History Of The Vicious Circus
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What’s in an Omnibus Collection of Vicious Circus Comics?
The BIGGEST Vicious Circus Collection EVER Hits Kickstarter August 20
As we go through the mundane daily processes of social media updates, order fulfillment, customer service, and inventory management, not to mention the essential comics production tasks of writing, illustrating, coloring, lettering, and pre-press preparation of the actual books, it’s easy to lose perspective on the cumulative volume of content we’ve created over the past fourteen years. And that’s particularly true for our longest-running, flagpole title, Vicious Circus.
We completed the first four issues of Clown Town, the title that would become Vicious Circus, in 2011, on the heels of its primitive formation as part of a little internet comics competition called Small Press Idol. Amanda Rachels and I developed the idea at a Starbucks in Foley, Alabama, on a Sunday afternoon in January, when she sketched out the original image of the clown who would soon morph into our beloved demonic clown, Stilts:
2011 saw our first forays into the world of Kickstarter, resulting in our ability to finish the Clown Town four-issue series and even collect the story, written by me and with full art and covers by Amanda, into a trade paperback. What an amazing feeling to brandish that hefty, complete tome in our hands, our first ever complete story and one we were confident readers would enjoy.
As we got more experience and sharpened our skills in all areas of comic publishing, we realized our finished product could benefit from some upgrades, starting with the title, which was essentially chosen because it rhymed. The title Vicious Circus holds so much more meaning, playing on the psychological concept of revolving trauma, the vicious circle, but sticking fast to the circus theme, and our friend and collaborator, Gavin Michelli, developed an amazing logo to further cement the meaning of the new title.
We officially made the change to Vicious Circus in 2015 and went several steps further by having the entire story re-colored by Nathan Lueth, adding four pages of script to address some story flow and continuity issues, and having our partner in life and in comics, Erica J. Heflin, provide dialogue editing throughout the story. Following her considerable and amazing edits, I re-lettered the entire, 96-page graphic novel, resulting in a completely remastered edition of the original story, all under the new Vicious Circus banner.
And that brings us to the current edition of Vicious Circus that we now subtitle as Book 1: Clown Town. In 2021, after some delays caused by involvement in other comic projects, we finally finished the next volume of Vicious Circus, the 48-page graphic novella we call To Clown a Predator. We wanted to put the clowns in an entirely different situation than in their introductory story, so we had them invade a To Catch a Predator-style sting operation to take out the perps before the cops could even nab them. Matters went haywire from there, and it’s been a very successful story with readers.
In that same year of 2021, we made the decision to branch out and tell other stories of the clowns of the Vicious Circus with other artists, beginning with annual Halloween and Christmas Specials. We were lucky enough to bring in Oscar Pinto for the Halloween stories and Carlos Tron for those set at Christmas. These Specials were designed to be one-shot stories with high impact and dramatic themes of the holidays on which they’re set. They’re also some of my favorite tales I’ve ever written.
Last year, Amanda took on a full-length one-shot Vicious Circus story of her own, Satanic Panic, written by Erica and bringing a very different bent to the world of our killer clowns with a mission. They created a brand new clown who is an absolute force of nature and who, in his role as a sort of cosmic clown entity, has insinuated himself into a pair of scripts that I recently wrote, including the 2023 Halloween Special.
Between larger projects, Amanda illustrated a number of Vicioius Circus shot stories (4-10 pages), written either by me or by Erica. In 2021, these were collected into a 40-page Issue Zero that has been out of print for some time now. These micro-scenarios introduced new clowns or placed our established clowns in new situations, and they’ve been great fun to create. Most recently, we released a pair of 12-page shorts exclusively to our Patreon Freakshow members.
Given the irregular scheduling of self-publishing, working around day jobs, raising our daughter, and the very real mountain of work that goes along with making comics entirely ourselves, we realize that a lot of our Vicious Circus content has not been seen by all interested readers, particularly the short stories. And it’s important to us that y’all have access to all of these stories that make up this universe we created. We particularly want to focus on Amanda’s work, as her visuals are the backbone of it all.
So, we’re putting ALL of these stories into ONE BOOK, the first ever Vicious Circus Omnibus. Every single one of the comics I mentioned that were illustrated by Amanda will be included, PLUS a brand new, 4-page story she’s drawing that is co-written by me and our daughter, Graceland. That’s 232 pages of actual comics with Amanda’s art and written by me, Erica and Graceland. All. In. One. Book.
This oversized (8″ x 10.88″) hardcover edition features this incredible wraparound Stilts cover by Amanda (colors by Alivon Ortiz) and includes autographs from all of us, as well as a unique, interior sketch by Amanda. It starts at 300 pages (including a 40-page cover gallery) but may ultimately rise to much larger volume with Stretch Goals, to potentially include a production art gallery, character design sheets, character profiles and MORE!
We’re also offering a softcover edition of the Omnibus that weighs in at 242 pages and doesn’t (initially) include all the extras, for those of you that just want the comics.
The Vicious Circus Omnibus hits Kickstarter this coming Sunday, August 20, at 6:00 p.m. Central time. The FIRST FIFTY backers will also receive a die-cut sticker featuring the hardcover wraparound art by Amanda and Alivon! Join us in celebrating Vicious Circus and its first-ever collection in one massive volume.