This week, comic shop patrons will get their first look inside Kickstart Comics

"This week, comic shop patrons will get their first look inside Kickstart Comics."

Netter Kickstarts Comics

Pulled from

by Kiel Phegley, News Editor


Kickstart publisher Jason Netter discusses the launch of his new comics company

Ask any creator, and they'll tell you: breaking into comics takes help.

But while who you know may be a big part of landing paying gigs as creators, the same rule can hold true for starting up a comics publisher. This week, comic shop patrons will get their first look inside Kickstart Comics – a brand new publisher of original graphic novels – and as anyone who's heard about the development of the company to date knows, Kickstart is positioning itself for a splash in the comics market thanks to the help of some big names. Not only are the company's initial wave of graphic novels edited by industry veterans Jimmy Palmiotti and Larry Young, but the the titles will also be distributed this month in retail giant Walmart.

The person who hooked up Kickstart on the editorial and retail end is Hollywood producer Jason Netter, who runs the comic imprint as part of his larger Kickstart Entertainment company. CBR News spoke with Netter just as his team's efforts go public, taking a first look at the quartet of launch titles – "Mirror, Mirror" by Joshua Williamson and Lee Moder, "Rift Raiders" by Mark Sable and Julian Totino Tedesco, "Hero Complex" by Adam Freeman, Marc Bernardin and Javi Fernandez and "Bad Guys" by Phil Eisner and Agustin Padilla – as well as his purpose for getting into comics publishing after making multiple Hollywood comic adaptations, what Walmart means for the company and how for now the comics will take focus over any eventual movie projects.

CBR News: Jason, before we got into some of the specific titles and issues surrounding Kickstart Comics, I wanted to learn a little bit more about your history as a comics fan. What was the first comic you ever got into? What's the first comic you went after in Hollywood for adaptation?

Jason Netter: Though I enjoyed reading comics as a kid, I didn’t fully become immersed in the comic world until I worked on the "Babylon 5" series. In one of the first seasons, Michael J. Straczynski was looking to adapt a comic property called "Grimjack." I began reading the issues and started to really love the characters and the world. This led me to look at other titles and my love for comics began. Kickstart Productions started as an animation and visual effects company. When the company decided to expand into content development, comics were a natural fit due to the artistic nature of the content.

Pages from Freeman, Bernardin and Fernandez's "Hero Complex"

After successfully bringing comic properties like "Wanted" and "Painkiller Jane" to the big and small screen, why start your own publishing company?

We have longstanding relationships with some of the most talented creators in the comic industry, such as Jimmy Palmiotti and Garth Ennis. We have always stressed the importance of creator inclusion in the adaptation process. It seemed natural to take these relationships to another level and start creating new properties together. We initially dipped our toe in publishing when we released two original properties through Image: "Back To Brooklyn" by Jimmy Palmiotti and Garth Ennis and "Random Acts Of Violence" by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. We enjoyed the process and experience and decided we wanted to publish more regularly.

Overall, what's the guiding principal behind this endeavor on story terms? Is there something that makes an idea or a project specifically a Kickstart comic? Is adaptability into other media a factor in what you'll be publishing or some other overriding theme?

Our main goal is to try and expand the traditional comic book market. The plan is to develop and publish ideas that will appeal to a broad audience. Our titles are diverse with a focus on expansive worlds, strong characters and interesting premises.

These days, it's common for companies to start up entirely for the purpose of getting movies made. The impression I've gotten from Kickstart, however, is that while movies are a part of the plan, getting these books into consumers' hands will also be a goal in and of itself. Can you tell me about what the company's expectations are for comics as comics as their own stand alone medium?

Film and TV may be a natural bi-product of making a good book, but our first goal is to make a good book that stands the test of time.

An important question for the creative community with publishers like this is always whether the person their working for operates as work-for-hire or has some kind of participation in the copyright of what they produce. What can you tell us about IP ownership and participation as it will be seen through Kickstart Comics?

We feel strongly in creator participation, and our deals reflect that belief.

Pages from Eisner and Padilla's "Bad Guys"


A big part of your launch announcement was the fact that Kickstart's book will be distributed through Walmarts. How are you looking to leverage that opportunity into new readers?

We are excited our books at Walmart stores nationally. Walmart weekly foot traffic is massive, [so] our books will be exposed to a mass audience which we believe will lead to an expanded audience for our books and hopefully for the industry as a whole.

Getting back to the nitty gritty of the books themselves, you've got two well-known names in the comics game helping to put together the line. What's the working process been like on these titles in terms of having Jimmy [Palmiotti] and Larry [Young] take the editorial reins, and what kind of directive did you give them as publisher?

We value experience and the creative expertise of individuals who personify the industry. Jimmy and Larry are the best at what they do and their mission is to deliver books that deliver creatively. We have been very fortunate to have a strong relationship with Jimmy Palmiotti and it was a natural choice to work with him to help us launch our new line. Jimmy was key in helping us find some really talented artists for our titles and has helped to ensure the quality of our product. Larry Young has also been a longtime friend. His finger is on the pulse of the independent publishing space and we benefited from his expertise on several titles.

Let's talk about each of the four launch titles hitting in November for a moment, starting with Joshua Williamson's "Mirror, Mirror." I know you'd optioned Williamson's "Dear, Dracula" comic before Kickstart Comics was a going concern. Did you two start talking back then about other ideas, and what was it about "Mirror, Mirror" that struck you as a solid launch title?

We are going to be publishing two titles by Josh, "Mirror, Mirror" and "Endangered," due out next year. Josh has great ideas and brought us very strong concepts. "Mirror, Mirror" is a title that brought back some of the great treasure hunting adventures that we all grew up with in the Indiana Jones franchise. Anchored by a strong lead character, we see this as a fun way to re-explore the world of the Grimm's Fairy Tales. The storytelling and artwork is stunning.

Mark Sable is a name well known to a lot of comic readers. What is it about his style that made him a good fit for Kickstart Comics, and what drew you guys to the sci-fi teen drama of "Rift Raiders?"

Pages from Williamson and Moder's "Mirror,Mirror"

As a production company, we had approached Mark on several of his titles in the past. Mark is a great storyteller, and when we heard the concept for "Rift Raiders," we really wanted it to be one of our first titles. Partnering Mark’s writing with Julian Totino’s artwork has proven to be a brilliant move. The book is spectacular!

There aren't many flat-out superhero titles in the Kickstart lineup at launch, but Adam Freeman and Marc Bernardin's "Hero Complex" seems to fit that traditional genre, as did the supervillain story of Phil Eisner's "Bad Guys." Do you have a set of standards for superhero books you'll publish in the generally more mainstream-focused comics line, and how did each of these titles fit that bill?

Again, our mission is to reach a wide audience, so I think you will agree our lineup is very diverse. Ranging from superhero to time travel. The appeal of these two titles you mention was the fact that they were both a twist on the superhero genre. With "Hero Complex," the guys wrote a hilarious comedy that explores the downside of being a good guy. The old adage “Crime Doesn’t Pay” might not quite be true. In a time of self-promotion, sponsorships, press, etc., just being a good guy can lead to being broke!

Finally, Kickstart Comics will release 24 titles over the course of the next year. What would you say your broad goals are for that first year of publishing?

We couldn’t be more pleased with how the books have turned out. More importantly we believe we have established an exciting new model for publishing which is fundamentally based on collaboration with the creative community and wide exposure of their works to an expanded audience.

The four launch titles for Kickstart Comics go on sale in comic book shops this week and nationally in Walmart and other retailers this month.



Joshua Williamson's MIRROR MIRROR Updates Snow White's Story

Joshua Williamson's MIRROR MIRROR Updates Snow White's Story
Pulled from

On Wednesday, November 17, 2010, Kickstart Comics will release an original graphic novel MIRROR MIRROR by Joshua Williamson. Hot off the heals of his recent Superman/Batman issue with Damian and Supergirl, Joshua is now taking on the mythology of the Magic Mirror from the Snow White fable. I was lucky enough to be able to read the entire story and it's a great read. The story is set in modern times and is full of action and adventure. Rather than listen to me go on about how much I enjoyed it, let's put some questions to Joshua about what the book is about. 
Comic Vine: How would you describe the book to the potential buyer and why should they pick up this book? 
Joshua Williamson:
   Mirror, Mirror is about the magic mirror from the Snow White fairy tale. In our story Snow White destroyed the magic mirror and scattered its pieces across the globe to keep it from ever being rebuilt. She then created a group called the Huntsmen to protect the pieces from evil. 


Now in present day a young man named Owen Grimm is the newest Huntsman and is trying to stop a wicked Prince from putting the evil mirror back together and using it to rule the world.


As to why someone should pick it up… If you’re looking a family friendly adventure story that is fun for everyone you should pick this up. If you like the Indiana Jones films or National Treasure, this book is for you. 

CV: Where did you get the idea from? Do you often think about twists to old fairy tales? 
  This idea sprang from me wanting to do an adventure book, something with someone searching for something. Crazy vague, I know. The thing is what is out that hasn’t already been found?


One story that has always bugged me was Snow White. We get this nice happy ending where Prince Charming rides off with Snow White in his arms and the evil old Step Mother is dead. But what happened to that evil Mirror? It was manipulative and has insane powers, and could be argued was the real bad guy of the story. One day I just put two and two together and thought “what if Snow White destroyed the mirror?”  


A line of dialogue that never made it into the script was of Snow White saying “Mirror, Mirror on the wall… do you know what I’m going to do with this?” while she was holding a giant sledge hammer. I’m pretty sure that was the first line of dialogue I wrote but it just never made it in the actual finished script. It was just the germ of an idea that lead to the whole book.


Yeah, I’m always thinking of twists on classic fairy tales, but not just fairy tales… myths, legends, fables, you name it.  I have another book coming, I think in 2012, which is another twist on a classic tale. Too soon to talk about it, but yeah. 

CV: When you started writing the script, was Lee Moder set to be the artist? 
  I found out Lee was going to be the artist when I was about halfway done. I actually went back and changed a few things because I had Lee in mind. I’m very familiar with Lee’s style, and became less worried about panel counts because I knew Lee was a pro and would make everything work. Lee’s an artist I’ve wanted to work with back when he was doing Legion of Super-Heroes, so I knew he could handle a ton of characters and settings.


Of all things I can’t wait for people to see Lee’s pages. They are amazing!

CV: What are the pros and cons of writing a complete graphic novel versus writing single issues or a mini series? 
  Well, for the last year or so I’ve been working on mostly OGNs and one of the things I’ve learned is that you’re pacing needs to be stronger. You need to be able to keep your audiences attention longer. A pro to writing a longer OGN is that you don’t have to worry about your page count as much and can let your story breathe, but that can also be a con, y'know? Sometimes a writer needs to have restrictions, to help them cut the fat making the story lean and mean. I love great shorts and am a big fan of one-shots and annuals that just tell a quick great story about one of my favorite characters.


When I wrote Superman/Batman 77, it was a short quick story and I knew I didn’t have to hold the audience interest for more than 22 pages, so I made sure it was at a pretty fast pace. And one of the things I noticed people saying about the book was that it was a fun fast read, which was exactly what I was going for. When writing an OGN you have to mindfull of some many things, and I think have more balls in the air.


Honestly, and this might not be a popular opinion, but I prefer to write in the monthly 22 pages format, with cliffhangers. It’s how I grew up reading comics and I think my mind is trained in that style. I like the pacing of a mini series, where you can build up to a cliff hanger and mess with your reader.  
CV: What makes this take on Snow White and the Magic Mirror different from the stories told in Vertigo's FABLES? 
F or starters we never actually see Snow White in this story except for in a few panels in flashback. I love Vertigo’s Fables, but I still wanted to make sure that we stayed far away from what they’ve done. We don’t have any actual live fables or other characters running around. There are ties to the stories, but a big part of the book is that all those fairy tales and myths came from some kind of truth and we explore that truth. For example, the big bad wolf, Bigby, in Fables is a shape shifter and sheriff, while in Mirror, Mirror, the big bad wolf is actually based off real life serial killer Peter Stumpp.


This is more like the Indiana Jones films where it’s very grounded in reality with hints of supernatural building until it’s unleashed. 
CV: You've created a new "world" in this self-contained story, would you ever want to flesh it out more or do you consider the story complete? 
Oh I for sure want to do more. Lee actually came up with a new title for the series called “Grimm’s Adventure Tales.” This story is self contained and people can read this and walk away happy, but I’d love to tell more stories about Owen Grimm and the Huntsmen. I think if we were able to do another book I’d give room to learn more about Owen and why he is such a brash young man.


There are a few hints throughout the book and especially in the end about their being other protectors of magical artifacts, and that there is so much more to this world that we’ve created here.


If this first book proves popular maybe Kickstart will let me do a sequel.

Be sure to look for MIRROR MIRROR at your local comics shop or Wal-Mart. For now, check out these preview pages. 


CBR Preview

CBR Preview

Pulled from

Mirror, Mirror

The Magic Mirror from the Snow White fairy tale was shattered and its pieces hidden across the globe, to be protected by a secret society known as the Huntsmen. Owen Bullfinch, racing against a secret society, searches for the pieces before the mirror can be rebuilt and used for evil


Sable Kickstarts "Rift Raiders" by Tim O'Shea

Sable Kickstarts "Rift Raiders"

Pulled from

by Tim O'Shea


Mark Sable's "Rift Raiders" hits stores this month

Every writer hopes that a script they write gets the attention of as many people as possible, but last year Mark Sable's script for issue 3 of Unthinkable (his miniseries for BOOM! Studios) garnered more interest than he ever imagined. Unfortunately, for a period of time it was the kind of interest no one wants to attract - TSA officials at Los Angeles International Airport briefly detained Sable because they found the comic's script to be of concern. Fortunately for all involved, Sable was able to explain the nature of his work, or else no one would be hearing about his latest 88-page original graphic novel, "Rift Raiders."

"Rift Raiders," one of four flagship books for Kickstart Comics that is set to go on sale this month, reunites Sable with his "Unthinkable" artist Julian Totino Tedesco. In discussing the collaboration, Sable makes it clear how immense a shift in artistic style that Tedesco has pursued in the new volume. A book described by the writer as "'Goonies' meets 'Time Bandits'...the story of three orphaned teens who learn they're not orphans at all. Their parents have been hidden throughout time." The kids make a deal to save their parents by traveling through time, retrieving request artifacts.

After already covering the launch of Kickstart with line editors Jimmy Palmiotti and Larry Young as well as one of the other four starter books "Mirror, Mirror" with up-and-comer Joshua Williamson, CBR News spoke with Sable about his perspective on time travel, how "Rift Raiders" is similar in tone to his previous project, "Grounded" and the appeal to Kickstart's expanded distribution plans (which include a presence in Walmart).


CBR News: You described "Rift Raiders" to me as being a bit of a spiritual successor to "Grounded." Can you expand on that a bit further?

Mark Sable: They are both books with teen protagonists, but I think that the real similarity is tone. They share a certain sense of adventure and irreverence that wouldn't have been appropriate in, say, "Hazed" (my Image sorority satire), or "Two-Face: Year One." Most of all, like "Grounded," "Rift Raiders" is meant to be a fun book. I like grim and gritty as much as the next guy, but it's fun to nice to go on a Goonies-style ride once in a while.

Julian Totino's cover for "Rift Raiders"

The core concept of the story is that of a teen time travel story. Does this allow you to explore historical periods in your narrative, or are you able to explore unique character dynamics by allowing the teens to see future versions of themselves?

A little of both. The protagonists - Dodger, Myles, Layla and Sykes - are traveling to different historical periods to recover unique weapons and artifacts for a mysterious character known as The Fence. Some of the weapons are mythical, like Excalibur. Others have some basis in reality, like Da Vinci's flying machines. Many of them are things that maybe could have existed - like a steampunk exoskeleton designed by Charles Gatling - but don't, because our heroes have stolen it, so there's no record of it. There's also deeper character reasons for visiting the different time periods. The characters believe they're orphans when the story opens, but the Fence reveals that their parents are very much alive - just hidden throughout time. He offers to help the kids find them if they "borrow" the artifacts for him.

I chose the times and locations based on where and when legendary artifacts might be found and where it might be fun to see their parents hiding out. But the idea was really to take the characters and the audiences to cool places, not to comment on history. There are definitely a few moments where we get to see future versions of the characters and alternate realities, but to say more would spoil the surprise.

Are there certain fiction or nonfiction writers that help shape your view of time travel?

All time travel stories live in the shadow of Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis' "Back to the Future," which is pretty much a perfect movie. I'm a huge fan of the new "Doctor Who" and of Phillip K. Dick's "The Man in High Castle," and I've also recently gotten into the sci-fi books of Connie Willis. As much as I love all their takes on time travel, I didn't want to delve too deeply into the whys and wherefores. Time travel in "Rift Raiders" is in the service of story, so I tried to pick a few rules to stick and steer clear of trying to be too clever.

Really, the two biggest influences I on this book are "Time Bandits" - that's where the idea of time traveling thieves comes in, as well as the mix of humor and emotion - and also "Oliver Twist." Dodger, the main protagonist, is named after The Artful Dodger, and The Fence is to some extend modeled after Fagin. There's also some nods to the all time best time travel villain, Kang The Conqueror.

How did you team up with Kickstart for this project?

Before launching Kickstart Comics, they were one of a number of production companies interested in optioning "Hazed." While that didn't work out, I developed a very strong relationship with Samantha Olsson, who is at the spearhead of their new imprint. She's been an incredible supporter of my work, and when she and Jason Netter created a new publishing venture, I was flattered to be asked to create one of the launch books. When I knew it also meant a chance to work with Julian Totino Tedesco again, I couldn't say no.

Some of Totino's pages from "Rift Raiders"


The appeal to me of Kickstart, beyond the personal relationships, is their desire to make accessible comics. Part of that is making the actual books available to a wide audience, not relying so heavily on the superhero genre. The other part is telling complete stories with a beginning, middle and end, without a need to have read a quarter century or more of continuity. Others have said it before, but I think this medium needs more dense, diverse, non-decompressed books in the hands of a wider audience.

Why do you think more comic companies are not making unique distribution efforts along the lines of Kickstart's plans to be readily accessible in Walmarts nationwide?

That's a really good question, and my first instinct to say, "Ask the other publishers." I love comic book stores - I'm a regular weekly customer - but I never would have gotten into comics if my dad hadn't brought them home from newsstands, drug stores etc. I think having alternate distribution channels are vital to the future success of comics. It was one of the big selling points for Kickstart.

I thought other publishers might be afraid of pissing off Diamond or direct market retailers, but I know that Kickstart is going to great lengths to provided incentives for retailers, so they've proved it's not an either or proposition. Ultimately, if I had to guess, I'd just say that larger comic book companies, like any major corporation, are just slow to change. Smaller, hungrier and more nimble companies like Kickstart are better positioned to take risks like that.

Who is editing "Rift Raiders" for you? Is it Jimmy Palmiotti and Larry Young or someone else?

I was involved with Rift Raiders and Kickstart before I knew Jimmy and Larry were involved. Samantha was the most active person involved in the notes, and later Jimmy came in and helped out. I was lucky enough to have Jimmy ink "Two-Face: Year One," and I'm a huge fan of his writing as well, so when I found out he was involved it definitely made me feel like I was in good hands. I don't know Larry Young personally, but he introduced me to some great, breakout work like Brian Wood's "DEMO" and Matt Fraction's "Last of The Independents," so it can't hurt to have someone with that kind of taste involved.

This is the second time you've collaborated with Julian Totino Tedesco - what is it about his visual storytelling that meshes so effectively with your writing?

His strong foundation as a storyteller. That's more important to me than style. With "Unthinkable," Julian brought the incredible amount of detail and dynamism a Tom Clancy-like thriller needed. For "Rift Raiders," he used his eye for detail to bring the past to life, but he brought a completely new style. The action is more fluid, the characters more expressive. I loved his work before, but I think he's upped his game tremendously with "Rift Raiders" to such a degree I think this will be a huge breakout book for him. I should also mention colorist Juan Manuel Tumburus. He really makes the art pop off the page and I'm lucky he's joining us again, too.

At this point, both "Unthinkable" and "Hazed" have been optioned by Mandalay Pictures. How closely will you be working with the projects and how difficult (or not) is it to see your creations in the hands of other writers?

Mandalay has been kind enough to keep me in the loop, showing me their takes, having me speak to the writers etc. I've been impressed with their plans for the book, and I trust them to make the best movie possible. I try to make myself available as a resource, without getting in the way of them doing what they do well. It's in everyone's interest to make a successful movie (or two). 

My feeling on having creator owned projects is, I've already gotten my vision on the page. Artist Robbi Rodriguez brought the definitive version of "Hazed" to life, and Julian did the same for "Unthinkable." If I'm lucky, my work will inspire the producers, directors and actors to create something that stands on its own. If I'm not, no matter what happens, I don't think that anyone can take away from the work we did on the books. That said, now that I've had multiple projects optioned, written an original animated pilot for Cartoon Network, I'm hoping to leverage that success into a more active role in film and TV side of things the future.

What else is on the creative horizon for you?

The best compliment I can get as a writer is having my collaborators want to work with me again. I'm doing another book with Kickstart that blends my love of espionage with that of sci-fi. In December, a Teen Titans story that I did with "Joe The Barbarian" artist Sean Murphy is finally going to see print as a special from DC.

What I'm most excited about, though, is that I'm finally working with "Grounded's" Paul Azaceta again on not one, but two projects. One is for Marvel, which I'll leave them to announce. The other is creator-owned, and we haven't announced a publisher yet. It couldn't be more different than "Grounded" - it's a war/horror story involving zombies in Afghanistan - but it feels like I'm coming full circle by re-teaming with the artist that launched my career. I'm hoping it will be the best thing either of us has done to date.

"Rift Raiders" and the rest of the Kickstart line of comics ships for sale this month. Check back with CBR soon for a talk with Kickstart CEO Jason Netter about the entire line.



Mirror, Mirror...dropping into your local comic shop this week.

Mirror, Mirror...dropping into your local comic shop this week.