Crowdfunding Review: “Ed Gein: Demon Hunter” Issue 1 (Reload Comics)
Indie comics is a place where people can create books based on many different subjects, far beyond the common fare of superheroes and vigilantes. Lucifer Storm is one such writer that has some interesting ideas, as evidenced by his first campaign, Lady Satan: An Angel in a Killer Dress, where the main character is a stripper who turns vigilante to go after the man who put her in a snuff film. Storm’s follow-up campaign was Ed Gein: Demon Hunter, where the famous 20th Century serial killer is given an offer by the devil to help catch an escaped demon. It was this twist of a “real-life” story that that piqued my interest in Storm’s sophomore crowdfunding effort, and the attractive price point just happened to push the button on my decision to back.
Ed Gein: Demon Hunter is part one of a planned four-part story arc. The 28-page story is written and lettered by Storm and accompanied by the black and white art of Kristian Rossi (Trespasser). While the campaign’s goal was an appropriate $666 GBP (approx. $905 USD), it ultimately raised $1,186 GBP (appox. $1,612 USD) from slightly fewer than 100 backers. It was a small campaign that flew under the radar for most. While Storm did promote the book on several YouTube streams, the minimal amount of money was due to the inexpensive price point. The physical book itself cost just a bit more than £3 GBP, but like I stated earlier, it was this very price point that convinced me to give it a try. So, for a total of £8 GBP (just under $11 USD), I had a physical book sent to me from the United Kingdom. This is the smallest amount that I have spent on a crowdfunded book. How could I NOT give Storm my support? And what did I get for my $11 United Kingdom import? Read on…
We will look at the Ed Gein campaign with four different criteria:
- Book Content and Quality
- Communication and Fulfillment
- Packaging and Shipping
- Stretch Goals and Bonuses
Book Content and Quality
The story melds some loose historical figures and timelines, fantasy of demons and Hell, and tosses them into a modern, ‘present day’ (30 years ago) setting. In the opening pages, Ed Gein is arrested for his heinous crimes and sent to prison. When a demon escapes Hell, Satan must decide which of history’s most notorious serial killers is best to take on the job of tracking down the demon and returning him to Hell. Satan chooses Gein, since he feels Gein will return to Hell when the mission is completed. The book ends with a surprise discovery that I did not expect, and while I need to wait for the ultimate conclusion, I thought it was a decent twist adding to the interest of the story. I am not a huge fan of melding demonic fantasy with history, but Storm did it well. His story kept a decent pace that maintained my interest and paired with the art, I actually enjoyed the read.
The gritty black and white art assists with the dark and sinister mood of the book. Rossi provides interesting layouts, effective line art, detailed backgrounds, and uses deep shadows to help tell the story. It was only after reading Storm’s blog (here) that I appreciated what Rossi did for the book more fully. In the blog, Storm shared the photo references he provided to Rossi, and looking at these pictures, he really nailed the likeness and the time period. There were times when I would have liked to see panels in color as the book has a decent amount of blood and gore. Colors would certainly have provided greater impact for the blood and body parts, but this would be to the detriment of the overall dark feel that is the best part of the book, so it is a bit of a toss-up.
The physical book itself was staple-bound, saddle-stitched, with a soft touch cover. The smooth, rubbery feel of the cover is one that you want to keep rubbing. The pages are more of a thick, matte finish card stock that completes the overall product as one that you would not rip or destroy easily; a stark difference to the last floppy book I received.
Communication and Fulfillment
The information that was provided in the updates was solid; they highlighted the important pieces and appropriately set the expectations. However, the timing of the updates was a little weak. It was 16 days before the end of the campaign when the first update was sent out. It was also toward the end of the active campaign when the cover of the book was finally revealed. Once the updates started, there were about two updates per month, which is a good balance. I did not take major note of the updates at the time of the campaign, only due to this review, so I didn’t find the late start to be a major issue.
I did need to reach out to Storm directly at one point. When I tried accessing the digital file I had a problem getting it to open. I wasn’t sure if the file was expired or moved, but I reached out to see if I could get the link again. This was just after the holidays, and it took six days to receive a response. Storm did acknowledge and apologize for the delay, but due to the holidays, I wasn’t expecting an immediate reply.
The fulfillment of this book is the fastest that I have received out of any comic I have backed. It was FOUR days after backing, during an active campaign, that I received the link to the digital file. It was THREE months after backing that I received the book; I am impressed with the turnaround time of this project.
Packaging and Shipping
My order was packaged in a black box slightly larger than the size of a Gemini mailer. It was wrapped in “fragile tape” and shipped all the way from the United Kingdom. Being a single layer of cardboard, the box arrived flattened on one side, but the contents arrived in good condition. Everything was wrapped in all black tissue paper and the book was bagged and boarded. I nearly missed a black envelope containing a print under the book due to it blending in with the tissue paper. A nice touch was a signed handwritten thanks of support that was included. I found the all-black packaging to be a nice touch to add to the overall theme of the book, and I wonder if it is the routine theme from Reload Comics.
I backed the book on November 11, I received the digital version of the book on November 15. I was not expecting the digital version so quickly, and was pleasantly surprised, even though I didn’t get around to reading it then. The physical book arrived February 14. I did not receive a tracking number, so I am unsure when the package left the UK. According to the updates on the campaign, Storm started shipping packages near the end of December, but most campaigns I am aware of will mail the international packages last.
Stretch Goals and Bonuses
On the Ed Gein: Demon Hunter campaign page, it states that there will be stretch goals announced after the meeting of the funding goal. While the campaign did meet its goal, stretch goals were not added to the body of the campaign. In one of the updates, Storm addressed that he had yet to add stretch goals but talked about future backer-based goals since that is the most important for him. Again, this was not posted anywhere, but it’s not like backers didn’t receive any extras. Some were mentioned in the updates, like an A4 print of the cover, but not expressly declared as goals. I did receive a sticker that was provided to the backers who were on the sign-up list despite not signing up (at least to my recollection). All in all, I received the book, two stickers and a print that is the same size of the book. The bonuses were good, the design on the sticker was the highlight, but nothing received was overly impressive when comparing to other campaigns backed.
There was a campaign tier titled “Mega Bundle”, which aside from the books (with script version included), there was a t-shirt, an original art page and a taxidermy nipple. The taxidermy nipple was an especially interesting choice for a book involving Ed Gein, and Storm was definitely working his creativity with the idea. It was not actually a real nipple, though, it was a replica made from pigeon skin, and available only in the UK. It was bizarre enough that Indiegogo ended up reaching out to Storm after the campaign ended, requesting that he remove that perk and that they would hold onto his funds until he did so. Thankfully, no one backed that particular perk, especially since fulfillment was already underway when Storm was notified.
Overall Grade: B+
Ed Gein: Demon Hunter left quite an impression on me, mostly for the value I feel I received. While the story and art are good, they don’t necessarily stick out significantly from other good books. I would place the writing and the art on the better side of average, at least with a project of this kind and my tastes. But I have yet to receive something better in terms of value.
The pricing, product, and fulfillment come together to provide a great experience in backing a Reload Comics book. I don’t see how Storm was able to provide the product that he did in the speed that he did with the amount of funding that he raised. I am not sure if prices are cheaper overseas, but other creators need to take note or find out Storm’s secret to doing what he does. The value on this book was top notch. I am planning to back the second Ed Gein campaign when it becomes available, and the sign-up for this second issue is already on Indiegogo (here). I personally highly recommend signing up and backing a catch-up tier if this first issue slipped your notice.
If you are still uncertain, Storm provides a free peek at the first six pages of Ed Gein issue two on his website. Storm also provided a digital version of the book on the first campaign, so I imagine that the second campaign will have a similar offering. If you do not want to wait, you can get the digital version of issue one on Storm’s website (here) for just £2 GBP, as well as a script version for £4 GBP.
Thanks for reading!
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