Tom Mandrake On The Last Days Of Kickstarting Kros


Tom Mandrake writes for Bleeding Cool,

A lot of people have been asking–'Why a Kickstarter?' The story goes something like this– one day, about 10 years ago, John said, "Let's put on a play", and I said, "Well, my dad's got the parts for a barn—all we need is someone to build it!" And that's what Kickstarter has done for many through crowdfunding campaigns—built a barn so creators can present that play to the world. More directly, we're trying to fund Kros: Hallowed Ground as a Kickstarter so we can present our work directly to our fans. Everything about this story is direct from the minds and hands of Ostrander/ Mandrake. We have our universe figured out and despite the fact that we've made universes collide well within series before, this time we thought it would be fun not to reshape our universe to fit into or intersect with an existing one.

vampire trees

The biggest reason for taking that view is that I feel every horror story ever told has it's own set of rules as to what vampires are and if we were playing in someone else's universe we'd be expected to play by established rules. Doing this as a Kickstarter gives us the latitude of doing things –like creating a whole new type of vampire—something which hasn't been seen before, for this story.


I'm a big horror fan and my feeling is that the differences we've come to accept between vampires, werewolves and ghouls were really created for horror films starting in the 1930's. These monsters were made more specific because it's easier to have a movie called 'The Wolfman', "Dracula" etc. It's an easy way to define characters for your audience. Don't get me wrong, I love those characters and those movies, but we want to be free to define the creatures in Kros for our own story—for our own universe.


Long before those films, when the line between superstition and reality was more blurred, the concept of the vampire was that a vampire was an evil spirit that inhabited a dead body and allowed it to walk and feed on the living. The vampire was a ghoul, a werewolf, a fiend—it wasn't pleasant, it wasn't attractive. Stoker's Dracula really was the beginning of the modern, sexually appealing vampire. For centuries before that a vampire was a horrible thing you had to stake to the ground so it couldn't create more of it's kind. Destroy the vampire before it destroys you! And that's where Kros comes in. He's not a vampire—he's a dampyr– born to a mother who was bitten, but not killed by a vampire—(and that's another story John and I hope to be able to tell someday.)


We've been asked—why such an ambitious goal? We prefer to call it a realistic goal. We talked about doing a smaller project and setting a smaller goal at first—maybe presenting Kros as single issues or a smaller volume with a sequel, but the story of Kros is a big one and we wanted to give those who backed this project a really complete story. The story of Kros: Hallowed Ground takes place over 3 days and 3 nights during the Battle of Gettysburg. We didn't want to break that story down into pieces and make readers wait another 6 months or a year for part 2.


We did a lot of research and analyzed the real costs necessary to create this project—printing both the 128 page graphic novel, the 48 page sketchbook and other printed and fabricated materials, creating art rewards, getting shipping materials, postage (which is surprisingly costly), Kickstarter fees (9-10%), advertising, and hopefully, something for the creators to live on while they are creating this project–which represents for me, personally, at least 5 months of a full time commitment.


I think it's worth pointing out that we're long time professionals who are looking to give our Kickstarter backers more of what we do well. John and I started working as a team nearly 30 years ago and have created series that had 3-5 year runs. The Backers know what they're getting because we've given it to them before–really solid graphic storytelling and entertaining comics. Our long time fans know we can create great horror comics because we've done that before, so we're not asking them to invest in an unknown. This is the same team that gave you the Spectre, the Martian Manhunter, GrimJack, Batman Grotesk and the Kents. Kros: Hallowed Ground is going to be up there with the best of those stories because, like all those stories, it's a project that we love and are excited about.


Running a Kickstarter is a far more intense experience than I anticipated. When we launched the Kros Kickstarter, we didn't realize our timing could really have been thought out a bit better. The second week of the Kickstarter coincided with one of the largest comic book events of the year—San Diego Comic Con. So attention in the comic book world was diverted far away from Kickstarters.

KROS AD 2 l bw

Another thing I learned is that, when doing a Kickstarter, you, as a creator, need to make personal contact with everyone you've ever met in your life–which is not easy because that means emailing everybody. It's the only way to contact that many people. Sometimes what happens is that you brain glitch you emailed someone already and ask them to back you twice, but everyone has been understanding about that kind of thing. The comic audience is wonderful that way. What's really cool about this is that I've gotten back in touch with friends I haven't spoken to in a while!

Kickstarting, you also need a great behind the scenes team. I want to give a shout out to Jan Duursema for creating and managing the Kros Kickstarter page and website and offering to draw some of the rewards for the campaign.

I also found that posting on Facebook is effective but reaches a very limited audience—probably only 10% of your friends on FB see your posts. So, John and I have done podcasts, interviews and press releases to help spread the word about Kros.

Articles like this one here on Bleeding Cool are fantastic and a great way to reach a lot of fans. We really appreciate that you guys have taken the time with us to support the Kickstarter and to help spread the word about Kros: Hallowed Ground!

With less than a week to go, we still have a long way to go to fund Kros. We hope that all you Bleeding Cool readers will join the Kros team to support and back Kros: Hallowed Ground!

We have a special free offer for any Bleeding Cool readers who back Kros—a Kros: Hallowed Ground Button with the Kros Winged Skull design. Just put in CODE: KICKKROS in the messages section when you back the Kros Kickstarter at any level of REVANENT and above!


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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