Welcome back to The Dynamite Report! This week, we’re taking a break from comics to talk with Dynamite CEO and publisher Nick Barrucci about some of the company’s top-selling collectibles.
It’s no secret that Vampirella and Red Sonja are two of the best-known characters in the Dynamite family. Incidentally, both famous heroines recently celebrated milestone anniversaries. And what better way to commemorate them than by releasing brand new figurines designed by all-star sculptor Steve Kiwus? Vampirella turned the big 5-0 in 2019. And to ring in the occasion, Dynamite asked Kiwus to recreate the Daughter of Drakulon’s most recognizable pose in statue form. Of course, we’re talking about legendary artist José González’s iconic image that graced countless bedroom door posters throughout the 1970s. Kiwus also presided over another Vampirella bust inspired by the work of Stanley Lau, a.k.a. Artgerm.
Dynamite also wanted to pay tribute to one of Red Sonja’s definitive artists, Frank Thorne, for her 45th anniversary. With this, Dynamite released a statue that captures the She-Devil with a Sword exactly as Thorne drew her on the cover of Red Sonja #4 in 1976. And the celebrations didn’t stop there. Dynamite later put out a new set of premium Red Sonja trading cards that feature contributions from a wide range of artistic talent.
Collectibles like these were always bound to make a big splash. But this time, Dynamite decided to make their audience part of the creative process by financing the Vampirella and Red Sonja statues, along with a new Sheena sculpture, through crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and Indigogo. Thanks to their loyal readership, the company exceeded their own expectations, with the González statue alone shattering its original $8,000 goal with over $34,000 in donations.
Comics may be their bread and butter, but Dynamite certainly knows how to treat their fans to a little something extra once in a while. Check out what Barucci had to tell us about these new collectibles below!
Who at Dynamite came up with the idea to start financing statues through crowdfunding?
We’re always talking internally on where to market and promote our projects. So it wasn’t necessarily someone specific that decided this was the outlet to use so much as it was an effective way to reach a fan base for these items that was excited and eager to support them. The crowdfunding platforms have allowed us to develop new products with the help of engaged consumers that we otherwise might not have been able to make. Crowdfunding has really given us the leeway to bring some fun exclusive items to the people that want them most.
Both the Vampirella and Sheena statues exceeded their original goals. What was it like seeing those numbers?
It’s always so humbling to see that our supporters have helped to make these projects successful. We can’t thank each and every fan that contributes to these projects enough for giving us a chance to bring these collectibles to life. Seeing our supporters make these projects possible is incredibly rewarding that all of the hard work the team puts into it, the sculptors, painters, the team at Dynamite, we are overjoyed. We appreciate all the amazing collectors that help make these programs so successful!
What do you think made González and Frank Thorne such great fits for Vampirella and Red Sonja back in the day?
Both José González and Frank Thorne are legends today whose work inspired many other artists, especially when it comes to Vampirella and Red Sonja. These artists’ work helped to define two of the most iconic characters in all of comics. Back in the ’70s, they were groundbreaking with their visions of Vampirella and Red Sonja. With 50 years of history, it’s easy to see why these two strong female characters were the icons then and they also are now. The beautiful art and influence of the creative visions of illustrators like Frank Thorne and Jose Gonzalez added the incredible interest in these enduring characters.
Why did you think it was important to release “variant” versions of some of the statues?
I think it comes down to the thrill of the chase. We’re all collectors too, and we know how exciting it is to be able to get a truly rare item for your collection. The variants are the more limited editions for the fans chasing the rarest collectibles. After the limited editions are gone, they are virtually impossible to find in the wild. There’s nothing quite so satisfying as knowing you have one of a very small number of a release tucked away in your collection!
The bust based on Artgerm’s Vampirella #2 cover is a lot more ominous-looking than the González design. How was it picked to be brought to life in three dimensions?
That really is the beauty of characters like Vampirella. We have this wealth of incredibly talented artists that bring their own vision and sensibilities to the character to deliver a truly unique interpretation to each figure. Stanley “Artgerm” Lau has been a fan favorite of comic readers for a long time. And he applied a very sensual horror approach to his vision for the illustration. Fans loved it, and the imagery was so powerful that it was a natural fit to be represented in 3D. The end result is a breathtaking vision that fans can display and talk about with their fellow collectors.
Apart from providing the inspiration, did Thorne and J. Scott Campbell have any direct input on how the statues based on their work turned out?
We always invite the artists to be a part of the collaborative process in translating their illustrations into 3D. The relationship with these visionaries is essential and we want them to be as involved as they are comfortable being. No one knows the illustration as intimately as the artist. And while they cannot always be involved, when they can they bring incredible insights into the process that makes for the absolute best statue in the end. Even when they can’t, the sculptors are also huge fans of the artists, and really bring it home when they work on the sculpts.
I’ve had a great relationship with Greg and Jean for almost 30 years. And everyone at Dynamite are fans of Greg Hildebrandt. He’s one of the most influential illustrators of all time and his work has helped to build the very foundation of pop culture that we all stand upon. Greg helped to define some of the biggest properties in all of sci-fi and fantasy with their work on the original Star Wars movie poster and the Lord of the Rings calendars. We wanted to do something with Greg to celebrate his incredible contributions to comics and pop culture over the years. And creating an homage to that original Star Wars movie poster was a great way to tie it all together. Greg loved the idea and delivered a beautiful painting that really is a celebration of Red Sonja.
You also released a Red Sonja premium trading card set that features contributions from a vast assortment of artistic talent. How did you go about recruiting these artists? And what exactly did you instruct them to do?
The Red Sonja: She Devil Deluxe Ultra-Premium trading card set is culled from the best of the best Dynamite art. Many of the artists included are long-time contributors to Dynamite comics and graphic novels. Additionally, we commission thousands of original sketch art cards from artists all over the world. The sketch card artists are inspired by the rich 47-plus years of Red Sonja comics, graphic novels, and art books.
Can you tease any new collectibles that might be in store for the future?
Dynamite is working on two more deluxe ultra-premium card sets for 2021 release. There’s a new KISS series following up on our best-selling and sold out first series. And there is also a new Vampirella series. We also have a line of collectible colorized 24kt gold plated JFK half dollars and newly minted material will be in warehouse stock in early 2021 featuring The Boys, Vampirella and Red Sonja.
The statues and trading card set are all currently available to order from Dynamite’s website. You can also view more images in the gallery below. Which of these are you most excited to add to your collection? Let us know in the comment section!
Recommended Reading: Vampirella: The Essential Warren Years
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