(Press Release) Comic book artist Jon Bogdanove, co-creator of The Death and Return of Superman — the best selling Superman story of all time — is launching his latest endeavor on Kickstarter. Strongman is an all-new adventure series that tells two-fisted tales of an original pulp hero, whose exploits stretch from the Gilded Age of Teddy Roosevelt and Nikola Tesla, through the Roaring 20s, into the Dust-Bowl 30s, and beyond. The series will take the form of an anthology of legends, each revolving around depression-era circus athlete and adventurer Bronislav “Bron” Bellman, who travels the world with his companions in the Strange Bros. Circus, righting wrongs, and defending the downtrodden against all sorts of foes — from the criminal, to the supernatural.
Best known for his long run on Superman: The Man of Steel, Bogdanove has worked on numerous mainstream superhero comics, from Fantastic Four vs. The X-Men, to Batman, but he is bringing this new project to Kickstarter because he believes in the direct relationship between readers and authors that the crowdsourcing website offers:
"I’m very grateful for DC and Marvel. It was an immense honor and my lifelong dream to contribute to Superman. I was also blessed to work at Marvel in a time of tremendous freedom and creativity. But the stakes were low in the comics business when I first started. It still felt like it did when I was a kid. There was a closer connection between fans and creators. It felt like we were all in it together.
“That’s what appeals to me most about Kickstarter. Like the Golden Age at DC, or the dawn of The Marvel Age, there is total creative freedom to explore and experiment with new ideas, but the comics won’t happen unless fans want it to. The readers are literally invested in the creativity. It is the purest, most democratic hope for new concepts and enterprises. Crowd-sourced comics foster the most direct relationship between fans and creators ever, because there is no middle man. It is the birth of a new culture.”
"On Kickstarter, we don't have the weight of 75 years of continuity or transmedia franchising. We can go right to the readers and fans, and say 'Hey guys, this is what we want to do.' And if people are excited, they can make it a reality in a very direct way — person to person."
Tonally, Strongman draws on some of its creators’ own favorite stories and characters for inspiration. It blends light-hearted action and globe-trotting adventure with vintage pulp crime drama, and gothic, mystical horror. Fans of H.P. Lovecraft, Lester Dent’s Doc Savage, Jack Kirby’s In The Days Of The Mob, Windsor McKay’s Little Nemo, Todd Browning’s Freaks and (of course) Siegel and Shuster’s Superman, will all find something new in Strongman that resonates with them:
“It’s the kind of comics we want to read,” says Bogdanove, “the kind that — when we were kids — made us write and draw our own adventures between issues, because we just couldn’t wait for the next one to come out.”
Bogdanove is undertaking the project with two partners: his son, writer/director Kal-El Bogdanove and writer/producer Chris Faiella. [Kal-El] Bogdanove and Faiella have quite a track record in the world of videogames. As writers and directors, they have worked on some of the industry's biggest hits - like the Fallout franchise, and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - as well as indie darlings like Skullgirls and Quantum Conundrum.
Strongman actually got its start as a videogame idea in 2011. Faiella and The Bogdanoves were coming up with a large batch of pitches for (Skullgirls studio) Reverge Labs and Disney Interactive, when they first discussed the idea of a Depression-era Strongman who doubles as a pulp hero. The game project ultimately went with a different idea, but the seed of Strongman had already taken root in the minds of its creators.
"We kept coming back to it," says Faiella, "and finally we all had to admit to each other that Strongman was where the passion was. We had this serious conversation where we were all hemming and hawing about the same big admission — that we'd each been doodling with the idea in our off hours. It was pretty funny. After that it was a no-brainer deciding what to tackle next."
What the trio intends is actually a little risky. There have been several successfully funded graphic novel projects on Kickstarter, but the majority have been launched by webcomics artists who have years of content already completed, either funded by online ad and merchandise sales, or completed on spec. Many of these projects are merely looking to crowdsource the printing and shipping of collections of that existing work. Faiella and The Bogdanoves propose to create entirely new content, AND print and ship the results. It is a less-proven model, and a more costly one, even on their startup budget — but if successful, it could represent an entirely new way of making comics, and an unprecedented degree of reader influence within the medium.
Strongman launches on Kickstarter on the first day of Comic Con — Wednesday July 17th — and will feature a Comic Con exclusive for those who back before the end of the day on Sunday the 21st. Jon will be featured in a solo panel on Saturday the 20th at 11am in room 4. For more info, email the creators at StrongmanProject@gmail.com.