Crowdfunding Review: “The Cryptidnals” (656 Comics, Monochrome May Special)
Welcome back to Monochrome May, The Splintering’s month-long celebration of all art presented “in black and white or in varying tones of only one color,” if you were curious what the dictionary says about it.
Today, we’ll be reviewing the crowdfunded comic book campaign The Cryptidnals by 656 Comics. For those of you not familiar with our review format, we grade a crowdfunding campaign on four distinct categories:
- Book Content and Quality
- Communication and Fulfillment
- Packaging and Shipping
- Stretch Goals and Bonuses
With The Cryptidnals, I backed The Cryptidnals Main Cover tier. This campaign was exclusive to Indiegogo. Did The Cryptidnals provide the same horrific and macabre elements of Poe and Lovecraft as promised? Pour yourself a glass of Amontillado and read on!
Book Content and Quality
The Cryptidnals was written by Ray Ramos, illustrated by Dario Rodriguez, lettered by Oliver Lee Arce, edited by Julius Freeman, with a logo design credit going to Dominique Arce. A Cryptid (as we find out in the beginning of the book) is a creature whose existence is suspected but has not been proven scientifically. The Cryptidnals follows an unusual team of these Cryptids who are brought together to fight an even greater evil than themselves, the Tulpa. The story takes place in modern day, in towns across Texas and Mexico. Numerous characters are introduced, and there is a significant amount of violence and bloodshed. A complete story is told, all while fleshing out details of key characters and providing enough of an ending to both satisfy the reader and yet still entice them to want more!
The writing in this book was phenomenal. This may be the single best written crowdfunded book I’ve ever reviewed. The dialogue was fresh and satisfying, the story and settings were unique, and the characters were inspiring and exciting. I particularly liked Man-Dog, who I want to know everything about as soon as possible. I was always informed of scene changes, as well as when new settings were introduced. There were times when I wanted to know the backstory of some characters, but thankfully a Monster Moments scrapbook was provided with my order (more on that later). This book promised to merge the horror and macabre of Poe and Lovecraft. That’s a tall order. In my opinion, it was achieved.
If I saw the artwork in this book stand alone, I would say it was adequate. I could definitely nitpick on some of the anatomy of the human characters. In the context of this world created though, it suits it perfectly. Dario Rodriguez has now captured the vision of these characters in my mind. His rendition of Man-Dog or Kid Cthulhu or the Goatman is how I see them when I imagine them. The panel-to-panel story telling was excellent. In sequences where there were few to no word balloons, I easily followed the story as it unfolded in front of me. The book is black and white, and a lot of times, that makes it hard to differentiate characters. I was able to tell all of the characters apart with ease.
The lettering by Oliver Lee Arce was expertly handled. The words were easy to read, the balloon placement was excellent, and key words were emphasized with bold text. The balloon sizes were ideal for the dialogue. Your eyes followed the natural flow of the text, and everything was placed well on the page. My only complaint about the lettering was the balloon tails. The tips of the tails were rounded – not brought to a traditional point – and I never got used to that look. Other then that, I was quite pleased with the lettering.
The editor of this book was Julius Freeman and he deserves credit as well. This book was very well presented, with minimal errors. The few that were there were too minor to list. I’d say for a book of this length, I would typically find more mistakes in a mainstream book. This book was very well done and the entire creative team deserves credit. Collectively, this is the best group of creators on one crowdfunded book I’ve ever reviewed. They have incredible synergy and I hope to see them on another project together really soon!
Finally, we get to the quality of print of this book. My apologies for taking this long, but there were too many positive things to say previously. This book was printed immaculately. I loved the binding, the page weight, and the cover stock. It sits well on my bookshelf, and the title on the spine is a welcome addition. The book was advertised as a 132-page black and white graphic novel. I could be wrong, but I counted 148 pages in total, with 143 pages being all original story content. That is an incredible deal for a $25 pledge. I am thrilled that I backed this book. I am so proud to add it to my collection.
Communication and Fulfillment
I pledged to this campaign in September 2021 and had it delivered in April 2022, but I do want to point out that the campaign ended its live funding in July 2021. Basing the time-frame on the end of the live campaign, a nine-month turnaround time is just above average in normal circumstances. I’ve seen some books come as quickly as two months and others take years. Factoring in the campaign took place during a pandemic that was riddled with supply-chain issues and massive inflation, this turnaround time was quite reasonable.
The campaign creator posted semi-regular updates to the campaign, and increased the frequency of those updates once the book went past its expected due date. On average, there was roughly one update per month, but there were indeed a couple of months without a word from this campaign. I like updates and would like at a minimum one monthly, but more when news warrants it.
Packaging and Shipping
The campaign owner let his backers know that books would be shipping soon via a campaign update. I was provided a tracking number when my items shipped, which I really appreciated. I paid $10 for shipping, and my books were sent via USPS Priority Mail in a Gemini mailer, packed within a Priority mail envelope! The main book was in its own bag and board. The stretch goal items were bagged and boarded separately in two different bags and boards.
The box within a box technique used in this campaign was critical, as there seemed to be excessive water damage to the outside of my package when it arrived. Luckily it didn’t penetrate the interior packaging. My items arrived in mint condition!
Between being informed of my tracking number, the use of Gemini mailer, the upgrade to Priority mail, and the beautiful care in handling and packing my items, I was very impressed with this entire category.
Stretch Goals and Bonuses
This campaign unlocked several stretch goals:
- “Man-Dog Unleashed” Supplemental Book
- “Creature Apocryphal” Sketch Book
- “Monster Moments” Scrap Book
- Two 2 Sided 6” x 9” Mini-Prints
The Cryptidnals campaign provided me with the single finest assortment of stretch goals I’ve ever received on any campaign. Everything I received was of superior quality, and it all went hand-in-hand with improving my reading experience of The Cryptidnals. I cannot say enough good things about these items. My absolute favorite character in the entire book was “Man-Dog” and he was given his own supplemental comic book! Imagine, backing a 148-page book and getting a bonus 24-page comic book for free!?
I love sketchbooks, and was given one with my pledge as an added bonus. The sketchbook, titled Creature Apocryphal, featured 24 pages of black and white artwork, including alternate pages, thumbnails, step by step processes and much more! The scrapbook provided information and backstories on each of the characters in the book. I was fully immersed in the world of The Cryptidnals. I could not be happier.
This campaign was a complete joy! I am not a professional reviewer. I’m just someone that really likes comic books and I try my best to explain what I like about them (and what I don’t). Everything about The Cryptidnals campaign was incredible. I am bestowing this campaign with the highest overall grade I’ve ever given to any campaign I’ve ever reviewed.
Overall Grade: A
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