Interview by Dan Hickman
I am very excited to bring you the next in my line of interviews. Kevin Guillotte and his team from Inked Marketing have put together an amazing presence in the world of marketing. Meeting Kevin and discovering the sheer amount of interests we have in common has been an absolute joy for me and I hope that as you read about him and his incredible company, you’ll jump onboard the Inked train and show your support for all of their great work!
Inked Marketing is best known for creating award winning Kickstarter campaigns, which have brought them several “Projects We Love” accolades from Kickstarter. They focus on publicity generation and creating viable funding opportunities for their clientele.
Dan Hickman: What led you into this type of work?
Kevin Guillotte: Dan, I have been an Artist for as long as I can remember and have always enjoyed it! The love of creating art, the passion for fellow creators and artists, and the backing of my amazing wife, Melanie, led to the formation of Inked Marketing. Inked is an ad firm built by creators for creators.
She regularly coordinates with me about campaign content which allows for a smooth flowing pipeline of marketing progression, ensuring that campaigns stay on target. She is the fuel that inspired me to move forward with Inked and is now the arm Inked can’t do without.
I became a professional Artist at 16, then on to college for a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts. After that, spending many years at ad firms constructing award-winning campaigns for banks, casinos, telecoms, hospitals, etc. I decided to take 30 years of knowledge from big business and bring it to the industry that we all love. In one interview I was dubbed an “art-tre-preneur” and in another what Inked does was call “comic-centric”.
Hickman: How do you solicit or select the creators you promote?
Guillotte: Headquartered in the Tri-Cities Area of Washington State, Inked Marketing supports both US and International clients, providing Global Marketing Solutions to place your comic book-based business in the correct position in the marketplace for increased visibility and growth. We are an ad firm built by creators for creators.
Kevin Guillotte from Inked Marketing: An Interview
The majority of our business has been word of mouth, and we like it that way. Our motto is “We do good work for good people!” As long as we continue to do that, that work will come. We do market ourselves with a website Inked Marketing, where creators can view the “Inked Family Gallery” for past successes, or comic buyers can view LIVE and coming soon campaigns.
Inked Marketing has several services to help make you successful! We are a full-service ad firm that specializes in the comic book-based market offering all the services that you see here plus custom ads, high-energy crisp graphics, and high-impact AniMOTIONS™. “KICK-IT” is our turn-key solution for your Kickstarter construction and audience needs!
We also market Inked Pub, which is a direct line into the LIVE and coming soon campaigns area.
Inked Marketing was founded on 3 SIMPLE PRINCIPLES that build long-lasting relationships and repeat customers.
- Stay engaged with our customers.
- Dedication to their success.
- Work as a team to grow their market.
Hickman: How are some ways you promote them?
Guillotte: A big part of our success is that we don’t treat clients like clients… we treat them like family! This comes through in our devotion to their success by offering solutions that exceeded their expectations!
Why do some of the greats in the comic book industry turn to Inked when they want a successful Kickstarter campaign? Because of our Kickstarter solutions that exceeded their expectations and devotion to their success by offering marketing funding goals! Loco Hero from the creator Monte Michael Moore funded in 5 minutes and raised over $50k. Spicy Pulp 5 was a record-breaking campaign for creator Justin Gray with 916 backers!
The Inked Team prides itself in capturing the essence of each campaign! There is a great deal of design put into every campaign. We feel each ad is a mini-billboard that has to capture an audience’s attention. When people go, “That ad looks good!” it is because there was “ad architecture” used to move the eye around in a pleasing manner.
Kevin Guillotte, Inked’s Founder and Creative Director, has utilized the “break the dimensions” style for over 25 years! It is his trademark.
Use the space to your advantage and make an impact when the book calls for it.’ An ad has to breathe. It is a visual pool game where you want to run the table.
Kevin Guillotte – Inked Marketing Founder and Creative Director.
We also promote creators on our podcast called Atomic Comicradery and will soon be launching a second podcast called Le Voodoo Lounge. On Atomic Comicradery we bring on creators with current or coming soon crowdfunding campaigns, as well as, a series called “Titans of Industry” with guests like Kevin Eastman, Bart Sears, Monte Michael Moore, Justin Gray, Rusty Gilligan, Gary Cohan, Dan Mishkin, and Chuck Dixon.
These podcast and several more make up the NSC ROAD SHOW, a collection of comic or pop culture oriented that creators go on tour with to discuss their crowdfunding projects.
Hickman: Most successful project, to date?
Guillotte: It depends on how one judges success. In terms of funds raised, the number of backers, or just getting a book funded for a new creator. Here is how Inked views each:
Funds Raised: Monte Michael Moore’s first book as a creator, Loco Hero #1 ($50,423 and 670 backers at 2016% of goal). That book is very special to me! I had been a fan of Monte’s work for years before I met him! He is what I consider a Renaissance Artist who masters each of the types of art. He can draw, paint, sculpt, carve, airbrush… you name it! I have many of his works in my personal collection.
Top 10 Inked Marketing Campaigns based on funding amount.
My wife and I moved to Colorado Springs, CO, about four years ago. Monte lives near Denver, CO. Short version is that he came onto a panel I was running for a virtual comic con we produced and told the story of Loco Hero, a story he had written a few years prior. See interview on Monte Michael Moore.
During that panel, I expressed that “You have to launch this campaign!” We talked offline, Monte decided to go ahead and launch the Kickstarter at that time, and Inked was born! He is such a tremendous talent and joy to collaborate with, as well as a valued friend! Four projects later, and he is bringing us “Moore!”
Number of Backers: Justin Gray’s Spicy Pulp #5 ($29,777 and 916 backers at 297% of goal) is another book I was a fan of Justin back from his DC’s Jonah Hex days.
New Creators: Two creators come to mind, Zackary Marois with Voyage the Call #1 and Edgar Pasten AmeriKaiju #1-3. The exciting thing about both of these Kickstarters is that they were referrals. That being said, both had already started and were not trending well. They required some “triage work,” which takes a much different and dynamic approach, but our formula helped fund both books bringing Zachary and Edgar’s work to life.
- Voyage: The Call #1 ($5588 and 164 backers at 111%)
- AmeriKaiju #1-3 ($3229 and 71 backers at 107%)
Consistency: Plus, I feel the consistency of funds raised and the number of backers leads back to our proven worksheet system.
Team Effort: Last but not least is the Inked Marketing Team success! I know I am biased, but I genuinely feel we have what I consider the Avengers of “comic book marketing!” Our team is best known for creating award-winning Kickstarter campaigns landing Inked several “Projects We Love” from Kickstarter.
- Kevin Guillotte is the Founder and Creative Director of Inked Marketing. He holds a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts, formulating successful campaigns for creators such as Monte Michael Moore, Justin Gray, John McCrea, Frank Forte, and many first-time creators. His passion for fellow creators and artists created NSC LIVE TV, the NSC Road Show, Atomic Comicradery Podcast, and Inked Marketing! Kevin’s experience is showcased below with his incredible team of “Crowdfunding Avengers.”
- Melanie Guillotte is our General Manager. She regularly coordinates with Kevin about campaign content which allows for a smooth flowing pipeline of marketing progression, ensuring your campaign stays on target. She is the fuel that inspired Kevin to move forward with Inked and is now the arm Inked can’t do without.
- Brandon Bishop is our data developer and resident Information Architect. He holds a Master’s in Computer Science and runs PIVOT, one of Inked’s support companies that focuses on NSC and Inked clients’ digital landscape like user experience (UX), blockchain, and what we have coined as “data emulation.”
- Richard Boom is one of our crowdfunding Campaign Specialist. Richard owns the art agency BAD (Boom Art Department), and in 2019, he started publishing various comic books on Mummies with the release of “Sisterhood.” Richard and Kevin dive into the core of your crowdfunding platform, strengthening your project’s most vital elements while weeding out the excess, giving your campaign the extra mile it needs to speak clearly to your audience.
- Luke Gartner-Brereton is one of our true animators/graphic designing wizards. He is the Australian equivalent to Stephen King with more bells and whistles, composing and producing music, writing comics, novels, and graphic novels bending horror/fantasy to his will. Luke owns and operates Vanilla Groove Media (VGM), a boutique house of music and media production company that works with creators across the globe. VGM and Fallout Studios have teamed up to create and deliver high-end AniMOTIONSTM (animations) for the Inked Family of Clients.
- Es Kay hails from the land down under across the Atlantic billabong to the woop-woops of Straya. He’s no bludger when it’s game time; being one of our animators/graphic designers, he works hard for his Pringles and Oreos. His spin on Inked’s short promotional video clips is sure to have all your best cobber’s heads twirling. He spends most nights covered up watching heaps of movies on his lappy in his favorite daks.
- Rusty Gilligan is our ace-in-the-hole and one of our graphic designers/inkers. His epic ledger of experience includes Marvel, DC, Image, and Disney, to name a few. His art has been featured in many licensed properties, including Dr. Who, Vampirella, and Night of the Living Dead. With Rusty on our team, there isn’t much we can’t do.
- Edgar Pasten is one of our writers/graphic designers. After graduating from Otis College of Art and Design, he is a seasoned product toy designer with over a decade of experience worldwide. Thanks to his contributions to Saban’s Power Rangers at BOOM! as a member of the in-house writing team, he’s recently discovered a new love for writing, excited to share his new stories with the successful Kickstarter, AmeriKaiju 1-3, his first comics released!
- Muh Alwi is one of our graphic designers. He is a 23-year-old bachelor from Indonesia who graduated from Polimedia College, where he majored in Graphic Design. He started his design career as a freelancer in 2017. He is now one of our hardest-working graphic designers giving us an “other-side-of-the-world” perspective that provides us with that extra edge for a global marketplace delivery.
- Tim Harris is a true-blue Louisiana, born and raised Cajun, who studied at McNeese State University. He’s our in-house news writer for NSC LIVE TV for a column called The Harris Chronicles. Tim’s experience in sales and comics, along with his positive attitude, could probably be the most popular unwritten tell-all about Comic-Cons with stories from all over the country. When he isn’t writing for the column, he can be found auctioning live comic sales for Epikos Treasure Finders and Comic-Con Services.
- Chuck Pineau is a Canadian-born heartthrob with a knack for making people smile. From the valley of Texas, he freelances his unique writing abilities and has become one of our cherished in-house editors. We couldn’t say no to Chuck after working for companies such as Second Sight, Antarctic Press, and Scout Comics. He’s best known for co-writing Belial, Essence House, and Welcome to the Void.
- Mike Williams was born in California and raised on the Southern Coast of Mississippi. He holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s from Florida’s Full Sail University in creative writing for entertainment and is a Comics Experience Alumni. Mike is one of our newest editors and the latest member of the Inked Team. He’s been featured in titles such as Thirst from Limitless Comics and has published short stories on Reedsy & the Scarlet Leaf Review.
Our big 3 key components are process, placement, and people in order to apply to a powerful and successful Marketing Solution tailored to your needs.
Hickman: What spurred your focus towards Indie projects?
Guillotte: Independent comics is where my passion started with comics as a child, and it continues to have a special place in my heart for them. The community aspect was a big draw. The freedom to create their characters and stories was fascinating and still is.
As I got to meet many indie creators, I began to feel a kinship. Then once Inked started becoming more and more involved in collaboration and marketing of indie projects, I knew I was in the right place.
Hickman: Long term goals for your company?
Guillotte: For our group of companies to become a turn-key source for indie creators of any size. In addition to marketing, a creator can come to us for their crowdfunding, editing, lettering, coloring, “swag,” printing, and distribution needs. We are placing companies in alignment as we speak to handle all of those aspects and are hoping to have them all operational in 2022. Fission Press is one of those companies. PIVOT will handle the data needs. Sidekicks will handle “swag.” Finally, the last piece of the puzzle will be a publishing company with the current working name selected as “84” from the year that I first picked up a comic book. This venture is slotted for 2023 or 2024, depending on the growth rate of the other companies involved.
Hickman: What started you on collecting?
Guillotte: In 1984, while my Dad was in the hospital for surgery, my Mom brought me to the gift shop where I picked up my first comic, DC’s Warlord January issue #77. I still have that very same book today. It sits on my desk as a reminder. Recently I got to interview Ron Randall and Gary Cohn, the creators of Barren Earth, a story within that very issue. Both will be signing a copy soon. I also spoke with Dan Jurgens and Bob Smith about it, and I hope they will appear on our Atomic Comicradery podcast and sign Warlord #77 as well.
- Favorite book – That is a tough one. If I had to pick one indie it would have to be the first one Inked help turn into reality which is Loco Hero #1 by Monte Michael Moore. If I had to pick a mainstream book/s it would be a small pile. Stan Lee signed Amazing Spider-Man 64, Neal Adams signed Batman with Robin issue 237 – First Reaper, Neal Adams signed Batman and Batgirl issue 408, Peter David signed Incredible Hulk #377, Peter David signed Spider-Man 2099 #1, Steven Butler signed Silver Sable #1, and Warlord #77 (Soon to be signed by Gary Cohn and Ron Randall), Wolverine #2 90s series – First Marvel I bought, and John Romita signed Daredevil #12 – His first Marvel comic.
For Indies it is the first 2 Indies I ever bought (Justice Machine #2 by COMICO and Alien Legion Volume 2 #6 by Epic – Soon to be signed by Chuck Dixon). Chuck was on an episode of Atomic Comicradery. Straight off the rack in 7-11.
- Favorite collectible – The studio is filled from desks to shelves with vintage collectibles. My wife collects as well. Vintage He-Man and Masters of the Universe (MOTU) is what I grew up with, and I have an extensive MOTU collection. Trap Jaw is my favorite character. You can’t have a nuclear themed podcast with having Dr. Manhattan in your studio.
It is all a reflection of my childhood, as most people’s collections are. If I had to pick just one, it would be a McDonald’s trash can bank my Mom got me which sits on my desk alongside a small Galaga game and Tron figure.
Hickman: Have you thought of producing your own works? If so, what’s your focus?
Guillotte: I have produced many of my own works, being a professional artist for many years. My main focus has always been in cranking out work supporting other creators, and large corporations (banks, telecoms, casinos, etc.).
There is a comic that has been in production for some time that will be unveiled in 2022.
Hickman: Where do you see Indie comics going in the future, compared to the major publishers?
Guillotte: There are many seats at the comic table and room for everyone. To me, though, more digital (pdf versions) and “direct to store distribution” are where I see the future of Indie. With that in mind, Geekosity is the first place where I would like to unveil a few things that align with that future.
First is a partnership between Inked Marketing and Overcast Comics. Overcast will handle the “direct to store” portion, and Inked will handle the marketing and creator Kickstarters. Inked and Overcast started talks soon after Kevin first met Overcast owner, Travis Webb, while Inked was taking care of a Kickstarter for him called Starlite. It was a natural fit because the two gelled right away! The other cool part of how all this plays out is that Ron Randall (one of the artist from the first comic Kevin ever picked up) did a variant cover for Starlite. Ron had recently appeared on Atomic Comicradery podcast right before Kevin met Travis.
Next up, I would like to announce the soft launch of Indie Comics Hub (ICH), a community built for indie creators, and the future launch of NVERSE TV (launch 2022), here people will be able to visit comic cons on a virtual level.
Let the team of Fallout Studios and Vanilla Groove Media build you an AniMOTION™ that will bring your characters to life! We can even blend your Kickstarter intro video with an AniMOTION™ to tie it into the overall look and feel.
We felt that animations to catch the attention of comic book customers were essential, so we added Fallout Studios/Vanilla Groove Media to our list of companies. Come let our team build you an AniMOTION™ that will bring your characters to life! We can even blend your Kickstarter intro video with an AniMOTION™ to tie it into the overall look and feel.
Vanilla Groove Media (VGM) was chosen because of the nature of how Kevin and Luke worked together. VGM has produced over 4000 music tracks, and their music has been featured in more than 30 television shows and films. The creations the combined companies produce help set the customer’s crowdfunding campaigns stand out.
One of the cornerstones to Inked Marketing is NSC LIVE TV and the NSC ROADSHOW. As a creator, come be treated like a ROCK STAR as we take you on tour with podcasters worldwide, expanding your audience base with each show!
Got a Kickstarter, Indiegogo, ZOOP, or a project you would like to tell thousands about? Come get on the tour! Are you a podcaster that would like more creators on your show? Come join our roadshow!
- LIVE reads on-air on a variety of podcasts
- Coverage on several large worldwide networks
- A way to connect to audiences.
Hickman: What sleeper books do you think people should really take notice of?
Guillotte: That is a tough one because there is so much great work out there! I would say keep an eye out for the rest of 2021 for the following:
- Stone Harbor Comics Debut (BioPunks and Legend of Althea) – from creator Royce Adkins offered on ZOOP
- AmeriKaiju #4-6 – from creator Edgar Pasten offered on Kickstarter
- Shadow’s Daughter #1-4 – from creator Morgan Quaid offered on Kickstarter
- The Rogue #1 – from creator Darin Lord Munsey offered on Kickstarter
- Blood N’Bullets #2 – from creator Monte Michael Moore offered on Kickstarter
- Outlier #1 – from creator B Lincoln Bransch offered on Kickstarter
- Hopeless, Maine Volume 2 – from Outland offered on Kickstarter
- Starlite #5 – from creator Travis Webb offered on Kickstarter.
Hickman: Personal influences?
Guillotte: First off, my parents supported a kid that wanted a career in Art. In 1984, when I was only 10 years, my Dad started me off with a Radio Shack “Trash” TRS-80, and I fell in love with computers. That is one of those defining moments in my life that led me to where I am today.
I am a traditional artist, but I love creating graphic designs by computer as well.
There was always gaming on my Atari 2600, plus childhood movie influences as well, like the Star Wars Trilogy, Flash Gordon (the signed movie poster hangs over my computer), Conan The Barbarian, Ghostbusters, The Last Starfighter, Gremlins, Tron, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to name a few. Ahhhh, I so miss the 80s.
There are many creator influences, and I know I will leave some out, and I have been blessed to be able to talk with and become friends with many of them. Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, John Romita Sr. and Jr., Allen Bellman, Mike Zeck, Gary Cohn, Ron Randall, Chuck Dixon, Peter David, John Byrne, Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, Chris Claremont, Tony Isabella, Roy Thomas, Mike Ploog, Bob Layton, Jim Shooter, Joe Kubert, Bryan Silverbax, Monte Michael Moore, Justin Gray, Frank Forte, Bart Sears, Rusty Gilligan, and many more!
I was voted most talented at my high school. My high school art influences were Morris Fuselier (who just did a piece we are using in Voodoo Lounge Podcast), and Mickey Stoker. While still in high school I met Artist Steven Butler and writer Peter David at Paper Heroes, my local comic shop, which was also inspiring to teenage me. Steven and I still talk today. Inspirational college Art professors were Heather Ryan Kelley, Bill Iles, Lisa Bell Reinauer, Gerry Wubben, Marty Bee, Gary Porter, and Larry Schuh.
For general art influences, there was Jackson Pollack, Andy Warhol, and Ansel Adams. Media like MTV, Wired magazine, and Ray Gun magazine’s Artist David Carson. He printed an entire article in Zapf Dingbats. Carson is best known for his innovative magazine design and use of experimental typography.
Design writer Steven Heller has said:
He significantly influenced a generation to embrace typography as an expressive medium.
At a conference in Austin, TX, Carson told me a story about designing the Lucent Technologies logo the first time we met, and someone previously referred to it as a “coffee cup stain.” His reply was, “Well, I got 2 Million dollars for that coffee cup stain.”
I put a coffee cup stain on the first resume I sent out to an ad firm. I tore off an edge, tapped the page a little off, scratched through words, made corrections, and drew on it, all from those influences. Well, I got the job, and as a college freshmen majoring in Art, I began a career in the “Business of Art,” aka marketing.
I soaked it up like a sponge. I ate, lived, and breathed that life! And yes, the series Mad Men is pretty dang accurate! I have taken 30 years of big business marketing and poured it into an industry we love, comics! I assembled a team of fellow creators with the same level of passion, added a dash of drive, and Inked Marketing is here to offer solutions to fellow creators. We are the premier ad firm built by creators for creators!
Thanks for your interest in Inked Marketing and for taking the time to get to know more about it!
Kevin was also gracious enough to share with me the news of a new comic company; Stone Harbor Comics that is about to release two new books. We have exclusive AniMOTIONS ™ from Inked Marketing of some pages from the books!
Related: From Lords to Loco Hero – Monte Michael Moore: An Interview