Of Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Womanthology, Retrofit and Hairy Steve……
“Some people reading this may remember Hairy Steve, a tooth-and-fur comic about blood, swearing and nazis that I was writing about five years ago with the superb artist Steve Bright illustrating. I wrote about it on my journal and we showed a lot of the development art. Well it kinda fell by the wayside, both me and Steve had to get on with rent-paying work and leave Hairy Steve as a whim, a nice idea we’d one day like to return to. This year, the idea of internet funding occurred. Comic artists asking for contributions to help them finish their comic, in return offering incentives to everyone who contributes, seems to me like a really organic way of producing art (and, more than that, free art). Being someone who puts most of his work online for free (and by god there’s a lot of it on here now), I find this idea intriguing and want to see if it works.
So far it has, in the first half an hour we had a flurry of very generous contributions. All the money earned will go towards printing a limited-run of this comic (only available to contributors), the rest going to pay Steve a wage. I take no profits. In return for contributing, you can get everything from signed comics to original sketches, even a zombie drawing of yourself.”
And at the time of writing this, with $1450 raised of the $2000 total and 90 days to go, it seems highly likely that Hairy Steve will be produced. Which, seeing how much fun most of Jamie Smart’s stuff is, sounds like a damn fine thing to me.
“Retrofit Comics aims to publish 17 32-page floppy-style comics by 17 of the best comic artists in the business. Why 17 artists? Originally it was going to be one year’s worth of comics, but too many amazing artists wanted in. Far be it from me to deny these artists their right to work! I am all too envious of fans of superhero-style comics. Every week they get to go into a comic shop and for a couple of bucks get some new comics to read. Alternative comic fans don’t have that luxury anymore. Graphic novels have taken over the alt-comics industry as a natural progression. It’s worked out well for fans and publishers, but the floppy comic has fallen by the wayside. Drawn and Quarterly, Top Shelf, and Fantagraphics used to publish lots of floppy comics but now, for a variety of reasons, they do not. Retrofit aims to highlight the importance of the floppy comic to retailers, fans, and the industry.”
Currently they’re talking of comic work by James Kochalka, Colleen Frakes, Pat Aulisio, Josh Bayer, Corinne Mucha, Joe Decie, Tom Hart, Liz Baillie, Chuck Forsman, John Martz, L. Nichols, Nathan Schreiber, Noah Van Sciver, Ian Harker, Jason Turner, Sally Madden, and Brendan Leach.
Heidi at The Comics Beat covered Womanthology very well, with a good kick at Marvel and DC in the process, with their seeming determination to ignore a female readership, despite millions of $ worth of sales to be made.
Even my anecdotal evidence at a primary school level shows me that my 5-11 year olds, boys and girls, are more into graphic novels like Smile, Bone, Glister, Oz and the rest than they are into the various superhero graphic novels we have in the library. More thoughts on that when I analyse the ream of paper spewed out in reports from the library software.
But the current vogue for crowd sourcing funds – is it really a good thing? Okay I’ll play devil’s advocate here…. Could it be that a reliance on crowd sourcing will lead to a shrinking of funds, a lack of publishers for new artists, a reliance on crowd sourcing to get all new material off the ground? And what happens when the crowd sourcing vogue goes a little stale, and there are too many projects going on to raise money from the limited readership involved?
There’s a little nagging doubt in my mind about this – the problem is with Womathology already having a publisher attached – IDW. Yet still they use Kickstarter to fund the project? IDW wants the project but wants it paid for by the fans beforehand? Does that seem a little off to anyone else?
Or maybe I should take the opposing view (my head is full of arguments – whatever that says about me)…. and crowd sourcing allows us to see projects that short sighted publishers haven’t the foresight to publish ? (back to Heidi’s piece here about the big comic publishers ignoring a female market they don’t seem to even understand). Is it the next stage of evolution in comic publishing? A way to bring the innovation we see so often on the smaller self published scale to a wider audience?
The one thing I can say definitively about Kickstarter is that it’s innovative, and has captured something of a spirit of doing things independently. For the time being, as long as it keeps providing books I want to read, interesting and innovative things that somehow can’t find publishers I’m going with it as a good thing.
But what about you?