campaign and I think that showed – we planned the rewards carefully, offered everything at reasonable prices, and put care into how we presented everything.
What’s good, and reassuring, is that a lot of those people have returned for the second Kickstarter. Hopefully we’ll pick up a good amount of newcomers too, though.”
J:“Wart was nominated for the Ghastly Award – that’s quite some recognition. How gratifying is it that Wart is growing in the way it is?”
C: “It’s growing really organically. We’re just plugging away, doing what we do, and people seem to be digging it. Only a small part of our comics-time is focussed on PR and advertising, because we simply don’t have the hours in the day to dedicate to it. So things are going slowly, but steady, and when people find us they tend to stick around.
The Ghastly Award nomination was fantastic, and pretty unexpected. It was for ‘Excellence In Horror Comics’, in the Webcomic category with some other excellent comics, and though we didn’t win, we did get a couple of sweet certificates.
With any luck it’ll be the first in a long line of nominations… maybe one day we’ll even win something!”
J: “How much fun do you get from the crowd funding campaigning?”
C: “It’s a lot of fun! Though it probably helps that ours seem to go quite well… I have a little app that sits on the front screen of my phone that constantly updates with number of backers, amount, and days left. Both times I’ve expected to be sat staring at a big fat zero for 30 days; luckily that hasn’t been the case.
That said… it’s still stressful. The ‘What if it all goes horribly, disastrously wrong?’ question nags at you until the very last second and there are no guarantees – pledges can be cancelled, after all. We’ve not hit our target yet with the current Kickstarter, but we only need £300 in the next 28 days… so we’re quietly confident…
We’re having a bit of a dry spell at the moment with cons (lots to look forward to in the next few months, but a quiet July) so it’s good to have this to focus on and take our work to the next step.
I feel like with indie comics, one issue is great – it shows you have the drive to do it. Two is even better – you believe in it enough to stick it out. But three is a turning point – it shows con-goers that you’ve been around for a while and are dependable. They can trust more that Book Four will come along at some point, so they’re more likely to take a punt. Especially with a book like ours, with its ongoing story.”
J:“What next for our friend Wart? Are you and Ammar considering expanding the format of the comic – from a reader perspective it seems that Wart is perfect for animation.”
C: “At the moment we’re sticking with comics, though we have joked about adding a £100,000 stretch goal to the Kickstarter to fund the production of a professional-grade animated TV pilot. If any bored millionaires want to throw us a few packets of cash, we might just do it…
I think our ideal non-comic Wart project would be a Monkey Island-style point and click adventure because we both love those and I think the humour and world would be a great fit. If we make it to ten books we’ll try to Kickstart that, promise.”
J:“You took Wart, along with Tom Ward, to Holland a while back – how was the international con experience?”
C: “The first Dutch Con was around the same size as an MCM in England – huge, bright, loud and flashy. And really, really busy. Easily the biggest con we’ve done so far. We had a great time talking to people and selling our books, and also just walking around taking in everything. Of course, with the language barrier, Ammar had to pick up a lot of the slack when talking/selling, which left Tom and I more time to drink beer.
We’re aiming to go back next year and also hopefully hit a few more cons in other countries. The dream, of course, is NYCC or SDCC…”
J: “Speaking of Mr Merrick, you have recently begun a new creative venture with Tom – can you tell Confreaks anything about Doc Dino?”
C:“Doc Dino is, put simply, ridiculous. It’s the opposite of Merrick and kinda the opposite of Wart. We wrote it mostly as a lark, to see if we could, and it turned out really well. Working with Tom is great because we have a similar sense of humour, taste, and work ethic. When we set out to do something, even if it’s about a dinosaur doctor, there’s a good chance we’ll do it.
In essence, it’s about a T-Rex who just happens to be the world’s greatest surgeon. On paper. In practice… he’s not that good. The story is one of redemption for the titular hero, both professionally and personally. It has heart. There’s also some robots, a mad doctor and a little kung-fu. Naturally.
When we finished writing it we decided it had to exist, so we put a funding plan together, found an artist (Mac Radwanski, from Poland – he’s ace), a colourist (Dee Cunniffe – also ace) and we’re closing in on a letterer. We’re super happy with the 60-page, self-contained script, and every page we’ve had back so far has been excellent. It’s a good sign that the script is still capable of making us laugh, even after dozens of rewrites and read-throughs.
We’re funding the first twelve pages ourselves and then we’ll be hitting Kickstarter later in the year so… lookout for that. Also, we apologise in advance. It’s ridiculous.”