Kickstarter Review & Interview (From the Czech Republic)- On The Coast of Dreams

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On the Coast of Dreams
A Graphic Novel currently funding on Kickstarter
Image Copyright: Michael Petrus

Barely over a month ago Kickstarter began operations in the Netherlands, allowing creators in another corner of the EU a chance to see their dreams turn to reality.

Before the Netherlands, Kickstarter first ventured into the U.K., then Canada followed by Australia and New Zealand. With each new expansion, the legions of creative minds that Kickstarter has sought to empower have leapt at the chance of reaching an audience with their unique talents and ideas.

One such creative team who pointed me towards their efforts hails from the Czech Republic, currently outside Kickstarter’s operational sphere. It is the teams first attempt at crowd-funding a project, but it is also the first graphic novel from their country to be offered on Kickstarter. ‘On the Coast of Dreams‘ is the title and it is currently in funding mode.

While their Kickstarter is a bit sparse on details, the graphic novel of this fledgling group of artists is promoted as being centered around a man who must journey into the mind of his daughter, tragically stuck in a coma. The tone and story-telling immediately reminded me of the European stories I’ve come across in pages of the world-famous Heavy Metal magazine.

OTCOD_3

The tense, emotional scenes from
On the Coast of Dreams
Image Copyright: Michael Petrus

The panels are chocked full of empty and tense emotional sequences, less action-oriented story-telling and geared much more towards evocative introspection. It’s a style of graphic story-telling that appeals to me in ways that garish super-heroes and thin plots typical of American comics generally don’t. It’s also a style I find can be hit or miss within the pages of Heavy Metal due to the shortness and sparseness of the stories themselves considering they have to be told in generally twenty pages or less. On the Coast of Dreams however is promoted to be coming in at roughly 90 pages so I can only assume that a thorough plot with well developed characters will be fully executed.

The artwork reminds me of a rougher Garrie Gastonny. Like Gastonny, you can see in the characters a pained, constant deliberation of action:

Garrie Gastonny's The Vault   An artistic style similar to  On the Coast of Dreams   Image Copyright: Image Comics

Garrie Gastonny’s The Vault
An artistic style similar to
On the Coast of Dreams
Image Copyright: Image Comics

After seeing only  a few pages of the comic, I have to admit that I am intrigued, both by the art and the story.

In one panel, an elephant with red markings is shown talking to the main character while in another,  a three-headed monstrous Buddha-looking guardian serves up an apparent warning to the protagonist of the novel.

Clearly from the limited images (which on the Kickstarter page itself could definitely stand to be enlarged) thus far revealed the story  is one that takes a hard and fast intellectual romp through all manner of cross-pollinated cultural iconography and blends myth with self-awareness. Its roots firmly extend from the classic Epic tale– Gilgamesh to Orpheus, a hero who journeys into a forbidden land on a quest to save his beloved.

What really makes this Kickstarter even more interesting though is its Czech-American collaboration.

With the creative minds of Viktor Šauer and Michael Petrus serving as writer and illustrator, the pair has enlisted the aid of an American project manager named Tomas Holub.

This global coordination appears to be required because apparently  in order to fund a Kickstarter project one needs to be physically present in one of the countries the site operates in– the U.K., the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand or in this project’s case, the U.S.

To work around this, creators can and do enlist the aid of foreign project managers, who in turn set up shop in their  native country, including handling all the legal matters inherent in a Kickstarter project, a strategy clearly followed in this case.

But apart from this legal setup, the creators of On the Coast of Dreams have a more primary concern, chiefly getting  their creation out and into the hands of the world at large.

In the pursuit of these dreams, they were gracious enough to share further details about their on-going campaign, and I had a cool opportunity to reach out across the Atlantic and get a feel for creators from the other side of the globe:

***

On the Coast of Dreams
Image Copyright: Michael Petrus

(1) Why a graphic novel? Why Kickstarter? What makes your graphic novel different over others on KS?

The answer is the urge and desire to create. Kickstarter is a great opportunity for indie authors and we resonate with this way of supporting.

Our graphic novel is the first Czech comics project on Kickstarter and on the same time is quite unique story about freeing your spiritual state from the materialistic world.

(2) What’s the price breakdown of your KS amount roughly?

Well the goal is quite high because of the several factors – if we reach the $9000 goal we will see just around 60% – 40% go off directly (KS and other fees, taxes, fee to our “project supervisor” in US) – thus we’ll have just around $6000 to print it ($3000) and ship it (that’s the big part – as we are shipping from the Czech Republic it’s very expensive – approx. $2500-3000) and we also have to produce the other rewards as t-shirts, posters etc.

(3) What other work have you guys done?

Other Work by Michal Petrus, artist behind
  On the Coast of Dreams

(4) How did you guys put together your KS team?

We were talking about our passion and people passing by were interested in helping us. Viktor and Michael works already together for several years and we are friends for more than a decade.

(5) What is the story about? Is it a personal story? How do you relate to the characters?

‘On the Coast of Dreams’ is an original fantasy story set in the fictional mysterious world, inspired by our dreams. It is about abandoning the material world that we live in and accepting other dimensions around us.

In the story we will follow a journey of a man, whose daughter is trapped in a coma and he has to travel into the world of dreams to get a chance to fight for her life.  In the world of dreams they call him “The Seeker”. He encounters a wide variety of individuals and intelligent entities. While some of them try to help him on his way, others want to destroy him. It is a story of hope, determination and an overcoming of personal limits.

It’s all fiction but on the other hand, we want to show people the possibility of astral travel and lucid dreaming which can happen in the real world too and then you’re limited just by your imagination.

On the Coast of Dreams
Image Copyright: Michael Petrus

(6) So you guys are from the Czech Republic, would you say this story is uniquely Czech? If so, how?

It depends on what do you mean “uniquely Czech”. I think we have this kind of different thinking about the story and visuals thanks to the development of not only Czech comics but also the Czech culture itself. On other hand it isn’t located in any specific location so it can work anywhere.

 (7) What artists/writers inspire your work?

Michael: Cary Nord and his Conan had its impact on how my art has changed during the last years and On the Coast of Dreams reflects it in a way.

Viktor: I can’t say that this work is inspired by some specific artists but for many years I am interested in fantasy, sci-fi and mystery stories so it’s probably mixture of all different kinds of genres.

(8) If you had 1 artist in the world come and critique your work who would it be and why?

Michael: Never thought about that. Mr. Bryan Talbot had a look at my work at one of the comics cons in the Czech Republic, maybe I would like to talk to him longer and deeper. He is the founder of the graphic novel after all.

Viktor: It’s quite difficult question for me as well but for me it would be really interesting to hear what Hayao Miyazaki would say. I really resonate with his work.

(9) What comics do you read regularly, what movies and games do you play regularly? Do you prefer European comics/American/Japanese or some other style of comics? What about music genres? Do you create to any tunes?

Michael: In fact, I don’t read comic books regularly. My comics reading is more studying the art. But I watch some TV shows like Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, Vikings or Game of Thrones. I love post-apocalyptic or sci-fi movies I would go to see every new film of this genre in the cinema. And music? Something harder, melodic and something with lots of bass. I listen to music during drawing a lot. I can’t work with silence.

Viktor: I just read some graphic novels time to time but not much. I don’t have any specific preferences as long as it’s good story. Much more I read normal books as by now The Malazan Book of the Fallen.

I am big movie fan and I’ve seen really a lot of movies… but I am not so strong with TV shows and series. If I should name few pieces which I like in past couple of months it would be Her, Blue Is the Warmest Color, Dallas Buyers Club and The Great Beauty.

In music I love lot of different genres but during writing I usually listen to movie soundtracks and scores so I am not disturbed by the lyrics.

(10) Have you ever been out of your home country? Where?

Michael: There are some other countries?

Viktor: I love to travel and I’ve been lucky that I traveled quite a lot… like 40+ countries by now mostly in Europe, North America and South East Asia – I loved it there!

(11) What would you say your most inspiring moment in life thus far has been as it relates to your creativity?

Michael: When I connected my computer to internet for the first time.

Viktor: It was one summer when I read a few fantasy books like The Lord of the Rings, some volume of Harry Potter and The Riftwar Saga. In that time I realized that I would love to invent my worlds, lore and write my own stories. I was fifteen years old and since then I started to focus more on creative writing  in my free time.

(12) What future projects do you see for yourselves on the horizon?

We have several comics projects regarding our job in front of us but we would like to continue to create stories in the world of dreams we created for On the Coast of Dreams.

On the Coast of Dreams
Image Copyright: Michael Petrus

 ***

So there you have it, inside the minds of a few ambitious Kickstarter creators. Some interesting influences (had to look up Mr. Hayao Miyazaki myself) and some excellent movie picks (I recommend Blue is the Warmest Color especially).

It clearly goes without saying that in every corner of the world the creative beat marches on, and thanks to a remarkably industrious website, the sound of a couple Czech creators have spread beyond where their talents can reach, bringing with it an epic voyage of dreams and fulfillment– the very essence of Kickstarter and of creativity itself.

So when you get a chance, why not check out the On the Coast of Dreams Kickstarter for yourself and if you like what you see,

Pledge Forth!

Other Work by Michal Petrus, artist behind
On the Coast of Dreams

(I requested a version of the questions and answers in Czech from the creators just in case their translations didn’t do their responses justice. You can find this version below. Also as a disclaimer, I received no consideration for this review.)

1.Proč zrovna grafická novela? Proč Kickstarter? Čím se liší od ostatních grafických novel na Kickstarteru?

Odpovědí je potřeba a chuť tvořit. Kickstarter je skvělou příležitostí pro nezávislé autory a velice se nám líbí forma komunitního financování.

Naše grafická novela je první český komiks na Kickstarteru ale především jde o poměrně unikátní příběh o osvobození ducha z materiálního světa.

 2. Jaký je přibližný cenový plán vaší KS kampaně?

No cílová částka je docela vysoká je vysoká z několika důvodů – pokud se dostaneme na 9000 USD z cílové částky uvidíme jen asi 60% (40% spolknou poplatky Kickstarteru, transakce, daně, poplatek za zprostředkování v USA) – zbyde nám tedy jen něco kolem 6000 USD z čehož musíme zaplatit tisk (cca 3000 USD) a poštovné (to je velká část – poštovné z České republiky do světa je velmi drahé cca 2500-3000 USD) no a samozřejmě další náklady na odměny jako jsou trička, plakáty atd.

 3. Jaké další projekty máte za sebou?

 4. Jak jste dali dohromady Váš tým na Kickstarter?

Mluvili jsme o téhle naší vášni a to stačilo, aby nám další lidé nabídli pomoc. Viktor a Michael se znají a spolupracují už řadu let.

 5. O čem je Váš příběh? Je to něco osobního? Jaký je Váš vztah k postavám?

‘On the Coast of Dreams – Na Břehu Snů’ je originální fantasy příběh umístěný do fiktivního mysteriózního světa inspirovaného našimi sny. Vypráví o cestě za opuštěním materiálního světa, ve kterém žijeme, a přijetím jiných dimenzí, které nás obklopují.

V příběhu sledujeme putování muže, jehož dcera je uvězněna v kómatu a on se musí vydat do světa snů aby ji mohl zachránit. V onom světě snů jej nazývají “Hledač”. Setkává se tam mimo jiného i s celou řadou inteligentních bytostí. Zatímco některé se mu snaží pomoci, jiné se jej pokoušejí zničit. Je to příběh o naději, odhodlání a překonávání osobních limitů.

Jde kompletně o fikci, ale rádi bychom tím lidem představili pojem a možnosti astrálního cestování a lucidního snění, které se mohou stát i v opravdovém světě, kdy jste limitováni jen vlastní představivostí.

 6. Pocházíte z České republiky, řekli byste, že jde o specificky český příběh? Pokud ano, jak?

Záleží to na tom, co si přestavíte pod pojmem “specificky český”. Možná máme trochu jiný styl vyprávění a vizuálního ztvárnění nejen díky odlišnému vývoji českého komiksu, ale obecně české kultury. Na druhou stranu náš příběh není nijak spjat s konkrétním místem, takže by se mohl stát kdekoliv.

 7. Který umělec/spisovatel Vás inspiroval při práci?

Michael: Cary Nord a jeho Conan měl vliv na moji tvorbu a změny ve vizuálním stylu v posledních letech, takže se jistě odrazil i při tvorbě ‘On the Coast of Dreams – Na Břehu Snů’.

Viktor: Nemůžu říct, že by mě při psaní tohoto díla inspiroval nějaký konkrétní umělec nebo dílo. Mnoho let je mou zálibou fantasy a sci-fi literatura, takže jde pravděpodobně o směs všech možných vlivů z podobných žánrů.

 8.Pokud byste si mohli vybrat 1 umělce z celého světa, který by Vám řekl svůj názor na Vaše dílo, kdo by to byl a proč?

Michael: O tom jsem nikdy nepřemýšlel. Komiksový tvůrce Bryan Talbot se před lety zběžně díval na moji práci při jednom komiksovém festivalu v ČR, takže bych si s ním rád znovu a déle popovídal. Nakonec právě on je zakladatelem grafických novel.

Viktor: I pro mě to není snadné odpovědět, ale zajímalo by mě, co by na to řekl Hayao Miyazaki. Jeho tvorbu mám velice rád.

 9. Které komiksy čtete pravidelně, které filmy a hry máte rádi? Preferujete evropské/americké/japonské nebo jiné styly v komiksu? A co hudba? Tvoříte při ní?

Michael: Popravdě komiksy nečtu nijak pravidelně. Většinou studuji hlavně kresbu a vizuální ztvárnění.

Sleduji ale některého seriály jako Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, Vikings or Game of Thrones. Miluji post-apokalyptické a sci-fi příběhy a pravdielně chodím na skoro všechny takové filmy do kina.

A hudba? Něco tvrdšího, melodického a pořádně vybasovaného. Většinou poslouchám právě při kreslení. Prakticky ani nedokáži v tichu tvořit.

Viktor: Z komiksů čtu čas od času grafické novely a nedá se říct, že bych preferoval nějaký konkrétní styl – záleží mi hlavně na dobrém příběhu. Mnohem více čtu normální knihy, právě teď sérii “Malazská kronika padlých”.

Jsem velký filmový fanda a viděl jsem jich opravdu dost… skoro vůbec ale nesleduji seriály. Z posledních měsíců si vzpomínám hlavně na filmy: Ona, Život Adel, Klub poslední naděje a Velká nádhera.

V hudbě poslouchám mnoho různých  žánrů, ale při psaní si pouštím především soundtracky a hudbu z filmů, kde mě při myšlení neruší slova.

 10. Byli jste někdy mimo Vaši zemi? Kde?

Michael: Ony jsou taky nějaké jiné země?

Viktor: Moc rád cestuji a měl jsem to štěstí, že jsem toho viděl už docela dost… 40+ zemí především v Evropě, Severní Americe a jihovýchodní Asii – tam to bylo obzvlášť skvělé!

 11. Co bylo Vaším nejvíce inspirativním zážitkem ve spojitosti s vaší tvorbou?

Michael: Když jsem poprvé připojil svůj počítač k internetu.

Viktor: Bylo to jednou v létě, když jsem přečetl několik fantasy knih jako třeba Pán prstenů, nějaký díl Harryho Pottera a Ságu trhlinové války. V tu dobu jsem si uvědomil, že bych rád vymýšlel příběhy z vlastních světů a psal  a o nich. Bylo mi patnáct a od té doby jsem se ve volném čase začal více věnovat kreativnímu psaní.

 12. Jaké další projekty máte v plánu v nejbližší době?

Máme před sebou několik projektů spjatých s naší prací, ale rádi bychom také pokračovali dalšími příběhy ze světa naší současné novely ‘On the Coast of Dreams – Na Břehu Snů’.

 

 

 

 

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