My New Comics Project

Thu 12/31/2015

Today I launched my second big comics project, Isle of Elsi, which is a free, fantasy webcomic for kids.

I've been working on Isle of Elsi in secret since 2006, with the occasional anthology contribution being publicly released here and there. In 2009 I finally sat down and began scripting out the first real story. At this point I have over 200 pages scripted and ideas for thousands and thousands of more pages of comics.

I posted a small mission statement for the comic over on the site, but the basic idea is that I really wanted to draw a comic FOR KIDS. There has been a trend in American comics over the last 30 years to fight back against a post-Wertham-hearings public perception that comics are just for kids. You know.... "BANG! POW! Comics aren't just for kids anymore!" Well, it worked. I feel like most comics aren't for kids these days. If you do manage to find a comic that might work for kids, it usually hedges its bets by being labeled "All Ages" which I feel is probably foisted on the work by some cowardly marketing person, hoping to snag as wide a demographic as possible.

I am consciously rejecting the label "All Ages" for this project. It is FOR KIDS. I want KIDS to read it. If you, as an adult, have the confidence to read material that is specifically created for children (as I often do), I encourage you to read the work. But more importantly, I hope that you will share it with the kids in your life, because I created the work for them.

My main source of inspiration for Isle of Elsi is the work of Carl Barks. A few years back I went to great pains to track down all 6,000+ pages of Barks's work, and I read every story he ever did. It is an incredible body of work. Actually I was re-reading it, because these are the comics that I was lucky enough to read as I was growing up. Seeing them now, through my cartoonist's eyes, I had an even greater appreciation for the craft and care that went into each and every story. And Barks knew that his audience was children, and still made great comics for them. With Barks as my role model, I am hoping that I can keep this story going for at least 6,000 pages. If that takes 25 years (as it did for Barks), then so be it!

With this new project, I am trying to wholly embrace the webcomics platform. Nate Beaty helped me build a great site for the comic, and we worked hard to make sure it is a fun, safe place for kids to read comics, with no ads. In lieu of ad revenue, I am hoping to raise financial support for the comic using Patreon. It is my intent to keep every page of the comic online, for free, indefinitely. I plan to reject any publishing offers and instead try to connect to my readers directly, using the many digital tools that are now available. Once there are enough pages to make a book, I intend to use Kickstarter again, because I had such a positive experience with them, creating Basewood. It is an amazing time to be self-publishing!

I will still be continuing Phase 7, which I will use to draw my comics for adults. I got issue #021 back from the printer yesterday and will be sending it out to all the Phase 7 subscribers over the next few days. I'm still trying to get to issue #100 before I die!

Okay, that's what's going on. I hope everyone has a great New Year's Eve tonight! Here's hoping 2016 is a good one!

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