Shots Fired

Shots Fired, the comics anthology to benefit gun violence prevention charities The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and The Community Justice Reform Coalition, launched on Kickstarter on June 18.

This anthology from Comicker Press was conceived in response to the news that 2017 had the highest rate of gun violence in the United States since the CDC began tracking that data in 1979, meaning that in our country, 96 people a day are shot and killed.

The collection was previously titled Every Day: An Anti-Gun Violence Comics Anthology, which sought $19,395 over a 14-day Kickstarter campaign that was suspended in order to rethink the project.

The book is expected to be around 168 pages, and availability will be limited to the United States. As with the previous campaign, both digital and paperback editions are being offered, but Comicker has added a Kickstarter-exclusive hardcover edition and is already planning its stretch goals. They also offer retailer packages with wholesale prices.

Creators whose work is featured in the collection include Scott Snyder, Kelly Thompson, David Lafuente, Phil Hester, Ariela Kristantina, Jamal Igle, Devin Grayson, Joe Keatinge, Doselle Young, Marguerite Sauvage, Ron Marz, Stuart Moore, Shannon Wheeler, Steven Grant, Roger Langridge, Matt Miner, Ray Fawkes, CW Cooke, Alex de Campi, Carla Speed McNeil, Kelly Williams, Emma Beeby, and others. The book is edited by Brendan Wright.

Shots Fired

Wright says that Shots Fired was originally conceived to address mass shootings in the U.S., but subsequent research revealed that projects with that focus already existed and as horrible as the mass shootings are, the escalating gun violence of daily life was not as often addressed. He points out that the number of people who have died by gunfire in the U.S. since 2015 — the last time the Senate voted on gun control — is well over 140,000, the population of Dayton, OH.

“In the wake of a mass shooting, reports sometimes note that such tragedies are the most visible symptom of the problem though not actually the largest cause of gun deaths,” Wright said. “But until we began to research, I didn’t realize just how large the daily number is. We also got feedback from creators we reached out to, which led to community justice reform becoming part of the mix.”

Wright explained to me that as part of this wider view of the problem, Shots Fired covers domestic violence and suicide, two of the largest circumstances leading to gun deaths, as well as accidental shootings, community violence, and police brutality.

Wright says that they tried to tap creators to take part based on a desired diversity of views on the subject, with some people hearing about the project and asking to take part. He then developed a topic list and a limited approval policy that made sure there was little overlap in what creators addressed in their work.

“It was important, in pitching the project to people, that we got stories that had different senses of scale,” he told me, “and I specifically reached out to a few cartoonists I think are very funny, because I believe satire has a role in advocacy. We didn’t want to only get stories about one type of gun violence but we also didn’t want to dictate to people what they should create.”

Shots Fired

The original 14-day fundraising effort was unusual but Comicker Press co-founder Sean E. Williams says the company saw it as emblematic of the gun violence issue that the anthology addressed. The hope was that the immediacy of the cause, the fundraising strategy reflecting it, and the talent gathered to create the work would all make a two-week campaign easily achievable.

“We were trying to maximize the urgency of the campaign, which frankly reflected the urgency of the issue,” Williams told me. “We thought, the faster we can turn around these books, the faster their benefit can be seen — with hopefully some lives saved in the process.”

Unfortunately, the dynamics of Kickstarter made things more complicated than Comicker had realized, and they had to face the reality that within that framework being able to effectively address the issue might be better served by a different approach.

“What we hadn’t anticipated with the last campaign is how, over the last couple years, the 30-day campaign became the norm on Kickstarter, and backers have come to expect that,” Williams said. “So when we launched with only 14 days remaining, it looked like we hadn’t raised any money at all to someone checking out the campaign for the first time.  So while the issue is still urgent, and we’d love to do the campaign as quickly as possible, we also have to meet expectations, which in this case means a four-week campaign.”

In some ways, the experience of re-scheduling the campaign has, for Williams, magnified the reasons why Shots Fired was conceived of in the first place.

“Honestly, it is an urgent matter,” Williams told me. “Since the last campaign ended, over 6,500 more people have died by gun violence in the U.S.  The numbers are absolutely mind-numbing.”

The campaign ends on July 16 at 10 p.m.