4 Kickstarter Photo Finishes – Section Zero, Clonsters, 5 Seconds, and Grond 2

For some independent comic book creators, Kickstarter is the way to fund their comics. Typically, Kickstarters have thirty days to reach their funding goal. If they fail, the creators heads back to the drawing board (but not to draw comics). With so much riding on those thirty days, how intense is it for the creators when campaigns do not reach their goal until the last three days? Or even the last day? What’s it like to have a Kickstarter photo finish?

To find out, I spoke with four comic book creators who had Kickstarters fund near the end of the cycle – Karl Kesel, Stephen Kok, Michael Phillips, and Pat Shand. They shared what they did to push the campaigns and reach their goal in the end.

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Quick Bios:

Karl Kesel is a writer, inker, nice guy, and the co-creator of the 1990’s Superboy among many other accomplishments. He shares his experience with the Section Zero Kickstarter, which reached its funding goal with just hours to go.

Stephen Kok is a writer who has several comic book one-shots, all funded via Kickstarter, including Word Smith. He talks about the 5 Seconds Kickstarter that reached its goal with 3 days to spare.

Michael Phillips is the publisher of, and writer for, The Draconis Project and Grond and he discusses the path he took to fund the second issue of Grond.

Pat Shand is the writer responsible for the novel Guardians of the Galaxy: Space Riot as well as comics like Destiny NY, and Robyn Hood. He talks about his and Amy Shand’s Kickstarter for Clonsters.

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Grond #2 written by Michael Phillips


Questions and answers from the frontlines of comic book crowdfunding

Q: What steps did you take to secure the pledges that put you over the top in the final day(s) of the campaign?

Pat Shand [referring to the Clonsters Kickstarter]: “You can expect big surges of support at the beginning and the end of the campaign so, to me, the way to secure yourself in the end is to keep support coming in during the middle of the campaign. If you’re near the finish line before the final day, you’re pretty much guaranteed to make it. To keep the campaign going and avoid slow periods, I consistently added new pledge levels and added freebies. I reached out to artists and other creators and, exchange for my support on their books, they offered me content I was able to give as extra incentive to backers. That way, even a low-level pledge of $15 would offer backers over $50 worth of content. It’s difficult for independent creators to compete with multi-million/billion dollar corporate publishers with market, but as far as content and value, the onus is on us to earn that support.”

Karl Kesel [referring to the Section Zero Kickstarter]: “HA! I did virtually NOTHING! The social media beast suddenly came alive and noticed us in the last 24 hours! I can’t explain it, really. The only thing I did was make sure to post a “countdown to zero” every hour so people knew time was running out (which I’m sure helped to some degree). But it wasn’t until I noticed the building momentum and thought “Hey! We might actually reach our goal!” that I offered some extra Superboy art as additional, high-end rewards. But really: I was trying to keep up with events, I wasn’t leading the way.”

Stephen Kok [referring to the 5 Seconds Kickstarter]: “I did another personal appeal to my mailing list. I knew quite a few people who were interested but have been too busy to do a pledge. It’s a reminder that there’s not too much time left. As Kickstarter is an all or nothing scenario, a last minute pledge could make the difference of whether a project goes ahead.”

Michael Phillips [referring to the Grond Book Two Kickstarter]: “I was always in contact with my backers and sent many updates to let them know how the campaign was going.”

Written by Amy and Pat Shand

Q: Hindsight being what it is, what would you do differently if you could redo the campaign?

Karl Kesel: “Two things:

  1. A VAST majority of our supporters simply wanted The Book. The high-end rewards (art, appearing in the book) did very well (and were essential in us reaching our goal) but the mid-level rewards made very little difference. Next time (and there will be a next time) I will run a much more streamlined campaign.
  2. When you’re doing Countdown posts, nothing makes you panic more than seeing people share things that say “7 Hours Left” when there’s only 3 hours! Or 2!!! Next time my “Countdown” posts will clearly state the exact time the campaign ends.”

Pat Shand: “Honestly, nothing. It was successful, and I learned a lot, which will make me more prepared for the next campaign. The thing about Kickstarter campaigns for independent comics is that every campaign is entirely different. You can ask for advice, you can learn all there is to learn, but the most important thing to understand is that you can never be fully prepared. Instead, you learn during the campaign and adapt to what you’re seeing every day. I would’ve loved to get funded 200% or 500% or some huge number like that, but I’m content with our 110% funding and learning what I did.”

Michael Phillips: “I would push for more time on social media websites. And I would also communicate with more creators and learn of new avenues to take to try to spread the word about my new campaign and how to get more backers.”

Stephen Kok: “There’s nothing I would redo but something I would add and do more things (launch party maybe?) to hype up the start of the Kickstarter. The beginning of a campaign is the key, a big start (lots of backers) will help push out the Kickstarter popularity ranking. It also takes the stress off the middle and end of the campaign if the target is on track early!”

5 Seconds written by Stephen Kok

Q: Since the campaign has ended, did you set up a Backerkit or webstore to continue to collect pre-orders? What are you working on now?

Michael Phillips: “I made sure that I had all of my stretch goals in place and utilized the MAILCHIMP email system to better communicate with my backers from my earlier campaigns and customers from the conventions that I have attended the past few years.”

[EDITOR’S NOTE – Michaels’s GROND “Oublar’s Revenge” Book Three is currently running on Kickstarter. It ends on .

Karl Kesel: “We are in the process of setting up a webstore at panicbuttonpress.com. I imagine we won’t be up-and-operational until mid-July, but if people keep an eye on the Section Zero Comic Facebook page, they’ll get the news as soon as the site goes live.”

Pat Shand: “On the independent side, I’m going on a book tour to support the publication of Destiny, NY Volume One this summer while working on production for Clonsters, which will be out in the fall. September 1st, I’m launching the Kickstarter for Destiny, NY Volume Two and will be pushing that hard. We’ll be publishing all of our Kickstarter books through my company, Continuity Entertainment, which I’m looking to expand on in big ways. We have a bunch of great books we’d like to publish, so the second half of 2017 will be focused on building that slate. On the freelancing side, my first novel Guardians of the Galaxy: Space Riot came out last month. In July, two more – Iron Man: Mutually Assured Destruction and Avengers: The Serpent Society – will be in bookstores everywhere.”

Stephen Kok: “I currently have a steampunk fantasy adventure currently on Kickstarter! I hope you have the time to check it out as well.”

[EDITOR’S NOTE – Stephen’s Word Smith – A Steampunk Fantasy Adventure is currently running on Kickstarter. It ends on .


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In their own words, there is no single path to reach the finish line. Despite that, each of them achieved their goal and are able to make these amazing comic books! I appreciate them for taking the time to answer my questions. You can find out more about them at:

Follow Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett’s Section Zero on Facebook

Note: the Panic Button web site is still under construction. You can find everything you need to know about this project at www.thereisnosectionzero.com

Stephen Kok has a Kickstarter going right now for his new comic, Word Smith – A Steampunk Fantasy Adventure

Pat Shand can be found at PatShand on Twitter or Tumblr!

Michael Phillips has a Kickstarter for the third issue in his Grond series, GROND “Oublar’s Revenge” Book Three

Section Zero by Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett

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Are you trying to visualize the Kickstarter finish line? No need! Kicktraq provided these charts that show the last 10 days of these campaigns, their goals, and when they crossed them.

SECTION ZERO -- Kicktraq Mini


CLONSTERS - an all-ages adventure comic -- Kicktraq Mini

5 Seconds - Action, Excitement, Romance and Time Bending -- Kicktraq Mini


Grond 1 written by Michael Phillips


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[Editor’s Note – Updated the information about PanicButtonPress to mid-July.]


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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

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Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

Three Comic Book Kickstarters You Need To Back – Section Zero, Route 3, and Grond #3

There is no Section Zero… or UFOs, or monsters, or time travelers. None. Um, rest assured…
Sean Anderson is a threat to the United States government. Or America’s only hope. Or both.
The assassination of the half-orc Grond could prevent an orc civil war. Or trigger the downfall of the Urughukai.

These three comic book Kickstarters – Section Zero, Route 3, and Grond #3 – offer some of the best in independent comics. Each one is worth checking out. Lets count’em down!


Section Zero


3) Section Zero by Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett
Ends on .

“MONSTERS! LOST WORLDS! UFOs! The strange and unknown! Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett finally finish the comic they began 17 years ago!


SECTION ZERO isn’t a secret section of the United Nation’s charter. It does not perpetually fund a team of experts and explorers to travel the world investigating the strange, fantastic, and unknown. The idea that this “team” looks into things such as UFOs, Monsters, Lost Civilizations, Time Travel, Ancient Gods and still-living Dinosaurs is no more than an urban legend. 

After all, none of these things exist.

SECTION ZERO is a fast-moving adventure comic combining the kinetic energy of Jack Kirby with the world of myth, folklore and urban legends. There’s danger around every corner as Our Heroes challenge the unknown and face the fantastic for yet another time. It’s also a story about love— what we’ll do for it, and how far we’ll go to get it back. But with added monsters!

SECTION ZERO was co-created by us— Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett— in 2000 following our successful, fun-fulled runs on DC’s Superboy. It was part of the Gorilla Comics imprint from Image Comics, which also included Busiek and Immonen’s Shockrockets, Waid and Kitson’sEmpire, Perez’s Crimson Plague, and Dezago and Wieringo’s Tellos. It was heady company and exciting times, and we poured our hearts and souls into the project.

But after finishing only three issues, personal matters meant Karl had to step away from the comic, and the book’s tag-line— There Is No Section Zero— became ominously prophetic. But we never fully abandoned our labor of love, and have worked to find a way to bring the book back— somehow, someway— ever since.

Section Zero Trade Mock-Ups

17 years later…

Kickstarter will help us finally finish what we begun. But we can’t do it by ourselves. We need people to make the journey with us, to stand beside SECTION ZERO as we face the Greatest Unknown— crowdfunding! We need your help, and we need your support. In a way, our original tag-line is more true than ever because There Is No Section Zero… WITHOUT YOU.

Egg’s Thoughts:

I’m going to fanboy here – I have NEVER read a bad comic that Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett have done together. Not one. These creators are the comics equivalent of peanut butter and chocolate but with no chance of an allergic reaction! They could write and draw the telephone book and it’d be a page-turner!

It’s $35 shipped in the US to get a 200-page trade that will be worth reading and re-reading and make you open up your comic boxes to fish out their prior productions to re-read. I would have happily paid more and I’m ready to see this comic come into being!

Check out the Kickstarter here – Section Zero


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2) Route 3 by Robert Jeffrey II and Sean Damien Hill
Ends on .

Route 3 Page

“Centuries old prophecies. Shadowy government conspiracies. Super heroic action. Just a typical day for teenager Sean Anderson. Route 3.

Route 3 is a super-powered road trip from hell. A Stone Mountain, GA teen finds out he’s been granted with a set of spectacular abilities, that he knows nothing about. He’s now on the run from a wide array of folks in a sort of super powered arms race across the Southeastern United States. Explosions, gunfights, telekinetic feats of awesomeness, and a little personal growth are all thrown into the mix.”

Egg’s Thoughts:

This series is written by Tessera Guild member, Robert Jeffrey II. It’s an amazing story and high on my list to hold in my hot lil’ hands. But don’t take my word for it, check out John McGuire‘s write up of Route 3 here.

That disclosure out of the way, here’s my succinct thoughts. As a comic, Route 3 is as solid as the granite of Stone Mountain and as engaging as politics. As a Kickstarter from an independent comic book creator, Route 3 is kicking as much @$$ as MMA Fighter, Anderson “The Spider” Silva.

Check out the Kickstarter here – Route 3


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Grond 3


1) Grond #3 by Michael Phillips
Ends on .

“Grond is now Kallok. Obberoth is dead. Valara’s fate is decided by Ugreth. Oublar is close to getting what he desires, being Mok’Dar.

The story starts here….

Grond 3 Cover Pencils

It is dusk on the first day of Krul’suu’luna (The Second Blood Moon). Obberoth Mok’Dar and his two sons, Ugreth and Oublar are strategizing their first attack against the Urughukai’s most hated adversary, King Rolfgar Stonefist. Suu’luna (the blood moon) is the most favored time of year to attack according to the Urughukai history. They believe that the Great Galrog’s spirit, the Urughkan god of war, will join them on the fields of battle to claim victory against the grunnarian race. Meanwhile, the young Grond is training vigorously to prove to his fav’aak(father) that he is ready for battle. Grond will have one chance to earn the title of “Kallok”(warrior) and prove his equality to his clansman or die. Taurok, Juug’la (judge) of the Urughukai and Head Chief of the horde of Clan Bloodtusks is responsible for training and preparing Grond for battle. Par’ Oublar, Ugreth’s brov’aak (brother) has emancipated from clan Bloodtusk to began a new clan by the name of Clan Grotskull. Oublar has not forgiven his father for the decision to spare his brov’aak’s (brother) life for the treacherous betrayal to his father and his clansman for breaking the oath of Grum’vlak, the sacred mating tradition only between the Urughukai. Oublar will get his opportunity to enforce justice now that his father has summoned him and his army to join him against the Fists of the Mountain, the grunnar. Oublar will soon realize that his servitude to his father will be more rewarding to him than he expected. Back at the mountain, King Rolfgar, is fully aware of the fight that ways against him from the powerful Obberoth Mok’dar. He pledges victory once more against the orcan filth and looks forward to seeing Obberoth’s head mounted next to the head of Ukklok Mok’Dar, his father.”

Egg’s Thoughts:

Full-disclosure – I’m working on a comic book mini-series for Midcity Comics (publisher of Grond and the Draconis Project).

This is a fact – There are not enough comic books featuring half-orcs. Like, that’s the one point that we can all agree on as a species, half-orcs need more representation in comics, books, movies, music, video games, and plays! With the exception of tabletop RPGs, their stories are few and far between. To bridge that gap, Grond the comic lives in orc culture using their language and customs to tell of a political power struggle. For the uniqueness of the subject matter of this series alone, help support the half-orc cause, check out Grond!

But let me give you the simplified pitch – “Grond is the tale of a half-orc fighting his pure-blood orc family!”

Either that statement moved you and you’re already looking for the link to the Grond Kickstarter or you were hoping for half-orc/orc love and you’d be better off reading the words of Jeremy Neill. No, none of that half-orc love in Grond, this series is all half-orc fighting orcs in all of its gory glory! Well worth checking out!

Check out the Kickstarter here – Grond #3



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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

* * *

Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by: