'86 Plots,' One Graphic Novel

Local comic creators need a Kickstart

The 98% complete first page of 86 Plots, the upcoming locally-produced graphic novel
The 98% complete first page of 86 Plots, the upcoming locally-produced graphic novel (Art by Kelsey Shannon)

Seems like a lot of bands, movie makers and even chefs have wised up to online fundraising behemoth Kickstarter. Now local comic creators are trying to finance their upcoming horror graphic novel through the online donation system.

Austin-based co-authors Colin Bryan and Emily Kieson have teamed up with established Marvel and DC artist Kelsey Shannon (Hulk: Broken Worlds, Batman Adventures, Executive Assistant Iris) to create a Lone Star State horror story. Bryan said, "I wanted to do my own take on Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and I wanted to mix that with a history-filled mystery." The end result is their planned graphic novel 86 Plots: The team is looking for $35,000 by Nov. 2 to finish it, and is using www.kickstarter.com to raise the cash.

Think of it like movie completion cash: The story is written, and Shannon has done the layouts and primary penciling, but "there's still a whole year's worth of coloring and painting to be done," Bryan said.

Most first-time comic writers would start with a single issue or a miniseries, but since 86 Plots was always conceived of as a single story, meant to be read in a single sitting, the team are going straight for the trade paperback shelves. Bryan said, "This happens to me every time. I get my mind on something, and I've got to go all out." Even with Shannon being the most professionally experienced of the three, Bryan said, "It's the biggest thing he's every drawn, by 150 pages."

As is the way with Kickstarter projects, signing up to assist comes with benefits. They vary from a three inch button for a $5 donation to, for a $10,000 donation, an amazing package that includes one-on-one editorial and creative time with the creative team for your own project, plus a signed pickaxe, copies of the screenplay and editor's book and much more.

For a long time it seemed like the only horror comics were either movie spin-offs or EC reprints, but original titles have risen from the grave again. Garth Ennis' ultra-gory Crossed is turning stomachs, and the blood-and-cheesecake sandwich of Hack/Slash made it to the giddy heights of our own Bedside Manner series. However, most of the influences on 86 Plots are cinematic. Bryan said, "There's Tobe Hooper in here, there's some James Cameron Aliens in here, even though it's not science fiction. There's even some John Carpenter."

The mystical barrier between comics and cinema has never been thinner, and post-The Walking Dead, 30 Days of Night and Hellboy, it's not just superheroes possessing some screen time. Indie horror Bad Kids Go to Hell is in post-production after filming at Spiderwood Studios in Bastrop County, Image Comics' bizarro cannibal cop title Chew is reportedly heading to Showtime, and MTV is rumored to be on the verge of picking up Mark Romanek's adaptation of Joe Hill's Locke & Key. Bryan's hope is that his comic will be enough of a success in print to follow those productions on to the screen. "This is basically a story board for films, which is why it's such a long graphic novel," he said. "We even do rack focusing."

The team is not alone in making their title easily adaptable. The Crow creator James O'Barr went so far as to deliberately design his new motion comic Sundown to look like a Panavision feature. "That's exactly the concept that we started," said Bryan, "but we realized that if we kept everything so wide, it would take even more pages."

The current plan is to have the finished project on the shelves in October 2012 (just in time for Halloween.) Check out their teaser trailer for the comic below, and if you like what you see head over to their Kickstarter page.

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