2018 was a record-breaking year for comics on Kickstarter. The premiere crowdfunding platform raised $16 million in pledges over the course of the year according to figures just released. It was a 26% increase from 2017, and represented many POC and LGBTQ creators, traditionally underserved groups in traditional comics publishing.
Comics are one of the most successful categories on Kickstarter – nearly 70% of comics projects were funded. You can see global stats on this page. Only theater and dance projects were funded at a higher rate than comics.
It was also a year for recognition: Taneka Stotts won an Eisner, Joamette Gil was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, and Jeanne Thornton won the Lambda Literary Judith A. Markowitz Award. Kickstarter also reached out internationally, with the launch of Singapore’s first-ever Queer Zine Fest.
You can read more from, the PR below, but it’s clear that creators like Stotts, Gil, unstoppable Spike Trotman and many more are using the platform the way traditional publishers use the DM but in more innovative ways – a steady source of income for adventurous projects that bring new people into the industry as creators AND readers.
Also, Camillla Zhang was a genius hire.
Creators successfully funded 1,457 comics projects in 2018, 14% more than in 2017, which was the category’s previous best year, and nearly triple the amount in 2012. Backers pledged a record $15.3 million to those funded projects.
Kickstarter renewed its commitment to the comics world in 2018 by hiring industry veteran Camilla Zhang, who had previously worked at Marvel and DC. As the dedicated Kickstarter Comics Outreach Lead, Zhang’s mission is to nurture new creators. Zhang is particularly committed to putting a spotlight on creators from marginalized communities.
“Mainstream publishers and media tend to treat diversity like a trend. But at Kickstarter, we know it’s not a buzzword; it’s a set of actions. To break the cycle of oppression and inequity, marginalized creators must reap the rewards, both financially and creatively,” Zhang says.
Kickstarter has become a place where creators from marginalized communities come to create work their own way, build and engage with their communities, and bypass gatekeepers. This work has been widely recognized, with Kickstarter creators winning some of the most prestigious awards in their industry.“What’s amazing about these projects is that they don’t need mass appeal to be successful or make an impact in the creator’s community,” said Zhang. “With comic projects like (Be)Loved and Burn Man, independent creators can make something unconventional and niche with 100 backers or less. That kind of intimate and direct connection between creator and backer is way more meaningful than followers or likes.”
Zhang is also leading Kickstarter’s efforts to foster and further those connections. To help readers discover projects they’ll love by creators they don’t know yet, she’s working on making Kickstarter Comics a content destination, starting with the introduction of genre sections.
Zhang just wrapped up a visit to the Schomburg Center’s Annual Black Comic Book Festival and throughout 2019 she’ll be heading to TCAF, SPX, and BlerdCon, as well as running workshops to help creators get their projects off the ground. For comic creators who want to get a head start, Zhang suggests: “Start building your community before you even think about raising money.”
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.