Comic book artist scores Malta’s first crowdfunding success

Having just graduated with an MA in Illustration from Kingston University, Maltese illustrator and comic book artist Daniela Attard speaks to us about her upcoming project – a comic book retelling of The Ugly Duckling, which was successfully crowdfunded through Kickstarter just a few days after it was launched.

Daniela Attard's character designs for her comic book adaptation of The Ugly Duckling, which was successfully crowd-funded through Kickstarter.
Daniela Attard's character designs for her comic book adaptation of The Ugly Duckling, which was successfully crowd-funded through Kickstarter.

What led you to get a Kickstarter campaign going for this project in particular? Were you confident from the start that it would end up full funded? Why not/why were you?

I recently started attending comic book conventions in the UK as a comics creator. You are given a desk space to display your work and interact with attendees. It is also a great way of meeting other like-minded creatives.

Through this experience I learnt that most of these individuals use Kickstarter as a means to fund their projects. It is easier and less nerve-wracking than approaching a publisher, and you can do it at your own pace.

I decided to give it a try. I was a bit wary at first. The issue with Kickstarter is that if you do not reach your goal, any funds collected will not be given to you. The issue for me was that I would have been unable to afford printing costs if it weren't for the funding.

I aimed for a 'lower' budget, comparatively speaking, and I won't be allocating a wage for the work I'll be doing, as making great comics is personally more important to me than making money from them.

On your Kickstarer page, you say that the original Hans Christian Andersen story has a personal resonance to you. Could you elaborate on that?

I am quite a hopeless writer so I avoid writing. I do however enjoy creating interpretative work derived from fables or old stories. There are so many different ways of interpreting a story, the 'infinite possibilities' (to quote comic book guru Scott McCloud) make it so exciting. I also don't have to worry about copyright issues as such works are free to reference and make use of since they are in the public domain.

Regarding the story itself, I've always been one of the strange kids in class, and was often picked upon. Growing up with a surgical scar on your face isn't the easiest of things either, but after settling in with the right crowd I think I've managed to grow up to a responsible and fun-loving 24-year-old kid (still very much a kid nevertheless). It is thus a story that I've related to on a proverbial manner. The ugly duckling finds his swan peers: ultimately the story is more about finding happiness in life than looking beautiful.

Ugly Duckling 2

What kind of approach to the story did you take that's different to previous representations of it?

Presenting it in comic book format is one. I could only find one instance of this being done before - in the Classics Illustrated series way back in 1953. I'm also painting each panel in Photoshop, which is a lengthy process that most comic book creators tend to avoid. I'm integrating bits of personal details into the script but I'll be leaving that for my readers to find for themselves.

READ MORE: Can crowdfunding work in Malta?

How did you feel to have your project successfully funded after just a few days of it going live?

Overwhelmed. I expected it to be a long and stressful campaign but it turned out so well. I'm so flattered and in debt with all my kind supporters, its motivating me to work harder!

When will the comic be available to purchase, and from where?

You can pledge over £5 and receive it directly at you door around the second or third week of December! Other than that it will be available at comic conventions I attend and my hopefully soon-to-be-established online shop.

Would you say that crowdfunding is a viable route for artists, and perhaps even a long-term one? What should artists bear in mind as they embark on a crowdfunding campaign?

If you are into DIY and determined on your goal, yes! Bear in mind that you might not successfully amass your targeted funds but that doesn't mean you should give up either. Focus on reaching out to your target audience, but also show your work to other audiences! And most of all be humble, and focus on working hard.

For more information on Daniela Attard's Kickstarter campaign – which has amassed over $1,000 – log on to the Kickstarter page.