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Publisher Tony Foster of ComicScene has launched his second Kickstarter for the next four books in the History of Comics series. We spoke to him about the project.
How is the Kickstarter going?
Readers pledged more in a week than we received in the first month of our first campaign. This campaign only runs for a month and ends this week. I hope it will do well and reach the goal. In the end the readers decide if they want the project to continue and we can put together a fantastic library of comic history.
What influenced you to produce the books?
I read an article about a project to build a comic museum in Dundee. It just got me thinking we need to celebrate comics and all they have to offer. So I wanted to capture that in written form, in a way it hadn’t been done before. A range of books you’d expect to pick up in the museum shop that also reflected to content of the museum. That’s how the idea of one book featuring one year in comics came about. They are not time sensitive or throwaway, like ComicScene Magazine was . They can be read at any time. You can buy them all or just buy the book in the year you were born! They are real collectors items.
Covid and lockdown saw the end of ComicScene the magazine but it gave us time to develop this project, although the idea and advice we’d been given on how to approach it had been floating around for a while and from feedback given by comic fans.
How do you choose what year to feature?
We do try and tie it in with what’s happening in comics today. Deadpool features in the 1991 issue to celebrate 30 years of the character. 1971 as it’s 50 years of Look-In. 1976 will tie in with a new Monster Fun release. The 1984 issue tied in with the release of the Wonder Woman movie. That sort of thing. However we don’t mention the connection as such. The books should be able to be picked up now, next year or in ten years time. There just happens to be a connection when they first come out.
And there is a 2020 issue?
Yes so each year of the project we hope to capture the previous year as a living record of what’s happening in comics today. A yearbook of sorts. It’s a very exciting time. If the History Project falters the yearbook is something we will probably continue to do.
The optional slipcases seem popular.
It’s a nice thing for comic collectors to have. They look good on the bookshelves. The first four books came out quite well. It’s a lot of work producing four books at a time but it saves on postage when sending them out particularly outside the U.K.. Postage cost, Brexit implications and posting out over Christmas was an issue with the first set of books so we have reflected that in our higher Kickstarter goal this time around (from a £5500 target to £9000).
How do you choose writers?
Some are comic specialist or people with stories to tell who pitched ideas knowing what years were coming up. Some are academics from U.K. and US. Some are responsible for specialised blogs. Some were writers we could rely on from having worked with them on ComicScene. Some are fans and some are people within the industry or creators themselves. We have and will go to the best person we can find on the subject and if they are willing to contribute then we’d love to have them. We have fun doing the books but it’s a major and important work we take very seriously so want the best writers and we now pay them. We want readers and comic fans to invest knowing this will be a project people will turn to for many years to come. This month we announced Lew Stringer is joining us. He’s well know for his Blimey blog. It will be great to capture his knowledge and others in print rather than online.
The books have a very specific look and style.
We asked flops comics to do the covers so hopefully the run will have a consistent look on each cover. The Burgh Agency do interior design which is similar in each book, as you’d expect for a whole series. Hopefully our key writers will stay on board for Culture and Comics (John McShane), Top 10 Comics You Must Own (Richard Bruton), Reviews and the Comic Museum (Richard Sheaf). Some areas need a little work and we will tweak them as we go but on the whole I think we captured a distinctive and unique feel, look and tone to the series from the first four books.
What’s your favourite section?
I like them all but the Comic Museum has a lot of potential. I didn’t just want to talk about creators. A comic character is only as good as the comic readers who embrace it. So I wanted to focus a little on comic fans and fandom. Nuggets you may never have seen before. Anything from sketches you own, artwork, zines, flyers, posters and memorabilia. That section can be surprising in each book. These books are as much about comic fans as anything else. Its from our support that people are enjoying comic stories from 30 years ago in film, TV and computer games. It’s our story, how popular culture has developed, for sharing to others.
You have also expanded the contents of the book online?
Yes. We’d never be able to capture everything in 60 pages. So if you join the Kickstarter you also get a secret code for a protected area of the ComicScene website to access year by year online links, articles, any future articles people want to write for us and pdfs of the History of Comics and comics too. It’s early on it’s development but we will add to it as we go along. The books and website will compliment each other.
Good luck with the Kickstarter. You can support the History of Comics Kickstarter here.
[…] Interview with publisher Tony Foster on the comic history project here […]