Iron Circus Comics and its founder Spike Trotman has made a name for itself in recent years for its dozens of crowdfunding campaigns to bring their wide array of comic offerings to readers’ hands. And this June, Iron Circus is expanding further with a unique partnership with the game creating company Indiepocalypse. With Iron Circus Games and a newly launched BackerKit campaign, the new arm of Iron Circus, comic creators and game developers are collaborating to bring a one-of-a-kind comic-reading and game-playing experience to fans.

I recently spoke with Indiepocalypse found Andrew Baillie aka Pizzapranks about the partnership with Indiepocalyse and Iron Circus Comics, what the teams hope to accomplish together creatively, and the experiences readers and game players can expect. I also caught up with video game developers Farbs and exodrifter recently about their contributions to the project.



FreakSugar: Before we get into the partnership with Iron Circus Games, what can you tell us about Indiepocalypse?

Andrew Baillie: Of course! Indiepocalypse is a monthly anthology focusing on the alternative and underground world of indie games. Each issue features games from 10 creators (including one newly commissioned game!) along with a companion zine.

FS: How did this collaboration with Iron Circus Games come about?

AB: I had previously done a collaborative issue with the comic publisher kuš! and was looking to work with another comic publisher. I had wanted to collaborate with another comic publisher and as a longtime fan of Iron Circus, I reached out to them and they said yes!



FS: What was it about this partnership that felt like the right marriage of what both of your companies are striving to do creatively?

AB: Within our mediums we are both focused on highlighting and supporting a wide variety of indie artists. Regularly publishing anthologies is something we both do independently, doing it together just makes sense!

FS: While it sounds like every game is different, what can you tell us about the types of multimedia experiences players can expect?

AB: The experiences are diverse and aim more to be their own thing than to fit comfortably into an existing genre. There are games about picture book-esque exploration, werewolf care, the exploration of a fictional game studio’s catalog, escaping involuntary commitment to an unknown facility, and uncovering the mysteries of a magical organization.



FS: What can you tell us about the BackerKit project itself?

AB: This isn’t a campaign for potential games, the games in this collection are either finished, so this campaign is more about paying the creators for the publishing of a collection much like you would often see in a comics campaign (without the physical release). You also have the option to pick up previous Iron Circus and Indiepocalypse releases to get into our previous releases.

FS: Farbs and exodrifter, what can you tell us about your games for this collaboration?

exodrifter: With Evan Dahm, I’m working on a dark-humor indie horror game about being stuck in a strange facility against your will. You have to navigate an inscrutable medical system and meet a bunch of interesting characters. It’s inspired by an event that happened to me a few years ago, when I was admitted to a psych ward against my will, and by Evan’s desire to work on a game about a Kafkaesque bureaucracy.

Farbs: Taleteller is a story about stories, the people who make stories, and a person who becomes one. Also there are squirrels! Mechanically it’s a 3D exploration narrative game that looks and feels like you’re playing a childrens’ picturebook. It’s also what happens when an artist and a game developer who’ve never met are told “Hi! Guess what? You’re making a game together!”



FS: Following up on that, what creative muscles has this collaboration allowed you to work that you don’t get to us on other projects?

exodrifter: I’ve never worked with someone who primarily works in comics, so it was interesting to talk about how the game should be visually framed, how the dialog for the game should be written, and what the technical requirements for the art are so that it could be used to its fullest extent in the game. It was a lot of fun to figure out!

Farbs: A lot of videogames look kinda the same, so I love working on projects with visuals that are a bit different. Since Jess is a fantastic illustrator we leaned into that and built a world that looks like a papercraft project, complete with beautifully drawn 2D characters with very silly puppetry-like animation. I also love making art with maths, so with a bit of geometry I wrote a page flip transition effect. We use this whenever we switch between cameras, and as the page turns the new page is able to animate. By dollying the camera during a page flip we accidentally made it look like pop-up book, which we didn’t expect at all but is really cool!



FS: Has this opened up a creative type of collaboration you’d like to explore more of in the future?

exodrifter: Yes! I view video game development as an inherently interdisciplinary act; you need so many different things to make a game work from code to art, and this opens the door to so many influences. Having people from a diverse set of backgrounds and skill sets enriches the medium because you can get so many unique and interesting viewpoints on how to make something. We don’t have to fit a mold of what a “true” video game is. This is part of what makes video games so enthralling to me.

Farbs: I have a habit of building very streamlined systemic games, which leaves no room for all the wonky lumps and bumps in the design you see in a narrative piece. Unfortunately those lumps and bumps are usually the most memorable parts! Working with Jess on Taleteller really helped me see that, and showed how prioritising the story and world can help you create a game that’s less uniform and more interesting. I always learn something interesting when I work with someone new, so I’m keen to keep doing that and keep growing as an artist.



FS: Andrew, what would be your final pitch for potential backers of this campaign?

AB: As both a part of a long line of Indiepocalypse releases and the first Iron Circus Games release, this is a great collection if you’re interested in the world of indie games!

The BackerKit campaign for Iron Circus x Indiepocalypse to launch Iron Circus Games has nearly reached its goal as of press time after just three days, with 22 days left in the campaign. Make sure to check out this unique, one-of-a-kind project and get in on this beautiful marriage of all things comic and video games!

From the official press release about the project:

Spike Trotman and her award-winning company Iron Circus Comics have emerged as a first-in-class graphic novel publisher, with numerous industry awards and nearly five million dollars raised over the course of 40 crowdfunding campaigns. Now Iron Circus is expanding again — with another high profile, multimedia campaign and the launch of Iron Circus Games. In partnership with game creators Indiepocalypse, Iron Circus Games is pairing up Iron Circus Comics cartoonists with programmers and game creators to debut their very first collection of collaborative game projects.

Indiepocalypse is a curated anthology of games dedicated to help carve out a stronger space for small press and alternative projects, especially shorter and more experimental work that may struggle to compete with the massive marketing machines more traditional, commercial games deploy. Founded by PIZZAPRANKS, AKA Andrew Baillie, Indiepocalypse has released over 50 bundles to date with games that are weird, artsy, and designed to be accessible to both creators and players.

“Since 2020 I’ve been releasing a monthly alternative indie game anthology called Indiepocalypse,” said Andrew Baillie. “Indiepocalypse features games from 10 developers each month, 9 from open submissions and one that is newly commissioned. There is also a companion zine that is primarily designed for “demoing” the anthologies, featuring pages for each game, post-mortems, and a cover from an artist working outside of games. I started Indiepocalypse with the goal of supporting and highlighting developers making games in the independent, self-published, no-budget space and can’t imagine a better partner for this project than Iron Circus.”

“Making video games is an ambition I’ve harbored for years, even though I was totally clueless as to how to go about it,” said Iron Circus Publisher Spike Trotman. “Anyone who followed me on Twitter or Bluesky can attest to my experiments with Twine, Godot, RPGMaker, my false starts on at least three different projects. I was really groping around in the dark, making slow progress, trying to figure everything out by myself and garnering the expected results for my efforts. I’m ETERNALLY grateful Andrew sent that first email, proposing this team-up! Not just for selfish reasons, access to Andrew’s know-how and Rolodex, but because I knew so many other cartoonists who harbored video game ambitions identical to mine. And, now they get to come true!”

This is the 7th overall BackerKit campaign and 41st crowdfunding campaign for Iron Circus. Founded in 2007, Iron Circus Comics has grown into the premiere publisher of award-winning, critically-acclaimed graphic novels in the American Midwest—a small-mid house pushing out about 10 or 15 books a year, including Eisner nominees and winners, Amazon bestsellers, and the famous Smut Peddler line of erotica.

The campaign will feature multiple tiers for backers. For $30, backers will get all the games from the Iron Circus Games x Indiepocalypse collaboration, including:

  • Clown Angel Dragon, by Emily Koonce and Paloma Dawkins

  • Interactive History of Coumpuvations and Interactive Software, by PIZZAPRANKS and John-Charles Holmes, a curated, retrospective collection for Coumpuvations and Interactive Software, a famous, defunct game company that enjoys a dedicated following of diehard fans to this very day… and never existed. It features a series of short games throughout the company’s fictional history

  • Spellbound: A Magical Mystery, by Robin and Elefluff, a magical organization and puzzle game with a hidden mystery

  • Taleteller, by Jess M. and Farbs, in which a young apprentice must save his cursed, tale-telling teacher in this narrative-driven, exploratory 3D adventure that blurs the lines between picture book and videogame

  • Teething, by Kel McDonald and Ren, where you’re the parent of a young werewolf. Puppy-proof your home before the next full moon, or face the consequences!

  • Voluntary Commitment, by Evan Dahm and exodrifter: You’ve been involuntarily committed to a strange facility against your will, and under dubious circumstances. Meet and befriend other interesting characters as you try to stay under the radar of the wardens, and escape the facility for good!

The kid-friendly selection of included Iron Circus Comics e-books are:

  • Stars Hide Your Fire, by Kel McDonald and Jose Pimienta

  • Last Dance, by Hanna Schroy

  • The Woman in the Woods, and other North American Stories, an anthology

  • The Girl Who Married A Skull, and other African Stories, an anthology

And the adult audience selection of e-books is:

  • The Crossroads at Midnight, by Abby Howard

  • Crossplay, by Niki Smith (erotica)

  • Banned Book Club, by Kim Hyun Sook, Ryan Estrada, and Ko Hyung-Ju

  • The Last Delivery, by Evan Dahm!

  • The Harrowing of Hell, by Evan Dahm

  • Rice Boy, by Evan Dahm

  • Poorcraft, by C. Spike Trotman and Diana Nock

“I’ve had a lot of conversations with people outside of the publishing world who say that they’re interested in doing something different and it turns out to be just a lot of talk,” said Iron Circus Publisher Spike Trotman. “Iron Circus Animation’s success with Tracy Butler and director Fable Siegel for the LACKADAISY animation was largely due to our shared insistence that we do it ourselves, on our own terms. And that’s the same spirit as the Indiepocalypse project. These are not corporate games. We’re not chasing a four quadrant audience. We’re creating weird and beautiful games that we would want to play, and inviting the Iron Circus family to join us on this journey.”

To support the campaign on BackerKit, visit this link:

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