Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Barnstormers! The Graphic Novel Kickstarter

Barnstormers Graphic Novel

Barnstormers! is an original graphic novel that I created with artist Renny Castellani and a group of talented creators. With the success of the first volume and the Kickstarter, I wanted to share the journey of this comic with you and inspire others to create their own comics and put them out into the world.

This blog will give a brief story about the story, the Kickstarter, the people who made it all come together, and where you can find copies of Barnstormers! if you missed the campaign.

A Graphic Novel Years in the Making

Creating a graphic novel, comic, or even mini-comic is no easy task. It can take months or years for a talented team to bring a whole project from start to finish.

The story follows the adventures of blue-collar monster hunters Roscoe, Anna, and Clyde. Former pilots in WWI, the gang makes money as pilots that kill monsters for a quick buck. But when money gets tight, Roscoe makes a deal with a mysterious adventurer named Doc Lyon that will put him on easy street.

Barnstormers Graphic Novel Covers

Too bad that street's paved with bloodthirsty cult members, giant monsters, and iron soul-eating dragons.

What's the worst that could happen?


Barnstormers! From Concept to Kickstarter

The story started as a five-page short comic for Comics Experience that just covered the prologue. I had been kicking around the idea of biplane pilots hunting giant monsters for years. Inspired by stories like Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer and the cartoon SWAT Kats, I wanted to make something that was fun and told a personal story.

Barnstormers Graphic Novel Concept 1
The first concept art for Barnstormers!

Once Renny and I met online and discussed the characters, it wasn't long before we decided to jump in and do a much larger story about responsibility and relationships.

But Renny and I didn't do it alone. We had lots of help. The book would have never been finished without Jim Towe (Youngblood), Gale Galligan (Babysitter's Club), Jon Alderink (Citizen Jack), Nic J. Shaw (The Fix), and Shawn Lee (TMNT). Each of them gave their talents to the project and we're eternally grateful.

All three issues of the story were completed over a year and a half and were set to be released. But when the initial publishing deal fell through, Barnstormers! was left completed, but without a way to get into reader's hands.

The Kickstarter Campaign

I decided to do a Kickstarter campaign after my friends urged me to put the book out myself. I wanted to make sure that I wasn't shooting too far in terms of goals or rewards, so I kept it fun and simple with a finished trade paperback and extra digital comics for people willing to support our dream project.

Barnstormers Graphic Novel Pages

The results blew me away.

The book was 100% funded on the second day of the campaign. People started donating left and right and sharing it through social media, comic book review websites, and it even got the attention of some podcasts.

Barnstormers Graphic Novel Kickstarter

Not only that, but Barnstormers! was featured as one of Kickstarter's "Projects We Love" after the first week!

After 30 days we had doubled the amount we were hoping for and were ready to ship the completed graphic novel out into reader's hands.

Shipping out Kickstarter Rewards

Shipping the rewards was something I knew I was going to do myself. I buckled down with some podcasts and a big cup of coffee to ship every book out over the next two weeks. I personally signed and packaged each copy and mailed them out from Grand Rapids into the world.

Barnstormers Graphic Novel

Each envelope I shipped made me step back and realize just how magical it is to take a book from concept to reality. Being able to flip through the pages and turn it over in your hands is a kind of magic that you can't get anywhere else.

Barnstormers Graphic Novel Shipping

Fans With Barnstormers!

No matter how I felt about the finished book, it was the reaction that made me the happiest. Since I've shipped out the book I've gotten pictures of readers with copies of Barnstormers! and messages about how much they enjoyed the story.

Barnstormers Graphic Novel Fan
Christoper Brown with his copy of Barnstormers!

Also, how much their kids enjoyed the story. While there is a bit of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll in the book, it was always intended as an "all readers" story. Meaning that it wasn't for adults, wasn't for kids, but for everyone.

Knowing that there's been such a positive reaction has put me on the fast track to doing another volume as soon as possible.

But what if you missed out on the Kickstarter and still want a copy?

In the words of Professor Farnsworth: Good news, everyone!

Now Available at The Vault of Midnight

The Vault of Midnight, my favorite comic book store, loved the book and agreed to carry it on their shelves. You can find the book at the Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, and Detroit locations across Michigan.

Barnstormers Vault of Midnight

We're working on getting a version created for Amazon, as well as an instant buy DRM-free PDF copy for people who want it for their iPads.

Final Thoughts

I want other creators to take this away from Barnstormers! -- make your comics and share them with the world. Don't wait for permission, don't wait for someone to do it for you, just get them out into the world and into reader's hands.

Barnstormers Complete Graphic Novel

It doesn't matter if it's a full-length graphic novel, a one-shot comic, or a mini-comic or collection, there's someone out there dying to read the comic you haven't created yet.


  1. Great post. I had no idea this project was funded so quick.

    1. Thanks, TNae!

      Yeah, it was amazing how fast it was funded. We were beyond excited. :D

    2. You earned this, Kenny. Great work.
      -Andy Schmidt