Every month we are on the look out for the best Australian crowdfunding books to support, this month is from Comics2Movies Editor & Writer Shuan Keenan & Ben Rosenthal. To celebrate their latest Kickstarter for XCT: Fractured Worlds.
If readers are new to the XCT world whats it all about?
For new readers to the series I usually give them this logline pitch to entice them to read the series – “In the year 2069, the Xtreme Champion Tournament (XCT) has cloned some of the pasts greatest heroes, villains and monsters. Caged and forced to comply, they have only one choice - to fight to the death in the most brutal sport in the world as a part of the XCT!”
What can you tell us about XCT Fractured Worlds?
I am really excited about XCT: Fractured Worlds as it takes the action out from the arena and brings it into the real world. This amps up the action, excitement and intrigue, as well as greys some of our characters moral codes.
XCT: Fractured Worlds takes place after a fiery explosion rocked the XCT arena, Spartacus and his team tried to stop the bloodthirsty monsters and villains from escaping but . . failed. Now with a team member down and the rest scattered across the countryside, Khan uses this opportunity to his advantage. Will Spartacus overcome his defeat to take up arms against Khan or will he stand by and watch the world fall?
It's a full 64 page coloured graphic novel and is a great place for new readers to jump on if they don’t want to read what we have already produced.
How did you end up working on the project together?
Shaun: I approached Ben to join the series after working with him on the XCT anthology Most Wanted. After taking a step back into more of a creator/editor role I wanted to pass the writing onto someone I trusted but could also see the grander vision I had for the series. I knew from the first moment I talked to Ben about it that I wanted him involved, he was saying what he would do, how he would change certain aspects and how he wanted to add some more depth to each character. After reading the first script for XCT: Breakout our last graphic novel I knew it was the right choice. Since then Ben has written this graphic novel and has been working on two other projects within the XCT universe.
During the strange times we live in did you think about changing your launch date?
Shaun: We have had XCT: Fractured Worlds fairly completed for a while now and was going to wait until after the May and June conventions to pay and complete the series, but then COVID 19 happened. This made me rethink how I could raise the funds to complete the project without that source of income and that’s why we turned to Kickstarter. Another creator and I had just launched on Kickstarter during the COVID 19 pandemic and had a great response so I thought I would see if I could continue that trend with XCT: Fractured Worlds. The first 48 hours was amazing and the rest of the campaign has seen it slowly bubble along.
Will we see you both working together again on another project?
Shaun: I love working with Ben and with two projects already in the works within the XCT universe and a new series we have talked about creating together I believe you will see us produce many more things together for at least the next few years to come.
Ben: Shaun and I are constantly throwing ideas back and forth. I think we will he working together again on other projects as soon as possible!
XCT Is your baby, how hard is it to hand the rains over to another writer?
Shaun: It was easier than expected. I had been doing XCT for almost 4 years before Ben came on board and I was having a few issues creatively and wanted to take a step back but loved the series to much not to finish it. That’s what the first conversation was with Ben and that’s how we got talking about him taking over and how he saw the series progressing. Having another person as excited about a project as you helped get the creative juices flowing again and the want to produce and finish more stories. I’ve really enjoyed more of the editor role but also having control of the universe as well.
Whats it like working with an editor, have you worked under an editor before?
Ben: If anything, working for an editor is easier. An editor keeps me grounded. I may have fantastical ideas, and other themes I want to explore, but having someone like Shaun as an editor allows me a second opinion. This series has been the success thanks to Shaun and his vision - he knows it much better than I do. By having an editor in Shaun to bounce ideas off, it has enabled me to get the most out of his characters.
This will be your 10th Kickstarter with XCT, what have you learnt along the way and what have the struggles been?
Shaun: WOW 10 XCT Kickstarters is crazy. I have learnt so much from each campaign I’ve done but to talk about everything I’ve learnt would be an article in itself. I think the biggest things I’ve taken away is be prepared, build an audience prior to launching, running a Kickstarter campaign is a full time job and don’t be scared to fail. As long as you learn something even if you don’t hit your target then you haven’t failed. The biggest struggle I have found is just keeping up the momentum of a campaign for the full 24-30 days. I really enjoy doing them more with a co-creator as you can share the burden of not only posting and sharing but all the behind the scenes stuff that comes with running a campaign.
What keeps you coming back to Kickstarter to launch your books?
Shaun: I really love Kickstarter and I’ve been able to build and expand my audience on the platform after each launch. Having done so many now it really gives me some clout to show that when I set out to create a product that I finish it and you will get what you paid for. Each launch has been better than the last so as long as that trend continues I’ll keep using Kickstarter to help fund XCT and my other projects.
Whats the future for XCT where do you see it going?
Shaun: I’ve always had a ending for XCT and that was something Ben and I spoke about. This series will end and we have planned out the story arc’s and character developments we want to hit before we end. How many issues or years that will take is any bodies guest but I’m excited for the years to come. We have some interesting cross overs coming up but can’t talk to much about that but it’s an exciting time for the XCT universe.
What other projects have you both got in the works?
Shaun: I have Terralympus Volume 2 which I co-created with Stephen Kok coming out in July this year and later in the year we are coming back to Kickstarter to produce my new co-created series with Brad Van Geest Talos of Sparta. I’m super excited about Talos of Sparta, which is an alternate history story where Sparta defeated ROME and came the powerhouse of what we now as Europe.
Ben: As far as writing goes, I am dedicating my time to XCT. I want to give it my all. However, if you like my words I do use them a lot over on my nonsense video game news show HACK THE DINO on YouTube and Podcast apps everywhere, and it’s spinoff retro focused podcast RETRO TRIGGER, which is also available by searching on those podcast apps.
To support the kickstarter and grab yourself a copy of XCT: Fractured worlds visit http://kck.st/3btkSs0