LeSean Thomas’ Cannon Busters
Even though I stopped reading and collecting comics back in 1999, the manga style art work of Battle Chasers was one of my favorites. In the vein of Battle Chasers, fast forward to 2014 and the Kickstarter campaign for Cannon Busters, a proposed animated short/series from animator, artist and illustrator LeSean Thomas. Producing Cannon Busters as a comic book series early in his career, Thomas has since went to work as the Creative Producer/ Supervising Director of Season 1 of Black Dynamite: The Animated Series and Supervising Director on the show’s second season. Other notable projects Thomas has worked on include Legend of Korra for Nickelodeon and also The Boondock animated series for Adult Swim.
I just learned about Cannon Busters a couple of days ago and was super excited by the teaser promoting the campaign. The teaser absolutely has that steam punk-manga feel and I was also thrilled to see an African American man at the helm. Thomas and his team are attempting to raise $120,000 to create the animated series. This is very ambitious and doable but in my opinion, not a good idea to attempt an all-or-nothing fundraiser during the holiday season. Check out the teaser video below and listen to Thomas talk about how he moved from California to South Korea to pursue his dreams.
From the campaign website: The goal is to produce a 8-10 minute pilot episode (1 act) through Kickstarter. We’re looking to you to help us raise, at the very least, the minimum goal of $120,000 (8-10 minutes). If we surpass our minimum goal, our stretch goals will increase the length of the episode by 8-16 minutes, ultimately providing us the funds to create and develop a full 24-minute episode!
How and why did you choose Kickstarter as opposed to Indiegogo as the crowdfunding platform for “Cannon Busters,” and due to the win-all or lose-all financial proposition of Kickstarter, did you find the idea of doing the campaign daunting, or did it inspire you all the more to take the chance?
I think my natural reaction to choose it was because of its popularity as a crowdfunding platform. I think Indiegogo is great as well (a shout out to Mr. James Lopez’ successful 2D animated project “Hullabaloo” on Indiegogo). I personally think Kickstarter has done a very good job branding themselves, thanks to some extremely high-profile projects that achieved their goal in the last several years. More specifically, having seen four, back-to-back 2D animation-based Kickstarter campaigns in the last year achieve their goal — Masaaki Yuasa’s “Kick-Heart,” Studio Trigger’s “Little Witch Academia2,” C.I.A.’s “Under The Dog,” and just days ago, Steambot Studio’s “Urbance,” I was convinced that Kickstarter has created a trend in allowing unique, 2D animated projects to have a voice & potentially get funded.
The win-all or lose-all financial proposition of Kickstarter pretty much fits my personality, [Laughs]. I borrow the notion of “jumping out of a plane without a parachute and figure out how to land on the way down.” I’ve taken more than my share of risks in the last years; some have worked out to my benefit and others haven’t, but that’s life in general. Nothing is guaranteed, and betting on yourself is a worthy investment. I say try to put it all out there. It’s scary, sure, but I believe everything a person wants in life is usually on the other side of fear, and if you’re too scared, if you can’t beat fear, then I say still do it, just do it scared.
“Cannon Busters” seems to be a smooth fusion of the Western, cyberpunk and martial arts genres. What do you consider more appealing about those genres than the superhero genre? I ask because your sensibilities seem to veer away from superheroes. Or do you consider your heroes a more distinctive and appealing take on the superhero genre, without the trappings of capes and skintight costumes?
Yeah, it’s definitely a nod to those genres, as well as ’80s/’90s RPG game console culture; “Final Fantasy,” “Phantasy Star,” “Secret of Mana,” “Lunar Silver Star Story,” “Chrono Trigger,” etc. I don’t think the superhero genre is “not as cool,” per se. It’s kind of like a Marvel/DC faithful not liking anime; I just think it’s a personal preference. Personally, I like stories that begin and end, with new characters, worlds and POVs. You can get that in superhero stories too, but I think you have to be a fan of those characters because it’s going to be about them because they are the franchise, so it’ll be about them forever. I just think my tolerance for never-ending sagas surrounding the same characters for years begins to fade over time, and I like to have options. I love short stories and I get bored pretty easily, so unless I’m a hard-core fanatic of that content where I can watch it over and over and see so many different writers takes on that character’s origin story and such, I tap out pretty quickly, and that’s cool.
I think my sensibilities tend to reflect that in my artwork; I just really adore new ideas and new adventures. I think that’s why I seem to be more lured towards indie comics. I’ll still get out to see the next Batman film, because those are novel: They don’t come along every week and comic companies aren’t spending $200 million every five to seven years just to make one two-hour graphic novel experience like they do feature films, [Laughs].
This would be one of those instances in my fantasy world, where if I had Oprah, Tyler Perry money, I would have easily funded this project. Something tells me that if the kickstarter goal is not reached, it will only delay the project and not terminate it. Thomas seems like a very determined dude. I really hope to see this animated series come to fruition and wish the best for the talented brother in the future. I’m pulling for you LeSean!
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