Home Interviews INTERVIEW: Charlie Stickney talks new WHITE ASH imprint on Kickstarter

INTERVIEW: Charlie Stickney talks new WHITE ASH imprint on Kickstarter

Stickney has some new plans for expansion after raising $500K on the platform over the past 7 years.


Charlie Stickney — a comics writer and Kickstarter campaign manager — made news earlier this month, announcing that his popular, largely-crowdfunded urban fantasy comic, White Ash, would now be publishing under a new White Ash imprint.

This comes roughly seven years after the first White Ash project first hit Kickstarter, going on to raise more than $500K on the platform over a series of campaigns. And in that time — aside from a few years when Stickney worked as an exec with Scout Comics — the book has remained almost entirely crowdfunded. 

Now, the new imprint will allow it to expand in different ways, which Stickney explained in detail in a recent conversation, check out our chat below, along with some new covers from the most recent White Ash campaign, which is live now!

Interview: Charlie Stickney talks new WHITE ASH imprint

ZACK QUAINTANCE: So, I understand you’re making some changes to the way you publish White Ash, specifically doing so under a new White Ash Comics imprint. What went into that decision and how will it change things for you and the comic?

CHARLIE STICKNEY: It’s something I’m really excited about.  The White Ash Comics Publishing Imprint will help with branding consistency, so people will be able to quickly identify books that come from my company (and hopefully associate them with the level of craftsmanship I’ve cultivated). But equally important, they signal a shift from what I’ve done previously, publishing my stories, into a full-fledged publisher that hires creators to play in the White Ash Universe of titles.  And then eventually, assuming things go well, we’ll be opening up to pitches for non-White Ash creator-owed works. With the reach we have in the crowdfunding space and down the line in the direct market, we feel we can help the right creators connect with a larger audience. 
ZACK: I noticed in your announcement, you said you’d return to the direct market when it makes sense. What might that look like?

CHARLIE: I love comic shops.  It pains me that currently I’m only distributing through the crowdfunding space, online and directly with a few shops. But the market is in a period of realignment.  And right now, indie comics, particularly from smaller publishers, are a very tough sell. So the plan is to wait a bit until that volatility has settled and I can make business plans based on having a good understanding of what print runs/ orders might come in from stores. I also want to make sure that I have enough content in the pipeline so that I can consistently put books on shelves. Delays kill goodwill and momentum in the direct market.  So I want to make sure when we’re back, we’re BACK. 

As to how that might look logistically, it all depends on how the market shakes out. There’s one scenario where White Ash Comics becomes an imprint at a larger publisher, or we’ll do our own distribution deals. I’m lucky to have options available to the company. We’ll make the best decision for our titles and creators when the time comes.
White Ash Imprint
Cover by Romina Moranelli
ZACK: This also means you’re bringing in other creators to the world of White Ash. Can you tell me about that?

CHARLIE: Sure. This is another development I’m really excited about. I’m incredibly fortunate to have co-created a world of characters that resonate with fans and that other creators appreciate. The Universe of White Ash is quite large, and there’s an epic story unfolding. But when you have a timeline that stretches for over three thousand years, it gives you lots of space to tell new stories. I’m partnering with a few creators and empowering them to go play in the world. Some of this will be WFH, where creators are brought in and given a space to tell a story in and some of this will be more of a partnership with shared ownership over the new additions they bring to the world. For instance, I’m working with Tango on two Glarien related projects that Tango will be drawing and co-writing. My role in those works is to give Tango a starting point and perhaps an ending point. How she gets there is all up to her. For me, this is a way to expand the Universe and brand, but also to provide paid opportunities for creators to give me their take on everything White Ash.

ZACK: I’m sure you get asked this all the time, but what were some of the decisions and strategies that have allowed you to grow White Ash into what it is today?

CHARLIE: Some of it was timing — right place, right time with the right creative team (Conor Hughes and Fin Cramb are a huge part of the success). When we first launched White Ash on Kickstarter, it was still a bit of the Wild West. No one (aside from a few of us on the platform) was thinking of Kickstarter as a legitimate way for established professionals to publish comics. And I think we were one of the first series that people noticed and said, “Hold on, this is as good as what’s on the shelves in comic shops.” So as Kickstarter became KICKSTARTER, we had the advantage of already being seen as one of the big brands on the platform. Aside from that, I’d been working in film and animation for twenty years. I’d spent a lot of time professionally creating pitches, running budgets, editing trailers — skillsets that really helped me get White Ash off to a good start and then capitalize on that through long term business plans that supported my goal. A goal of creating White Ash as a series that would sustain itself over time.

Cover by Claudia Ianniciello

ZACK: Tell me a bit about your fulfillment logistics…how do you get so many books out to readers?

CHARLIE: One at a time?  Fulfillment for any company can be a time consuming process. That said, the longer it takes, the more sales you’re making. That’s a trade off that most of us would make. To date, I’ve done everything in-house as a family operation. But I’m exploring options for expansion right now now.

Within the month, you’ll be celebrating the 7-year anniversary of White Ash…did you ever think when you were making the first comic it would get this big?

Honestly, yes and no. I thought the comic book White Ash had real potential. I’ve approached everything from the get go as if it was going to be a series that was going to run for years. That said, if you asked me if it would raise over half a million dollars on Kickstarter, have spin-offs and push me to start a publishing company, I would have thought you were insane.  Then again, we work in comics, so we’re likely all a bit crazy.

The most recent White Ash campaign is live on Kickstarter through April 10.