We round out the Kickstarter Power Hour with a look at the story of the world’s greatest pirate – who also happens to be a twelve year old girl.
The webcomic series Strong Female Protagonist has a Kickstarter running to take the series to print, and has already crushed the original target funding harder than Godzilla stamping on innocent civilians. From the creative team of Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag, the funding for the project is currently somewhere above the $20000 range, after they asked for $8000.
Let’s spend an hour showcasing some of the excellent-looking comic Kickstarters which are currently underway, eh? Recent statistics suggest that the success rate for comic book Kickstarter campaigns is somewhere around 50%, meaning that this medium is the most successful on the site. Go comic fans! Now let’s push that even higher by supporting some new campaigns.
If you were a reader of Cerebus, Dave Sim’s highly eccentric and yet amazing 300 issue comic, you that one thing Sim was good at was long, long text pages. (Sometimes too long.) It seems that he’s now transferred his voluble nature to the Moment of Cerebus blog, despite his avoidance of the internet, where he goes on (and on) at length about the digital archiving process of Cerebus. I think. It seems that the first attempts at doing this did not go so well, at least as far as I can gather. And he now has a big printing bill to pay off. To help do so he’s launched a Kickstarter for CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE by Dave Sim which will be an Artist’s Edition type portfolio of 10 Cerebus pages with commentary and…stuff. I think this is the clearest explanation of what this is, although there is also a FAQ:
CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE folio will be signed and numbered based on the final number of copies pledged for when the one-month Kickstarter campaign has ended. The “500 available” is a very unlikely upper maximum number. All proceeds will go towards the Restoration and Preservation of the CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY volumes. Additional funds (if any) will go towards the Restoration and Preservation of future volumes, starting with the 1200-page CHURCH & STATE and READS.
There will be a new Kickstarter campaign every quarter for each successive release of a CEREBUS ARCHIVE FOLIO.
Although doing this 10 pages at a time will take 100 years, what is life without the impossible?
The Kickstarter has already made its modest $800 (CND) goal, but I guess there’s a big bill to be paid. And the pages are beautiful. No one ever said they weren’t.
Previous Cerebus Kickstarters were also very complex — what WAS that Audio Cerebus thing anyway?—and this one is too. But, if you like Cerebus you’ll probably have the smarts to figure it out.
ICv2 has a report on what could be one of the first case of prosecuting Kickstarter fraud.
The case involves the Kickstarter by Altius Management which raised $25,000 in 2012 to produce an Asylum playing card game and associated tchotkes including poker chips and so on. Nothing has shipped, and Washington State AG Bob Ferguson, has filed a suit against Altius on behalf of Washington residents.
The suit seeks return of the money and fines up to $2000 per backer. There were 810 backers, so if the full amount were applied to all the backers the total fines would be over $1.6 million.
In addition to Altius, the case was filed against Edward J. Polchlepek III, who described himself as “entertainment industry veteran Ed Nash” in the Kickstarter.
You can read angry reactions by backs in the above link—failed crowdfunders are usually seen as the result of personal failings, and backers usually complain but can’t do much. It will certainly be interesting to see if other legal authorities get involved in other no show rewards.
While writing the previous item, I played around with the Kickstarter stat page, to see how comics are doing—and they are doing very well! While comics crowdfunding projects have the second lowest number of projects—3,944. one tenth that of the top category, film and video with 34,985—they have the fourth highest success rate! Here’s the top four:
Dance — 1,856 projects 70.35% funded
Theater — 5,933 projects 64.37% funded
Music — 28,939 projects 55.24% funded
Comics — 3,944 projects 49.64% funded
Other states: Comics have raised $27.40 million in total dollars, $24.31 million going towards successful projects, $2.06 million to unsuccessful ones.
These stats are about the same as the last time we looked at this, so I think you could say this is a pretty stable pattern by now.
You can play around with all the other stats on the page (Todd? Torsten?) involving money levels and more. For instance here’s a tough one: there are 18 comics projects that made it to the last percentile — 80-99% funded— but still missed out. Close but no vape pen!
This went out last week but I haven’t seen it noted too much in comics circles: Kickstarter has added subcategories to the various main categories for projects. 94 subcategories were added, to aid both creators and backers in finding suitable projects.
There are five subcategories in comics:
You can access the new categories by going here and clicking on comics.
Clicking around, I found 15 anthologies, 19 comic books, 10 events, 19 graphic novels and 10 webcomics. This only reflects the projects tat have been categorized however, as there are dozens of currents comics Kickstarters running, including the successful Study Group one I nabbed the illo from.
For the last several years, writer Amy Chu has been a familiar face at comic conventions around the World – just last year I bumped into her at Thought Bubble! Among other things a contributor to The Beat, Amy is perhaps best known for her self-published anthology comics ‘Girls Night Out’, which have so far been printed into three volumes. Each of these tells six stories or so, loosely themed around an idea, or phrase, and with a starry line-up of artistic collaborators.
And for volume three, ‘Girls Night Out: The Way Love Goes’, she’s successfully headed to Kickstarter! At the time of writing she is well ahead of her target, making this her second successful Kickstarter campaign for the series. A self-publisher, she works with a number of great creators on this latest volume – including Larry Hama, Trish Mulvihill, Janet Lee and Craig Yeung. I couldn’t let this Kickstarter pass without taking the opportunity to ask her about the latest edition of her series – and thankfully she found time after Emerald City Comic-Con to offer some answers! Hurray!
The British comics scene is in one of the healthiest places it’s ever been right now, with new projects coming from all angles, and new creators breaking onto the scene. Among them is Rachael Smith, who came to attention last year after publishing a series of mini-comics including How We Write, and I Am Fire. But for her latest project she’s decided to up the ante and put out a graphic novel, called House Party.
To do so, she’s taken the project to Kickstarter, where she’s already hit her target goal. With the news that she’ll subsequently be publishing the book with Great Beast comics, I spoke to Rachael about the idea for the story, her creative process, life in Leicester, and what people can expect from the story, were they to pledge to the project.
And at one point she also writes a short play.
Are you among the four or five people who haven’t done a Kickstarter yet but are just thinking about it?
C. Spike Trotman has run several Kickstartes herself, and is working on a mini comic (if you call 30 pages a mini comic) with some advice. Four more pages in the link.
Hi, folks. Here’s a five-page preview of a mini I hope to have on sale next week. (People ask me for advice on a weekly basis, anyway; might as well consolidate it all into one handy package.) Stuff I plan to include:
What to ask the printer
How to calculate your goal properly
How to price and sell your books
Good backer bonus ideas
Your Frenemy The Post Office
Along the same lines, Paul Roman Martinez offers 11 Things All Failed Kickstarter Projects Do Wrong
In putting my projects together, I’ve done research into hundreds of campaigns, following them from start to finish, trying to analyze what works and what doesn’t so I can implement those strategies into my own projects. Here are a few of most common mistakes I see people make that hopefully you can avoid. I’ve seen amazing projects fail because they missed a few of the simple things listed here. While no one can guarantee success, I can promise a better chance of reaching your funding goal if you fix these issues in your next project!
If you’re thinking of coing crowdfunding, better bookmark these.
Goblins don’t get the respect they deserve, do they? They’re twisted creatures of malicious intent, born of dark magic and with creepy pointed ears – but nobody ever gives them their due as servants of evil.
Not so writer Lela Gwenn, however! Lela has taken to Kickstarter to help fund a prologue issue for a planned six-issue miniseries called ‘Born Dark’, which looks to make you terrified of goblins once more. Pencilled by Richard Clark and lettered by Frank Cvetkovic, the Kickstarter campaign is edging ever closer to reaching the target.
So in order to find out a bit more about her story, I spoke to Lela about the project. Read on to find out about goblins, magic, alternate worlds and much more.
I’m happy to report that Sequart’s SHE MAKES COMICS documentary has been fully funded and reached a first stretch goal of making a special 15 minute mini-documentary about Jackie Ormes, the first black woman cartoonist.
The film will be directed by Marisa Stotter, and co-produced by Karen Green, and include an oral history of women in comics as fans and creators. (Disclosure: I’m scheduled to be interviewed to it at some point.)
This is a story that needs to be told. I can’t embed it, but Stotter made a little film shown here about going to Meltdown Comics and asking people to name female comics creators. The results may surprise you. Or not. Anyway, I’m excited to see the stories of people who were pioneers in moving comics forward—aside from any gender consideration—being told on film.
Shadowbinders is a webcomic from creators Kambrea and Thomas Pratt. Having previously worked for Disney, the duo decided to take their latest idea to the internet, where it’s spent the last four years building up an impressive fanbase – and a vast, magical world, filled with monsters and floating ships and myths and legends. Focusing on the adventures of a girl called Mia and a charismatic showboat called Crimson Rhen, the series enjoyed a successful Kickstarter campaign for a first volume to come to print.
The second Kickstarter campaign from the team was caught by the Kick-Trolling phenomenon which had affected some Kickstarter campaigns recently. This is when people pledge at the highest level for a project – then pull out just before the final date. Why do they do that? Well… nobody’s really particularly sure of that. But undeterred by Kick-Trolling, Kam and Thom have returned for a new Kickstarter launch this month.
Already fully pledged, and a roaring success, I spoke to the two about their Kickstarter, the experience of Kick-Trolling, and the process of making and maintaining a successful webcomic.
[As Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms have become mainstays of the creative scene, comics creator Jimmy Palmiotti and his Paper Films colleague Justin Gray have been among those to take full advantage of using this new system to fund a series of stand alone graphic novels. Although well established comics creators with projects at every publisher, they’ve found the new platform to be a way to produce new projects on a far more flexible basis.
To date they’ve started five Kickstarter campaigns and today launched the sixth, Denver, with art by Pier Britto, and lettering and design by Bill Tortolini—as well as a soundtrack. As well as explaining the thinking behind the book, Palmiotti explains a little of how he’s used Kickstarter, how it integrates with print, and where he sees it going. It’s an interesting talk from one of the savviest creators in comics.]
THE BEAT: Just to get the record staright, how many Kickstarter books have you done?
PALMIOTTI: Denver is the 6th Kickstarter for us. Its also the most aggressive in a number of ways because we are asking for a bit more money since the production of the book cost so much. The extra cost is in the art, the production of the book itself and adding a soundtrack to the project, something we never did before.
THE BEAT: What is Denver about? What inspired it?
PALMIOTTI: Denver is inspired partly by my love of European comic book artists and the books they have done that I grew up on. Both Justin and I have a real affection for the sci-fi genre and we put together a story about one man, Max Flynn, A boarder patrol enforcer, trying to control something much bigger than himself in a post-disaster city of the future. The science fiction elements are there visually, but the feel of the story is very grounded and the main core is all about love and loss and what someone would do for the person they care the most about in the world.
THE BEAT: I’m sure you’ve heard, as I have, that Kickstarter will die any day now, but it seems to be here to stay instead. How has your crowdfunding strategy evolved as you’ve used it?
PALMIOTTI: I never thought it would die, just evolve, like any good idea. That evolution happened for us since the first Kickstarter as well. When we first started it, we had a ton to learn about what you can and cannot offer and the limitations of things like shipping and printing. The most important thing for us is to keep the goal price realistic and factor in everything down to the smallest details like damaged packages, paper and print quality and shipping charges overseas. The thing you do learn quickly is how time consuming it is and how this process of doing them is not for anyone even remotely lazy.
THE BEAT: Have you changed your approach since you started using crowdfunding? Anything that works or doesn’t work?
PALMIOTTI: What does work is keeping the people that invested in your project happy. Making sure they know you are on the other side of the package handling it from beginning to end and keeping them in the loop along the way with steady updates and such. Customer service is a huge thing with these projects and even after all the books are delivered, we are still talking and handling people from past Kickstarters that have forgotten to download books and so on. The great thing is that they can always communicate to us their problems and we get right on it and make sure they are happy. It’s one of the reason we have so many repeat customers. What doesn’t work is a simple one, the idea of promising things that you cannot deliver or a book that cannot be completed. We pay for the production of the book ahead of time to make sure we have the book ready to go when the Kickstarter is over and don’t keep people waiting for 6 months. The wait tends to alienate people to Kickstarter. We roll any profit we have from the past Kickstarters into the new project and when backed, we can pay the balance to our crew for the time they put into everything. If the Kickstarter fails, I make sure to take care of everyone out of pocket by working harder elsewhere. It’s a responsibility I will never ignore.
THE BEAT: Some Kickstarters use fulfillment companies to help them with rewards. Is this necessary for you or have you considered it?
PALMIOTTI: We have been offered it a couple of times, but I have to be honest, we feel it is our duty to pack each and every package. People know I am personally packing these by my horrible handwriting inside and terrible tape jobs, but I think that’s the fun part of the process I would never give up. We have kept these small enough that they take up the front of my house for a month as a staging area, but there is nothing more satisfying than seeing the names of the people supporting our books and recognizing them from other Kickstarters. I think giving it to a company makes it a bit colder and less grass roots and in the end feels like it’s an amazon type situation. I know when I support Kickstarters I enjoy the personal touches.
THE BEAT: While I’m a little hazy on this, I know you publish some of your Kickstarter projects through Image. How do you balance the two audiences, backers and “newsstand.”
PALMIOTTI: The first two books were published by Image comics. Queen Crab andRetrovirus and I learned that although they came out beautiful, to make money publishing a hardcover like those I still need to sell a few more thousand that I have already, so they haven’t made a dime of profit yet. Over time, but not very soon. With all the ones after we have limited the print run to the orders and other than digitally on Paperfilms.com or Comixology, digital is the only way to get them.
I am in talks with two companies right now that want to publish the Kickstarters in another format and we shall see how that goes, but for now, they are staying with the Kickstarter supporters only. The plan is if they ever do get published elsewhere, we will change the covers, take out and swap some material and so on, to make sure the Kickstarter people have the only version of the book that way. What also makes them stand out is that they are all autographed and we list the backers of the project in our thank you section. I am really happy to say that you hardly ever see our books on EBAY. The people that have them stick with them.
THE BEAT: Any other thoughts on the evolution of crowdfunding and how it affects creators?
PALMIOTTI: I think its great for certain creators who have built up some followers and for people that are new and have an exciting idea to get out there. I think it all comes down to the presentation and look of the project. For some it works well…and for others, it doesn’t. I think it’s a case-by-case thing. I will say if you are doing Kickstarters and asking people for money, you better back some yourself and deliver the best product you can. Word of mouth can work both ways.
SAW—the Sequential Artists Workshop in Gainesville, FL founded by Tom Hart and Leela Corman—has been doing some great work educating cartoonists, publishing mini-comics, giving out micro-grants, and in general being a benefit to the comics community. They’ve been running an IndieGogo campaign for the last month or so, and it’s in its final hours—if you haven’t thrown a few bucks their way, now is the time.
We’ve had a great year at SAW.
Our students in 2012-2013 made hundreds of pages of story and artwork, co-curated more than a dozen art shows, collaborated with dramatists and comedians to create original theater, printed and bound thousands of copies of books, attended festivals; worked for clients; and learned in close proximity from our staff of working artists.
We hosted a half dozen visiting artists and scholars. We gave our four grants to deserving cartoonists. And we’re asking for your help to have an even better year next year.