When Andres Salazar began drawing comics, he did it as a hobby. By the time he had published his first book, it was his career.
Salazar published his first graphic novel, Pariah, Missouri, via Kickstarter.com, a popular way for artists, inventors and others to see their visions to fruition through a non-traditional revenue source, backed by the fans themselves.
With Pariah, Missouri, Salazar found great success. His campaign met its initial funding goal and then some, raising $5,607 — $3,000 more than his goal. The campaign was so successful that Salazar set a new goal: Release the novel in hardcover. It, too, was crowd-funded, this time collecting more than $9,000.
But Salazar wasn’t done, and instead of working from the success of Pariah, Missouri, he looked to the stars where he discovered SpaceBear.
SpaceBear is to Pariah, Missouri as Scooby Doo is to Deadwood. Whereas the A-Team- meets-the-Wild-West attitude of Pariah, Missouri was an easy sell to comic book fans, SpaceBear is proving a bit tougher.
The reason is simple: SpaceBear is for the kids. Salazar, a father of three, wanted to have a story to read to his kids that was equal parts adventure and science. When, at a convention, Salazar met a representative from Hasbro, the idea popped into his head.
“He was talking about the word ‘Toyetic,” said Salazar, which is defined as being easily adaptable into toy form. “Then I saw the movie Gravity, and I always wanted to do something for all ages. I want something for my kids so I can read to them at bed.”
Salazar, a fan of animation and comics for most of his life, began drawing SpaceBear in earnest, using watercolors to give the comic a childlike, playful feel.
SpaceBear follows the titular character through various space adventures — in one doodle, SpaceBear battles a monster made of spaghetti and travels through space in his “toyetic” spaceship.
“It’s space, the cuddly frontier,” said Salazar.
Salazar pulled from Flash Gordon, Planet of the Apes and other classic sci-fi series for inspiration.
“I want to read SpaceBear to my little boy. It’s geeky, it’s science-fictiony, and it’s Star-Treky. I don’t want to read Dr. Seuss, I want to read something a little quirky, a little nerdy, because that’s what I enjoy.”
Salazar’s background in science aided in the storytelling as well, giving him the authority to reference the Apollo mission and astronomical bodies with scientific accuracy, making for both a fun and educational experience.
“In theory, the book grows up with the kid so it can be read different ways.”
As of this writing, SpaceBear is halfway toward its funding goal of $5,000 with not much more than a week left. The difficulty for Salazar is promoting a children’s book to his fans who know him for the rough and tough Pariah, Missouri.
If he is successful, however, Salazar would like to introduce new bears.
“Eventually, this will be a collection of five or six books,” he said. “The Bear Universe Crisis, or something like that. That’s all hinging upon this. If this tanks . . . I need to focus on what works.”
For more information about SpaceBear and to view Salazar’s campaign, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/andresjsalazar/space-bear.