“We want to pay creators a very good amount for their work up front” exploring the world of crowd-sourced comics with Broken Frontier anthology’s Frederik Hautain
Broken Frontier is a new Kickstarter funded anthology from the team behind the awesome website of the same name. Featuring new stories from big name talent like Josh Fialkov, Fred Van Lente, as well as Brits PJ Holden and INJ Culbard, as well as the best new indie talent, it is set to break the mould of digital anthologies by paying it’s artist up front thanks to it’s crowd-sourced funding. To find out more about this great new project we talk to Editor In Chief Frederik Hautain about how they plan to explore this new comics universe.
Tell us a bit about the back story and inspiration to the Broken Frontier anthology? Was it a desire to make creator-owned comics for the masses or just a gap that you saw in the market which you thought needed filling?
FH: Very much the former. Over at Broken Frontier, we’ve always been pushing creator-owned and independent releases more so than mainstream/superhero books. We wanted to support creator-owned projects and their creators in another way than through journalism, and that’s basically how the idea for the anthology came up.
The project is built around the theme of breaking boundaries, pushing beyond our limits and exploring the great unknown – quite in line with the name Broken Frontier and our slogan, ‘Exploring the Comics Universe’.
What separates your anthology from other collections? The quality of story telling? The range of characters/creators on show? Or simply the sheer size and scale of it?!
FH: Well, I think the one thing that separates us from other comics anthologies is really that we’re paying creators up front for their efforts. Very often on creator-owned projects – as well as Kickstarter anthologies – you’ll see that the creators get paid on the back-end, i.e. from whatever profits have been made after all of the printing and distribution costs have been covered.
That makes creator-owned stories hard to do because the people creating them won’t know how much they’ll get – if anything – for doing their own thing. We want to turn that around and pay creators a very good amount for their work up front, which is why about 60% of a backer’s pledge goes directly to the writers, artists, colorists and letterers on the anthology.
But yes, we also have a huge list of creators involved – over 40 in total – and our theme is also a little bit different because it allows for a very broad interpretation: it’s not a straight-up sci-fi or horror or crime book, as we gave our creators complete freedom to come up with a story that fit our theme. There’s a lot of exploring going on – in space, through time and parallel dimensions, but also here on earth, now, in the past or the future.
How did you assemble your creative teams? Did you cherry pick your favourites and ask them to contribute or was it a more fluid evolutionary process and they kind of picked themselves? How important was it for you to have a mix of ‘big names’ as well as indie newcomers?
FH: We started out with a short list of names of people whose work we’ve been covering since they broke into the industry (like Fred Van Lente, Alison Sampson, Sean Wang, Karrie Fransman, Steve Bryant and EdieOP) and who had close ties to Broken Frontier because they used to write a column for us at some point (Greg Pak, Josh Fialkov, A. David Lewis, Cullen Bunn, David Hine). We were incredibly fortunate that they all said yes when we pitched them the idea.
Next to that, it was incredibly important for us to have a healthy mix of established stars and new talent as you say, because over on the site we love spotlighting up-and-coming voices, and our anthology had to be as good a reflection of the work we do on a daily basis. That’s why we’re so excited about giving young international creators like Varga Tomi, Aysegul Sinav, Carla Berrocal, Yaroslav Astapeev and Jamie Coe a wider stage.
And then there were the creators who were just born to tell these kinds of stories, like Nathan Fox, Toby Cypress, INJ Culbard and PJ Holden)
Will all the characters be new or will a few ‘names’ be included? Are there any titles you are particularly excited about?
FH: Everything’s truly ‘All-New, All-Different!’: every single stories is completely fresh and original, featuring characters you’ve never seen before, like Greg Pak’s Phantom Limb Ghostpuncher or PJ Holden’s Terran Omega.
I’m excited about all of the stories, really, but since I love myself some dystopian sci-fi, I’ll put in the stuff Robert Sammelin and Toby Cypress have planned as two of my personal faves.
You are crowd sourcing the book on Kickstarter, how does this help develop the project? Being able to potentially pay a creator up front for their work must be a huge bonus (as well as a big risk!), was this part of the appeal? What is the response to the Kickstarter like so far, is it living up to your expectations?
FH: Paying creators up front is what made us have to turn down people to be part of the book, really. So it’s at once a huge bonus and a big risk, because it means the amount we’re looking to raise is higher than most comics anthologies that have crowdfunded on Kickstarter, although many of them have blown way beyond even our funding goal when they ran their campaigns.
With about two weeks to go, we’re now over 30% funded, which is good, but it’s also clear that we’ll need the support from fans of creator-owned stories everywhere to rally and make this project work.
The deal with Kickstarter is that no money exchanges hands until the project is fully funded, so we really need to hit our goal and for that green bar to say ‘100%’.
The digital rewards on Kickstarter are being distributed by ComiXology, will this be via Submit or have you struck up a deal with them to release the book? How important was getting this more formal digital distribution deal and what advantages does it bring you as publishers to be able to publish digitally in this way?
FH: We’ll simply be sending ComiXology the finished digital edition, which they will put it into their navigational reading program for all devices where our backers can access the file provided they’ve got a ComiXology user profile – and if not, they can very easily sign up for a free account.
This deal was important for us to give our backers an extra and convenient way to read the book on their digital device of choice as opposed to just sending them a DRM-free pdf, which they’ll still get as well.
The Kickstarter ends in a couple of weeks, what sort of time frame are you looking at for releasing the final book?
FH: We’re aiming for a digital release in September 2015 and for the printed copies to arrive at our backers’ doorstep in December of this year.
You can can bak Broken Frontier by visiting their Kickstarter page here!