I'm a comic writer who uses Kickstarter to fund exciting black and white comics! AMA!

Conner Bartel
Jul 20, 2018

My name is Conner Bartel! I'm a comic writer and with my artistic collaborator, Atagun Ilhan, we launched two Kickstarter campaigns to fund our supernatural western mini-series, Grimwood Crossing. Today (the 20th) we launched a campaign for our new comic, Swords & Sorrows.  

Swords & Sorrows is a 22 page one-shot about katana fights, ninja assassins and deep personal regret.  

If you want to read some of my work for free you can go to the Grimwood Crossing site to find out how to get issue #1 for free or you can go to my website to read some short stories! I'd love to talk about comics (creating them or reading them), crowdfunding, dogs (ask me about my beautiful pitbull), my life (it's great) or anything!

One of my favourite pages from Swords & Sorrows. Art by Atagun Ilhan.

Hit me up on twitter (@conner_bartel) or Instagram (@conner_bartel).

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Are there any current trends that have changed your outlook of writing?
Jul 22, 12:28PM EDT0
Have new technologies changed how you create comics?
Jul 22, 12:18PM EDT0

I've only been writing comics for about 5 or 6 years! And I've only been putting out content for about 3 years! I've been using Google drive and dropbox the whole time. I also use illustrator for lettering. 

So I guess the answer is: no!

Jul 25, 7:54PM EDT0
As a writer, how do you approach your comics, in terms of structure?
Jul 22, 7:12AM EDT0

Most of my longer stories follow a 3 act structure. I always outline my stories in broad strokes and the structure starts to form there. 

Jul 25, 7:51PM EDT0
Are there any mistakes that you frequently see other writers making? If so, what are those mistakes and how do you think they can be avoided?
Jul 21, 8:08PM EDT0

Comic writers always start by trying to make an ongoing superhero epic with multiple spin off titles, but never get passed a few scripts. Start small, and avoid superheroes until later in your career. 

Here is an article I wrote about it.

www.connerbartel.com/workshop/is-your-project-too-ambitious-what-to-keep-in-mind-when-starting-your-first-comic

Jul 25, 7:49PM EDT0
What kind of stories are you looking to tell through your writing?
Jul 21, 9:41AM EDT0

I don't want to stay in just one genre. But I do want all my stories to have relatable characters with relatable conflicts. This question is hard to answer because I really do want to write all kinds of stories.

Jul 21, 10:02AM EDT0
In the world of comic books, what liberties and restrictions do you observe?
Jul 21, 9:40AM EDT0

In film, a really long but simple project is way cheaper than a really short but complicated Blockbuster film. Because you have to pay for special effects and sets and all that. In comics though, no matter what the content of the story is, it's going to cost as much as a simple Story the same size. It's the length of the comic that dictates how expensive it is to make. Because of this I can write any kind of story I want and have it come to life. In swords and Sorrows, these characters have a crazy fight choreography but I didn't have to pay for wires or a fight trainer.

The restrictions I deal with mostly come with money. Sometimes I want to write a really long story but I can't pay an artist for a hundred fifty pages. That's where Kickstarter comes in!

Jul 21, 10:01AM EDT0
Do you think Comic-Con has ruined comics? Or has it made them more accessible to the general public?
Jul 21, 6:44AM EDT0

I'm assuming you're talking about the big cons like San Diego and New York. I can't say they necessarily ruins comics. To me the real heart of the industry is creator-owned on comics and Independent creators.  And I don't think you'll find those at Comic-Con. Actually, I'm not sure if you're even find comics at all at Comic-Con. So I can't say it helps either.

Jul 21, 9:57AM EDT0
Moment of truth… DC or Marvel? And why?
Jul 21, 5:32AM EDT0

I'm all marvel, baby. 

Jul 21, 9:54AM EDT0
Did you grow up reading comic books? How was your experience ansd how has it changed?
Jul 20, 11:01AM EDT1
Do you have a favorite comic book character you’ve created or worked on?
Jul 20, 2:53AM EDT1

Oh my gosh, I love Bobby from Grimwood Crossing. He is so much fun to write and he's a bad ass. In another comment I mentioned that I love how Brian K. Vaughn has characters that say what the reader is thinking. Bobby is that type a character.  And I love how flawed he is.

Jul 20, 4:04AM EDT0
What advice would you give young writers trying to make their mark in the comic book industry?
Jul 18, 12:08PM EDT1

START SMALL!! And don't wait for someone to tell you you're good enough to start. Just do it.

So many creators try to plan out a 100 issue superhero epic and never get passed writing the first script. Start small and work your way up. Creating short comics (1-10 pages) is incredibly rewarding and educational. But after you see the work that goes into creating just a few pages, you'll think twice about that superhero epic. Here is an article I wrote on what to keep in mind when planning your first comic.

Jul 19, 12:49AM EDT0
Did you always know that you wanted to create comic books? What was the moment when you decided to pursue this a career?
Jul 18, 9:33AM EDT1

My senior year of high school.

I was about to graduate but I had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do someting creative and I always loved any kind of stories but never saw creating comics as something I could do. My favorite musician, Max Bemis, released his first comic this year. I enjoyed the challenging narrative of his life he portrayed in his music. Because of this, I always thought of him as real person and not a singer I idolized. When he released a comic I realized that there are real people behind these comics and I could be one of them. It really inspired me to start writing my own comics.

Jul 19, 12:45AM EDT0
What other methods of retrieving funding are you considering?
Jul 18, 7:19AM EDT1

I am going to try selling pre-orders at an expo tomorrow for the first time. Hope it works out!

But kickstarer has been so kind to me I haven't tried many other methods of funding. I do fund my short stories out of pocket.

Jul 19, 12:40AM EDT0
How long have you been reading comic books? Do you remember your first comic book experience?
Jul 18, 7:09AM EDT1

I've been reading comics since my oldest brother gave me a Predator trade paperback when I was 5 years old and somehow that didn't scare me away! I continued to love comics (especially Spider-Man!) and haven't stopped since.

I used to go to New York every summer as a child to visit my mother. She saved The Amazing Spider-Man comics every month while I was away so I would have a bunch waiting for me when I came to visit! I still have those copies to this day.

Jul 19, 12:37AM EDT0
How successful were your past crowdfunding campaigns and what milestones were you able to reach?
Jul 18, 4:55AM EDT1

On our first campaign 155 backers pledged $3,597. This surprised us as we had zero audiance before hand. It was 143% of our goal. Here is an article I wrote about how we accomplished this.

On our second campaign  172 backers pledged $4,536. This was 151% of our goal. We were excited to see that we surpased $1,000 on our first day! Here is an article I wrote on how I capitalized on the first campaign to reach greater success on the second.

These campaigns allowed us to sell extras like Art prints, woodburnt signs and T shirts. It's awesome to know that these things are floating around out there.

Jul 19, 12:31AM EDT0
If you get to your crowdfunding goal, what will happen afterwards? What process did you follow to produce Swords and Sorrows? How many issues do you print?
Jul 17, 9:28PM EDT1

If you get to your crowdfunding goal, what will happen afterwards?

After we reach our goal and the campaign has ended, we send out surveys to get your address and to find out what name you want to be listed as in the credits. Then we send the comics out and stay up all night hoping you love them. So let us know what you think so we can sleep finally!

What process did you follow to produce Swords and Sorrows?

I always start by outlining my stories so I can get a feel for it before scripting. Here is an article I wrote on the importance of outlining.

Once I have the outline, scripting is  a breeze. and a blast. Once I have the script I send it to the editor if I have one. The editor for Swords &Sorrows is Chuck Pineau and he is amazing. After we are satisfied with the script, I send it to the artist. We have a long discussion about the script and what themes should be considered while drawing.

Then we go page by page. Most artists send thumbnails (quick sketches of the basic idea of the page), then I approve them. Then they send the pencils so I can see what the page looks like before permanent ink is  applied. I request changes at this stage if necessary. After I approve they ink it. Then you send it to the colorist if your comic is in color. Then the letterer!Atagun and I have tremendous trust between us so we streamline the process. We skip thumbnails because I know he will do something I love. He sends me pencils then inks later. I create black and white comics mostly so no colorist here! I do letter my own comics though, which is where the final draft of dialog is created. Here is an article I wrote on why I letter my own comics.

How many issues do you print?

One of the biggest reasons kickstarter is so usefull for small time creators is because I we know exactly how much  to print because we know how many backers we have BEFORE sending the book to the printer. So I print exactly what we need! Same answer for online sales because I use a print on demand service.

Last edited @ Jul 17, 10:51PM EDT.
Jul 17, 10:40PM EDT0

How many stories and ideas do you have in your head at any given time? How do you choose which is the next one?

Jul 17, 8:50PM EDT1

In my head: the current one, maybe a new one, and THE big one thats way off in the future. So I usually have about three kicking around at all times.

In my notes, however, I have hundreds of crappy ones, and about 10 good ones. Sometimes the crappy ones can be combined into good ones so it's good to have them around.

Whatever story excites me the most is the one I do next. Except that aforementioned big one. I'm waiting untill I'm ready for that. :) Sometimes if one is small enough, I'll do it while I'm in the middle of a bigger project.

This short story was done while I was grinding on Swords & Sorrows: www.connerbartel.com/no-trespassing

Jul 17, 10:22PM EDT1
What can you share about your new series, Swords and Sorrows? What is it about? How would you describe it?
Jul 17, 8:39PM EDT0

Something you wont read in the promo matierials is that the relationship between the two characters is center stage the whole time. Of course there is some bad-ass action but it's a very character driven story. One raised the other since childhood, yet the two only truely come to know eachother once they are ingaged in a fight to the death. 

Jul 17, 10:15PM EDT0
What are your goals and dreams regarding your career as a comic book writer?
Jul 17, 7:57PM EDT0

I can't stress this enough:

I really just want to make comics. I don't want to be famous and I''m not trying to make a million dollars. If my comic career keeps me from having to serve people breakfast food till I die of old age, that would be great. But as for now, I want to make great comics. And I want people to read them.

Jul 17, 10:12PM EDT0
Which do you consider to be the best comic book ever and why? Who is your all-time favorite character?
Jul 17, 4:49PM EDT1

I'm not gonna say what the best one ever is but my favorites include Y: The Last Man, Elfquest, The Walking Dead and Ultimate Spider-Man.

I don't  read superhero comics these days but Peter Parker will always be my favorite character of all time. Captain America and Superman is who we all wish we could be but Peter Parker is the type of hero we all can be. Perfectly flawed and very inspirational. 

Jul 17, 10:05PM EDT0
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