First of all, I’d like to welcome back Kurt to the Alliance for this discussion. Kurt was a co-founding member here in the very beginning, taking the reigns of the Pick of the Week/Month, with some great spotlights on some fantastic webcomics. He was a perfect fit for that, as he has an eye for comics… the TGT Podcast is proof of that. Tell me Kurt, what exactly got you into comics and webcomics, specifically?
Thanks Dawn, I’m glad to be back. It’s great to see how much Webcomic Alliance has grown in the last few years providing such great content with some awesome people. Even if they do like those Cleveland sports teams or a good Steak. 😉
That’s a good question to start off with. I started reading comics and webcomics specifically because I enjoyed a great story; however, great artwork along with a great story definitely helps a comic go along way. Also, the other reason would be when I started reading comics I didn’t have a job to spend money to buy comics, and luckily their are many free webcomics that are online. I think the first mainstream comics I really got into was Witchblade (because of the TV Series), Magic: The Gathering, Alien vs. Predator/Predator vs. Terminators/Aliens vs. Predators vs. Terminator, to name a few. Plus, I was a child of the 80’s so cartoons helped out alot as well.
TGT is a very long-running podcast and website, you have stuck with it for a long time Kurt. Can you give me a little back-story in how it all came about?
Gee thanks for making me feel old *chuckles*. It’ll be five years on August 8th (although if you want to get technical the first show was July 24), with almost six hundred combined video and audio interviews, over 200,000 downloads on video interviews and 42,000 downloads for audio… and everything is done in house, all by me. The story goes like this: Frumph, asked me to help out with a comics database website back in 2008, we were talking one day and I said, “You know, it would be awesome if we could interview these comic creators.” He replied, “Go for it.” and that’s how TGT got started. It was through alot of trial and error with many, many technical glitches that I ended up finding the best format, technology and grove that worked for recording and distributing the show. Plus, creative people, no matter if they are new to the industry or veterans can arrive and just discuss what they want to discuss.
You have such an affection for the creative-minded individual, carving out their place in the art world. Why did you want to interview comic creators? Did you want TGT to be anything more than interviews?
I initially started interviewing comic creators because I found their comics interesting but there had to be more than just creating a comic. These creators are people, who all have stories to tell. Many of the creators I interview(ed) are introverted, just as I was before I started to do this podcast. The only way to break out of that shell is to have the ability to talk about what you love the most. It was a way to get them a platform where they have the freedom to talk about anything they wanted including their comic.
After a few years, I expanded the show to include video interviewing people because of the first C2E2. The show expanded because I couldn’t just fit the other industries into the label of “Comics”. Now, I talk with people in the Comics/Webcomics, TV/Film, Music, Video Game companies, Authors and whoever else I want to come on the show. I’m doing more “Theme Months” like LBGT, Film Maker, Music, Comics, Anthro, et al.
Oh, and every August, I start up the TGT Tournament where the last 50 interviews battle it out for prizes and gloating glory 🙂 Kind of a way to showcase past shows and get traffic going around to different websites. It’ll be in it’s fourth year now and there’s been some great competition and collaborations artistically. I think we are doing Episodes 200 – 250 this time? I’d have to look it up.
So in the end… why a podcast, as opposed to a written blog?
After doing the show for so long, I’ve really not thought about creating a written blog. There are a ton of sites out there that blog fairly well with the content they choose. But, there are also a ton of podcasts out there that do similar content to what I have. I think TGT sets itself apart from the others because it has the ability to expand and grow based on what’s needed at the time.
I guess an example would be, when I first started the show, it was common to have up to two plus hours for a show and it was all content that couldn’t be edited, because it flowed so well. It’s not really a secret, but I hate to edit. What happens in the show, stays in the show… if someone needs something taken out due to it affecting their personal livelihood I’m more than willing to do that. When people said the shows were too long, I cut it down to an hour. Now, because I want to showcase more videos, it’s down to 30 minutes. Tighter show, yet still the same format, host hasn’t changed, guests are still the same and its still a blast to do every time.
I’ve always said, you lose emotions when you read text. Punctuation will only get you so far. Words don’t have the same inflection as someone saying something that the ear picks up. You can hear sadness, happiness, the full range of emotions and that’s something that only talking to a person can give you.
Your path is definitely an interesting story. It’s no wonder you have started up an Indiegogo Campaign for a documentary about a small independent press person battling the major media conglomerates. Everyone loves to cheer on the underdog! Give me a run-down on what you hope to achieve with a documentary like this.
To be clear, I’m not really battling physically with the major media conglomerates… I mean it would be a great MMA style PPV event…but, I digress.
I’ve talked to so many people, all with great stories to be told… Yet, I really don’t think I’ve been able to truly tell my own story. The pages of my life are still being written, I just want this chapter of my life to be shown in this Doc[umentary]. It’s still in the planning stages, where I want to showcase myself from an early age, the challenges of being born with little chance of survival, to surviving and thriving, growing up and finding my niche and passion through the world of these interviews.
As much as this is my story about my drive, passion, determination to succeed, and going after goals when people say, “There’s no way you’ll be able to do that,” or “You won’t be able to interview that person.”
“Stubbornness to succeed”, I guess I would call it? Sounds like a great t-shirt idea…dibs.
This Indiegogo campaign I am still reaching out to a ton of creators that I have interviewed in the past to see if they want to get in on this project and be part of the film. If it’s artwork, or just the ability to have their readers look at this campaign and film to say, “This film sounds unique and interesting. Wow! That creator that I also read has supplied something because they believe in this project.” The comic creators, Smith Micro and other individuals who are supplying their time, skills, artwork/books/software/Q&A sessions are just amazing to want to be apart of this and I can’t thank them enough.
I have two other great film makers joining me on this project because I know I can’t do this alone. Adam Lau and Jordan McCollouch, both go to school with me from the University of Windsor in the Communication, Media & Film program. With their knowledge and other skill sets, I know I can work with them to make this a great Doc.
Lets talk about crowd-sourcing. So many creators today are using Kickstarter or Indiegogo to fund their book printing, or for special merchandise, or even their expensive tools to create comics. We all know the better the planning, the better the campaign will be. What were some key points in your plans for this upcoming Indiegogo campaign? How about the pledge level rewards?
Some of the levels that will be offered are HD Digital Downloads, DVDs, Limited Edition: T-shirts, signed DVDs with extras and posters. The ability to be host on the TGT show, and even spend an hour with me on Skype talking about the Film, TGT, Sports, Movies, etc.
Pricing the HD Digital Downloads are going to start at $15 with the regular DVD and Digital Download at $35 with shipping included.
When enough items get purchased, I’m hoping for stretch goals to provide T-shirts and/or Posters for all. Every level I’m providing an HD Digital Download.
Here are just a few of the creative people that have signed on:
Smith Micro is on board. Kill Shakespeare, Lora Innes, Trevor Mueller, Alan Evans, even Webcomic Alliance members: Byron, Dawn, Chris and so much more. Books, Original Artwork, seminars.
Lets jump to conclusions and assume your Indiegogo is 100% (or more!) funded. Besides celebrating with a gigantic party with an open bar, strippers, and of course a very talented and handsome magician, what would your next steps be for your documentary?
That would be financially irresponsible for me to hire a Magician… the strippers, sure that’s a given. It’s a BYOB though.
I’m in production mode already. I have Motor City Comic Con to attend and get interviews at, tracking down all the wonderful creative people that donated their products are getting video interviewed, I have to apply to Fan Expo Canada with my crew. I have such a strict budget that Ramen Noodles would be a delicacy.
I’ll be extremely busy, with summer session, not to mention when the highest levels get funded (Associate Producer, Co-Producer, Executive Producer) I will fly out to ANYWHERE in North America and play the film and those people will get a bunch of extra goodies.
One last question, mainly to connect you to readers here at the Alliance. As you may have seen, we’ve done some interviews with webcomic readers (whom are not creators themselves) and those articles are extremely helpful for creators who are looking to expand their readership. Can you give 2 tips for us creators, coming from the perspective of a reader: What is the BEST thing we creators can do to grow a readership, and what is the WORST thing we could do, to ruin our chances?
Hmm, I think the BEST thing creators can do is build a community and engage with the comments of the readers. I’m still reading many comics and participating in many forums because that community and creator take the time to read and interact with their readers. Even if you do not agree with them.
This ties into the WORST thing creators can do to ruin their chances…Not give the ability to comment or interact with the creator. Or, make it extremely difficult to find out how you can actually contact the creator.
Thank you for your time Kurt, and best of luck to you with your campaign, documentary, and defeating Goliath (joke, joke)!
Listen to TGT Podcasts and read the blog here: http://tgtmedia.com
You can DONATE to Kurt’s Indiegogo campaign here: http://igg.me/at/littleperson/
Dawn Griffin is a self-described “crazy chick”. She likes steak, Cleveland sports, video games and oh yeah, comics. She spent her high school years either playing street ball, pitching, or drawing comics and submitting them to syndicates. Once she –accidentally– discovered the world of webcomics, the syndication route became a pointless hurdle. After all, “Crazy Chicks” do things their *&%$ selves. Dawn is the mastermind behind Zorphbert and Fred, and the illustrator of the Abby’s Adventures kids book series. She can be easily bribed with ice cream.