This Site’s Kickstarter Policy and Some Crowdfunding Thoughts on Paying Artists

Since I’ve been getting more emails recently plugging Kickstarter efforts and requesting me to link to them — some of which have become noticeably more demanding and/or desperate — I thought I’d lay out my policy plainly: I don’t plug Kickstarters/ Indiegogos/ crowdfunding begging UNLESS at least one of the following applies.

A) I’m personally contributing to them, which happens rarely. That’s because most Kickstarter prices are too high ($10 for a comic issue?) and/or I don’t care to tie up funds in something that will most likely be delayed beyond what you’re promising and/or I don’t trust even the most well-meaning creators. Nothing personal, but after learning from Martin Wagner’s Hepcats, I much prefer to buy books after they exist. (Few of you will get that reference, but those who do are nodding vigorously right now.)

B) you’re a friend. I hope you know if this applies to you.

C) you’re doing something really stupid and I want to make fun of you. For example, look! Bluewater discovered crowdfunding! Just what an unethical company needs — more money from other people to play with. And of course they chose Indiegogo, where you can choose to keep the money even if you don’t meet your goal.

They’re doing a four-issue miniseries “in manga format”. (What does that mean? I don’t know. Except that they’re trying to adapt a novel into comics, and other successful attempts by other publishers have been tagged “manga”, so maybe they’re bandwagon-jumping?) In explaining their motivation, we get this information:

Comics cost a lot of money to produce, and we want this to have top-notch talent. Also, Indiegogo is awesome and allows us to go directly to the fans of THE IRON FEY series to make it happen. The campaign funds will go to the comic creators, printers, shipping costs, project management and the army of magic little elves necessary to bring the novels to life and get comics and rewards to your door (or at least your email inbox). Bluewater Productions is producing and publishing the manga comic book series.

Yes, it costs money to make comics (especially if you bother to pay your artists), but … isn’t that what a publisher’s supposed to provide? If other people are funding everything, what, exactly, is Bluewater contributing?

(Update: Wow, it gets better. Thanks to a reader, I found out that this is Bluewater’s second stab at crowdfunding the same project. Their previous Kickstarter failed, getting less than $6000 of a $38,000 goal.)

At least they mentioned the artists up front. There’s another well-meaning Kickstarter for a comic anthology called Anything That Loves that has a great premise (about non-binary sexuality) but isn’t able to pay contributors unless the goal goes beyond simply being met. The Kickstarter target of $10,000 only covers printing costs. (Expensive because they’re using color.)

It’s for a good cause (education), and if artists want to donate their work (particularly since royalties from the publisher are being donated as well), that’s their right, but I thought it was just a bit weird to hope for a windfall in order to be able to pay artists. I do appreciate them being open about it, though, and it looks like they’re on track to meet their goal and more (90% of the way there at the time of this writing). I’m contributing, because the artist list is great and the subject is fascinating.

I’m also going to contribute to Rick Geary’s Elwell Enigma — I just haven’t decided yet if I can afford to buy the level that lets me become a character in the book! (What a great prize!) This true-crime story of an unsolved 1920s murder of a bridge expert should go nicely with Geary’s other murder stories. They’re all well worth reading. This project has already doubled its goal, so you’ll be sure to get the book.

8 Responses to “This Site’s Kickstarter Policy and Some Crowdfunding Thoughts on Paying Artists”

  1. James Schee Says:

    I’m in the same boat as you for pretty much reason #1. I’d probably donate if it was a good friend.(or similiar to recent VM succes, a Firefly/Wonderfalls/Chuck item)

    Yet the entire thing… well doesn’t it remind anyone else of conversaations people had about comics in the late 90s?

    That eventually comics would just be vanity press publishers, paid for by an increasingly smaller audience? Isn’t that wat this is now? Still to those who do it I’m not begrudging you, in fact I wish I honestly wish I had the disposable income available.

  2. Ralf Haring Says:

    So far I haven’t seen any comics kickstarters worth backing, but I haven’t exactly been searching them out either. Has anyone that’s already well-established (a la Amanda Palmer or the Veronica Mars people) used it to fund a comic?

  3. Rob Says:

    Shaenon Garrity’s used it to fund the complete Narbonic collection and various collections of her Skin Horse webcomic. That’s not funding new work, though, which I think is what you’re asking for?

  4. Ralf Haring Says:

    Well, it’s something. There are a handful of examples of people going the give-it-away-for-free route – Ellis, Waid, Rucka – and Vaughan/Martin just launched theirs with a pay-what-you-want model. I just couldn’t think of one that went the kickstarter route. I took a look at some of the ones linked to in some of “Similar Posts” entries and they seemed to have been backed in the high-hundreds range of backers. That seemed kind of low, but I also usually didn’t recognize the creators.

  5. ADD Says:

    Ralf, the “high hundreds” is about the audience these days for the most successful non-Marvel/DC titles, so that sounds about right.

  6. Ralf Haring Says:

    Even the bottom of the Diamond 300 is in the multiple thousands…

  7. SKFK Says:

    Off the top of my head, I recall that Jimmy Palmiotti released several OGN’s by going through Kickstarter. Also, Top Cow and Marc Silverstri used Kickstarter to fund the current reboot of Cyber Force.

  8. Johanna Says:

    Ralf, Paul Jenkins did two, both successful (one with Humberto Ramos), and Jamal Igle did one for his self-published Molly Danger. Two established comic/manga publishers have explored the funding as well — Bluewater, as I mention above, and Digital Manga. Both of those had a lot of skepticism attached from observers.




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