What’s Kickin – July 2019 Edition

*Time for another round up of projects being Kickstarted that we here at the Driving Creators Network feel you should check out! Some we’re backing but unfortunately we can’t back every project we dig. We still want to highlight and get the word out at the least!*

Ending in 14 Days or Less

Rise of the GoatmanCloses funding July 24th 2019 1:00 PM EDT
Afterlight Comics has another horror book book out there. Rise of the Goatman from Joseph Oliveira, Franccesco Iaquinta, and Adrian Garcia is a 29 page one-shot. A family retreat to a cabin in the woods changes dramatically when the daughter finds a diary from the previous owner that reveals the truth about the cabin. This looks to continue the strong line of horror comics from Afterlight (Wendigo Woood, Ghost Island, Stay Awake).

Art card print and poster rewards available.

Warcorns: Combat Unicorns for HireCloses funding July 26th 2019 11:52 AM EDT
Source Point Press is bringing this fabulously crazy tale from Garrett Gunn, Kevin Stokes, Jeremy Clark, Nicolas Touris, and Hde. This is an entirely new series, but the debut here is a direct tie to the Franklin and Ghost series (Garrett Gunn). Set between VOL 1 and 2 of F&G, Warcorns is a story about this elite Unicorn team being dispatched to bring in Franklin and Ghost dead or alive.

Chromium variant cover, challenge coin stretch goal, and Variant Franklin and Ghost TPBs available!

Facets: Advent Comics 10th AnniversaryCloses funding July 26th 2019 7:14 PM EDT
Advent Comics is celebrating its tenth anniversary in grand style. The 100 page graphic novel sees two cosmic beings discussing the fate of this universe. Depending upon how the events unfold on Earth, the Universe’s fate will go accordingly.  The Advent Comics Heroes and Villains are featured as they unknowingly play their role in a cosmic game of chance that can destroy the cosmos itself. There’s over 50 creators involved so listing them would be insane. The names do include Andy Smith, Bart Sears, Rich Buckler, and Allan Goldman.

Bevy of rewards offering up the entirety of the Advent Universe in addition to the 100 page 10th anniversary graphic novel. Hardcover reward tier available.

BeastlandsCloses funding July 26th 2019 8:00 PM EDT
Curtis Clow, Jo Mi-Gyeong, and Toben Racicot are back with their action adventure story set in a beautiful medieval fantasy world where some people have companion beasts known as Keepers. The exploration into what Mac’s (the main character) father was searching for cnotinues but now here’s a tyrant king that is looking to outlaw the Keepers This is for Issue #2 as #1 was successfully funded, and we can personally verify that the book is great.

Collector’s edition foil stamped covers. Variant and virgin covers for issue 2 available.

Wretches VOL 1Closes funding July 27th 2019 9:00 PM EDT
A 150+ page sci-fi graphic novel about family and the lengths we’ll go to save the ones we love from James E. Roche, Salo Farias, Chunlin Zhao, and Chas! Pangburn. On the rough streets of an alien planet, far from the one they’d called home, Shea and Sean were forced to grow up with nothing but each other. Forever outrunning the horrors of their past, they survive the only way they know how: by hunting and killing robots for profit! Brother and sister have to fight against all odds to be reunited in an epic set to the tones of Blade Runner, 5th Element, and Battlestar Galactica.

Original art and commissions. Charity tier with “4th Monkey Anthology” pdf that benefits efforts at the Ronald McDonald House in Long Branch, NJ.

Gorilla My Dreams: Gorilla Tails – Closes funding August 1st 2019 8:00 AM EDT
Ahmed Rafaat, Big Tim Stiles, S. Greenleaf, and Nathan Kelly bring and exploration of Struggle-Town and its residents. Spotlights shine on KNOCKAROUND-GUY as well as some of the other characters who cross paths with him; The cops, the crooks, even wannabe superheroes. Sure there’s Struggle-Town’s famous masked defender, but there are others who help keep the streets safe.

All stretch goals add to the stories and pin ups. Variant and blank covers & t-shirts available.

More Than Two Weeks Left

Acceptable LossesCloses funding August 3rd 2019 3:00 AM EDT
From Joe Glass, Danny Flores, Moose Baumann, and Michael Stock comes a self-contained 32 page comic detailing the last official mission of the USA’s sole superhuman military operative, the US Eagle. It’s some parts superhero, some parts revenge fantasy, and focuses on the grim action and cycle of violence in the war on terror and those fighting it on both sides.

Focus on digital copies but you’ll find some print TPB reward tiers for Joe’s THE PRIDE VOL 1. There’s also some great sketch rewards as well.

Everglade AngelsCloses funding August 11th 2019 7:00 PM EDT
From Scott Lobdell, Blake Northcott, and Roc Upchurch a tale of a girl’s softball team taking a shortcut through the Florida Everglades that sees them end up in a trap set by a murderous cult. They’d hope to have one last blow off before college and their inevitable parting of ways. Instead they’re caught smack dab in middle of murder and mystery. Facing unspeakable evil emerging from the darkness these girls are ready to fight back.

T-shirt and original art rewards. Buy one get one 50% option available.

The GameCloses funding August 14th 2019 12:05 PM EDT
Charlie Stickney, Conor Hughes, and Triona Farrell beg the question “So just what is The Game?” Well, it’s a hell of a question. The team describes it as Quantum Leap, if Sam happened to jump into the body of The Highlander and then got dragged into a sexy noir thriller. This is the team that has brought us White Ash so I’ve no doubt about the pitch.

Something is going on and it has been going on for centuries. An epic game has been and still is being played. By whom? For whom? Purpose? Yeah, all of that is shrouded in mystery. You can go to the campaign and read the first 10 pages of the story and get hooked.

Original art, dice, and SDCC exclusive ashcan rewards. Chance to get White Ash VOL 1 HC available.

Metalshark Bro: Isle of Misfit BrosCloses funding August 15 2019 11:00 AM EDT
The Bro is back thanks to Bob Frantz, Kevin Cuffe, Walter Ostlie, and Chas! Pangburn. The raunchy ride of dudes, bros, and anthrapamorphic folks carries on thanks to MSB whacking Beelz! Lots of weird ass demon creatures want revenge on MSB which means there’s oodles and oodles of gory deaths ahead! It’s an action filled, toilet humor laden comic that is just fun as hell. How could it not be with super pissed dude-bros that admired a douchebag demon dude gunning for revenge against our favorite bro?

Catch up tiers, enamel pins, and t-shirts. Kickstarter exclusive art book available.

Captain Gaia

W – Johny Tay
A – Stefano Realdini
C – Giuseppe Pica

Unabashedly borrowing from pop culture that two generations can relate to, Captain Gaia parodically tackles real world issues.  The influence is quite easy to spot.  That’s ok because the choice to go with a parody and some satire is what got me digging into the project.

The basis for the comic issues is this: 
In 2013, Greenpeace activists attempted to board and disable a Russian oil drilling platform off the Pechora Sea. The ship was impounded and the activists (allegedly) brutally beaten.
The unfortunate truth about issues facing our environment is that the issues aren’t merely black and white.  There are politics upon politics wrapped around both the causes and remedies for issues plaguing our Earth.  Along with that the condition of apathy plays its part.  Even the heroes of the book have succumbed to the all to prevalent take from people as a whole.  It is that apathy where the tale begins.  The dance with the eco-villains has been done before and the members of “Team Gaia” have grown “edgy and disenchanted.”  That’s a monumental failure of humans as a whole that is put on display.  If the problem is not front and center effecting our every day lives in an impactful manner, then “eh.”  Disbanded they’ve gone off to do what people do.  They have their own agendas and self serving needs.  This, of course, allows the window of opportunity for the ill-intended to take their own action.  That alone is a cautionary tale.  Sometimes the worst action, is inaction.  Thanks to a certain Mr Putin, the tame for action has come again. 

Don’t mistake the references as the tone of the book.  Captain Gaia is very much adult oriented in its action, language, and violence.  It’s fitting because the topic being dealt with is as real as it gets.  Too often the importance of the message is lost by being to soft, to apologetic, by overplaying to the audience, or by not doing enough.  This book doesn’t fall victim to the traps that other attempts in bringing awareness to a very real issue have done.  Putting a real name to the villain (Putin) grounds the story in the real world and anchors the seriousness of it.  Though the book does do service to the inspirations that it draws from, it makes it very clear what the point is.  “When you’re destroying the environment you’re only destroying yourselves.”  Captain Gaia’s words are point blank and leave no room for interpretation.

The book does a good job of what it intends to do.  The message environmental message is clear.  We, as people, being every bit to blame for environmental problems is clear.  The action delivered goes beyond simply trying to service the book as more than an elaborate PSA.  Captain Gaia works decently as a superhero comic on its own.  As much as it borrowed, it also used a classic comic trope to deliver the heroics in the story.  People have to come together to make it work.

Captain Gaia is available on Comixology!
Johny Tay’s website!

The Plague and Dr Caim

 G.E. Gallas

G.E. Gallas is currently funding a 100 page hardcover graphic novel at Unbound entitled “The Plage and Dr Caim.”  Using the Black Plague as its historical roots, the book focuses on a plague doctor and the adventures encountered by treating (and learning to treat) the apocalyptic issue at hand. 

First and foremost this book is wonderful on the eyes. On the project site at Unbound it states “With the aesthetic of a medieval illuminated manuscript” and that is spot on.  Each page looks as though it is on parchment and the styling of the art also fits the period piece look.  The vibrant colors are a great juxtaposition against the grim nature of the backdrop.  The dark humor of the book is helped along in both subtle and obvious nods from the art.    

While many of us know, or are at least familiar with the plague, it isn’t an often ventured topic in terms of the reality of the situation that faced the people afflicted and those trying to help.  A doctor faces a mix of exact and inexact sciences on a daily basis.  The plague presented what is perhaps the hardest road for a doctor to travel.  People are dying in droves, there’s an obvious disease causing the deaths, the disease is contagious (or is it), it travels quickly, and the symptoms are terrible.  Yet, the only way to figure it out is to get close to those infected.  Overall it’s a pretty dire and morbidly humorous situation.  This take is where this book shines.  

Thanks to the horror and supernatural genres many folks know the image of the plague doctor quite well.  The mysterious figure with beak and hat has been turned into all sorts of striking characters.  Usually they’re nothing resembling the truth of the matter.  Within the confines of the beak the doctors actually had fashioned a rudimentary gas mask.  The belief at the time you see, was that it was “bad air” that spread the disease.  The doctors meant to cure the sick certainly couldn’t be taking in that bad air now. 

Rooting the book in the historical and factual aspects of the plague gives the project a depth beyond being a mere darkly humorous look into a terrible time in human history.  The research done by Gallas is very clear.  Reading through the book I found myself going to the ‘ol googlemachine and checking some things out for myself.  I learned by reading this graphic novel.  How often do you get to say that?  

The mix of history, facts, humor, and reality of the plague period has blended into a book that works on all levels.  It looks and feels like it should given the premise.  Despite never being out of his cowl we get Dr Caim’s personality coming through as the trials and tribulations of treating the plague are navigated.  I quite enjoyed this historical fiction graphic novel.  

Check out the project on UNBOUND!
Visit G.E. Gallas’ website and see more projects!
Follow GE Gallas on Twitter!

Paladins #1

Zillia 1: Awakened by Destiny
Story – James Kinesely
Art – House of Imagi
Self Published

Lately there’s been what I’d call a NEW surge in Anime/Manga love as opposed to a resurgence in the genre.  I think the clear identity within mainstream visual storytelling mediums is what has really happened in all honesty.  I’m hitting the crest of the age hill and I can remember growing up and reading/watching what are now classic and seminal Anime/Manga pieces.  Paladins is a book that is very clearly inspired by many of these books and shows.  Even the black and white interior draws from the very identifiable stylistic choices of the genres.  While it does borrow, Paladins creates a new entry all its own.

As the first in a series (and a whopper too, 80 pages), Awakened by Destiny has plenty of work to do in order to get things going.  We know nothing about anything and for me, the choice of housing our main characters in high school was smart.  There’s already built in understanding, placement, and even some attachment as the overwhelming majority of readers can already relate on one level at minimum.  The book also does a very good job of building upon that by also showing us glimpses of the characters as children.  This helps with engaging these characters as well as getting a sense of their interactions and feelings for one another.  There is history between them already and it was a smart choice to allow that to help the readers out.  

One of the driving factors in the book is a structural element of the writing.  There are hints and nuggets dropped that pay off after you’ve continued to turn the page.  Of course, the narrative itself does this as well.  Who the heck are the actual Paladins?  After our main duo have become two of the ten the search is on.  Is it possible they already know one of the others?  The evil the face comes from a world that is much like ours but is powerful to the point that the brothers will need the help of the others.  The villains though, they feel like more than just your run of the mill baddies set up for our good guys to overcome.  Especially in this style it is very refreshing to be given full on characters across the board.  The Anime/Manga arena is rife with generic bad/evil cardboard cutouts that pose threats.  There is substance to the villains here.

Opposed to the common dark themes of the works that have come before it, Paladins appears to be a much more light filled universe overall.  The world itself has a an air of liveliness and all around hopeful nature but that doesn’t distract from the mysterious nature of the evil that is facing the new Paladins.  This book has done a good job of doing some of the hardest part of world building.  It’s both given and hinted at larger elements that will be forthcoming as this tale unfolds.  There’s got to be a hook (and we’ve got it in the form of both who the other Paladins are, and the full reveal of the evil they face) to continue to drive forward.  We’ve got them and they work.  Neither the action nor the character developing in this first entry overshadowed the other.  There was enough of both to properly move things towards the ultimate journey but also make me want to go along for the ride.  Add to that that we’ve got more to uncover about everything (the naming of the Paladins certainly has more to it, for example).

All in all this is an enjoyable entry into a new world and story for the genre.  It differentiates itself enough to warrant further exploration as the next chapters come out.    


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John The Swamp Dude: Who Killed Mobie Graye?

Story and Art by Josh Shockley with Letters and Edits by James Dufendach.

PLB Comics (based in Maryland) is bringing fan favorite character John the Swamp Dude out of the pages of their Halloween Specials into his own 48 page black and white one shot comic! Along with his best friend Zhub Zhub, JTSD is on the tail of the murderer of their mentor Mobie Graye. If you’re new to these characters the PLB crew has included a link to the first three parts of the JTSD saga FOR FREE on the front inside cover of this issue (and there’s a swanky sketch cover available too)!

***Disclaimer – I read this one-shot on its own without the context of JTSD in the Halloween Specials***

Non-Spoiler review:

The book gets right to the gory details and horrific manner in which Mobie Graye has been murdered.  The described scene ends with the knowledge that his head was jammed on fence post.  That’s the first full on caption in the book.  The book was prefaced as having graphic violence, strong language, and being intended for mature audiences.  Kicking off the book with narration detailing a grisly murder and ending it with a shot of the main character crucified while said decapitated head on a stick is in the foreground of the shot certainly sets an adult tone.  It’s actually a nice juxtaposition that’s created between the content and the art displaying it.    

There’s a quick change of pace as, in a very comic book moment of luck, Zhub happens to be fishing in The Swamp of the Dead where JTSD had been strung up on the cross.  Having pulled himself off the cross JTSD quickly found himself face to face with another threat in the dregs of the swamp water.  Managing to get away he still needed some help.  On cue, the buddy enters the scene and snags him with the hook on the end of pole.  Pulling him out of the swamp we run into what, to me, felt like some forced lines from Zhub (this could  be his character though as this is my first instance with him) that kind of pull away from the first few pages of set up.  It is only a page but does its own job of setting up Zhub a bit.  The book quickly moves to some exposition on Mobie Graye and the who, what, and why of this character’s importance to JTSD.  In one page the book does a very good job of creating substance for Graye while also attaching him to our main character.  Excellent page all around too as the narration overlays panels that have our murderer mirroring the description of Graye himself.  After being helped and having his wounds treated JTSD and his best bud get back on the case. However, the funeral pyre for Mobie raises some questions.  With an active investigation into the murder going on, even with the best of intentions why would one act so quickly to get rid of evidence?  A curious case indeed as our would be heroes have trekked in search of a friend to try and decipher strange symbols found at the crime scene.  While they find some help in the form of their drunken old friend sitting outside of a bar, the answers only beg more questions.    

I will leave the tale here as the rest of the story involves some twists and turns with the reveal of our murderer.  There’s more history to those involved that is given and the bigger picture surrounding JTSD is given even more color.  Overall I enjoyed the story.  I didn’t NEED the parts of JTSD’s story that came before in order to take this one-shot for what it is though it is clear that they would be helpful.  There’s enough done to know and feel the relationship of the characters and the world they’re in.  For me it does seem as though there’s more of this world planned and hopefully PLB will be able to do just that, explore this world more.  There are some instances where panels jump, sequences could have used just a little stretching to capture the full intent, and continuity skips (like say blood from wounds not being in a panel or two but dripping quite clearly in others).  None of this takes away from the book so much that I didn’t get out of it, a nice little tale from a character that has clearly been developed much more off page.  I think though, that is the biggest draw back of the book.  There are several occasions where past places, events, people are alluded too/mentioned that you either have to have past experience with the characters OR it’s part of the ‘there must be much more planned for this’ territory.

Take a look for yourself folks.  You can follow PLBCOMICS on Twitter or head on over to the store and pick up the book for yourself at plbcomics.com

Thank you to Josh Shockley for the chance to check this book out!