Last night our Kickstarter for Dolphin Squad: Origins reached its fundraising goal!
We’re coming into the final week of the campaign and it’s now looking pretty certain that we can release Dolphin Squad: Origins in 2023 thanks to the generosity of our supporters.
There’s still plenty of time to get involved: the book itself is available for £4 as an ebook, £15 for a physical copy, or £17 for both. Previous items in the Dolphin Squad franchise are available as add-ons, but the best value for money is our Collector Bundle at £45. This includes the new book, as well as the first two graphic novels, our colouring book, plus three prints of your choice!
We’ve said in previous updates that our first stretch goal comes at £1500. When we reach that point, all backers with pledges for physical items will receive a free 58mm exclusive badge… and we’re now able to show off our design (we’ll finalise it after our printers confirm it meets specifications).
Right now we’re £424 away from being to include these… but you can bring us closer.
As well as the badge, we still have several more exciting goals to unlock. At £1500 we’ll include the badge and show you what can be had if we reach £2000, and so on!
We also have a retail tier: if you have a shop, or want to support your local stockist by buying from them, back the retail tier for a 50% wholesale discount and free postage within the UK for 10 copies.
You can help us by backing the project, and sharing the word for us. Here are two images you can send to friends!
It’s great to see so much support from the community. We want to bring you this book and you are all helping make it happen.
Keep up the good work. Backing and funding the campaign is great, and we also need people to keep sharing the page too. Let people know they can find the book at www.bit.ly/DSPKickstarter and we’re still tracking use of hashtags #fundfabian #dolphinsquadorigins and #dspubkickstarter
At this rate we’ll soon be able to unveil our stretch goals!
When we reach goal at £1000 we’ll show off the badge design to be included for free in every physical pledge once we pass £1500
When we reach £1500, we can show off what the £2000 goal is.
And we’ve got more reveals planned if pledges exceed £2000!
Hopefully, we’ll be able to start attending events this year after quite an extended break. Several shows that we would usually attend have yet to announce new dates but these are the places we intend to be given what we know of the year so far. Check this list regularly as we’ll be putting up all our shows and appearances on here over time.
We want to support comic and book stores as they safely reopen. If your local store would like to host an event with us, reach out and we can discuss how and when they might work in conjunction with the UK’s plans to live with Covid.
In the past few weeks we’ve had the pleasure of working with the Swansea Comics and Gaming Convention on a few different things.
Back in March, our editor (Kevin) was interviewed by Adam and Ricky as part of their ongoing spotlight series on small press creators. You can see what we ended up discussing (with topics ranging from how we got started through to who would win in a fight between Sonic and Mario) here.
A few weeks later, the duo ran a 24 hour live stream to celebrate the Swansea Comic and Gaming Convention 2021 with assistance from a variety of co-hosts, and we had the opportunity to collaborate again when they asked if we could conduct a creator panel for them. Since Kevin had encountered a few technical issues during the interview, we opted to record the panel a few days before and we sourced questions from various fans.
It was probably a good idea that we pre-recorded it because on the day disaster struck and the file didn’t transfer correctly to the location Adam and Ricky were streaming from. Fortunately, we’re based in Cardiff so a quick dash down the M4 with a portable hard drive solved the problem – and Kevin had a chance to watch the livestream in person for a bit.
You might notice there’s a link in the bottom right of the video for the panel – that’s because as part of their 24 hour livestream, the Swansea Comic and Gaming Convention were raising money for the Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary. The fundraiser is still active and your support there will help keep a non-breeding, non-capturing ethical sanctuary open.
Going forward, we’re exploring how to make more video content… so watch this space!
This… is not how we’d hoped to be spending 2020. It’s a mythical year, associated with bright futures… or cyberpunk dystopia. It’s also the tenth anniversary year for us.
Right now it looks like most of our plans for the year need to be scaled back. We were booked for a number of events but one by one they are all cancelling and postponing. We have no issue with this – under the circumstances, it’s the right and responsible action to take. From the reports coming out of China and Italy at the moment this virus looks to be very nasty. It seems likely that we will need to reduce how much we travel and how much we interact with people in order to try and control it – and that means signings and events are probably going to stop for a while.
This will affect lots of folks, not just us. So if you have a favourite creator now’s the time to see if they have a Patreon, or buy something from their webstore. Even sign up to their newsletter just so that when this does come to an end in a few months the artists, writers, musicians and other content creators you love still have a way of connecting with you.
If there’s one thing people are good at, it’s adapting and overcoming difficult situations. We have faith that we can get through this. It won’t be fun but if we stick together and support each other we’ll come out the other side stronger than before.
This year is going to be special for us – it’ll mark our tenth anniverary as a publisher. We’ve got lots planned for this year: the second volume of Age of Savagery, a new miniseries for 7 Shades, and much more.
Check this list regularly as we’ll be putting up all our shows and appearances on here over time.
Last year we released a four issue mini series called 7 Shades. Created by David Clifford and Peter Rogers, it’s the opening salvo in a supernatural western epic. The plot focuses around the story of Sammael Hicks, drunkard and ne’er do well living in the fictional town of 7 Shades. The Awesome Comics Podcast called it “a wonderfully sort of dark take on the western genre” and we’d agree with that but we’re only just getting started.
What’s happened so far?
In the first arc, David and Peter set up the central conflict that will run throughout the series: Samm becomes Sheriff of the town and must somehow face off against his six evil outlaw half-brothers and bring them to justice.
The premise behind the town was established, key characters have been introduced, and some of the supernatural elements were hinted at – including a demonic pact – but to avoid overcomplicating things at such an early stage the story has stayed fairly contained thus far.
We wanted to give the series a strong start so the first two issues were released at the Cardiff Independent Comics Expo while the final two issues of the first arc debuted at Thought Bubble and ICE Birmingham respectively. In each case we were able to get Peter and David there to meet the public and really show off the strength of the story. If you missed out on that, you can try out issue 1 or grab the entire first arc in a bundle!
So… what’s next?
The plan is to keep publishing 7 Shades until we reach the endgame. David and Peter have briefed us on the general direction the story will take (and it’s an exciting one) but they’re playing their cards close to their chest on the exact details. To find out what happens you’ll have to buy the issues and find out! Unlike Dexter’s Half Dozen (also illustrated by David), we won’t be releasing 7 Shades as a sequential series though. Instead, we’ll work in a manner similar to Tank Girl where we’ll complete an arc and then release the whole mini series over the space of a few months. That means that you, the reader, will be able to read whole arcs more quickly.
To make that possible there will be a special one-shot released between each miniseries. That brings us to…
7 Shades: Hell’s Belles
David has recently delivered the pencils for this 48 page one-shot. Each one of these will look at side characters and better explore the town and its secrets. In Hell’s Belles, we shine a spotlight on the proprietor and ladies working at 7 Shades’ infamous brothel. These are not your typical damsels in distress and each one has a story to tell.
We want to be careful about exactly what we say – but the book has an Assault on Precinct 13 vibe to it, and it will examine who each of the Belles are, and how they came to 7 Shades.
7 Shades: Hell’s Belles will be released later this year and the next miniseries is on track for a 2020 release.
When we go to expos and comic cons (and we’re doing about 20 of those this year) we have a little sign on the table with our prices and a notice that says “ask us about our bundle deals”.
The reason for this is fairly simple: comics are sequential and if you want to pick up a whole story arc at once we want to encourage that… so to make it easier for you we offer discounts based on how many story arcs you pick up at once.
That hasn’t really been possible with our online store until now and we felt that was a little unfair so we’ve created a few pre-selected bundles specifically for the website.
With each of them, we’ve tried to focus on value for money. The badges are an easy one – they sell for £4 per set of 3 but the bundle is only £6 for six badges. With the 7 Shades miniseries you can have the whole 4 issue story in ebook and physical formats for £17 – it would cost you £24 if you wanted to buy those individually. Our Dexter’s Half Dozen bundle gets you 296 pages of printed comics and the same in digital copies for just £30 compared to the £68 that would cost when bought individually. And with our Dolphin Squad bundle deal you’re getting three graphic novels, a poster, six badges and a whole host of downloadable goodies for just £30! Buying the three graphic novels on their own would be more than that.
We’ve collected things this way because that’s what people usually ask for when they see us at conventions – but if you have other ideas on bundle deals that you’d like to see, contact us and let us know!
“I want to make a comic that’s a cross between Lord of the Rings and Mad Max.” That’s how David Powell originally pitched Age of Savagery to us. He’d been working on the fourth issue of his post-apocalyptic robot adventure comic New Wasteland Fairy Tales for a while and progress had stalled because he had too many ideas but they didn’t fit the storyline he’d already established. His solution was simple: start a new project.
Developing The World of Genodd
It was March 2017 and David had been doodling in his sketchbook drawing fantasy barbarians, beasts and gigantic monuments instead of rampaging robots and gladiator battles. For a long time player of Warhammer and War Machine, fascinated by the close-up gritty skirmish games that revolved around characterful stories and explosive escapades, a fantasy world made sense. It was the break he needed that would clear his palette and allow him to return to New Wasteland Fairy Tales with a new focus.
We sat down with him and discussed the world he was designing. Looking over the concept art he’d produced we tried to work out what Deadstar Publishing could bring to the table to help him. He had a solid design for the world, and one that we wanted to see brought to life but producing a graphic novel on his own was a daunting task. Working alone, he could expect to spend a year or two on it at least. Or longer. At that point, the task would be far more than a diversion.
Around that time, we had been considering reviving our Rising Stars compendium. Back in 2010 we released it as our first graphic novel and it started the careers of several creators (including David) and we’d always called it Volume 1 with the intention of producing a second and third volume etc. After a lot of back and fore we agreed that it would be impractical for David to complete a book based in Genodd on his own… but the concept lent itself well to a shared universe populated by many creators. So, we reached out. We produced a submissions document and from that solicited stories set in David’s new world. Twenty two creators came together to share their stories set in David’s world and we launched the book in May 2018. To date it has been one of our most popular graphic novels.
Doing it again
Ten months on, we’ve sold most of the first print run of Age of Savagery. We’ve had readers come back and tell us that they enjoyed the representation of a variety of characters in the stories, that they loved the art, and even a few people telling us how it had been useful to them as a sourcebook for role playing games. We’ve also had creators messaging us to ask if they could do more with their characters as they’d had more ideas for stories since the book was published.
In the last year, David has been working on New Wasteland Fairy Tales again (we’ll have a blog on that sometime in the future) but also feels drawn to return to Genodd so we’re now opening a submission call for a second volume.
Age of Savagery: Mystics and Monsters
The first volume really established the world, setting up the clans living in Genodd and their views on the world. It also showed off the prevalence and significance of the Monuments. For volume 2, which we’ve called Mystics and Monsters, we want to look deeper. In this volume we want to focus on secret societies and mythical beasts. Who are the powers at work behind the scenes? What mysteries do they protect? Will the creature that stalks the woods return or have we driven it away? What was it in the first place? If you’ve got ideas from that and you want to learn more download the submissions guidelines. We’re looking for short comics, prose stories and spot illustrations so all types of talent are needed.
You can find the submissions guidelines here. And you can email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’ve got any questions about the project.
2018 was possibly the busiest year we’ve ever had – we released several new graphic novels, new books, and new comic series’ as well as publishing new instalments for some of our on-going titles. 2019 looks to be equally hectic for us. Below is a list of the shows we’re at, and the ones we’re investigating attending. As the year progresses this might change slightly so keep an eye on it to see when we’re coming to a town near you!