The Sleepless Phoenix

In 2010, a crack creative team were locked into a contract by an elusive publisher for a crime they didn’t commit. These creators promptly escaped from a maximum security legal prison to the comic book underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as creators for hire. If you have a project, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire… The Sleepless Phoenix Team.

Well… not quite, but this is definitely a project born out of drama so I thought I’d get project editor Lauren Anne Sharp to give us the inside info.

image by Valia Kapadai

So to kick us off, what exactly is the Sleepless Phoenix project?

Our project is called Survival Stories. It’s a 192 page collection of tales all around the theme of Survival, with some really fantastic work! It will feature an introduction from Alex Fitch, and work from creators like Ben Bates, Michael Moreci, Alex Willmore, Peter Forbes, Dean Stahl and many more…

As I’ve hinted above, this book came together in quite an unusual way. What can you tell us about the projects origins?

Like the name suggests, The Sleepless Phoenix and the Survival Stories anthology was born out of the crumpled wreck that was Insomnia. It’s been just madness, ever since I heard the news. The way the Sleepless Phoenix was shaped though was just incredible to watch. A few days after we all heard the news I, along with many others I’m sure, felt so lost. I’d gone from having two graphic novels in production (Michael Moreci’s Quarantined and Andrew Croskery’s Kronos City), putting art teams together and working my way through all the editing I was doing on other projects, to having nothing. Along with that, I felt a great deal of guilt about what had happened, I’d been working with so many different teams, some of which I had put together with the promise of publication, I felt almost like I was snatching the dream back too. Trying to find solutions, I sent out one email with advice I’d gathered, and that’s where this started. Before I knew it my inbox was full of ideas, advice and support from every one of the creators. Plans were formed, the Comic Book Alliance was contacted and suddenly there we were, a collective. It gave all of us a purpose, we weren’t in the struggle alone any more. Out of this support, talk turned to the anthology we’d been creating together. And so it began.

Can you tell me how you got involved with this project?

I started working on the editing team at Insomnia at the start of the year, and a great time to start it was too. I went from giving a helping hand with submissions, to being the only one of two editors (along with Alex Willmore), managing all the projects nearing completion and running all of Insomnia’s online sites. I was heavily involved with the anthology, and when Insomnia ended, I couldn’t just see the anthology finish too. So here I am still. It’s evolved massively since it’s early production, with so many new creators being drafted in.

How has it been organising so many creative teams in such a short period of time? Has the short deadline caused any problems?

Oh god… Not easy. It’s not caused problems, just sleep deprivation. It has been tricky and I have shouted at the computer a fair few times, but it’s been great being able to rely on the members of the Sleepless Phoenix for support, taking on different roles in the production process. There is no way this would have happened without Michael Moreci organising the Kickstarter fund, and listening to my mini breakdowns!

This is being funded as a kickstarter project. What exactly is that and why should people fund other people’s projects?

Kickstarter is a place to raise money, to fund a project. You set a monetary goal (ours is $3,600) and people pledge money towards it. If we meet our target the project is funded and the book is published, if we don’t, the pledgers money is never collected and the project is left as a lost dream, which we really don’t want to happen – so get involved and pledge! You aren’t just parting with your money for no reason either. Apart from raising money for the Comic Book Alliance you are rewarded with goodies, from the printed anthology to much much more. Its well worth getting involved. *

I understand the contractual situation for everyone has now changed. How has the project survived past its original aim?

Survival Stories was always about raising money for the Comic Book Alliance, and still is. We got out of our limbo, but that doesn’t mean it wont happen to someone else, so why change our original aim? For us, the Comic Book Alliance was such a help, so we still want to help back 🙂

So if people want to get a copy of this or find out more, what should they do?

Go to the Kickstarter site and pledge! The launch will be at BICS and we will also be selling Survival Stories at Thought Bubble, but to guarantee a copy get involved now and pledge to ensure we reach our target and the book is printed.

And lastly, is this the last we will hear from this collective?

Who knows? We’ve all made great friends in our community, so I doubt the collective will ever end, and we’re all creative people so let’s just wait and see…

Thanks Lauren.

Just to clarify again how this kickstarter pledging works, it isnt a charity deal where all you get is a warm fuzzy feeling because who gives a monkeys about that? A $15 pledge (£9.50) actually gets you a full copy of the book, $20 gets you a signed copy and your name in the book’s “Thank yous”, and for more you can get limited prints and even original art. Its more of a pre-order than a pledge really. At no point will ANYONE play “Whose gonna drive you home” at you while trying to make you feel guilty.

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