- Associated Press - Sunday, September 20, 2015

GALESBURG, Ill. (AP) - Alex Kane has long been a writer, having published several of his short stories and essays. But only recently did he begin to look at comic books as a platform for his work.

Now, after a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, Kane will be publishing his first comic book, “”Asphodel”,” this November.

Kane, 26, grew up in Monmouth, attended Carl Sandburg College for two and a half years, and then Monmouth College for two and a half years, where he studied English. He then worked at a bank and eventually moved to its branch in Galesburg. After realizing banking wasn’t for him, he decided to take a shot at writing and editing, and he now works full-time as a freelance copy editor, primarily for The Critical Press.

His desire to make comic books began two years ago, when he spent six weeks studying under two of his heroes, acclaimed authors Joe Hill and Neil Gaiman.

“They are basically the best two writers of the past 20 years in comics,” Kane said.

In 2013, he was one of 18 students selected to participate in the Clarion West Writers Workshop in Seattle. During the intensive course, students write six short stories in six weeks, and each week has a different instructor.

For Kane’s workshop, Gaiman taught week two, and Hill taught week three. While studying under them, Kane realized he should give comic books a shot.

“That was the inspiration,” Kane said. “As someone who had been writing short stories and had been a tiny bit successful with those but not quite ready to write a novel, I thought, maybe comics is a viable medium.”

During the fifth week of the workshop, Kane wrote a story that lacked an ending but impressed his instructor and classmates.

“It was nice to have people say, ‘This piece is really good, but it’s not finished,’” Kane said. “Then I had something to work on afterward.”

Since then, he’s given the story an ending and adapted it to the comic book form. Once he completed writing the story, Kane then had to find an artist to help bring his story to life. He hired Gale Galligan, who studies at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia.

“The collaboration’s been awesome,” Kane said. “She really gets what I’m trying to do in the script.”

“Asphodel” is a space opera that takes place near Pluto in the year 4419. The story revolves around a cyborg goddess named Sedna and a veteran of interstellar war named Vic Delany.

To pay for the art and the printing of “Asphodel”, Kane started a Kickstarter campaign July 13 with the goal of raising $6,000 in 30 days. He received a boost when Gaiman backed the campaign and tweeted about it to his over 2.2 million followers on Twitter. The campaign was picked up by several comic book blogs, and the campaign reached its goal shortly before its Aug. 12 deadline. In the end, 270 people backed his project, raising $7,142.

“That was a good day because honestly, there was a long time, where I was like, ‘It’s definitely going to fail,’” Kane said.

He received backers from around the world, with one of his most vocal supporters in Australia. He also received some support in Galesburg and Monmouth. Stone Alley Books & Collectibles owner Ben Stomberg backed the project and plans to carry some copies of the comic once it ships. Right now, the writing is complete and Galligan is currently working on the art for the 22-page comic book.

“The goal is she’ll have the pages done by the end of October, and then two or three weeks to get proof copy and make sure it looks good in paper form,” Kane said.

He is hoping to ship “Asphodel” to the project backers by mid-November. After that, Kane said the book could go in several directions. “We’d love to sell it as either a graphic novel or a limited series,” Kane said.

If it isn’t picked up by a publisher, they could also publish it on their own. Kane said he’ll probably publish the first book on ComiXology, a digital comic books store.

“We’re going to try to sell it as a series and see what happens,” Kane said. “So it’s one long shot after a previous long shot.”

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Source: The (Galesburg) Register-Mail, http://bit.ly/1OiE0rB

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Information from: The Register-Mail, http://www.register-mail.com

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