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Speaking of manga, as we just were, and Tezuka and Kickstarter as we were yesterday, here is another Tezuka Kickstarter project that has kind of gone into the “Kickstarter failure” file.

Last June something called Kansai Club Publishing raised more than $52,000 to publish an English language version of Tezuka’s The Crater. This is a short story collection, originally published from 1969-1970, that the Kickstarter page says is “the perfect blend of mystery, suspense, horror, fantasy and comedy. This is the first time that one of Tezuka-sensei’s short story collections will be published in English.”

Well that sounds great, and the money was raised. But then…this project fell into a crater. The usual foreign mailing costs hadn’t been factored in, and a rather glum update showed that this project was just too much for the organizer, Andrew Nevo, to handle:

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Hello Everyone,
As some of you already know, the books are not yet ready to ship. We ran into a number of issues with the first batch that we received from the casebinder and needed to make various adjustments to the cover of the book and layout of a number of pages. The cover image is still the same and nothing was changed with the contents of the book, however, we felt that these adjustments were necessary in order to deliver the high quality book that we promised to all of our backers.
I wish that there was a way for us to provide everyone with additional compensation for the many delays that we have faced thus far in the book’s creation, however, there is little that we can do. We have already spent well over $30k and will spend another $40k plus on packaging, shipping and handling to send the books out to our Kickstarter backers only. All that we can do at this point is to make sure that our books come out perfectly and meet all of your expectations.
I cannot stress enough to everyone that we are making no money on this project. As everyone knows, this book was the first book that we have published and every step that we took to get to this point has been taken without guidance from industry experts. Sure, we started with extensive plans and deadlines for this book that we strongly felt could be met. However, our lack of knowledge and inexperience of the publishing industry has caused heavy delays throughout. Everyone who has worked on this book’s creation did so out of love for classic manga and without compensation. All help that we received came from people who work full-time jobs who took a few hours out of their weeks here and there to help bring this book to fruition.
I will be posting another update this week with the new dates for when the books will be shipped once we receive the updated schedule from our printer. I implore everyone to please stop contacting Tezuka Productions with angry complaints, sending me threatening emails and calling my house/cell phone. Tezuka Productions is just as angry with us as all of you are. I understand that your trust in us has been waning for some time and I simply cannot stress enough how sorry I am for not being able to provide everyone with a copy of the book on time. Please be just a little more patient.
This will likely be out first and last project. I hope that we have not discouraged others from trying their hands at legally printing classic manga themselves. If anyone believes that they can do a better job with future projects (as I’m sure many of you can) please feel free to reach out to me with any questions once this project has finished and I will be happy to help in any way I can. At least others who follow in our steps will not need to make the same mistakes that we made. Thank you again for your continual support, understanding and patience.

As of this date, no one has gotten books, and a 450 comment thread of complaints on the comment page has ensued. I’m not going to read through all of them, but the jist is mostly what I wrote above: the guy was in over his head. Here’s one representative one:

In all fairness this project did look amateur when it was live. I’m sure Osuma Tezuka’s name was the only reason this project got so much attention. This project, Kansai Club and Andrew all gave of signs that this project may be sketchy. I agree that Andrew mishandled pretty much everything on this project but we all took a chance and ignored the signs so now we are out our $ and this project is dead in the water. I wish there was more we could do to help remedy this but we will probably have to accept this as a failure.

Nevo hasn’t been heard from since June, and opinions seem to vary between being a conman and just naive. At any rate, we all know many Kickstarters do not come to fruition….and this seems to be another one. Caveat backer.

11 COMMENTS

  1. I backed this POS and it’s the last Kickstarter I ever back…there are no consequences to failure, no accountability, Kickstarter doesn’t care (they got paid) and far too many of the 25 projects I backed over the past three years underwhelmed…deleted my account and done with crowdfunding.

  2. I’ve backed plenty of KS projects, and in general, I get my money’s worth — granted, I’m a low-risk backer, focusing on downloadables/digital editions of things, with the occasional backing of a print project (i.e., a map of NC BBQ joints, a girl’s photo book/memoir about making a pilgrimage to Japanese temples).

    This one sounded promising and I love Tezuka’s work, so seeing little-known shorts of his was hard to pass up. Unfortunately, while it doesn’t mean I’ll stop funding projects, I’ll definitely be much less likely to back print ones with no digital component. (Thinking back, if this had offered an edition on Comixology or PDF AND a print edition, I would’ve likely just gone with the digital edition or a combo deal if the sample books looked well-made.)

  3. I’m not enthusiastic about first time content creators and publishers using Kickstarter as a way to learn the ropes. I realize this sounds harsh, but I think you should spend your own money, then print your books. Having to spend your own cash forces you to do your own due diligence. Okay, yes, it sounds harsh.

  4. I’ve bought a lot of books on kickstarter, including several from first-time publishers. Although many have arrived later than the publisher predicted, all have arrived eventually.

    I’m sorry that this publisher got in so far over his head, and I’m really sorry that people who paid him money got screwed. But the Kickstarter platform as a whole works, and works well. It provides a way for beginning cartoonists to move to the next step in their careers, and has been essential to the careers of some excellent cartoonists like Jake Richmond and Even Dahm. It’s also providing a way to continue for some significant and well-established cartoonists whose audience has shrunk over the decades, like Dave Sim and Rick Geary.

    If people are worried about a kickstarter failing to deliver, my advice would be to avoid any first-time kickstarter whose project has raised over $10,000. Most people who use kickstarter start out small, which is very useful because it means the inevitable mistakes made the first time are easier to recover from.

  5. This an idea about how backers (such as myself) may save this project. I posted this on the kickstarter page as well.

    “SAVE THE CRATER”
    Attention Backers 
    Lets stop complaining and find a solution to saving this project. 

    Here is an idea, what do you all think.?

    If we backers get organized maybe we can cut a deal with DMP to “Save the Crater”. Have them take the translated approved pages (and the money Andrew received from the project that is left) and have them release it as a mass paperback like their other Tezuka projects (giving original backers a copy as they wouldn’t be paying Andrew).  This would require Andrews cooperation of course and DMP may need to start a minor campaign to add needed funds. 

    If we make a plan and present it to Andrew and DMP (I believe Tezuka’s estate would love for this to be pulled from disaster) then the book (in a different form) could still happen.  

  6. I wish there was some way Kickstarter funds could be put in escrow somehow until they begin fulfillment. I understand the big draw for people to use Kickstarter to fund their projects is to get both the investment capital and the proceeds of your products prior to spending the money to manufacture them and lessen the risk for your business venture, but there has to be something that could be done.

  7. At this point, I have to blame the people behind the kickstarter because there is a TON of information out there about the pitfalls of creating a Kickstarter, as well as pages on how to do it successfully. This is upsetting to me mainly seeing some people getting burned and vowing never to back a Kickstarter again. I agree with the ” back those who deliver” idea but I ask all people thinking this is an easy cash grab, well, it is not and what is at stake is your reputation on each and every project. To me, that is everything. For the Kickstarter spoken about and any that do not deliver, the right thing to do would be to explain yourself, what happened and refund the money to every single person. If you dont have it anymore, then make it your business to schedule payments any time you have money and pay these people back.

    Honest, if you dont take the time to read all about starting one, don’t take the time to visit a post office and get prices for shipping different size and weight packages. and do not spend the time talking to printers and shippers, then really…stay away. This is not for you.

    For first timers , here is are some links to usefull advice.

    http://www.authormedia.com/how-to-use-kickstarter-to-fund-your-next-book-project/

    https://www.mint.com/blog/how-to/tips-on-running-a-successful-kickstarter-campaign-0313/
    http://www.pcworld.com/article/2013400/6-kickstarter-nightmares-and-how-to-prevent-them.html?page=2

  8. Thank you comicsbeat for picking up this story. I really hope other news sites do the same, because while this is frustrating for us backers it’s indicative of a much larger problem with crowdfunding. Project starters need to be accountable for their actions, and until that changes I’m not going to back another project. I don’t think I’m alone here, either.

  9. I thought about backing it, thankfully the last minute changes in international shipping discouraged me.

    Sadly the Kickstarter proposals that have the highest international shipping charges right out of the gate are the safest bets.

  10. I am one of the backers for this project I am dismayed by the lack of updates in the past few months I am hoping I will get this book at some point in my hands but I am running out of faith in this project. I can believe it has been over a year since I backed this project .

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