Mar 5, 2015
The Aggregate ~ A post-apocalyptic graphic novel
In the world of Kickstarter there is always something new and exciting. Today is no different as Nerd Rage News discovered a choose your own adventure that is a graphic novel. We spoke with Ben Bishop about The Aggregate.
What is the Aggregate?
The Aggregate is a post-apocalyptic, “Choose Your Own Adventure” style graphic novel of mine I’m currently Kickstarting. But “The Aggregate” is ALSO an 800 foot tall giant robot built by our very own government to wipe out 3/4 of the worlds population. There’s a video on my Kickstarter haha. Basically, I like to tell people it’s the story of a mysteriously young woman named Valerius who has spent the last 1,000 years keeping 5 genetically engineered individuals, the “OTAs” ( the people who pilot the robot ) away from their giant robot killing-machine; BUT she now finds herself leading one of them, the “Man” right to it.
How does a choose your own adventure work in a graphic novel format?
The Aggregate will be the first in a new type of graphic novel storytelling I’m calling, “Split Decision” comics. Basically it will work something like the old Choose Your Own Adventure book crossed with a video game. Rather than YOU being the main character, you’ll be every character, and you’ll make decisions for all those characters, and the other people in the book will react and behave differently towards you depending on those decisions you make.
I’m obsessed with really good movie scores. I listen to them while I write or draw, and I have wanted to make a book with its own score for a very long time. So when it looked like I was going to start putting a book together I knew I wanted it to have a soundtrack to go with it. The music is by my great friend Taylor Parnell. We went to highschool together, I call him “Turbo” because he’s so damn fast on the drums. But he plays every single instrument. Everything you hear on the soundtrack will be played and recorded by him.
Can you tell us about the story without giving away too many spoilers?
The best way to quickly tell you more about the story without giving any spoilers, other than what you can see and read on the Kickstarter page is this… Picture if you will… All the Power Rangers are evil and they want to use their Megazord to wipe out most of the people on Earth, Mad Max is there, but he’s a she, and she loves the red ranger.” That will make a lot more sense after you’ve read the book.
This is your first Kickstarter, why have you chosen this route for your project?
I’ve spent the last 7 years, since my first self published book, Nathan The Caveman, trying to make another book. But comics take a long time, and time is expensive. Having to balance a million different odd jobs it became really clear either some publisher needed to call me up and ask me to make something, or I needed to just find a way to do it myself. First I tried Patreon, heard of it? Maybe not. Most haven’t, that was the problem… I spent more time explaining the monthly payment system to people than I did actually drawing. So then I knew I was going to have to try a Kickstarter. I had never done one. I knew you needed to bring your own crowd to get the ball rolling and I knew it was a ton of work to do it right. I wasn’t scared of hard work, but again, it was that time is money problem. Anyway, I said screw it, jumped in, spent an entire month promoting that the Kickstarter for The Aggregate was coming soon and putting the page together at the same time. I guess I did a good job, and have lots of wonderful friends and fans because the project reached it’s funding goal in the first 24 hours. I’m very very thankful for that.
Many kickstarters, the vast majority, arrive late. What guarantees can you offer backers that they will get their stuff in a timely manner?
Having been self publishing since I started making comics I know just about every single aspect of what’s involved. Whether its how long 100 pages will really take, printing costs, shipping supplies… I’ve got it down. I also over estimated the ship date so that I can hopefully surprise everyone with a book before the holidays.
Do you have any cool stretch goals planned?
Now that we’re funded, and have already unlocked 2 new stretch goals, more bookmarks and spider-cat stickers, I have 2 really big stretch goals I want to hit. First at the $15,000 level is a companion sketchbook, “Assembling The Aggregate”. Everyone who is getting a book will also get that sketchbook full of behind the scenes concept art. The next big thing, which is really my ultimate goal, is to be bale to do the book in full color. Black and white is amazing as well, and has always been the plan, but if the interest is there, and people want it, I want to be able to offer it. So at $20,000 we will be able to do that.
Can you tell me about some other projects that you have worked on?
As I mentioned I have self published a bunch of books in the past. You can get some of these through the Kickstarter right now actually in PDF or print bundles along with The Aggregate. Other than my own stuff, I did a very well received graphic novel called Lost Trail, which is a true story, the comic adaptation of the famous Maine book, Lost On A Mountain In Maine. Lost Trail won a handful of rewards and is now actually read in most Maine schools as part of their curriculum, which is awesome. I also did a short story in the Archaia book, The Reason For Dragons, as well as some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cover work for IDW, hoping to get more of that soon too.
How about future projects in planning or development?
Future projects… Hmmm, I’m focussing on The Aggregate right now, but I have tons of other stories and plans up my sleeve. One thing at a time right now, which is actually the main reason I chose Kickstarter, if i could go back to that question… To be able to focus on this one project rather than jumping between dozens of commissions or projects I’m just taking to pay the bills, it’s going to be really amazing. I’m a very happy person now. I hope that now I’ll be able to get some of my best quality work out there into the world with The Aggregate and it will open up even more opportunities, so who knows what I’ll be doing next… Maybe Spiderman?
You can discover more about Ben Bishop at Bishopart.net
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