One of the biggest stories for comics in 2013 has been the phenomenal success that a number of creators have had in taking their projects to Kickstarter. Following successes for people like Steven Sanders, Jimmy Broxton, Greg Pak/Jonathan Coulton and many others comes a victory for Lady Sabre & The Pirates of the Ineffable Aether, from Greg Rucka and Rick Burchett.


Initially requesting $27,500 from backers, the project quickly rocketed beyond belief and settled with a total sum of $143, 379 – that’s a staggering 521% more than the original target. It’s an incredible total, and fantastic news. The initial project has now unfolded out into a much grander and wider-ranging product than could have been planned, with everything from portraits to appendixes and maps all now under production.

As Rucka has noted in a series of blog posts, however, this signals the end only for this phase of the project. Next will come the task of making sure everybody gets their orders – especially the people who for some reason requested the Brian Michael Bendis edition.


  1. Kickstarter is basically acting as a different distribution model than Diamond. “Pay up front, we make and ship the comics you order, but only if enough people join in with you” is a really great deal for alternative publications, esp. if you want to put out a Trade or GN.

    While it does cut out the stores in the short run (unless they join in and buy), it also means that the “On demand” nature does not clutter a great deal of long boxes for years to come- BUT with the first wave bought up, how do you keep interest in the title? Reprints? Fancy editions?

    I am looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

  2. Well Rucka has said at some point they’ll do a more regular version of the book through Diamond via either Image or Oni. They see Kickstarter as for the diehards more or less to get the deluxe versions of the packages, especially with all the extra material that everyone (including myself) has contributed to that we’d only get here.

    Basically getting 3 different books for only $30. Fantastic deal as it turns out!

  3. Speaking as a retailer, there is not a single book that has been “kickstarted” yet that went on to sell a meaningful number of copies at retail for me. I’m at try #9 or 10, I think, and 10 and 20% sell-throughs are just death for us.

    I attribute this to two main things:
    1) The marketing attention, the “mindshare”, has already been long spent by the time that the work actually arrives, and it is tricky (though far from impossible) to get a second wave for the ACTUAL BOOK.

    2) Kickstarter is, sort of by definition, the MOST PASSIONATE fans. Take them out of the equation (as they’ve already got the fanciest version), and you’re left with an anemic customer base for a work. Further, KS seems to invert the traditional publishing model where at least a certain percentage of customers are given the opportunity to double- or triple- dip through various incarnations of a work — serialization, collection, upscale collection, super-limited upscale collection — and if you’ve already given them the filet mignon, why would you expect to sell much skirt steak?

    Someone, eventually, will crack the code on how to KS something that leads to long-term, lasting, and meaningful sales in a variety of markets, and I hope Rucka & Burchett are the people who can do so, but as the market stands this instant, KS-ing a book marks it as “super risky” in the retail market.


  4. I think the way to do what Brian is suggesting is to treat a Kickstarted comics project as the seed of an ongoing business. Non-publishing Kickstarters often work like that: someone has an idea for a Bluetooth speaker, Kickstarts it, and that person now runs a Bluetooth speaker company, fulfilling ongoing orders, building on the great relationship with their manufacturers that the Kickstarter orders helped, etc.

    Serialized comics would work the best this way, but original graphic novels could, too; establishing, say, Rucka and Burchett, as a self-publishing entity that can be relied on to deliver great books on a regular basis.

    Oh, and yes, to Brian’s point, the book that eventually comes out in regular retail channels (the non-Kickstarted edition) absolutely has to be marketed. The idea isn’t that Kickstarter generates widespread demand, but that Kickstarter gives you, the creator, the cushion and financial security you need to properly invest in a wide retail launch further down the line.

  5. What I’m puzzled by is how successful these Kickstarter campaigns are maybe social connections, twitter followers, etc…Haven’t they been going on for over a few years now and its never that interesting in the end. Corporate comics and egos stoked by success at the big companies is a mentality and shapes people….saying its creator owned and prepaid doesn’t seem to moving the needle on the quality much. So does that they are free not to have a formulaic take on things like at their day job? The retailers story isn’t surprising. Are there big kickstarter story sucesses that result better comics or a better take-home pay.

    Give independent creators a better forum for exposure, not have them be master fundraisers or be popular enough to have fully sponsored vanity projects. Its like Google making Google Places or Apple ‘s Ping. makes sense on paper and they have marketing power, should work but it doesn’t, even with millions behind it…I don’t see much difference between comics with a logo and without one, even with Kickstarter’s help. Its an odd time, comics have these remarkable venues of support- Comixology, Kickstarter and the multiplying comic cons, but things are still at kind of the same pace and declining.

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