Why Comics Don’t Need Kickstarter | Sidekickcast

Comic News KickstartMyHeart

Published on February 9th, 2012 | by Stu.Art


Why Comics Don’t Need Kickstarter

I’m going to come right out and say it. This isn’t going to be an objective article on the pros and con of Kickstarter and it’s role as a financial and creative catalyst in the world of comics. I don’t like it. I don’t think it’s needed and actually think it may even be detrimental to indie and small press comics and pisses me off in general.

A large percentage of people reading this won’t know or care who I am. I often work by the pseudonym Stu.Art and I am an artist working in comics, illustration and t-shirt design. I also write, edit and self publish 10thology the Welsh Anthology. My work is a mixture of paid commissions, collaborative and self published projects. Those that need it, I fund myself. I am not a wealthy individual and I cannot afford to lose any amount of money on a project, but I am willing to take that chance because I believe in the worth, value and quality of the book and work I put into it. Quite simply put, I put my money where my mouth is.

First of all, I am going to be honest and say indie and small-press comics should be punk rock. Do it yourself. Show the ‘dinosaurs’ how it can be done, how you don’t need inflated budgets, over the top production values. How you and your mates can get together in your ‘garage’ and bang out your masterpiece with passion and energy. It might be a bit rough around the edges but the core of the intention is there and it rocks with people digging it.

Kickstarter gives creators the chance to generate cash for your project, using a crowd funding method. I have no objection to this process as an option for high cost projects, such as films, TV etc. Kickstarter did not invent this concept. Cost intensive, collaborative productions (however I still have to mention films such as Colin, made by a group of friends with the tools available to them in their spare time) have used this method for decades, offering a return on the investment when the project succeeds. Comics don’t need this.

If you have a good story, worth telling then you work to present that story to the best of your ability. If you’ve chosen comics for that platform, then all you really need to get your story out there is home computer and an internet connection. Web comics are hugely successful and popular and bypass the expensive part of publishing, printing and in fact, based on popularity, usually lead to a print run and interest from publishers such as Penny Arcade or The Loneliest Astronauts. You do not need $10,000+

Kickstarter has created a trend with some comics projects, that the money is being generated to either pay the artist (usually an unknown or unpublished artist) for the project or pay for an established or pro artist to do the cover to help sales of the finished book.

As an artist/illustrator I do not endorse the expectation of artists to work for free and/or for a portfolio piece or a fictional ‘back-end’ payments. Comics are a collaborative entity between writer and artist with the bulk of time consumption being on the artists side. Nobody would ever make the suggestion to a carpenter that they should build a cabinet for no payment, but they can show it as an example of their work in their portfolio, however the internet is full of writers, companies all expecting this and unfortunately, artists will do this and I have been guilty of this in the past.

Getting back to the point, the bulk of the indie projects and associated creators are made up of writer and artist teams that are clearly friends.

Am I being too old school in my approach to producing small-press work? Is my DIY punk rock ethic an out dated approach to making an indie book? The answer is “Fuck you. No I am not.” Assuming the path of success as a creator is still to self publish, gain success and notoriety by building a fan-base and following, by getting your books out there at conventions, using this success to get work from a small publisher before moving on to one of the big publishers (this approach to success in comics is out dated and antiquated, but that’s another article) going straight to Kickstarter is nothing more than ego stroking in my honest opinion. Pay your dues. The lessons learned working within the restrictions (yes restrictions, it takes skill to produce a stand out story in just 5 pages in an anthology collection with other creators) are invaluable to the progression of both writer and artist.

So far I’ve only covered small press/indie creators. There are ‘Pro’s’ who are using Kickstarter to fund creator owned projects.

Somebody [Ed – This was me, Gav, I brought this rant down upon you] said to me to me jokingly today that Pro’s using Kickstarter “create books for the people by the people”. My considered response was ‘Bull shit!”.

There are quite simply 2 core reasons why a Pro would use Kickstarter as far as I can see. Creator owned projects are quite simply put, potentially more lucrative for the creators, especially when it comes to that all important movie deal! Alternatively, it’s a labour of love and despite publishers not leaping on or wanting to take the book, the creators want it to live regardless.

Garth Ennis, the man behind Preacher and many other Vertigo titles is currently using Kickstarter to raise $12000 for ‘ERF’ a Children’s book…How many Ennis fans give a shit about a kids book illustrated by the guy who did Flanimals with Rick Gervais? Exactly! I struggle to believe claims of “We have had some interest from publishers, but decided to self publish to keep control of the story”. Pig shit! None of Ennis’ previous work will help him sell a family friendly kids book and I bet every publisher approached felt exactly the same way.

Pro creators using Kickstarter raises further questions. Crowd funding of projects traditionally has the potential for investors to see a return on their investment. The only possible financial winners of a Kickstarter project will be the creators. You donate your cash for them to get paid and make their book, which then gets a movie deal for $XXXXX. You as an investor see none of that, simply a copy of the book, a hug at a convention and a polite fuck off? Yet without you, the book would not have existed?

Horse shit! Of course it would, as web comic or as a self funded project, because if the creators really wanted to get their story out there, they will.

Enough about the creators using Kickstarter. Let’s look at Kickstarter itself.

Kickstarter is flawed in more ways than one. A recent example of this was Alex De Campi’s project ‘Ashes’, written by De Campi and illustrated by Jimmy Broxton. Many of you will have read on-line how one of the greatest success stories of Kickstarter, raising over $30,000, De Campi and Broxton split over ‘creative differences’.

This has gone on to be, in all honesty, a massively entertaining soap opera of back and forth “he said she said”. Make your own mind up on this, it does however raise a couple of interesting questions, that forced answers. What happens to those who pledged just for Broxton’s art? As far as I can tell, there is now escrow system to hold the money. In her defence, De Campi did openly speak with her investors and offer a refund to those who wanted it based on Broxton’s departure, but it could have easily gone the other way. What process does Kickstarter have in this event to protect you as an investor? After the money has been paid?

I wonder whether this is the first example of this creative spilt on Kickstarter, or is it just the most high profile split?

If you want to generate funds to help with a print run, if you absolutely HAVE to put your work into print, take pre-order payments to help fund the print run. Use Kickstarter for that as a recognized, safe and  trusted (?) vehicle for your customers to use.

The costs of making a comic book are just paper, ink and time, You can do it yourself, and you know what? People, me included will respect you more for it.



Stuart Tipples is currently working hard on a new Kickstarter project to generate £50,000 to sit on his ass and quit the day job to write and draw a graphic novel about all things awesome and pretend he is a full time comics professional.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

I am a Cardiff based artist and graphic designer working by the professional pseudynom of Stu.Art. My work includes comic books , illustration and graphic design, including t-shirt designs. Some of my clients are Selfmade Hero publishing, AAM Markosia and Arcend Clothing. I also have a range of t-shirt designs and framed prints available through Fatboy Tees, exculsively available at Redbubble.

7 Responses to Why Comics Don’t Need Kickstarter

  1. Yeah, I think I am going to have to go and disagree with you there for a number of reasons. My interest here isn’t restricted to comic book funding, but crowd funding in general – so take what you like.

    *Past history*
    All of the projects that I know on a crowd sourcing sites are not first time affairs. All of the people involved have proven that they are skilled and not just ‘having a go’.

    They have all usually done the self-funded thing or have used loads of their own money to get something else out there to show their talents.

    They are now using their fan base – which is what it is, even if it only consists of friends of friends and doesn’t number in the millions – to fund their next project.

    You can’t expect people to keep shelling out their own money time and time again, not even breaking even.

    From my own – non-comic – perspective, the first series of my ‘radio’ sitcom cost me somewhere between £1000 and £1200. I was happy to use that money as it was something I believed in. However, I just can’t justify that kind of investment year after year for each project. And my project was, in my eyes, a success.

    There is a huge difference between ‘self-funded’ projects and ‘crowd-sourced’ projects in terms of professionalism. And while neither of these reach the grand heights of the professionals who are able to throw money at a project because they know they can make a profit through their distribution network.

    Being able to show that you have been able to secure funding, any funding, goes to show that some people think you have a quality project. In the writing world, anybody with a word processor and a internet connection can make a Print on Demand book and get it on Amazon. Doesn’t mean that it will be good. But not anybody can get funding.

    I think crowd-sourced projects occupy a nice little middle-ground between self-published and professional which is beneficial to all of the industry.

    • Stu.Art says:

      I disagree on quality between self funded and crowd funded projects. I have seen great quality and poor quality books in both camps.

      The article is largely aimed at Kickstarter in comics and I recognise it is an established method of funding for larger projects outside this medium.

      One point I didn’t raise was my personal annoyance at being pimped at from every social networking angle by people begging for money to make their project come to life.

      You mention even if the funding only comes from friends and friends of friends. How is this a fan base? This friends being supportive, not the potential market for your project. You might as well borrow the money off your parents and call it crowd funding.

      You raise some interesting points and this article is designed to be a little inflamatory in all honesty, but intersteing so far that all the pro kickstarter comments have come people who have used it.

      Has anyone who used Kickstarter had a negative experience with it?



  2. Fans are fans regardless of their relationship to you. I wouldn’t fund a project I didn’t believe in even if it was from one of my friends – or maybe, I wouldn’t fund it a lot.

    My negative experience is that some people seem to have pulled numbers from thin air without anything to back them up. And as such, there are what I would consider some really really expensive projects out there.

    One thing I do believe is that with corwd-sourcing you have to be very transparent about where the money is being spent. You should do your research before starting the fund raising so that you _know_ that the print run will be £x. Rather than you having taken your smaller 50 issue run and multiplying the figure. Printing just doesn’t work like that.

    And, this is a must for me, the funding must go towards to project or future projects if they are mentioned. They should not just go to the organiser as a wage.

  3. Richard McAuliffe says:

    The thing with comics though is that your small press guys going to a convention are at best going to shift 50 copies. Even if you want to be wildly optimistic and say 100 then you can get 100 copies of a 28 pager for $169 from Ka-Blam.

    Even if you say you want to keep all the money you get back and not use it to pay back this print run or invest in the next, you only need $168. So why are these things always asking for $5,000 for a first issue?

    You say you want it as a deluxe hardback or need a print run of 1,000, or want to attend all the conventions without paying for your own hotel, or couldnt possibly put it out without a Jim Lee pinup you can frankly fuck off. If you cant afford to go big, go small. Work up. Invest in yourself and if you think your product is worth it pump any profits back into its expansion.

    And I’m speaking as someone who paid a few hundred to get my first comic out there a few years back as it was under an indie label but I was expected to cover print costs. I only ever saw about 10% back from this but it was worth it to get my first credit outside of anthologies.

  4. Bryan says:

    THANK YOU! How refreshing to see someone FINALLY talking sense about Kickstarter. As a DIY-er who has been successfully creating, printing, self-publishing, and selling (via my website) my own series of graphic novels for a few years now – all made from money saved up on the side of my day-job and spare time wherever I can find it – I have long resented the lazy, hyper-entitled mindset of the whole Kickstarter program. Bravo, Stuart – your article makes many of the same points that me, and some of my fellow artists, have been discussing for months now.

  5. Jimmy Broxton says:


    As an individual with vested interests in this, just wanted to clear up something. My departure for the Ashes project (now gathering new steam, with hitherto unmentioned creators) was forced, I did not decide to leave (and by doing so betray the trust of all hose who pledged good, hard earned money in good faith), I was fired, without warning, and for no specific reason (despite a binding contract that indisputably states my part ownership of the property). This is a matter of fact, and it cannot be dismissed as a difference of opinion.

    You have my email address, please feel free to contact me to discuss this further if you so wish.


    Jimmy Broxton.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to Top ↑