Justin Gray On His New Graphic Novel, Standstill: "Kickstarter Isn't A Viable Long-Term Business Model"

Justin Gray writes about his new graphic novel, Standstill, for Bleeding Cool:

The premise is that an unexplained global event paralyzes 90% of the human race overnight. I had kind of a bizarre anxiety attack about what might happen if you were trapped in your body. You couldn't move or speak, and eventually you'd starve to death. I remember telling Jimmy Palmiotti this and he looked at me and said something along the lines of, "That's about the darkest thing I've ever heard you say." Once I got past that initial thought, I really started to think about what would happen to the world and people that might be immune to this paralysis.

Justin Gray On His New Graphic Novel, Standstill: "Kickstarter Isn't A Viable Long-Term Business Model"
Cover by Darick Robertson.

Once I started drilling down into the idea of Standstill, I realized in stories like this there are so many things that you usually don't see. The population is drastically reduced, but things still operate somewhat normally, when in truth it would be a much different world with a multitude of dangers seen and unseen. I happen to live very close to both a major correctional facility and a pair of nuclear power plants. During the Standstill, it wouldn't take long for those plants to melt down placing me in the heart of an American Chernobyl. Subways would flood, other kinds of chemical and fuel plants would eventually become hazardous and poison the environment. Things would get messy real quick.

Justin Gray On His New Graphic Novel, Standstill: "Kickstarter Isn't A Viable Long-Term Business Model"I wanted to push this book further into emotional complexity with the idea that the first people we meet are a young couple in love. He proposes to her one night, she accepts, and in the morning only one of them wakes up. I wondered how horrible it would be to have the person you love more than anything fall victim to this phenomenon, while you remained immune.

I also wanted to see how I could expand on that idea, so I introduced Mason. Mason is a former combat medic turned EMT who, with his skill set, is able to care for his fiancée, Luna. Mason realizes quickly that the world as he knew it is going downhill fast, so he makes a plan to drive Luna across the country to avoid any of the nuclear and chemical plants. Getting from NY to Oregon isn't as easy as he hopes, and there are a lot of obstacles in his way. Other survivors emerge as the story progresses.

I have a clear path and see this at least as a maxi-series — if not a bi-monthly one. There is a reason why this is happening to the world, but I want to get there at my own pace; to build this emotional experience and explore the characters as deeply as possible as the science fiction/horror elements come into play.

I'm using Kickstarter for this project. I'm using it to compensate the artists for their hard work and to help build an audience. As I'm sure you know, artists on average get paid a higher rate than writers, and I completely understand that. Its why I'm playing the long game. Kickstarter allows me to pay artists for their work with the ultimate goal of publishing the book in the retail space and moving away from crowdfunding. To do that, I want to have a head start on production.

This is technically (I think) the 12th one I've been involved with. Standstill #1 was a very positive experience with some great feedback, which is why I was able to not only get Darick to help me out with a cover, but also John Broglia contributed a gorgeous second alternate cover.

The goal with these campaigns is to make it easy for people to grab the book. At the end of the day, we want readers. And, by comparison to some other campaigns, the price point of entry is very easy on your wallet. Digital copies at $3 bucks and print copies at $5. Obviously copies of the first issue are also available through the campaign, so you can catch up quickly. There are also higher pledge levels; for instance, you can get both printed copies of issue #1 and #2, plus three mini art prints for $25, but everything is targeted at providing value for your investment.

For me, Kickstarter isn't a viable long-term business model. It is what the name implies — a way to Kickstart something that I'm personally invested in and hope to see in the retail market.

You can read Justin Gray's IMA right here.

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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