When I last spoke to Jeff Zwirek, it was at the Windy City Con a couple years ago. Jeff impressed me a while back with his work – which was good enough to attract the attention of Top Shelf Comics – and we even had a comic-book signing together. (Jeff was signing issues of his independent comic Burning Building Comix and I was signing Xena versus Army of Darkness #1.)
A lot of time has passed since then and Jeff recently got in touch to tell me about the culmination of his hard work to produce the Burning Building Comix mini-series. He is now looking to collect the entire run into a single, specially-formatted graphic novel. Thing is that due to the unique nature of the format, Jeff needs to raise funds to pay for the printing of the book. To that end, he has listed his project on Kickstarter, a site created for situations just like his.
Jeff and I spoke about the Kickstarter program, how it works and how Jeff hopes that Chicagoans – and people all over the world – can rally to support him:
Geek To Me: Hey Jeff, it’s been a while since we last spoke. What have you been up to?
Jeff Zwirek: I’ve been keeping busy with all sorts of stuff, I have small production company that produces animation that’s been taking up a lot of time, and I’ve been helping to organize a Small Press comic show for Chicago. I’ve also had a 2nd son, who is a year and a half, along with my five year old. They keep me plenty busy what with all the nose wiping and wrestling. Then I’m also obligated to being a tortured White Sox fan, which is made worse by the fact that I host a White Sox podcast with my twin brother Adam. It’s been a brutal year. But my main focus lately has been my Kickstarter video and campaign to try and get my comic Burning Building Comix published as a collection.
G2M: Did the Burning Building Comix project turn up the way you wanted?
Jeff Zwirek: Yeah, it’s one of the few times where the end result came very close to the vision in my head at the beginning of the project, and that’s the reason why I’m committing to get this book done and out into the world, it feels like the best representation of my work up until this point.
Jeff Zwirek: Well, Kickstarter is this really unique website that allows artists, inventors, entrepreneurs, and all sorts of other creative types to find funding to get a project up and running. There’s two things that really attracted me to the idea: One, people are offered rewards for giving money to a project. So you’re not just donating money, you’re in effect, pre-ordering something – in my case a graphic novel – and that money is used to pay for the production of that product. What’s especially cool is that you can offer exclusive rewards that you wouldn’t see any where else, or you can get in on the ground floor of an idea that you think has potential to be something really great. The second thing is that when you become a “backer” of a project you only have to pay if and when that project reaches it’s full funding. Which gives a type of assurance to the buyer, cause you could think that a project is a good idea, but unless a bunch of other people agree with you, the project won’t get funded.
It’s kind of amazing to browse that website and see all the amazing creative ventures people are up to, and which ones really gain heat and get funded quickly. Sometimes getting double the funding they were asking ’cause so many people loved the idea.
G2M: I’ve browsed through their offerings and I must say that I’ve never see a graphic novel with the format you’re proposing. Where did you come up with the idea?
Jeff Zwirek: The format was always key to the comic itself. Originally it was a series of five mini-comics that when laid out one on top of the other also laid out the ten floors of a building that is on fire.
Each issue told two of those stories in a wordless pantomime. The trick was figuring out a way to get that format into a single collection without sacrificing the nature of story-telling. Wasn’t easy to figure without just making a really tall book, and I had to find an overseas printer who could produce the unusual binding, but I’m pretty happy with the solution…if the book gets funded, that is.
G2M: So, what’s next?
Jeff Zwirek: Well, since this is a self-publishing situation, the next part will be figuring out all the nitty gritty of the publishing world, and how to get this book out into the world and in front of people’s eyes…or is that under their noses? Know anything about marketing?
G2M: Ha-ha! All I know is that people pay attention when you drunktweet. Best of luck with the program and let me know how it turns out!
You can learn more about Jeff Zwirek’s Kickstarter campaign by clicking HERE!
Do you have an independent comic that you’d like for Geek To Me readers to learn about? Just drop me a line and let me know.