Two Geeks on a Mission
I don’t think that anyone these days is unfamiliar with Kickstarter and most people have probably even backed a project or two. Every once in a while a project comes along that is so awesome sounding I feel like I have to help the creators promote it as much as I can. Mission: G.E.E.K. is a prime example. The creators, Jessica Mills and Alan Kistler are going to document their journey as they explore various geeky destinations across the country.
I cannot think of two better or more entertaining people to see road trip together. Neither are new to geek culture. Jessica is the creator and star of the webseries Awkward Embraces and Alan has been recognized by DC Entertainment and various news media outlets as a comic historian. Reading their twitter timelines at @geekyjessica and @sizzlerkistler will give anyone an insight as to how fun they are. A road trip ebook made by them will be nothing short of pure entertainment.
Recently I was able to get a hold of them and asked them a few questions:
1) Where/when did you guys get the idea to make this travel book?
JESSICA: I have a ton of friends all over the US. I love long drives and travelling. I was thinking “How cool would it be to drive all over the US visiting my friends and having them show me all their most favorite parts of their home cities.” and then I thought “What if I filmed it? or wrote a book?” I rolled that idea around in my head for about a year before I asked Alan what he thought of the idea and he said he’d always wanted to do a geeky road trip show and that was that!
ALAN: I had plans long ago to do video tape a road trip across America with pals and it fell through. Then last year I was chatting with a couple of dear friends about how fun such a project could be as a real web-series, but our schedules ensured it wouldn’t happen any time soon. So it was just this “wouldn’t it be fun” idea in my head until Jessica asked me what I thought about her idea and I said “YES! Let’s do it together!”
2) With so many geeky destinations in the US, how did you decide on the ones you picked?
JESSICA: Originally we had 21 cities on our list. But the budget was SUPER high. So we cut down the list to include only places where we had a guaranteed place to crash (with a couple of exceptions). That saved us hotel fees on all the cities, and I think makes the whole thing more fun.
ALAN: We were also interested in places of which the general public may not be aware. As geeky as New York’s Natural History Museum is, it’s a landmark and on a good day you can find Neil DeGrasse Tyson in the Planetarium. But a lot of people have never been to the Superman Museum in Metropolis, Illinois. So there’s a joy in showing that place.
3) What are your overall hopes for the outcome of the book?
JESSICA: I want it to be an everyman’s travel guide. When I was growing up, we always went on vacation to visit family, or friends, and only to places we could drive to. We just didn’t have the money to go to Disney or anywhere that required a plane ticket and expensive hotel.
I think a lot of people, especially families, are in that boat. I want to show them the magic of these smaller cities. Maybe things are tight, but within driving distance is a place maybe they never thought of visiting, like Madison or Cleveland, where they could have an awesome time.
ALAN: Agreed. And honestly, look at TV. So many travel shows are about “OH MY GOD, there are so many good looking single people here and the drinks are expensive and the music loud and-” Which is fine but even though I like a good and energetic bar, that’s not the only flavor I’m interested in. So Jess and I are looking forward to showing what this country has to offer for the geeky minded. And I don’t think you need to be a Star Trek fan, robot builder or comic book reader to find many of these places neat.
4) Why Kickstarter?
JESSICA: Road trips are expensive! Ha. It’s one of those things that can’t really be done halfway. With Indiegogo, you get whatever you raise. I’ve used that in the past, for Awkward Embraces, when I thought ‘Whatever I can get, I’ll shoot what I can” But this project really depends on multiple cities and travel. If we only raised $3,000 or $5,000, there’s no way we could get enough to write a full book. With Kickstarter, it’s all or nothing, so here we are!
ALAN: If I thought we could scrounge together enough money from our savings and maybe a bake sale, I would be down with that. But just renting a car for a few days can cost a few hundred bucks and when you’re taking it from one city to another, plus gas, plus tolls, it all adds up SO quickly (Hell, bridges and tunnels in NY cost $5-15). And there’s the fact that to do this means Jessica and I will not be working for several weeks. I’m not going to be able to meet writing deadlines, work on my books or act or anything during the time for this roadtrip. So we won’t be having other funds coming in, this needs to have its own funding and account.
5) If this is successful will you consider a second book?
JESSICA: YES! Most definitely!
ALAN: Of course!
6) If so what types of places might you go next?
JESSICA: Well, we don’t have any Southern states. I’m from Texas, and I’d love to go through finding geeky stuff all over the South. We just don’t know anyone there, so it would have been more expensive to pay for places to stay. But if we get to do another, I’d love to do the South. Or Canada! I’d love to do Canada, too.
ALAN: I still haven’t been to Canada ever and it annoys me. Besides which, there are many places we wanted to visit but decided wouldn’t be feasible during this trip, so it would be great to make a second journey into mystery.
7) What about an international edition?
JESSICA: Are you kidding? I would LOVE to do a European Geek Tour with Alan. Do the backpacking thing, riding trains, finding the geekiest places all over Europe. How fun that would be!
ALAN: I’ve always had great times in Europe and would love to go there again for such a geek-themed trip. I have several friends scattered around the countries and a few pals in London have been demanding I return so they can show me some geek stuff. The Doctor Who Experience alone would be fun to check out.
8) What inspires you as a geek?
JESSICA: Exploring possibility. All the what ifs of life. There are no limits and anything is possible. Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Some of the wildest scenarios show us how great humanity can be.
ALAN: We used to have myth and folk lore. We knew a lot of it wasn’t real or exactly real, but we considered it important and learned lessons from it. Now we have science fiction, fantasy and various sub-genres and they’re equally as important. Some are fun, many are really trying to get across messages of where we think we are, what we’re afraid of, and where we should go from here. Superhero battles are often metaphors about life made literal. That’s a wonderful thing and I’m constantly excited by the human capacity for new ideas and imagination.
Random question for fun:
9) Favorite video game series and why?
JESSICA: Dude, Mario. My first love. It’s super lame, but I don’t care!
ALAN: I’ve become obsessed with Mass Effect on a large scale. Definitely a fan of other series such as BioShock. But I think Mario and Mega Man are my longest loves in that field. It kills me there isn’t a good movie based on either one. If you embrace the video game atmosphere, you’ve got fantastic stuff right there. Possibly Jessica and I will just have to make it ourselves.
Their Kickstarter can be found Mission: G.E.E.K.. Check it out and help support two awesome people make their dream come true!