Anytime someone comes into a big sum of money, people will start asking what they’re going to do with it, whether it’s go to Disneyland or start a publishing company.
So when WOMANTHOLOGY, the all-woman anthology started by artist Renae De Liz raised an unprecedented $109,000 on Kickstarter — the biggest comics project ever and the 25th biggest overall –it was inevitable that people would be asking a lot of questions. Especially since, as I learned myself, the contributors would not be paid. Which led Warren Ellis to tweet
Wondering if the Womanthology project, which quadrupled its Kickstarter goal, is paying its contributors now? Anyone know?
Which led to a huge Twitter stream with lots of questions going back and forth about the charitable nature of the project.
However, it seems that De Liz has already answered most of the questions, in this blog post, starting with the fact that the project was always a volunteer-only charity. All proceeds will go to Global Giving, an umbrella charity that gives money to lots of causes.
ALL profits from the book after it’s produced go to Charity. Profits go directly from IDW to GlobalGiving when the times comes. IDW is making no money from helping us.
ALL work is volunteered Even my around the clock efforts. ALL work is given freely, and everyone owns their creations completely. Ladies are free to leave the project any time and no one is obligated. Women on this book are only on to help others, not for financial gain.
De Liz breaks down the costs as follows:
$109,000 Kickstarter Final
$6,000 Kickstarter “errors” such as bad card numbers, faulty pledges
$9,000 Fees (Kickstarter is %5, Amazon takes another %3 – %5)
$40,000 Printing for around 5,5000 Womanthology books (may change)
$20,000 Postage for 2,000 books (overest.of labor, postage is at least $5 a book/ may change)
$3,000 Printing/postage of 1000 Sketchbooks
$2,000 Postage of other rewards
$20,000 Taxes, for me, a self employed person, overestimate, may change
Some commentary on that: IDW is NOT paying to print the book but simply distributing it. Profits from sales will go to charity.
I’m not sure why De Liz is mailing out the book herself when it’s being distributed through IDW, but hopefully answers will be forthcoming (see below). Okay asked and answered in the comments: there are over 2000 Kickstarter backers so this is to mail out their copies (as well as contributors). Kickstarter funds are counted as income by the IRS, but costs like printing and postage would also be counted as business expenses, so that amount could vary quite a bit. De Liz is smart to include the taxman however.
So…there may be quite a bit of money left over. And some people have rightly asked if some of that should go to creators. Again, De Liz has also listed her plans beyond WOMANTHOLOGY and they are pretty ambitious:
IF there ends up being $20,000 left, I’d like to take that opportunity to extend Womanthology’s purpose to help more people. I have been very honest & upfront of my intentions from the very beginning, and you can check out the Kickstarter’s updates for what they are. But essentially, they are Womanthology in slightly different models, all geared to help give a hand up to comics creators who need it.
On the Kickstarter update page, De Liz expands on what she hopes to do, including plans for an imprint:
I wanted to elaborate on one of my ideas if there are excess funds. I mentioned I wanted to work with publishers to get more creator owned books out there, here is my idea for that;
Basically I’ll be working with publishers to create a CHANCE label. For instance if IDW were interested, the label would be “IDWchance” or if DC were interested it’d be “DCchance”. These are books that we and the companies hand pick, I pay for creation & printing, they are printed under that label, and upon seeing the sales of that issue the publisher can either then pick it up from there, or if not then the creative teams at least have an AWESOME book by a big publisher to help further their careers from there! Profits from that one issue would go back into the process to hopefully continue doing this for as long as possible.
This whole idea is centered on getting more creator owned books out there ( or maybe people that want to try their hand at already established characters!), giving creators chances to show the publishers what they’ve got. And of course it would be entirely equal between male & female creators! When you are someone with an idea that wants to create a comic, you are faced with either self publishing, which is incredibly expensive and tough to handle, or have the hope of a publisher picking the title up. However most publishers can’t afford to do that often, so I feel this is a way to bridge that gap! Even just for a few people, it would mean a lot.
Of course it’s not for sure, but I’ve asked around a little with publishers and was met with open minds, so I am optimistic this can work. If we get to $100,000 I think I can do a few of these books. If I can get to $200,000 I can do a LOT of these books for all publishers who want to join in the fun. But I’m happy if I can help fund just one creator’s book to be made! And I’m sure everyone would help me pick who would get that chance? ;) There are a ton of women on Womanthology alone that could use these opportunities!
Obviously an ambitious plan, and one that invites much discussion.
A couple of observations here: I’ve never been superpsyched about volunteer/charity anthologies, and Meredith Gran wrote eloquently yesterday about why paying creators is so essential. However, much of the inspiration behind WOMANTHOLOGY is part of the whole DeviantArt/Tumblr/diy community where the rules are a little different. Contributors like Cat Staggs and CK Russell and many more have been vocal defending the book and De Liz on Twitter. The overall message is that this was always going to be a charity/volunteer project and everyone went in knowing that.
De Liz and company definitely tapped into a zeitgeisty moment with the support for this project. Their plans for the future are still a bit vague, but they definitely have plans — I think questions will continue to be raised about this project, but thus far, information has been readily available.
I’ve emailed De Liz for further comment and I’ll pass it along as soon as I get it.
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.