The “where do you get your ideas?” question is one that most writers dread, because the answer can never live up to expectations. But here goes: one day, a friend of mine was bored and asked us to keep him entertained with pitches for TV shows. From apparently nowhere, the complete elevator pitch for Undad tumbled out… and suddenly, it wasn’t a throwaway line anymore. It became an idea I couldn’t let go of, especially once the subtextual potential began to make itself clear to me.
What prompted you to start a kickstarter campaign?
I turned to Kickstarter because I wanted to collaborate with other artists on Undad. But I’m the sole earner in a family of five, so was unable to muster the funds to offer a decent page rate out of my own pocket. Several friends of mine have had success with Kickstarter and Indiegogo in the last couple of years, and I thought I would give it a go.
Although the germ of the idea came very quickly, and the core of it hasn’t really changed since that day, the story arcs of Undad took months to plan. Preparing story treatments for each issue was by far the most time-consuming part of the process. The mixed response to my artwork over the years has taught me that if the writing isn’t as good as it can be, the book will almost certainly fail.
After writing and producing the artwork for issue 1, I began the hunt for an artist. I ended up simply posting ads on LinkedIn, Deviantart and a few Facebook groups. As part of the process, I paid artists to produce an Undad-related image, using that interaction as a basis for evaluating not only the suitability of their style to the Undad universe, but also (and more importantly) their professionalism and timeliness. I lucked out with the talented creative team I landed, for sure, as they have genuine enthusiasm for the project.
Preparing a Kickstarter page is something that, if done right, can take weeks of work (as it did in this case). I showed drafts of the page to a number of people, and edited the entire thing from top to bottom a number of times based on their feedback.
Once the book is made, it’ll be time to publish it and launch it to a wider audience. Getting the book published and printed will be fine – it’s something I have previous experience in – but the launch is still something I’m figuring out.
Feedback has been pretty positive. I haven’t heard a bad word about the writing or storytelling, but have gotten a mixed response to the artwork (my artwork). I agree with them by the way – which is a big part of the reason that I’m seeking to collaborate with artists.
But people seem genuinely keen about the angle that Undad takes. About the ripe metaphor of being a father and husband who feels ‘dead inside’ and the difficulties maintaining familial equilibrium. About the internal struggles against instinct and unwanted desires.
You’re pretty close to your campaign goal of $6000, how can we contribute?
Undad is currently being funded on Kickstarter now. The campaign closes on the 15th December, and by then I hope to have raised $6000. This amount will allow not only Issues 1 and 2, but 3 and 4 to be created as well. That’s enough to contain an entire story arc, and round out the tale of Undad.
There are a range of options for backers, and the rewards start at just $1. And for just $40, you can get my entire back catalogue of books (over 1,500 pages total) in addition to the Undad story. There’s also some great exclusive gear at higher tiers.
Fascinating Chat with Undad Creator Shane W. Smith