Last year, the Geekadelphia crew were blown away by the amazing work Andrew Goletz and his team at Grayhaven Comics were doing.
Their book, You Are Not Alone, was created after the Sandy Hook tragedy, to encourage young readers who have been faced with abused, bullying, racism, and other complicated issues. We were thrilled to award Andrew and his team a Philly Geek Award last year.
Last week, Andrew and Grayhaven launched a Kickstarter campaign to support a second volume of You Are Not Alone. We chatted with Goletz about the new project.
For those of our readers who aren’t familiar, tell us a little bit about the You Are Not Alone project. What inspired that first book?
When the events of Sandy Hook occurred it had a profound impact on me as a father, hell, as human being. We had been publishing books through GrayHaven for several years so we had the whole ‘publish a comic’ thing down. What I wanted to do at that point though was something that would honor the victims and speak to that tragedy, a more meaningful book than just telling stories.
We decided against a direct response to the events at Sandy Hook because it was too soon and we didn’t want to come off as taking advantage of a horrible situation. We decided on what became YOU ARE NOT ALONE, an anthology of stories aimed at younger readers with stories about abuse, bullying, depression, homophobia, racism and violence with messages of hope and hopefully inspiration.
I was hoping it would connect with audiences but we were floored with how many submissions came in and how many people wanted to be a part of it. We changed the book from a standard sized comic to a 180 page volume and still left great stories out.
Can you tell us a bit about how the first volume has been received? Where did it go? Who read it?
It was received very well. Backers were the first to receive it, as a PDF and then print copies. Then I sent a few out to organizations that put in requests from the first Kickstarter and then I placed it available for sale to anyone who wanted to get a copy of the book
The first hold my breath moment was the release of the PDF to Kickstarter backers and immediately I had gotten some positive responses. Once people started getting their print copies in the mail even more positive responses came in. I wanted to publish some of the comments but man, some of these were so deeply personal that again I didn’t want to use these honest, heartbreaking stories for any sort of perceived gain.
One big thing we wanted to do was get this book into the hands of younger readers who could find it helpful. It was slow going initially but in the last two weeks we’ve gotten over 50 requests from libraries, youth organizations, teachers and even police officers who thought it would be useful for young people and not just from the local PA, NJ area but outside the North East as well.
For the second project, you’ve headed back to Kickstarter. What are some of the challenges with crowdsourcing a comic collection?
Soooo many challenges, haha. The first will be in making friends with some other post offices that aren’t too far. I’ve made about 2 trips a week to my post office every week since mid January usually with about 100 large envelopes and they serve me with a smile but I think their teeth are grinding. Shout out to Trish who always smiles and never seems to be faking her sincerity haha.
The second one was accounting for international shipping on a book this size. I was used to putting out standard comics whereas this book is generally 15-20 bucks to ship overseas. Luckily that first Kickstart made over the goal amount but it did eat into costs more than I anticipated.
The main challenge is really coming up with cool rewards for people as an incentive to pledge and also trying to increase the scope of the audience who see the Kickstarter. I am trying very hard not to just use my Facebook and Twitter feed to talk crowdsourcing every hour which is why it’s crucial for us to get coverage from other sites like yours so fresh eyes can take a look at it. Our audience is extremely loyal and generous but I don’t want to be ‘that guy’ you know?
What issues will the second volume address?
We’re covering the same ground and making it all encompassing like the first one: abuse, depression, homophobia, racism, and violence. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of stories about people going through all this.
Here’s a top secret exclusive: if we make our goal and make it soon the plan is to do a 3rd volume and I want to have this one written by younger readers who have gone through these things. I’ve made some contacts with people who work or serve kids who’ve had a rough time of it and they’ve been receptive to the idea of putting their stories onto paper. Our editors would help them through it and of course we’d assign artists to those that need it.
Moving forward beyond that there are a few directions we were thinking of going, perhaps with smaller volumes focused on one specific issue but time and interest will tell.
Any artists confirmed? What can you tell us about what will be inside?
Production is moving along nicely. It’s a smaller volume and artists have already been assigned for all of the stories. George Amaru who did the cover for both volumes is back and doing interiors. Donal DeLay, who did a variant cover for YANA 1 is back. Leonardo Gonzalez, who’s done a lot of great work for us, along with Chris Dixon, Jason Quest, Myra Rolaff and a ton of others.
Aside from the stories we’ll again have the chapter breaks with phone numbers and website information on where people can go to seek help.
And what else is on the horizon for Grayhaven? Tell us about your other projects, and where our readers can look you up.
The main part of our publishing schedule is focused on an ongoing anthology called THE GATHERING. We have our CITIES issue coming out in a few weeks followed by PUBLIC DOMAIN, ALTERNATE REALITIES and PARANORMAL ROMANCE as well as a kids anthology called SUNDAY FUNNIES.
It’s going to be a busy year with another 20 or so books launching. I’m most excited to get Victor Gischler and Sam Tung’s Sci-Fi/Western TITANIUM STAR out this year after some delay as well as SPARKS (a one shot maybe more that is a looooong in production story by Glenn Matchett and Kell Smith).
You can stay up to date with all our projects at www.grayhavencomics.com or follow on Twitter @GatheringComic. We’re also currently in the process of an open submission period for writers which is also a really popular time of year for us. The submission info can be found here.
But of course a lot of my time will be spend on YOU ARE NOT ALONE 2 and hopefully more beyond that if all goes well. We have some fantastic rewards available at all levels from comics to original art to artists offering to illustrate short stories and custom covers to script reviews by the likes of JM DeMatteis.