By JIMMY LAWTON
CANTON -- A Canton man who founded the Comic Book Hall of Fame, LLC. hopes to raise $3,300 to release a comic that is set in Canton, by launching a fundraising project on Kickstarter.com.
Using the website, which helps aspiring artists and businesses fund projects, Comic Book Hall of Fame founder Roger Rautio and other members of the grassroots initiative hope to release a comic titled “The Black Operator.”
“The Kickstarter project entitled ‘The Black Operator’ is going to fund the comic,” he said. “If the project is not successful, the book will be re-solicited to comic companies like Dark Horse, Image, IDW and Wildstorm.”
Rautio said if the fundraiser is successful, the comic will be inked by Austin Janowsky, who has contributed to issues of Iron Man: The End; Tomb Raider; X-Men Unlimited; Red Sonja; Invincible; and Wizards of the Coast and GI Joe.
“Sometime back in March, the Comic Book Hall of Fame put out a general call for an inker. Intrigued, he contacted us. Liking what he saw and read, and after careful negotiation, we also signed a contract,” Rautio said.
Rautio said he wrote the comic himself, but enlisted the help of an Ohio artist Sean Russell to draw the comic. He said the character is something he had been interested in developing for nearly a decade.
“I originally came up with the character ‘The Black Operator’ while I was in college at SUNY Brockport. I was doodling in my Science Fiction Issues class and wrote in a fancy comic book style The Black Operator. Over a few years, I developed the character and wrote the first conceived story while living in Canton in 1996,” Rautio said.
He said the story is titled “The Zero Affair.”
“ I wrote the first five stories while living in Canton. I always had a picture of what the Black Operator looked like and when I presented the character to Sean, while we were working on the Comic Book Hall of Fame stuff, he drew it and well, the rest is history,” he said.
The project is set to launch online May 16. Rautio said donors will be rewarded for their contributions.
He said a variety of gifts will be offered including original art, sketch copies, production art, autographs and a chance to be included in the comic.
Rautio said donors will have a chance to have their likenesses included in a special edition of the comic as a hero or villain.
“We’re very excited about this,” said Joe Alkire, who serves as secretary for the small upstart.
Rautio said he hopes the project will spur interest in his goal of establishing a physical Comic Book Hall of Fame.
“Ultimately, the goal of this project is four things - contribute a great character and story to the comic book industry, introduce Sean Russell’s art to the world and promote the Comic Book Hall of Fame,” he said.
Rautio said all proceeds from the fundraiser will be put toward the comic.
“All donations received will be spent on this project. Every penny,” he said.
Roger said he is unsure of how many copies of the comic will be available. He said that will likely be determined by the success of the drive.
“Copies will only be available through Kickstarter or until the project is over, where there could be residual copies left over and they can be purchased through myself or Sean Russell,” he said.
Rautio said the Black Operator is currently slated for just one volume, but that could change if there is interest from the public.
“That’s up to the fans. We’re not really expecting it to (become a series), but we are prepared to have it become one, just in case,” he said.
Anyone interested in donating to the project can make a pledge on Kickstarter.com or send contributions directly to Roger Rautio at PO BOx 661, Canton NY 13617.
The Kickestart project will be available online May 16 - June 16,
Rautio’s idea to open the hall began in 1989 when he and some friends were attending Brockport College. Over the next 10 years the plan moved slowly, but became more serious in 1999 when he secured a “Doing Business As” status for the Comic Book Hall of Fame.
Since then Rautio’s idea has gained some interest and support from comic book fans and members of the comic book industry.