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Last year, Ryan Estrada came up with a cool idea: a pay-what-you-want Kickstarter. Anyone who pledged at least a dollar received the winter 2013 edition of The Whole Story, a bundle of four digital comics, each of which was a complete story. It went over pretty well, blasting right past its initial goal of $2,500 to a total of more than $40,000 — including 750 backers at that $1 or more level. (Estrada, being no fool, did add some enticements to pledge at higher levels.)
Now he’s back with another Kickstarter with an even cooler concept: Broken Telephone, a series of 18 independent yet interconnected comics. Here, let’s let Estrada explain:
Broken Telephone is 18 books illustrated by 18+ artists. You can read any book you want whenever you want, but if you read them in order, something amazing happens. Each character is the hero of their story, and the villain of someone else’s. They never meet, and everyone does what they think is right, but together they do a whole lot of wrong.
To write the comics, Estrada had to learn how to hack through a bank’s firewall, shut down an airport, and more super-secret things he can’t really talk about; if he’s not on the NSA’s watchlist, it’s not for lack of trying.
The comics will be published once a fortnight, so it’s like having a comic-of-the-month club only with twice as many comics. Once again, Estrada is going with the pay-what-you-want model, so you can get the whole collection for as little as a dollar. I talked to him earlier this year about how that works out, and he said that people paid an average of $12.70 for his first The Whole Story bundle and about $19 for the one he was offering in January. However, as in the last Kickstarter, he is adding some incentives (more comics, original art, a chance to become a character in the comic) for folks who pledge more.
There are a couple of good reasons to check out this Kickstarter page. One is to see Estrada deliver almost the entire sales pitch while riding a bicycle. Another, more serious one is that all the money raised goes to the artists, at least half of whom are women. I firmly believe the best way to support women in the comics industry is to pay them to make comics, and this Kickstarter does just that. And virtue doesn’t have to be its own reward — you also get fresh comics delivered to your inbox every two weeks.