Kickstarting History- Rob Jones Talks Crowdfunding and His New Series Highspot
It’s not everyday that you meet someone who has worked with some of the legends of comic book history while working on a project about some of history’s greatest figures. But that’s exactly what I’ve gotten to do in interviewing Rob Jones about his new comic book series Highspot. Rob has worked with some of the industries best talent and taken that experience to produce a new series that is exciting, funny, and very smart. But he can only get Highspot from a dream to reality with your help.
The Search is on…
Highspot is about a young stunt woman named Kate Carter. While jumping off buildings and escaping from exploding cars is her passion, Kate secretly wishes to be an archaeologist. But not a boring old stuffy one stuck behind a desk with a magnifying glass and a brush. She longs to be the swashbuckling type like Indiana Jones, escaping ancient deathtraps and fighting off tomb raiders. After finishing her last film, Kate finally gets her chance to go on the trip of a life-time to find the hidden burial site of Alexander the Great.
Coming with Kate is her favorite relic hunter of all-time Jerry (no relation) Carter, a stolen dog, movie mega-star Emily O’Neil and her aloof boyfriend Dennis Brooks. There’s big plans for Dennis, as a slimy tycoon hopes to build the lad’s media presence up with this expedition. While finding the remains of the greatest leader of all-time is sure to make headline news, there’s something a little more sinister behind Dennis’ potential rise to power.
Highspot is Clever, Smart and Sexy
Unfortunately, I only got to read the first issue. While is does take a little while to get going, the first chapter is a smart and sexy introduction of all the major players. It’s also very clever with some very funny one-liners.
Highspot is a cross between Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider with a couple of brilliant Easter eggs thrown in in their honor. As this story involves a stunt woman, there’s elements of the classic 80s TV series The Fall Guy that starred Lee Majors. Plus, with the behind-the-scenes elements shaping to turn Dennis Brooks into the next Teddy Roosevelt, there’s a little bit of the Manchurian Candidate thrown in as well.
Issues #2 and 3 promise to amp the level of action and excitement to 11. But in order for any of these issues to see print, Rob Jones needs your help! Rob’s Kickstarter campaign launched last week. At the time of this review and interview’s publishing, there’s exactly 3 weeks left in the fundraising stage. I talked with Rob about his plans for Highspot and his experiences with crowdfunding…
Rob- Thanks so much for taking time to answer a few questions about Highspot. First of all, I love your art style. I see Neal Adams, Dick Giordano and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez in the pages. Who were your artistic influences?
Rob: Thanks so much! Add in Jerry Ordway, Al Williamson and Brian Stelfreeze and you‘ve pretty much guessed the lot. The first comic I ever bought was the Batman movie book that Jerry Ordway did the art for, and when we went back to the shop I picked up some other Batmans that had Dick Giordano’s name on them. That pretty much set the course for my comic buying, and those artists are the main influences on my art.
In my review, I say that Highspot is a cross between Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider, the 80s TV show The Fall Guy and a little Manchurian Candidate thrown in. Am I right?
Rob: Yes, definitely! I loved The Fall Guy. I remember watching that show as a kid, and also seeing some behind-the-scenes stuff for movies like Indiana Jones and Lethal Weapon (where they jump off the building, and the handcuffs break) and really being amazed at everything that goes into making those stunts look like they just happened.
Why the title Highspot?
Rob: “Highspot” is actually a pro wrestling term for a really exciting move in a match, so I pinched it, thinking that it would apply to the most exciting part of a movie, too. I figure they both come from the carny-era, so they may share a few terms, although I haven’t actually found an instance of anyone calling a movie stunt a highspot yet—I guess I’m the first!
Issue #1 does an amazing job introducing the major players. What would readers have to look forward to in issues #2 and 3?
Rob: Thanks! In issues 2 and 3 we follow the group on their mission to find the remains of Alexander, but they come to find out that not everyone is too keen on them doing so.
There’s a really cool segment where one of the characters gives a history lesson on Theodore Roosevelt. With Alexander the Great playing a role in Highspot, is that something we’ll see pop up again in future issues?
Rob: Actually, this is the really cool thing about this series—I’ve had the main plot of the story about Alexander and Roosevelt in mind forever, and many years ago Dick Giordano (I was his art assistant from 2003-2010) penciled an eight-page biography of Alexander for me. I inked it originally, but am re-inking it now, 10 years later, to better match where the rest of the art is for the story.
Speaking of Giordano- that’s him as the character Frank Bolland, isn’t it?
Rob: Sure is!!! And the archaeologist who stole the tablet is Jerry Ordway.
Did you work with Ordway as well?
Rob: I did layouts for him for one story called Semiautomagic, and colored a poster of his character called Proton. After being introduced to him through Dick we’ve gotten to be really good friends.
Are there hopes for future Kate Carter stories?
Rob: Yes! Funnily enough, I had another three-part story in mind to follow this one, but then I met someone who has the car I’ve always loved, a 1970 Dodge Charger, so I came up with a one-issue story where Kate and Carter dive up to the Pacific Northwest to find Bigfoot just so I could take a bunch of reference pics of the car! So that’ll be issue 4.
This is not your first Kickstarter. How would you say the process goes from project to project?
Rob: I had such a positive experience with the first Kickstarter that I’m just trying to apply what I learned to this one, like what rewards people were most excited about. This time we’ve added a T-shirt that I think is cool (thanks to a Pittsburgh-based company called Commonwealth Press), as well as a Kickstarter-exclusive printing of the book in black and white. Both of those were my wife’s ideas, so I’ve also learned to always listen to her!
How do you see Kickstarter influencing the comic book industry?
I think that Kickstarter, and print-on-demand comics, are the future of comic book distribution. With the Kickstarter, you get to directly interact with your fans and potential readers, and even an unsuccessful campaign gives you great feedback with which you can adjust your story and try again. With print-on-demand, you can order exactly the amount of copies you need—so there’s very little that keeps you from telling your story or trying something different.
Rob, that’s all the questions I have. Thank you so very much for taking time to talk with me. Good luck with Highspot!
Rob: Thanks so much!!! I really appreciate it!!!
The Kickstarter campaign for Highspot #1 runs until July 3rd. Rob is only about $650 away from his goal. With the finish line in sight lots of great rewards for backers, this is a project you will want to get in on today!
If you are going to be in the Charlotte, NC area this Father’s Day weekend, be sure to look up Rob Jones and his production company, Perfect Storm Publishing. He’ll be at Heroes Convention 2018 in the Artist’s Alley at section AA-2020.