Kickstarter News: Sliced Quarterly vol.1

Kickstarter News: Sliced Quarterly vol.1

Having recently stumbled across an intriguing anthology, an experimental anthology, going by the name of Sliced Quarterly, it was with some luck that we managed to pin writer, producer, editor Ken Reynolds down for a chat about his brand new Kickstarter for the collected edition of Sliced Quarterly!

CFG John : “Can you tell us a little about the ethos behind Sliced Quarterly?”

Ken: “Sliced Quarterly is an experimental comic anthology that tries to put the nuts and bolts of the comic book narrative front and center. Comics have such unique storytelling mechanics that cannot be replicated in other mediums so I wanted to create a book that showcased this. We try to tell simple, authentic ‘slice-of-life’ stories told in extraordinary ways. I’ve tried to gear to book towards putting story first, we’re not too ‘zeitgeisty’. The themes we tackle are overarching, and hopefully will still be relative when I look back on this project fondly in many years time. I’m also very focused on our contributors. Sliced is a home for projects that have trouble fitting in with more mainstream publications. There are so many wonderful voices in the thriving small press scene at the moment, and it can be difficult to get your work published if you are trying something different. I know I’ve produced work in the past knowing that in all likelihood it would go no further than my immediate circle. So I guess I made a place where there is freedom to try stuff, weird ideas are encouraged and creativity is paramount. My only concern starting out was if there would be an audience for such a thing. So far it seems to be working out, but check back with me when the Kickstarter ends!”

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CFG John: “Having recently covered #3 of Sliced Quarterly here at the CFG, which was a very interesting read, it was refreshing to read stories with real world punch! How hard is it to balance entertainment with harder stories so that you get a cohesive flow to your book?”

Ken: “I guess it’s all part of the editorial process, something which I am learning about with each issue. This project is my first as an editor, and it’s been a steep learning curve. My understanding is that I don’t run Sliced like an experienced editor should, I have a very ‘loosey-goosey’ approach. Currently, the publication isn’t able to offer page rates, so all contributors have to buy into the ethos of the project, as there are meager rewards. In return I refuse to impose deadlines. I know creators are busy, and I dislike asking for free work, so I’ve set up a situation where I’d like Sliced subs to be passion projects. The thing you do in between paying gigs, or your ‘real’ work. So I accept scripts, work with the writer to get it to where we both think it works, build creative teams, and then I remove myself from the process, checking in now and again. I find creative people work best when they have the freedom to be creative (funny that). Then the issues come together very quickly. I choose from the pool of completed work and fit it together. Sometimes there are obvious themes and links (issue #3 is a good case for that) other times it is just judging what sits well together and flows through a whole issue. It’s totally subjective, and I can’t really explain my decision making process. I’m working a lot through feel. The reaction to Issue #4 is going to be very interesting, as I have geared it towards being a challenging read to finish our first yearly cycle. I will divide readers, I think. But I set out to do it, because it explores and widens the scope of what comics can be, and I accept some readers will dislike my definition.”

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CFG John: “You’ve recently launched a kickstarter for the first volume of Sliced Quarterly – what drew you to the crowdfunding platform?”

Ken: “I met Tom Ward (Merrick: The Sensational Elephantman) & Chris Welsh (Wart, Ness) at London Super Comic Con at the beginning of this year. I’d made a comic called Cognition with Sam Bentley and I’d done a small vanity printing to show around. They liked the book told me I should look at Kickstarter and encouraged me to run a small campaign. 8 months and 2 successful campaigns later (I’m fulfilling Cognition #1 as we speak), I feel as though I have a good grasp on how to run a campaign, and more importantly the reasons for utilizing the platform. When I started out I was very new to the comics scene, I didn’t have contacts or know many people to get my foot in the door anywhere. Kickstarter to me is like tabling at a digital con. You get to make your pitch to anyone that wants to read it and they decide if they want to buy into it. Of course they have to be a bit patient to wait for the book, but personally, I only start a campaign once the book is virtually complete, so the funding is just to get it over the line and print. It has been a fantastic way to find an audience. Kickstarter has a huge community of people excited to buy into new ideas, products and concepts. They want to feel involved with it’s creation. Funding a comic through kickstarter does make it feel as though you are finding patrons rather than readers, they take a real interest in your book, and can rightfully feel as though they were an integral part of making what they will eventually receive in the post. And Sliced is all about finding and establishing a readership. It was my main concern when releasing the first issue. Would anyone be interested? Initially I wanted to keep the first issue free, and start charging a small fee for further releases in an effort to fund the printed collection, but I soon came to realize what was more vital to the success of the project. We needed to establish a base of readers to get to a point where we could ask them to pay. So all issues of Sliced are free to read and download from our website (www.slicedquarterly.co.uk), and it is my hope that people will still wish to pay for an ink and paper copy if they enjoy what they see.”

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CFG John: “You seem to have a quality support base for your Kickstarter, in particular the Digital Mega reward bundle, which features some great indie creators (Chris Welsh, Jon Laight, Jimmy Furlong, Sam Bentley, Paul Kemble to name but a few) – you’ve really offered backers a great value reward thanks to those creators. How gratifying is it that you’ve got such support?”

Ken: “Sliced has turned into a real community project. Without the support oy our contributors I wouldn’t have anything to put out, but they go above and beyond. Not only to they offer their work they offer their voice and time when it comes to promoting. Most of the content in the ‘mega-bundle’ has come from past and future contributors, but there are a few in there that just want to support what we’re doing, which is indicative of what goes on in small press comics. Everyone is so friendly and helpful. there is a real sense of creative camaraderie. We all just want to see all the cool stuff the others are making. I also see it as a marker that we are doing something with Sliced that is a bit different to what is currently available. People seem to be recognizing that, and are kind enough to help us out to try and make it succeed.”

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CFG John: “What is the future for Sliced Quarterly? You have a very tidy set up (the website is very crisp and professional) and you seem to be on a mission with the comic.”

Ken: “Thank you for your comments on the website! I’m not all that good with code, but I wrangled a WordPress theme into submission! The future… It doesn’t all hinge on the Kickstarter campaign, but it will play a part in my ideas for our publishing model. If we can fund a print collection this way, then I see no reason not to continue with the current model next year. 4 free digital issues and a crowdfunded collection. It makes a neat annual cycle. If we can’t get funding yet, then it’s back to the drawing board. I’ll probably consider a print-on-demand route for now, and concentrate on building the audience further before giving crowdfunding another go. My hope is that we will get the funding for this first print run and I can concentrate on getting the book into brick and mortar shops, and we can get on the con circuit and extend our audience that way. No matter what happens, there will be a digital comic on the website every 3 months for as long as I can sustain the quality of submissions, which I can tell you now just keeps getting better. When we started out I thought I’d struggle to fill the pages, but I’m constantly surprised and delighted by how creators have got involved and really run with the idea.”

CFG John: “Final question… comics has, to a large extent, always relied upon a mix of talents to achieve the production of comic books. Writers, editors, letterers, artists, etc. Technology, software and the internet, has enabled a great many to launch themselves into the murky waters of comic creation. As a creator has the new technologies acted to enable you?”

Ken: “Sliced wouldn’t exist without the current tools available to us. Publishing wouldn’t be an option. We’ve based our publishing model on using digital distribution as the means to establish an audience. But before we even get close to putting a book out, the process of finding contributors, clear editorial communication and collaboration between creators would have been very difficult without our access to technology. I run most of the editorial side of things through a closed Facebook group that most contributors subscribe to. It helps me to disseminate information, calls for artists and writers, and it also acts as a place people can share work, check in with progress, or just socialize. I know many creative teams have found one another through Sliced and continued working on other projects, which is hugely gratifying. My entire skill-set as a designer is rooted in my ability to use technology. The principles of design etc, can be used without it, but it’s a tool, just like a pencil. Hand-drawn zines and zine fairs still exist despite technology and they are just as valid as comics as Sliced is. It’s easy to get caught up in the tools we use, and how sometimes the processes we employ seem to legitimize or improve what we make, but it’s important to keep it in perspective. Ideas are the key, strip away how something is produced. It’s the core of a story, the message is paramount, everything else is window dressing. Yes, tools make things easier, and it enables me to accept contributions from all over the world… But without an idea, a spark of inspiration or a vital message, execution is neither here nor there.”

Joseph K.

Joseph K.

I write, therefore I am. well, in between manic bouts of computer programming, being a parent and supporting the indie comic scene I try to dabble in laying down a few coherent sentences every once in a while.



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