Brian Schirmer writes for Bleeding Cool:
By the end of this month, Ultrasylvania – the comic series I created with Jeremy Saliba (Dynamite’s Wheel of Time) – will truly have run its course. All the recruiting of artists, the crafting of pages, the Kickstarter campaigning – all done. The third and final volume will join its brothers on Amazon by month’s end, making the entirety of Ultrasylvania available in print for the first time. I suppose that was our ultimate goal, but this project has never been about money.
The impetus for what would become Ultrasylvania was little more than a line scribbled in a notebook as I traveled Europe in June 2011: “What if Dracula had been a world leader?” There were many such lines in said notebook. Nevertheless, this one stuck, and I figured it would become something someday – but I’d no real idea what.
A rather concise version of the events that followed…. A former student of mine – I teach writing at the Academy of Art in San Francisco – suggested that the Academy run a class where multiple students would illustrate something I wrote. Naturally, I laughed. But, somehow it stuck in my noggin. After bouncing it off Jeremy, we took it to Chuck Pyle, director of the Academy’s School of Illustration, and he gave us the green light.
Somewhere in the midst of all that, Jeremy and I determined that the story would be Ultrasylvania, that we would hand-pick our team of artists, and that we would put the final product up for free as a webcomic. We sold the idea to Chuck with all of these notions – along with seemingly crazy schemes of financing a print run via Kickstarter and a bicoastal print debut at both New York Comic Con and the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco. We left the meeting with his blessing – and musing to each other that just pulling off the webcomic would surprise us both.
That meeting with Chuck is now over two years in the past. Since then, the collaborative class that I’d laughed off has run three times, resulting in so much more than we could have hoped – three self-published collections (thanks to a trio of wildly successful Kickstarter campaigns), a launch pad for several young artists, and a high-profile promotional tool for all involved. Thanks to ComiXology Submit, Vol. 1: King Dracula is available digitally, with the remaining two books awaiting release. Oh, and we did have that bicoastal debut in 2012 – Jeremy and the artists at APE, me at NYCC.
With the third and final collection – Ultrasylvania, Vol. 3: The Book of the Damned – set for release on March 31, we close the book on this tale (if you’ll pardon the pun/cliche). The hand-picked students working herein – Kirt Burdick, Monica Disher, Ha Huy Hoang, Marc Schultz, Nathan Shorts, Josef Sison, Erik Solem, and Zhuozheng Zuo – represent the next generation of comics professionals. As they prepare to enter the industry, this project provides each of them with a published calling card and a leg-up in this competitive marketplace.
Last but not least, we will be hitting the U.S. convention circuit this year. Are you going to Emerald City? Wondercon? Big Wow? HeroesCon? Rose City? If so, come say, “Hey!” We’re in the process of lining up a few more stops, so feel free to check your programs for “Brian Schirmer” or “Third Option Press”. You just might find us.
Visit Ultrasylvania.com for more information on the series.