Comic books are a huge, sprawling medium, with all kinds of formats, genres and series. While longtime fans can easily walk into a comic book shop and pick out exactly the issues or graphic novels that suit their precise tastes, casual readers might have a harder time. Compound that with the difficulty in finding stories that are both accessible to and appropriate for younger readers, and it’s pretty easy to imagine why casual fans might be looking for an alternative.
That’s part of what Crowntaker Studios founder and Cash and Carrie creator-editor Shawn Pryor attributes the immediate, explosive interest in the book to. With three weeks left in its Kickstarter campaign, the book has already raised $1,000 over its goal and is still going strong.
“We had no idea the Kickstarter would take off like that,” says Pryor. “We got over fifteen hundred dollars in pledges in the first weekend alone. And this was all word of mouth, on social media! I didn’t even write a press release until people started asking for one.”
“I think a lot of people out there are looking for an all-ages book,” Pryor continues. “People are looking for something that might not be in the normal comic book shop scene, and Kickstarter presents that option for a variety of people to check out the book.”
A collaboration between Pryor, writer Giulie Speziani and artist Penny, Cash and Carrie follows Dallas Cash and Inez Carrie, two middle school sleuths on the hunt for mysteries. While their hobbies differ (Dallas is a techie and believer in the supernatural, while Inez is sporty and skeptical), they’re united by their passion for mystery-solving. In their first case, they’re trying to find out where Misty the goat, their school’s mascot, has disappeared to. The setup harkens back to older mystery stories, but with new and original twists.
“Everyone from Hollywood to mainstream publishers seems set on recycling the same stories,” explains Pryor. “Characters like Scooby-Doo and the Hardy Boys are always getting updates and new iterations. That’s all fine, but there’s a market out there for new, diverse stories. I feel like people of color are kind of getting kicked to the curb sometimes in comics, and this book is something new for them.”
At the same time, both Pryor and Speziani credit Penny’s artwork and style as big draw.
“It’s got that look that just catches people,” says Pryor. “People were really into our test copies. I think that fans of the current Cartoon Network shows or the kinds of books BOOM! Studios is putting out will really enjoy it.”
“It’s gonna be great,” agrees Speziani. “We’re really looking forward to the response now that we’ve put it out there on Kickstarter.”
As writer of Cash and Carrie, Speziani worked with Pryor to nail down the beats of the story ahead of time.
“You don’t want to write yourself into a corner,” Speziani explains. “So outlining was important. In terms of the mystery itself, I thought about the kinds of stories and urban legends I’d hear growing up.”
“For voices, I looked to my nieces and nephews and the way they talk, as well as social media,” she continues. “I also pulled from my own childhood.”
“We’re using this book as a pilot, sort of an ‘episode one’ for the series,” Pryor explains. “We definitely want to do more stories. It’s not gonna be an ‘every thirty days’ kind of deal, but quarterly, maybe? We wanna break the routine and market to the non-weekly crowd. Not to say that hardcore comics readers aren’t welcome! It’s for literally everybody.”
“Diversity in comics is really important,” says Pryor. “In terms of characters of color, female characters, but also just in terms of properties and ideas. The business needs to recognize that. We need more books that try to build a new young reader base, because they’re the future. We need new readers who will grow up with comics for comics to have a future.”
The Cash and Carrie Kickstarter rings the late bell on June 10th.