A few years ago, my friend and co-collaborator on many comic book projects, Mitch Cook, came to me with a story that was something really special. Now Mitch has a lot of great ideas, and has written a lot of great stories, but this one really appealed to me as an artist. It was called Concrete Martians, and it was about a town called Concrete, which was tucked into the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. This small town, which if you blinked you’d drive right by, was known for a few things. The thing that they probably wanted people to know about was the movie, This Boys Life, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Deniro. It was filmed there in the early nineties. The other thing that it was known for was a bit more buried into it’s past.
Back in 1938 the day before Hallows Eve, October 30th, Orson Welles premiered his version of H.G. Wells War Of The Worlds, as a radio broadcast. It was a commercial broadcast and it was done very convincingly. So realistic was it, that there were many Americans, that believed Martians were attacking. The town of Concrete, much like the rest of America, was listening to the broadcast when they had an electrical storm that blew out the power…right before Mr. Welles cut to the disclaimer that it was not real. So they freaked out and for a few hours believed Martians were attacking them!
Today it has been somewhat debunked as to how widespread this panic actually was, but the town of Concrete actually did believe it. Mitch Cook learned about the story while working for a KOMO TV Station. He saw an old article posted in their reception area and was immediately intrigued. It was based off of anecdotal evidence, so his mind started to plot what really might have happened to those people in that short span of a few hours. And thus Concrete Martians was born.
I got involved shortly thereafter, and received a great script from Mitch that made me want to draw the story right away. We got about 15 pages done and created an ashcan of it (a comic book with a reduced page count) and started showing it around to publishers and at comic book conventions. We were pure novices and had very little clue as to how to get the thing picked up. So after a few months of effort and very little response we shelved it.
Over the next few years, the story was one we would talk about from time to time. We knew it was something special, and I really wanted to draw it again, so last year, coinciding with the 75 anniversary of the radio broadcast, we decided to go for it. This time we had a bit more experience behind us, and realized we needed to finish as much of it as possible. The life of an artist is one of long hours of creation. An average page for me to create (from pencils to colour) takes a few days. The only way to get this released in time was to ask for help with the production costs. That way I could work on it nonstop without having to pick up other work. We broke the 44 page story up into two parts, because around page 22 there was a nice cliffhanger and decided to go for a Kickstarter Campaign, because we couldn’t raise all of the funds we needed by ourselves. The campaign was a month long and being novices at this type of fundraising, we weren’t able to get the amount we needed. Licking our wounds we took about a month off from the project and then decided to revisit again. We still had a month before the actual anniversary, so we went with a different crowd funding site- Indiegogo.
We also realized we had no social media presence the first time around, so this time we contacted the newspaper in Concrete and got the editor in chief to promote the book with an article and picture on October’s front page issue. We also contacted blogs, and podcasts and had a few of them do stories about the book and our campaign. With the generous contributions of friends and family as well as our new fans from the articles written about Concrete Martians, we were able to get to our goal. And so we created Concrete Martians Part One.
We planned to premiere the comic book at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, this past March. We made a small but sizeable print run, and hoped for the best. That Friday, on the first day of the con, we started selling them at a steady pace. So much so that by the end of the day we weren’t sure if we had brought enough comic books to sell. By mid day Saturday, we sold out! What a great problem to have.
The next big comic con I did was Ottawa’s Comic Con and so I brought the rest of our supply. By the end of that show I had sold out of that, and so we had proved to ourselves something that we had felt for a long time. That this was a special book. We had raised enough funds to do a bigger print run and went back for a second printing . At this time we had also decided we were definitely going to go ahead with Book Two.
So now we are just beginning the Indiegogo Campaign for Part 2. We are taking the lessons we learned from the first two fundraisers as well as what we have learned from other people’s fundraising efforts. On top of that we have an actual book to give to people who donate, as well as the fan base we have built up from Part One. We’ve artists supporting us too, with original artwork based off of their interpretation of Concrete Martians. And for that I’m very appreciative.
It’s been an incredible journey so far. It’s taken a long time to get here, and we’ve had a lot of hurdles. But it only makes it much more worth it when we see people as intrigued as we were when we first heard the story of the little town called Concrete and the day they thought Martians were attacking them.
If you’d like to check out our campaign and donate you can go here- https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/concrete-martians-part-two
Please share the link as well. We need your help in spreading the word.
For more of Keith’s illustrations visit http://kgrachow.com/