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Layoff Leads Manufacturing Worker to Disneyland

How a working couple from Pennsylvania used job loss to launch their web-based comics and media company.

Not every small town throughout the Rust Belt and Upper Midwest is home to the most famous groundhog in the world, but Punxsutawney, PA shares in the manufacturing job loss struggles that have ravaged all these areas.

Thom Pratt was recently laid off from his position at a local manufacturing company. With limited local opportunities, Pratt and his wife Kambrea faced the very real possibility of having to relocate in order to find work and support their family.

Instead, the couple went a different route and focused their collective energies on what had been a hobby or passion project – webcomics.

The couple had been working on their web-based Shadowbinders comic since 2010, and although that business covered the bills for a little while, it wasn’t a long-term solution.

They even unsuccessfully lobbied the state’s economic development agencies for help with the company, but found Pennsylvania was tentative in backing a new venture in the economically depressed area of Jefferson County.

Undaunted, the Pratts developed a blog to bring more traffic to their site and from there started to produce a podcast discussing the world of Sci-Fi, comics and all things geek via Clown Fish Radio.

While fun and somewhat popular, their passion project still wasn’t paying the bills. The couple’s second show, however, a Disney-themed podcast called Pirates and Princesses touched on every facet of the Magical Kingdom, from travel to Marvel comics to Star Wars.

Since making it on to iTunes, the show is generating ad revenue and sponsorship dollars. So while the Pratt’s aren’t living like Tony Stak, they are supporting their family and looking to expand with the launch of their The Kingdom Insider website, which further broadens their Disney-themed coverage.

They’re also looking to expand Pirates and Princesses to a web-based video series.

And while this dynamic duo has plenty of ideas, their geography is still stagnating growth. The company would like to hire more people if the business continues to grow, but the skill sets they seek haven’t quite made it to coal country.

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