Bellingham comic book publisher branches into board games

By Emily Hamann
The Bellingham Business Journal

If you read comics, some of your favorites may have been published right here in Bellingham.

Space Goat Productions works with major companies like DC Entertainment and Dark Horse Comics to publish comic books, graphic novels and, now, board games.

They’ve published comic book adaptations for major titles including Star Wars, Godzilla, Pacific Rim and Halo.

Now they’re branching out into board games – They’ve made an Evil Dead 2 board game, and a board game adaptation of The Terminator is in the works.

Two years ago in May, Space Goat went from providing services to other publishing companies to publishing itself.

“Really the role of the publisher is to curate the content and get as much of it sold as humanly possible and shipped out the door,” Shon Bury, who started the company, said.

First Space Goat gets an idea for a comic book — either internally or someone comes to them with the idea. Then it’s the publisher’s job to secure the rights for it, find a creative team and get the product made.

Bury started out as a freelance comic writer for companies including DC and Marvel. He did that for about seven years, but got sick of writing superhero stories.

“I think I was tired of them by the time I got paid to write them,” he said.

He’s always been more interested in fantasy and horror.

Now he gets to come up with some of those stories and concepts himself.

He helps create and outline an idea, then finds a creative team to bring it to life.

When he first started his business, he knew he had to have a great name.

“My competitors never had any name or logos that was memorable,” Bury said.

“Very early on I wanted to brand us out.” So he got to work on making a name that no one could forget.

“I literally just had two columns on a piece of paper; one column was animals that I think are funny.The other column was adjectives,” he said. “We were almost Rocket Llama, which would have been fantastic, but we settled on Space Goat.”

About a year ago, Space Goat decided to branch into board games.

“We felt that it was a nice additive thing to add a tabletop division into our growing empire,” Bury said.

They got the rights to make a board game based on the movie Evil Dead 2.

They started a Kickstarter campaign to develop the game.

It raised more than $700,000 — 10 times its goal.

Since, they’ve also started working on games based on The Terminator and the ’80s horror movie The Howling.

For both the Evil Dead 2 game and The Terminator game, they’ve set up a crowdfunding campaign to develop them.

Small board game developers have found their niche on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter.

“No one would have ever produced an Evil Dead game the old-fashioned way,” Bury said.

Evil Dead 2 is a comedy horror parody sequel of the original Evil Dead horror movie.

It has gained a small, but devoted, cult following. No major board game publisher would be interested in tapping into that niche market, Bury said.

“It was too unconventional for traditional board game companies to risk their working capital on,” he said.

On Kickstarter, however, it’s the fans who get to decide which products they want to see.

“Facebook and Twitter have opened us up to a participatory culture, where you can have direct communication and sometimes feedback with the people creating the project you’re passionate about,” Bury said.

That communication now also includes monetary support on crowdfunding sites.

“That’s just kind of where our culture is at right now,” Bury said. “It’s very participatory. It’s very disruptive in terms of how things used to be.”

Space Goat Productions is publishing a board game based on the move Evil Dead 2.
Space Goat Productions is publishing a board game based on the move Evil Dead 2.

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