By Olly MacNamee
I have two interesting Kickstarters to tell you about today, both brought to you by the talents of local Birmingham based creators, with a little help from their friends.
First, Blood Red Moon No.1 (Geeky Comics) which tells the tale of a werewolf captured by Vikings who is forcefully used as a tool to create a horrific and hirsute horde of Viking warriors ready to take on any and all comers. Forcibly wed into the clan the monster has no alternative other than to obey and he does so – at first reluctantly, but soon he succumbs to the way of the beast realising he can benefit from the ordeal.
Blood Red Moon is a modest Kickstarter from the mind of award-winning writer Victor Wright and artist Carlos Villas that has, at the time of writing this, just three weeks left to reach its goal of £1,250. A small amount that will go towards the printing cost of the initial first print run and, like all other decent Kickstarters, offers rewards depending on the amount you may want to pledge.
For a fiver, you'll get a pdf copy of the comic to read wherever, whenever, while those of us with a bit more cash to splash may want to consider a larger pledge and a bigger reward. For £50 you'll receive a printed copy of the book, a PDF copy, five postcards as well as the limited edition/alternative cover by Ryan Brown (2000AD). If you want to max out and have the dosh to do so, for the top pledge of £150 you can appear as a Viking in the story itself – one who turns into a werewolf mind you and not your everyday Viking – as well as receive Wright's three prose novels from his Light of Darkness series (signed, of course), a Blood Red Moon t-shirt and a shed load of other goodies too. Too many to just list here. But, this last one is limited to only 5 pledges only.
What's more, the expected turnaround from the close of the campaign to the printing and distribution of the book is a short time to wait, with a September 2015 launch proposed, only a month later for any eager readers out there.
Still interested? Then get on down to the Blood Red Moon Kickstarter page sooner rather than later. Something tells me it may well reach its goal quite soon, having already received half the amount already.
And now for something completely different: Hunt Emerson's Hot Jazz.
For me, growing into adolescence during the 1980's and all that entails, the name of Hunt Emerson is synonymous with Firkin The Cat and a certain top-shelf title of the era (which I find, after a quick internet search, is still around today amazingly) and a style of art and storytelling straight out of the underground comics tradition of the 1960's and 1970's. Emerson was my escape from the tights and capes that I did – and still do – love, and he offered me a completely different comic book experience. He was my gateway drug into the alternative voices of comics and I can only take this opportunity to thank him for that. I sought out as much of his work as I could, and so I was delighted to hear that he was planning to re-print his Max Zillion strips that have lamentably been out of print for some time now.
Emerson started drawing Max Zillion – a saxophone-playing gorilla – back to the 1970's and then collected these into the one book in 1986 called Jazz Funnies. Max Zillion is a jazz saxophone player, and his horn is called Alto Ego. Max makes crazy, original, generally unpopular music, while Alto is the brains of the outfit. Max is like most jazz musos – broke. He gets gigs – his agent, a ruthless lizard called Meen McMudda (Mister McMudda to you!) sees to that – but the gigs usually end in chaos and Max winds up broke again. Often, the trouble starts when Max starts playing his wild be-bop, and usually it's Alto who gets them out of the mess. Naturally, McMudda always makes sure his percentage is safe. Max always has another blues to play.
These strips have been out of print for over 25 years, which I personally think is a travesty. I won't be the first, or the last, to compare Emerson's artistic flare and comedic talent and alternative take on the world to one Robert Crumb, but how often is Crumb ever out of print? And not for 25 years I would argue. For me, there is a real need to have these strips back in print. Emerson represents a large part of British comic history and this is enough, in my mind, to back this Kickstarter. The humour, the art, and the promise of a gallery of new pieces done by some top-secret collaborators from the world of comics are reasons too, and a damn good reason at that. Hardback and 144 pages in length as well?
What? You want more?
Well, should your bank balance allow it, a £150 pledge (limited to only 10) gets you a copy of the hardback book, postcards, Christmas cards, badges, t-shirt, PDF and a piece of original Hunt Emerson art; in other words, a piece of UK comic history.
To pledge, or read more go to the Hot Jazz Kickstarter page and make that pledge should you so wish. Like Blood Red Moon, this has about three weeks left, but don't wait about if interested. Oh, and should you venture over to the Hot Jazz page, do make sure you watch Emerson in the accompanying video as he takes up his alternative identity of jazzman extraordinaire. Nice!
Olly MacNamee teaches English and Media, for his sins, in a school somewhere in Birmingham. Some days, even he doesn't know where it is. Follow him on twitter @ollymacnamee or read about his exploits at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or don't.