Dominik L. Marzec writes for Bleeding Cool:
I’ve succeed in funding my debut comic book about depressed Satan, and I want to tell you my personal story about the art of failing
Hi, my name’s Dominik and I’m an author of “Our friend Satan” comic book, which wins people’s hearts at Kickstarter . It tells a story of Satan who goes through midlife crisis. He spends his night strolling around Hell in his bathrobe, and drowns sorrows in Cthulhu Vodka. He would like to be evil, like in the old days, but he cannot reach the expectations of the modern people anymore. When even Satanists turn their backs on him, he decides to deal with the matter once and for all.
Since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to create. Record, film, make music – anything. I don’t know where this came from, but I made my first attempts a few months after I learned writing, being just 7. However adult life welcomed me with a bang against the brick wall. I realised that I was not good enough, didn’t have “the thing” that other, real artists, did. The chase after this mythical “thing” was driving me crazy. And finally I gave up. I accepted that there’s a glass wall between me and real artists which I’m unable to break.
For a good few years I remained in such limbo, focusing on normal work and stuff like that. But it all changed on one drunk party that took place in an old, abandoned factory. Why this party was different than any other? We had a camera! So… an abandoned factory, a pack of drunk barbarians and a camera – I guess you know where this is heading? Exactly – we’re making a kung-fu film! We spent all night running around with broomsticks, fighting, and reaching new levels of our stupidity. But even though we were having fun, it was just that at the time – a party. I came back home the next day, dressed my wounds and forgot about it.
Luckily – that wasn’t the end. Half a year passed, when a friend called and told me he edited the materials that we’ve recorded, and made a film out of it. What’s more, this little wonder had a title – “Out of nowhere”.
“Out of nowhere” really came from nowhere. My astonishment was immense. I was going to see the premiere with jelly legs, especially that, as it turned out – I had a leading role! My character was a nameless avenger, who appears out of darkness, fights a few mop combats and vanishes just as he came. All that spiced up with some pirated music and commentaries on squash cultivation. Obviously, it was not a masterpiece. Then again, nobody was expecting one, and the premiere was the funniest event of my life. Several tens of people were literally crying with laughter.
I couldn’t sleep that night. This silly film made me realize that there was no glass wall around me. That you don’t need to be an artist to do something, you can just take a camera and shoot whatevery you want. You just need to want it, and don’t give a flying fuck whether someone will like it or not.
If my life was like a Hollywood script, I’d go on telling you about how my life went on from that point – one success to another. Unfortunately – it didn’t. The following years were a series of failures, landmines and backstabs that almost completely made me lose any hope of making something on my own.
First there was “The Signal” – an ambitious SF short about a squad of soldiers lost in time loops. Sadly, the plans didn’t work out as expected, half of the crew didn’t show up, another half was hung over, the script proved to be impossible to realise with a zero budget and we needed to look for new actors in a nearby pub 15 minutes before shooting.
Next there was “Hidden” – another short film about a reporter who investigates an old Russian factory complex, and finds a mysterious creature that feeds on people’s fear. During scheduled time we managed to shoot merely a half of the planned scenes, we almost burned down the factory, and the final film was so hard to grasp, that we finally re-edited it into a music video.
After a streak like that one starts to think that there’s something wrong with him. Whatever you touch, ends in shit. Even though each of these projects had something interesting about them – “The Signal” had great music, “Hidden” had good cinematography, editing and special effects, and “Apocalypse” received numerous positive opinions about the graphics. But that’s not enough!
You probably think – okay, now’s the time for the hero of this story to recover and reach the goal of his dreams. Not. Even. Close. The biggest failure just loomed large on the horizon. But I was unaware of it at that time. I was tired after all those problems with previous projects, but decided to give it a last try – I said to myself – if this doesn’t work again, fuck it. Just then “Our friend Satan” was born, however not yet as a comic, but as a film – a SF comedy about depressed Satan. There were two problems, firstly – SF. In Poland there’s no real film industry. All the films are sponsored by the state and should fulfil some societal mission. SF is not treated as a genre that can meet this criteria, also its considered expensive, as a result SF films have virtually no support here. Secondly – Satan. Poland is a devout
Many of you would surely see these problems in advance and simply gave up this film, doing something simpler instead. I couldn’t do that. I fell in love with this project, spent almost a year polishing the script and I had people around me who, just like me, naively believed that we would make it.
We decided to finance the film through Kickstarter and spent months on preparations. However, observing other projects, I quickly realised that we weren’t ready. We had a great idea, a pile of drawings and nice smiles – but that’s not enough. We needed a trailer so that people would get the idea clearly. But there were no funds for that.
Then it became clear to me that I was in a speeding train heading straight towards a disaster. We didn’t even start the campaign and I already knew that this is simply not going to work. We’re set for another failure. That was the darker moment of this entire journey. I pretended everything was ok, while I really had no idea what to do.
That was the moment where all the experience gained along the past failures came in helpful. You can’t just stand and wait – you must fight! It just happened that in the meantime I started working with Michael Murawski and Lukas Lalko on the storyboard for the film. Both are good friends of mine and although we worked during nights and weekends, we quickly got the right rhythm, trudging page by a page in this story. At some point of our work I realised that it wouldn’t be that hard to make adapt this storyboard into a fully fledged comic book, which we could use to promote the film instead of a trailer. It’s better than nothing and I freaking love comic books, so – I thought – even if we’ll fail at least I’ll have a comic book out of it as a memento. So in the course of a few months we managed to draw and polish 17 pages of the comic book and in June, without much hope, we’ve uploaded it online to show our friends what we’re working on.
And then – everything changed.
Polish version of the comic book spread like wildfire. I was actually trying to stop it, to save it for our Kickstarter, but quickly I realized that its too late for that. Suddenly, I started to receive emails and messages from fans! People were asking me questions, writing their own interpretations, and literally begging us to illustrate the rest of the story. After so many failures, when you get such a feedback, it really makes you reevaluate your priorities. Movie? It can wait a year. Comic book? There’s no time to waste – we need to go full Satan with it now.
So we started a Kickstarter campaign to gather the budget needed to finish the comic book. And it went through the roof. The main goal was funded just 9 days from the start, and now we’re trying to finance one or maybe even two additional episodes through the stretch goals, and turn this comic book into a trilogy. What’s even more important – most of the pledges came from United States, so it turns out that our small Polish project evolved into something with international potential! And the best thing is that now, when we’ll come back to work on the movie, we will not be alone anymore. We’ll have fans behind us. And this means a lot.
Can you imagine what feels a man, who spent 10 years of his life fighting for his dream, when finally things are starting to work out? He feels relief. And gratitude. I really hope that the story of my comic book will help you beat your own demons, and find a strength to fight for the projects you believe in. Its worth it, you have my word for it. And don’t be afraid of failing. Its inevitable. The one thing that is important is what you’ll do when the failure looks in your eyes.
On the final note I would like to invite all Bleeding Cool readers to join our small, hellish crusade. Our Kickstarter campaign, that you can view here, ends on Friday (September 4), so if you’ll support us in those final days, in return you’ll receive this pin, which was made only for this occasion and will never be manufactured again.
To receive this pin you need to pledge Sinner Level 5 or higher. Next, after the campaign is over, you’ll receive a survey, in which you’ll just put a comment, that you found us through Bleeding Cool and you want the pin. And that’s all. Pin, together with the printed version of the comic book and other rewards, will be shipped to your address.
Our Kickstarter profile: http://kck.st/1JMkJ2z
First 17 pages of the comic book: http://ourfriendsatan.com/comics
Our Twitter account: https://twitter.com/OurFriendSatan
Our Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/ourfriendsatan
Name: “Our Friend Satan”
Created by: Dominik L. Marzec
Authors: Dominik L. Marzec (script, art direction), Lukas Lalko (colors, ink), Michael Murawski (ink, pencil)
Publisher: we’re still looking for one