I want to tell you about the weird journey of how MONSTER ELEMENTARY: An All-Ages Graphic Novel, came to be a Kickstarter project. It started out as a simple, insignificant snowball and became an avalanche! The awesomest, most amazing avalanche ever!
It Started with DC Comics’ web imprint, Zuda. When I first heard of Zuda, I set 2 goals for myself.
1 – Be the first ever Zuda contest winner!
2 – Be the first ever 2-time Zuda contest winner!
I (sort of) completed the first goal! Zuda’s first contest was populated entirely with solicited creators. My pals David Gallaher and Steve Ellis won that contest with their comic, HIGH MOON. Daniele Serra and I won the second contest with PRAY FOR DEATH, thus making me the first user submitted contest winner! I count this as a win. But that second goal was ever present in my mind.
A few months later, I was on a panel with other Zuda creators at San Diego Comic-Con. Caanan Grall was one of the other creators on the panel. During the panel, he told the audience that he wanted to be the first ever 2-time Zuda contest winner! “Game on!” I thought, for the briefest of moments before realizing that he would almost certainly beat me to it. So I devised another plan. I would convince him to join forces and we could share the title!
I asked him if he would be interested in collaborating with me even though I had absolutely no ideas to bring to the table. But I didn’t actually think he’d accept anyway since he is an excellent writer as well as an excellent artist and doesn’t need me. Then when he said yes, I didn’t know what to do. It really kinda stressed me out.
What happened next was like magic. I was lying in bed on a Saturday morning, being completely lazy. Somewhere in that realm between asleep and awake, the idea came to me! Adapt the Universal Monsters into children and force them to go to a human public school! It was the perfect project for Caanan! It couldn’t be more tailor-made!
I pitched it! He loved it! I worked up some script pages! He started illustrating some pages! Then Caanan had a thought, a feeling. He didn’t think we should give this to Zuda. He thought that we really had something special and that we could go a lot farther with it! This could actually be good enough to print on paper! Don’t take this as an insult to webcomics. It’s not meant that way, but for those of us that grew up dreaming about being famous comic book creators, getting someone to kill a tree and print our stories on it is a major point of pride! It’s a rite of passage! And also…he was right!
We landed a contract to publish a 90 page MONSTER ELEMENTARY graphic novel with a major publisher! IT. WAS. HAPPENING! Better yet, we had to turn down a second major publisher that sent us an offer after we’d already signed the contracts! Talk about ego boosts!
But then, after we’d been working with the publisher for a while, something completely out of my control caused the book’s cancellation. Ad worse yet, the other major publisher had moved on as well. I was crushed. But I couldn’t let it go.
I had fallen in love with these characters. I used to dream about a career writing Superman and Batman. Now I dreamt of enough success to let me write these characters for the rest of life. There was no turning back for me.
Unfortunately, some other commitments forced Caanan to move on from the project. I don’t want to say that losing Caanan was a good thing, he co-created these characters and his thumbprint is all over the project! Heck, his concept art for Gilda (the lagoon girl) completely changed my concept of her personality! However, the group of artists that I found to replace him are the most amazing, unique, committed and talented people I could hope to work with!
I brought in a group of artists that would give a variety of different interpretations to the characters. Each artist has a unique style that brings the characters to life in a way that the other artists couldn’t! I could go on and on about how much these artists Rock, but the bottom line is that they have all found a very special place in my heart.
So, armed with a team of new artists, I set out to find a publisher! But things had changed. There was even less room in the marketplace for something like this. I was starting to think it was all over. Then the words of an angel found their way to me. Oh wait, did I say angel? I meant Jimmy Palmiotti. Words of wisdom that sound like Brooklyn! I had never considered Kickstarter to be an option, because I didn’t think I had the skill or the know-how to run a campaign. Jimmy talked excitedly and passionately about Kickstarter. He simplified it for me, and then answered my exhaustive questions. In one afternoon, He completely changed my perspective! I was recharged, refreshed and ready to take the internet by storm!