For those not familiar with Kickstarter, it’s a wonderful way for books that are being self-published to be brought to market. You’re likely to find comic greats such as Marc Silvestri, Jimmy Palmiotti, and even those online game dudes from Penny Arcade. Along with the big names, we also find amazing new talent emerging. People who take the risk to go this route have a sense of passion about their work and the story they want to tell. One such individual is Lee Milewski who I had the chance to speak with about his independent comic being run through Kickstarter, With The Earth Above Us.
One thing that drew my attention from beginning our discussion was his passion for the book. If you look at the description he’s given it, you get a feeling of where his inspiration lies:
When originally starting this project I had the idea to take classic films such as “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Star Wars”, “Blade Runner” etc. and mix those central themes with a Saturday morning cartoon, which gets wrapped between a retro, black and white setting.
Those are his inspirations, and those are stories that many of us can relate to. Who among us has not seen Star Wars? I do know a number of people who have never seen Blade Runner, but that’s mostly because it never aired in theaters or on TV the way other properties did. But everyone I know who has ended up seeing it eventually on DVD has loved it – it’s a cop story, which just happens to have artificial lifeforms as a major component to it. And 2001: A Space Odyssey? For any sci-fi fan it’s legendary – and if you don’t know the significance of the song “Daisy Daisy” you really shouldn’t consider yourself a sci-fi fanboy…
Lee Milewski is a Floridian who obviously has been inspired by a number of properties, all of which have driven him to push forward his passions. He has a history of storytelling, having written several comic scripts in the past. Setbacks such as being unable to find an artistic partner that he could work with did not deter him from continuing to follow his passion, though. Lee began to draw the story himself, and what was once just an artistic hobby has now become the other 50% of the book he is putting together. Although he is much more comfortable in the writing element, he has since come to really enjoy the artistic component as well, even thinking of what is to follow With The Earth Above Us.
But until this book is done, those stories remain as notes and concepts on paper. And the book has it all – human drama, an A.I. computer who is not so friendly, and space. You can see all of the elements of his inspirations summed up right there. And the art? One of Lee’s artistic inspirations was Batman: The Animated Series. Like all artists, you don’t copy but you get inspired, and you can see some of that inspiration in the art he has so far completed for the book.
With The Earth Above Us has its Kickstarter campaign ongoing, and so far has only managed to achieve just over 50% of its intended goal of $4,000. Lee has run into a challenge right now, as he has only 5 days left in the time period set out to achieve this goal. Although he has had over 50 supporters, the book is good and needs that push from various community members to get it to print. It should be clear that the $4,000 cost is not for Lee to line his pockets and walk away with some more money; this cost goes directly to printing and publishing the book and shipping it out to those who have purchased it. There are a few incidentals he will take – such as art supplies – but those will be going directly to the completion of the book.
But why would you buy a book from someone you’ve never heard of? Well, everyone has to start somewhere. Lee has taken a chance to tell his story in his own way and has put it out there for everyone to see. Remember, I said passion? This is what it takes – risk. This is time away from his family to get it out there, from his day-to-day life, but in my discussions he was nothing but passionate for this project. He does admit that the art and the style may not be for everyone, but most true works of art are not accessible to all but can still be appreciated.
Lee is not a big name in comics, but that’s OK. Everyone has to start somewhere before they burst onto the scene with a huge explosion. His book is good, and this is not coming from him but from me. He has posted the first “issue” online for review, which I did, and I enjoyed it. He has posted the issue from the book’s official site, but the Kickstarter page has all the details as well. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I also joined the program to support this book. I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is; hopefully you all enjoy what you read online that you will too!