“With 21st Century publishing comes new and innovative ways to subsidize your project.”
OK, it isn’t exactly Stan Lee’s “With great power…” Spider-Man mantra, but we’re not really Stan (actually we sort of are, but that’s an entirely different article.) At any rate, the combination of interactive, desktop publishing and the Internet have created what author Thomas L. Friedman would call a level playing field. Not only is producing a comic (or graphic novel) much easier for an independent publisher, but now, it is also much easier for small publishers (or even individuals), to raise considerable amounts of money to help fund their pet projects.
Consider novelist Mark Ellis who started writing The Justice Machine comicbook in 1989 —when the book was being published by Innovation publishing and wound up purchasing the property from series owner Mike Gustovich. Ellis went on to script the book until its demise in 1992. Well, Ellis never quite forgot about those four-color heroes, and just recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring the super team back in the form of a 100 page full color graphic novel entitled Object of Power. According to Ellis, he is taking somewhat of a new approach with this graphic novel. “The characters are the same, but the conflicts and even the costumes are different. This is a retooled Machine,” He told us.
The beauty of underwriting a project with Kickstarter is that it allows people like Ellis to seek out smaller donations from a number of people who might be interested but are unable to put up the entire amount required for a launch like this. Supporters can pledge anywhere from $1.00 to $100.00 or even more. At each level of pledged support, the individual pledging receives some sort of reward from PDF copies of the book, to autographed hardcopies, as well as numerous other prizes. Perhaps one of the truly appealing aspects of a Kickstarter pledge, is that, as it requires project originators to raise a specific amount of money offer a finite number of days ($X over Y days). If the goal is reached, then the monies are collected and the project proceeds. However if the project is, for some reason, not fully-funded, then each of the backer get their pledge back so they are not “out” their pledged support with the project stalled.
Still, Ellis believes that the popularity of the Machine will excite the fans enough so that he will be able to achieve his goals. According to Ellis, the return of the Justice Machine offers fans (both new and old) the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a cool and unique superhero universe; one that, while it does have an established history, isn’t one that requires knowing 60 years of past continuity in order to comprehend even the slightest thing about the stories.
“I’ve taken the attitude that the return of the Justice Machine is tantamount to a situation where the Fantastic Four had disappeared for years…not just in comic book years but in real-time years, as well. Then suddenly — BOOM! They’re back, and not only are they struggling to come to terms with a new world in crisis, but the world is also struggling to come to terms with them.”
The plot of this new book is most assuredly connected to the Machine’s origins, but it also the type of tale that provides a fresh start for, not only the team, but for the readers as well. “I can confidently say that The Justice Machine: Object of Power is tough, mature and action-packed.” The Graphic Novel comes with a beautifully painted cover by Jeff Slemons that perfectly captures the tone of the book, as well as paying a homage to the iconic John Byrne cover from the first Justice Machine issue in 1981. Interior art is by David Enebral and Ivan Barriga, with colors by Jason Jensen and Kirsti Swan. Ellis went on to assure us that the book will also have plenty of special features, such as never-before-seen costume redesigns, as well as art by some of the most legendary comic creators in the field.
As is the norm for these Kickstarter types of releases, Ellis is offering some very interesting prizes for people who pledge their support, including “Classic” Justice Machine wallpapers, posters and prints, signed copies of The Justice Machine: High Gear Edition Volume 2reprint edition, as well as a pair of unique T-shirts featuring Justice Machine art by John Byrne and Jack Kirby.
Ellis is hopefully, the Object of Power graphic novel is just the first of many new Justice Machine projects. “Even though I’ve written the comic book adventures of many different characters from Doc Savage to Death Hawk, The Justice Machine has always been, and will continue to be very special to me…and they’re very special to a generation of comic fans, as well.” He hopes that the fans will contribute enough to keep the gears of The Justice Machine turning toward the next generation of fans.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing comicbooks for some 30 years. During that time, his reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular comicbook articles and reviews.