Writer and graphic historian Onrie Kompan's Yi Soon Shin: Fallen Avenger #4 is set to wrap its campaign early this week, and in spite of glowing reviews, celebrity endorsements and sell-out performance of previous volumes in the series, the Kickstarter campaign (you can see its video below) is in danger of not making its goal.
There are a lot of moving parts that go into these things, so it's hard to pinpoint any one cause, but Kompan, who has faced an uphill battle getting each subsequent issue of the series made and always figured out a way, is determined to keep pushing to fun his comic, which is based on true people and events.
He joined ComicBook.com to talk about the most recent incarnation of the Yi Soon Shin comic book saga.
Well, the truth is that no publisher wanted this book despite all the glowing reviews and all of the sales we racked up over the years. To be honest, I really had no choice but to go the crowd funding route because I believe in this project that much. YI SOON SHIN is the book that everyone should be reading but is overlooking simply because I’m not a big name in the business and it's not attached a big name publisher.
Most retailers refuse to carry my book in their shops and no publishers are willing to take the risk and put it out there. So I decided to do their jobs for them. I go from convention to convention, from coast to coast, and I sell this book to prove that it has a place in the world of comics.
To date, we’ve sold over 40,000 books without a publisher AND without a distributor!
Is there a plan if the Kickstarter doesn't succeed?
The Kickstarter will succeed. I have been up against great odds throughout my entire career in comics and I never threw in the towel. No matter how dire the situation looked. I live by the saying that those who seek death shall live and those who seek life shall die.
I want my audience to know that I’m serious about getting this book done and that I’ll do whatever it takes. I will work my ass off for their money. I will finish this book and I will make it big. There is no quitting. There is no giving up hope. All there is, all there can ever be in the world of YI SOON SHIN, is victory!
Around the time I launched my Kickstarter campaign, I had to launch a simultaneous campaign in Korea via their crowd-funding platform known as Tumblbug. The reason I did this is because people from from South Korea had a hard time sending me money via Kickstarter. So although our Kickstarter looks like it’s not doing well, we’re actually doing great! In Korea (via Tumblbug), we’ve managed to raise over $13K and we still have 7 days to go. You can check out our campaign at www.tumblbug.com/yisoonshin.
Our book is about a Korean admiral who was never defeated in battle. So there can be no defeat for us either. We will succeed. That much is a guarantee.
This is a figure who has broad awareness in other countries. I've asked you variations on this before, but what do Americans need to know in order to grasp the importance of the story you're telling here?
That nothing is impossible. While superheroes and other fictional characters are great, it’s important to know that there are real world heroes as well. If you really want to think about it, Admiral Yi is sort of like Korea’s version of Batman. Read the book and see for yourself! www.yisoonshin.com
This book really is for everyone. Are you into superheroes, GREAT! Admiral Yi was a real person who had a hand in inspiring the creation of all fictional superheroes. Are you into Westerns? GREAT! This is the best Western set in 1592 Korea! Into sci-fi? Even better! Yi Soon Shin’s Turtle Ship is a real life vessel that inspired the creation of all of the fictional vessels you see in STAR WARS and all that other fun stuff.
I wouldn’t recommend it for kids but that doesn’t stop anybody from watching GAME OF THRONES or THE WALKING DEAD. Our story also has characters that readers can relate to and just because it’s set in Korea doesn’t mean that it isn’t about people. Just read it!
You have a substantial international audience and support financially, but how does the book actually translate to U.S. readers? You've done fairly well when people actually have a chance to look at the product, no?
I am writing the answers to this interview after the third day of Phoenix Comic-Con where we have now sold 810 books over the course of 3 days. Tomorrow, we will move the remaining 200 books I brought with me and sell out at this convention for the third year in a row. That's 1000 books in four days.
And this is not the first time YI SOON SHIN has sold out either. Over the years, we have built a very strong audience and just because they didn’t all rush to our aid when we launched our Kickstarter doesn’t mean they don’t love and support the book.
We made a great product that isn’t getting the recognition or the visibility that it deserves. Major comic review sites won’t review us because we don’t produce a monthly title distributed through Diamond. Most retailers refuse to carry our books because Deadpool isn’t on the cover of our book, and as I said before, publishers just don’t get what we’re doing.
And yet, my team and I are still in the game of making this the best comic we can. Nobody can keep us from doing what we’re destined to do and I hope that this sends a message to other creators who feel that they need to abandon their projects because of the cold shoulder this industry often has towards independent comics.
And when I say independent comics, I’m not talking about Image. As far as I’m concerned, they are now more mainstream than Marvel and DC. That’s not a knock on them. To be honest, I think it’s great that the Big Two are no longer as big. There are other companies rising up and opening up the industry to a much larger audience and it’s about damn time.
Besides, I really don't want the pinnacle of my career to be the point when I finally get to write about grown men in leotards running around and doing the same stuff over and over again. I got into this business to tell great stories, not to simply write superheroes.
What's the most important thing you want the audience to know about this campaign, and the book behind it?
That YI SOON SHIN is a great book that deserves to be up there with all the other great graphic novels. I truly believe that it’s only a matter of time before people finally get that. We’re doing some incredible stuff with our series that will stand the test of time. One of these days, our book will be a testament to what all graphic novels should be.
And if you think I’m tooting my own horn, you’re damn right I am. My team and I have poured our blood and sweat into this book. Just look at it and tell me that our book doesn’t have the quality to compete with any of stuff publishers are putting out there.
Even Stan Lee loves our book! In fact, he wrote the foreword to it!
All we need is for readers to give our book a chance and I encourage them all to come check out the first three issues for free at www.freedablecomics.com. Give it an honest chance and see if it's your thing. It's okay if it isn't but don't knock it until you try it!