I’ve been impressed with Erik Johnson’s work since I met him in college. I can honestly say I’ve been jealous of Erik’s work for the same amount of time.
He is a designer-cartoonist-illustrator and has recently launched a Kickstarter project to publish a graphic novel/comic book he’s worked on for quite some time.
He was nice enough to answer a few questions about why he decided to go the Kickstarter route and his feelings about the current publishing dilemmas. I’d call what he is doing targeted publishing. If the project is funded he knows who will buy it (they already did) and by removing the hassle of distribution and the expensive risks in trying to find an audience by marketing a book, Erik may one-up even the digital distribution mavens by getting a nicely produced, finely crafted version of his story into the hands of people who want it. Erik’s answers are below.
1. What made you decide to try and do this on your own? And why utilize Kickstarter?
My intention was to become a comic book artist since childhood, but Iʼve always kicked the idea down the road due to my own feelings about being “ready”, or having “something to say”. Iʼve never been that interested in drawing other peopleʼs stories, and made a career as an illustrator and graphic designer. When this story actually came together, I had no experience with the comics publishing industry. Despite making several contacts and getting positive feedback, it became apparent that “The Outliers,” didnʼt fill in a succinct, marketing slot.
2. Have you considered releasing it digitally? Do you read any digital comics regularly?
I suppose Kickstarter is my digital means to a self-published end. Iʼm motivated as a designer and magazine illustrator by the same reason I wanted to become a cartoonist – I like printed art on paper (cheap CMYK on coarse newsprint, even better!) The way mainstream comics are colored, lettered and produced today on glossy paper, I think they should be enjoyed digitally. The artistry and creativity is still there, but not the lithographic charm. I have read a few digital freebies, but it rarely crosses my mind.
3. From your description of the book, this sounds like something that will be a nicer artifact than a typical comic book. Do you feel having a higher quality product is one way to fight back against the drumbeat of Digital Everything?
It feels that way, but only because of where publishing is right now. This is the same book I would have wanted to make 10, 15, 20 years ago- because itʼs just what I like. I honestly believe that when you make an artifact, itʼs showing a courtesy to the reader: you gift wrap the idea theyʼve invited you to share with them.
4. Thanks for your time Erik. I hope the project moves forward. I’d love to see the book. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you Mark, Iʼm really thrilled by the response (knock on wood). Youʼve seen this project from the first concepts, shared great insights and I always enjoy seeing your process as well.
If you missed the link above check out Erik’s project on Kickstarter and kick in a few bucks. I know you won’t be disappointed with the final result!