More than 1,600 fans have pledged more than $75,000 to support the development of a printed book of comics by Stevens student Katie Tiedrich, the under-the-radar Internet celebrity responsible for Awkward Zombie, a gaming humor web comic with a significant online following.
“My comic has gotten much more attention than I thought it would and that is really exciting for me,” said Tiedrich, a self-taught artist from Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y. who first published Awkward Zombie online when she was only 15-years-old.
Tiedrich is a Mechanical Engineering major entering her fourth of five years in Stevens’ Cooperative Education (Co-op) program. She said she was first drawn to art and cartoons as a young child trying to emulate her father’s own humorous sketches. A renaissance woman with an eclectic mix of interests – Nintendo, paleontology and robotics, to name just a few – she started Awkward Zombie “just for fun.”
“My research consists of playing video games, which is a lot of fun,” Tiedrich said. “I’m a born-nitpicker, and basically I just make observations about video games – which never make sense – and point out the things I find funny.”
Tiedrich’s content – which she creates in Macromedia Flash 7 using a Wacom tablet – immediately resonated with the gaming community, who love her Seinfeld-esque observational sense of humor and aptitude for poking fun at their favorite video games. After five years of production she now draws between 100,000 and 120,000 visitors to her site each Monday when she posts each week’s new entry.
Tiedrich said she spends between four and 10 hours per week creating Awkward Zombie, but she was interested in doing even more. This year, she decided to create a full-color compilation book of her first 100 comics – an undertaking that would require resources that she did not have. So, Tiedrich turned to Kickstarter, a crowd-sourcing funding platform that allows backers to pledge money to support the development of a product.
“Kickstarter takes away the middleman between a creator and her audience,” said Tiedrich. “I like it because if you have a good product, it will get funded.”
Initially Tiedrich set a goal to raise about $8,000 to cover the costs of printing the books and mailing them out to readers. But her campaign turned out to be hugely popular. With just a few days left until the close, Tiedrich has pre-sold more than 1,000 copies, and the more than $75,000 in pledges she has raised will allow her to also publish hard-cover editions, create specialized copies with personalized cartoons for her largest donors, and include other special features. She plans to complete the project in the fall with the help of Stevens students and friends who have signed on as software developers, programmers, print consultants and distributors.
Tiedrich is blown away by the success of Awkward Zombie, but at this point she doesn’t see it as a career.
“Awkward Zombie was really created without a future in mind, and it’s hard to think about a time when I’d stop producing it,” Tiedrich said. “But I’m also looking forward to beginning my career as an engineer.”
Along with her cousework and Co-op internships, Tiedrich said her experience with Awkward Zombie is a huge asset as she enters the workforce.
“As essentially the owner of a small business, I’ve learned a lot about marketing, planning, finance, operations, etc.,” she said. “Creating Awkward Zombie has also given me a lot of practice in engineering design and I know for sure that it’s something I enjoy doing.
Learn more about Awkward Zombie at www.awkwardzombie.com and Tiedrich’s Kickstarter campaign at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/802102307/awkward-zombie-volume-one.