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Denver Kickstarter:
Road to More than a Graphic Novel

Kickstarter, the crowd-sourcing dream-making machine that started almost five years ago, continues to be a gentle-giant of a marketing juggernaut. It provides individuals and small companies the opportunity to reach out to millions of potential small investors with the dual opportunity of getting insights into the development and manufacturing process, as well as reaping rewards of early or exclusive editions of products they eventually hope to market broader and for more profit.

Like many other projects, comic and graphic novel efforts have both had great successes and failures. Long-time Fanboy Planet readers will of course recall our coverage of Frank Beddor's Looking Glass Wars projects, a fine example of an individual retaining control over his art and creative process.

Recently, while browsing Kickstarter, I came across Jimmy Palmiotti's latest project, Denver. Written by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti, and illustrated by Pier Brito, the PAPERFILMS team is selling a near-future "one man going against the odds to get back the woman he loves" science fiction story. Everything about the project clicked for me almost immediately, and so within minutes I was a backer.

Palmiotti has Kickstarted five prior successful graphic novel projects, and his latest funding listing shows a polished promoter, a terrific example of what you want to compose when looking for crowd sourcing, by a professional who may be fishing for more than just a few of your dollars for his latest graphic novel.

First, this is a terrifically composed project description. Funders have a lot of levels to which they can contribute, each slightly more expensive than the last with a slightly better promotion. Starting at about $5, much of this is digital, which is very low cost to deliver, and only at the levels above $25 do you run into physical materials that will have to be shipped. It's a well thought through series of slight increases that tops out at $120 for six copies of the signed graphic novel, prints, and all the digital downloads including the soundtrack.

The sweet spot for today's e-reader fans is $18, which includes all the digital materials to be delivered to you in April, including Forager and Weapon of God, Palmiotti's last two Kickstarter projects.

So, if you're thinking about starting your own Kickstarter project, study Palmiotti's technique, examples, and pricing/delivery schedule. It's clear, enticing and I've no doubt it will be successful.

But let's look a little closer here as well. While I don't have any insider knowledge here, this project seems to have a second possible use. It's an almost perfect quick introductory pitch for turning Denver the graphic novel into Denver the movie. Check out the elements below and see if you agree that this is targeted at a Hollywood producer, looking for his own next project.

Promo Video

Wordless and compelling, the promotional video has a cinematic feel to it, with credits, wipes, fades, and a soundtrack. Mostly reusing the art we'll see later, this introduces the idea that we're looking at the seed of a motion picture.


The Pitch

The premise is a summary of the graphic novel, but is easily a pitch script to sell the movie concept.

PREMISE: After a rogue meteor impacts our moon, forcing it off its regular orbit, the oceans rise dramatically, consuming most of the planet’s surface. The United States is under water, with the exception of its last major metropolis: Denver, Colorado. This is not the horrible post-apocalypse world we are used to. It is a showcase of mankind’s greatest achievements and ability to survive, but as always, there needs to be control and regulation in a city that can only house and feed a specific number of citizens. There are those outside this great city who would do just about anything to get in. That is where our main character MAX FLYNN comes in.

Max is one of many armed Coast Border Guards [CBG] who protects and processes everything coming into and leaving DENVER. He lives with his new wife, Betty, and his teenage daughter from a previous marriage, Trinity. On the job, Max has command of his two partners, Jimmy DePaul and Jane Nelson. Their job is to route everything and everyone that enters the city from the waterways, inclusive of new citizens seeking refuge in DENVER. In this futuristic world, masses of people are wandering the earth’s waterways in hopes of gaining admission to some of the few cities left, and DENVER is no different. They keep a constant population count by monitoring every time a citizen of DENVER dies; an open space is available for either a birth or granting an outsider citizenship in DENVER. This person would have to be sponsored by an active resident.

Unfortunately there are those who would do just about anything to gain entry into DENVER. The burden of stopping this falls upon Max and the CBG. Our story is about a group that goes to such extremes, and Max is forced to go against everything he has ever learned and been trained for.

Page Gallery

This gallery of pages represents the feel of the graphic novel, but most of the frames could serve as production guides, selling the feel and composition of Palmiotti's world.

So, there you have it. The elements of a what will undoubtedly be a successful Kickstarter for a cool, new graphic novel. And perhaps a pitch for a movie, which I certainly wouldn't be surprised to see get picked up. Check it out for yourself at Denver on Kickstarter.

Let us know your thoughts on Kickstarter graphic novels and comics by writing to us on Facebook!

Ric Bretschneider

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