It’s’ Kickstarter alert time, folks, as a new graphic novel opportunity has hit the backer-supported Kickstarter Clonsters. Written by Pat Shand and Amy Granfors, it’s an all-ages graphic novel about a world made up of lovably weird monsters. Inspired by Granfors’ clay creations, Shand and Granfors are hoping to get their Kickstarter completely funded so that you can hold a fine comic–and other goodies–in your hands. As some of you may be aware, Shand is no stranger to Kickstarter–we spoke to him in 2016 about his Kickstarter Destiny NY. And that’s where we start our conversation!
AiPT!: This has to be your third Kickstarter campaign now? Can you tell us what the pros and cons are now that you’re a pro at Kickstarter?
Pat Shand: This is just the second one. Destiny, NY was my first and only before launching Clonsters. Companies that I’ve freelanced for have run Kickstarters for books that I wrote for them as work-for-hire, but I didn’t have a hand in helming those campaigns.
Probably the most surprising thing I learned from my last time around was how much work it takes OFF of Kickstarter to promote the campaign. When Destiny, NY was experiencing a mid-campaign lull, I was constantly doing e-mail updates, social media contests, and livestream Q&As to offer items not available on Kickstarter. Now that Clonsters is going, I’m learning that there is no set way to guarantee a campaign’s success – it’s about being in the moment, trying different things, and figuring out what is working and what isn’t.
AiPT!: Clonsters is a super cute all-ages comic book concept. How did this idea come to be?
Amy Granfors: I am definitely a kid at heart. I’d say some of my favorite hobbies are daydreaming and pet-keeping, and Clonsters is sort of a mix of those things. Clonsters were born when I began sculpting clay into miniature characters that I kept and spoke of as pets. I gave them personalities of their own, and each of them has a story behind it. I love to carry them around on me and feel like I always have a friend or pet in my pocket. I love to tell their strange stories to anyone who asks what’s in my necklace. Pat recently approached me and asked me if I was interested in creating a graphic novel based on my current “cast of friends,” if you will, and I thought “hell yeah.”
Shand: Yeah, the stories that Amy would tell about her creations were super fun and engaging to me, and I love her designs. I knew it would work as a comic as soon as she started talking about her ideas.
AiPT!: Given your success working on comics, is this something you took to Kickstarter after pitching to publishers?
Shand: Not this time. We took this one right to Kickstarter. Normally, I will show a pitch to all of the publishers I want to work with, and if I don’t get an offer that makes sense creatively and financially, I’ll run a Kickstarter campaign and release it through my new publisher, Continuity Entertainment. My idea is this: if publishers want to make money with me, I am excited to do it. But I believe in my ideas, so if no one is biting, I’ll do it on my own and cut out the middle man.
With Clonsters, though, that was never a book that we pitched around. Amy owns the concept of Clonsters as a sculptor and a creator, so either way we would be paying out for an artist to illustrate it as a freelancer. It just made more sense to publish it ourselves.
AiPT!: You two are co-writers on this project. What is the collaboration like? Do you split duties and if so how?
Granfors: Pat is a wonderful teammate, creator, writer, and teacher. Being a freelance art model, barista, and artist for fun really, the Clonsters project is new to me in many ways. Essentially, collaboration on my part is simple: Patrick and I created the plot of Clonsters together on our bedroom floor, and everything since then has been overseen by me as far as design and art. We write the script together, and Pat does most of the marketing and all of the business side of things. Patrick makes things happen, my joke is that he “makes my dreams come true,” haha. He does, though.
Shand: Amy is my best collaborator. She is empathetic, has a natural sense about what makes a great story, and she’s just my absolute best friend. I think that translates to the work we do together.
AiPT!: What’s it like collaborating with your fiancee?
Granfors: Man, I feel like I either already summed it up in the last answer, or I could write a NOVEL. Haha, um. I love him. When I met Patrick, he was my co-worker. I think we have always worked really well together, to the point where people were almost shocked hahaha. We just have fun, and we genuinely like to be around one another. He is the best communicator that I have ever met. Also, Clonsters is a little different because it’s from my brain and they’re my babies, so I’m low-key the boss. He said so.
Shand: Honestly, it’s easy. We have a bunch of story ideas we’d like to do together, and it really just feels effortless and fulfilling.
AIPT!: I love the names of the creatures in Clonsters. “Earth Nuggets” and cat-like creatures called “Splats.” Are there any other creatures?
Granfors: Thank you! Yes, there are Sea Nuggets, Space Nuggets, Party Nuggets and Pride Nuggets are Earth Nugget sub-species, and Splats are either domestic or wild. OH and Pocket Rocks and Robots.
AiPT!: And what is your fascination with cats, can a dog get some love?
Shand: It’s funny, I’ve gotten the dog comment before. A longtime reader from the Robyn Hood days read Destiny, NY and said something like, “Come on, enough cats. We dog-lesbians exist too!” She has a point. And it’s funny, I grew up with dogs. My best friend was my German Shepherd-Rottweiler, Lacey. I’m a cat man now, though. I say this without any sense of irony about how ridiculous I may be, but I feel as if I share a kindred spirit with cats. My cats are my sons. I have made it a point to include a dog in an upcoming book of mine, a horror story called Little Girl that I’m working on with Olivia Pelaez.
AiPT!: This series started out as a line of clay creations by Amy and I’m curious, how much of this story did Amy have thought out before you decided to turn it into a comic?
Granfors: Each time I create a Clonster, they tend to automatically have a little background to them first things first. I would say to sum it up, the origin of each Clonster species and its connection to other species is known to me when a Clonster is born, and the plot of the graphic novel came shortly after we decided how long it would be. I picked a special Earth Nugget and I named her “Polly,” short for Polymer Clay.
AiPT!: I’m getting an Aaahh!!! Real Monsters vibe from this, was that intentional?
Granfors: Actually, I have heard that name, but I haven’t seen that. Is it because I am a legit child? Haha jk I’m 24.
Shand: I’m ancient. But yeah, that was one of the first things I described it as when I was trying to figure out our elevator pitch, yeah. Adventure Time meets Aaahh! Real Monsters. I’ve said that, I’ve said Adventure Time meets Pixar. But that’s just really cracking the surface of it, because it’s so difficult to compare something that is so personal to both Amy and myself to something else, but yes, the visual comparison of these monsters that are cute and a little creepy still isn’t lost on me. We’re going with that, for sure, just because it’s easier to sell by comparison. I can safely say, though, there isn’t any book on shelves like Clonsters.
AiPT!: Let’s say Clonsters is getting a movie/TV deal. What channel/studio is producing and who directs?
Shand: I would say we’d go with the studio in the center of the Venn Diagram where one circle comprises those who pay a fair amount of money and, in the the other circle, those who will allow us to retain creative input.
Granfors: Pixar! Me!
AiPT!: Pat, you’re always juggling a lot of projects. Can you fill us in on what you’re currently working on?
Shand: May is an exciting month for me, because I have a few big launches going on at once. Clonsters hits Kickstarter May 9th, my first novel and my first Marvel work Guardians of the Galaxy: Space Riot comes out May 23rd, and I should finally be getting my copies of Destiny, NY: Volume One sometime during the last week of the month. Going forward from there, I have two more novels out from Joe Books/Marvel this summer (Iron Man: Mutually Assured Destruction and Avengers: The Serpent Society in July), consistent work with Avatar/Boundless, some freelance stuff for big companies I can’t say as of yet. And then, come September, we’ll be back on Kickstarter for the second volume of Destiny, NY.
You can back Clonsters until May 25 2017 7:00 PM EDT here. Don’t miss out!
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