By Todd Allen

We have a new winner for largest Kickstarter-funded comic… and there’s still 22 days to go on the pledge drive.  The “Order of the Stick Reprint Drive” is about a webcomic not acting like Marvel.  That is to say, a few of the print collections of the Order of the Stick webcomic were out of print and creator Rich Burlew needed to get some cash up to afford the printing bill on some large full color books.  $235K worth of pledges in a week?  Yeah, I think it’s working.

This particular Kickstarter campaign is a little unusual in two ways.  First off, Order of the Stick has been around for over 6 years.  It’s a very well known strip.  I’ve actually checked out one of the print collections from a library.  That’s not unheard of for a webcomic, but it’s not exactly standard operating procedure, either.  This is a well-established strip with a pretty big fanbase to draw upon.

Secondly, Burlew is getting pretty creative with the incentive premiums.  To date, he has 34 different prizes for pledge levels.  Starting with with a kitchen magnet and a PDF of a new story for $10 and going all the way up to $5K getting a walk-on part for your D&D character in the webcomic.  Seriously, PBS could learn something about pledge drives from this guy.  And his high-end incentives are mostly sold out.

If you look in the drive’s comment section, you’ll see Burlew adding funding-level based goals and bonuses (2 more original PDFs are going out) and keeping the funding going after he blew through the initial goals in record speed.  Not everyone is going to have the happy problem of instant fund, but he’s making this an actual campaign and seeing how far it will go.

Very much worth watching to see if this plateaus, and to observe how Burlew handles it.  So far, this is looking like a textbook case study for established properties to follow.


  1. I was really pushing this when I was at Legendary. It’s obviously the future.

    And we’re going to try and pull off something similar with our next Reading With Pictures Kickstarter in March.

  2. I’ve been an Order of the Stick fan for a long, long time and I have almost all the books in print. I donated early to this drive and I’ve been happily watching the number grow.

    For all the creators terrified of piracy or upset about digital works…every OotS comic is on-line for free right now. For years, fans have been collecting them into .cbr and .pdf file compilations and distributing them. And yet, OotS is able to smash fundraising numbers.

    Piracy isn’t the problem. Digital comics aren’t the problem. Bad comics are the problem.

  3. I was at last NYCC panel about Kickstarter and it was said that pledges should be simple to read and not too numerous.

    With that Kickstarter project, not really knowing what Order of the Stick is, I’m still confuse with all the pledges.

    But it seems it works. :)

  4. Also has something to do with all new material and commentary in every single book Chris. :)

    Really stunning though. Especially watching the forum connected to the comic. They’re practically breaking out the champagne by now.

  5. Daria,

    I agree. My point was more the availability of the work in fan-made compilations hasn’t hurt demand for the books themselves.

    I only need Don’t Split the Party to complete my set, but I’m celebrating with the rest on the OotS forum!

  6. Yes, it’s true. Every comic that doesn’t have a kajillion readers and make scads of money is a bad comic. “Friends with Boys” is a bad comic. “Finder” is a bad comic.

    Never liked “Order of the Stick”, but good for them. But please stop spreading the crap idea that if a comic is good, it will sell. I could spend all day listing truly great comics that have modest sales, and that includes almost everything by Lynda Barry.

  7. @traci

    I’m sorry for upsetting you. While there are many great comic creators out there, like Lynda Berry or Dash Shaw or Danielle Corsetto, who are often overlooked, it does not mean they aren’t making good books. I wish monetary compensation was directly proportional to talent, but sadly that will never be the case.

    However, my comment was addressed to anyone who thinks digital comics or piracy is killing comics. I think this Kickstarter drive is a pretty good example piracy concerns/ digital is the new strawman for why Marvel/DC comics aren’t selling all that well. OotS is free on-line and fans are frequently making and distributing their own compilations yet the print books are in higher demand than ever.

    Is OotS as “good” as anything by Barry? No, probably not, but OotS does seem to be widely enjoyed by enthusiasts of its genre – humorous role playing game comics.

    I personally wish everyone on the planet would read and enjoy my favorite, “Girls With Slingshots.” But, sadly, it hasn’t quite found its audience yet. I believe Corsetto will be very successful someday, but just because she’s not there yet doesn’t mean she makes “bad” comics.