Xeric Foundation Ends Grants to Cartoonists
Well, THAT’s the end of an era. Established by Peter A. Laird with some of that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles money, for 20 years, the Xeric Foundation has awarded twice-yearly grants to aid cartoonists in self-publishing. From their FAQ (no longer available):
“Xeric grants can be used for the physical production and distribution of your new or previously unpublished work: printing, color separation, photocopying, solicitation, shipping, advertising, and securing an ISBN number or domain name.”
They were also seen as attesting to a certain level of quality — a Xeric Grant winner was something to watch for. To date, they’ve given out over $1,250,000 … in lumps of $5,000 or less. However, for the 20th anniversary, the Foundation mission is changing.
The advent of essentially free web publishing has forever altered the way aspiring comic book creators can get their work out into the public eye. With this in mind, I have decided that it makes sense that the Xeric Foundation will no longer provide grants to self-publishing comic book creators, and instead devote all of its available grants funds to charitable organizations.
There will be one more round of self-publishing grants, in May 2012, with applications due by the end of February. I can’t disagree with Laird’s logic here, acknowledging the changing balance between digital and print comics. Since the grants couldn’t be used for website design, computer equipment, promotional activities, or merchandise, they didn’t suit the needs of what many young creators want to get started today, and printing a book is less important to get started than it once was. Plus now, they can write their own grants with Kickstarter.
Update: Tom Spurgeon has a thoughtful response echoing the idea that the Xeric’s time had passed:
This was an overall great thing that he did. Not only were dozens of creators given a splendid opportunity at what was likely a key point in their careers, thousands of readers have richer lives for the art he helped make available.
… While the knee-jerk reaction is to bemoan the loss of a publishing opportunity of any kind, and to look back with kindness on all the material that the program put into paper form, there are reasonable arguments that the program as it exists today had become far less necessary than it used to be.
… As someone who’s read nearly all of the Xeric books on this list, I feel that on balance the quality of submissions and cartoonists involved is heavily stacked towards the early years. … As the program progressed, more grant winners seemed to to secure arrangements with established companies that made it possible to outsource some of the work that would normally fall to a classic comics self-publisher.
… It was probably just as great for the first group of creators as it will be for the last group to open that printer’s box and hold an actual printed comic in one’s hands, a comic made possible by some wonderful benefactor’s money and interest, a comic with their name on it. It’s everything else that’s different now.