I don’t know how long this has been around—and I feel stupid for not knowing—but TopatoCo, the great unifying force of the comic book universe, has started a crowdfunding fulfillment house called Make That Thing. An excerpt from their about page:
Make That Thing is a production agency for crowdfunded projects. We help artists and creators design, print, store, and ship this things they make — so you can focus on the art. We know that once your crowdfunding campaign is over, the real work has just begun. And we want to help make sure that your backers get what they pledged for in a reliable, professional, and timely manner.
To do that, we work with artists and creators who have an idea for a crowdfunded project. We help them conceptualize and figure out their project’s specs, as well as offer advice and a friendly ear to help figure out the best way to present the project to the world, including choosing backer tiers and designing stretch goals.
Once the project launches, we help promote it through our network of internet pals, and if the funding goal is met, we then swing into action, ordering the products needed, receiving them at our Massachusetts warehouse, and shipping them to backers all around the world.
Once that’s done, we place the product in our MADE THAT THING online store so anyone who missed the campaign can still buy it after the fact.
I don’t know about you, but far from being an easy money scheme, as I’ve seen Kickstarter grow, many of the most successful projects sound like full-time jobs in ADDITION to making the damn comic, what with all the sketching, mailing, signing, binding, personal dinners, guest appearances, videos, and other imaginative rewards being offered. And likewise, news is beginning to come out about some campaigns’ fulfillment dragging along a bit more than expected. For instance, Rich Burlew’s $1 million Kickstarter for ORDER OF THE STICK has been hampered by a very serious injury to his hand—severed tendons due to broken glass. That’s as legit as it gets, but he noted the one-year anniversary of the Kickstarter the other day:
I wish I had something special and inspirational to say on the occasion of the anniversary. All I can think of is how many unlit boxes are left on that Workometer a year later. My hand has been getting stronger, though, which has helped me with the amount I can draw before having to rest. I guess my new goal is to make sure it's all done so far in advance of the second anniversary that we don't even bother talking about it in those terms.
Burlew has been updating his supporters regularly, but it’s a LOT to get done. There’ve been a few reports of Kickstarter backlash, as some 84% of top Kickstarter projects ship late. but don’t be crowing I told you so just yet….crowdfunding is here to stay, it’s just having growing pains.
And that’s where something like Make That Thing sounds like such a great idea, and TopatoCo—already a fulfillment and marketing house for the most successful webcomics—seems like just the people to do it. The service is currently in closed beta, running a project for Dresden Codak’s Aaron Diaz, but you can follow along on Twitter. Also of course Gary Tyrrell has been on this right along and has analysis here. He calls it a potential Game Changer. I agree.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.