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Comics A.M. | Amid Korea’s webtoon boom, cartoonists struggle

The Great Catsby, Vol. 2

The Great Catsby, Vol. 2

Digital comics | The Korea Times takes a look at the comics market in that country, where government suppression of comic books in the 1990s (and school-sponsored book burnings even before that) has combined with the current demand for free digital material (in the form of the wildly popular “webtoons”) to create an uncertain environment for cartoonists trying to make a living from their work. “Unlike Japanese manga, which continues to drive a large part of the country’s publishing market and provide a creative influence to movies, music and video games, Korea’s cartoon culture was deprived of its opportunity to thrive,” said Lee Chung-ho, president of the Korea Cartoonist Association. “However, the most difficult process for us will be to find a sustainable business model. Readership has increased dramatically through webtoons, but you have no clear idea on how many of these readers will be willing to pay for content.” [The Korea Times]

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Crowdfunding update: Patreon on the rise, Indiegogo struggles

January's top crowd-funded comics campaign

January’s top crowd-funded comics campaign

After growing to 2 percent the size of the direct market in the last quarter of 2013, the crowdfunding sector of comics stumbled in January, even while the younger Patreon expanded.

Following up on my number-crunching and analysis from last month, I’ve continued tracking the progress of a market within comics that’s only beginning to mature. While there are more than two dozen crowdfunding platforms, Kickstarter and Indiegogo have been the established leaders from the get-go, especially in terms of comics-related campaigns. There is a smattering of comics projects on sites like GoFundMe, but by comparison those could be considered the long tail of this market. A crowdfunding hit has yet to occur on a platform other than Kickstarter or Indiegogo.

That could change with Patreon, however. As our ROBOT 6 contributor Chris Arrant noted last week, Zach Weinersmith of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal was already bringing in $7,500 a month after launching his campaign on Dec. 10. At the time of this writing, that amount is now $7,822.86 each month of comics he produces (minus Patreon’s fees). That;s coming from 2,839 patrons, or supporters. Meredith Gran’s campaign for Octopus Pie, which launched at the beginning of this month, already has more than $750 per month from 235 patrons. Last month, I would’ve included Patreon in the previously mentioned long tail with GoFundMe; however, those two high-profile campaigns are drawing attention to Patreon, so I wanted to see if I could better measure its footprint, and see how it stands up against Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Surprisingly, it turns out that Patreon could eclipse Indiegogo as the No. 2 comics crowdfunding platform.

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IDW turns to Kickstarter for ‘Kill Shakespeare’ board game

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After chronicling the story of Kill Shakespeare in comics, IDW Publishing wants to let you tell your own with friends in an innovative board game — but the company is looking for some help.

IDW announced this morning that it’s using Kickstarter to fund the Kill Shakespeare board game, the flagship title of its new IDW Games division, in an effort to publish the project as intended. According to IDW, the $25,000 goal will go toward improving “the quality and content” of the game with a series of add-on components and expansions.

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Comics A.M. | Creator couples discuss sexism in industry

"Bandette," by Tobin and Coover

“Bandette,” by Tobin and Coover

Creators | Frannie Jackson talks with a handful of prominent creator couples — Mike Allred and Laura Allred, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction, Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin — about sexism within the comics industry. “I’m occasionally invited to participate in panel discussions about ‘women in comics,’” Coover says. “I’m usually emotionally torn by those invitations, because, yeah, I want women in comics to thrive and be seen as thriving, but I’d much rather be part of a discussion about ‘awesome creators in comics’ that’s stacked with awesome women and men.” [Paste]

Retailing | Andrew Wyrich visits several comics shops in the North Jersey area and finds they rely on a friendly atmosphere and incentive programs to keep customers coming back. “People who buy comics tend to have a $40 weekly budget,” said Len Katz, co-owner of The Joker’s Child in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. “We hear of people who love comics, but eventually just hit a wall with expenses. The key for us is to get customers coming back. The reality is we are not a necessary item; we aren’t milk, bread or cheese.” [The Record]

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Kickstarter hacked, suggests you change your password now

kickstarterbadgeThe crowdfunding site Kickstarter, a popular platform for creators to fund their comics or other artistic endeavors, revealed today that their site was hacked earlier this week. They said no credit card information was compromised, but other user data was accessed.

According to the blog post, accessed information included “usernames, email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers and encrypted passwords. Actual passwords were not revealed, however it is possible for a malicious person with enough computing power to guess and crack an encrypted password, particularly a weak or obvious one.” They urged users to change their password immediately.

Kickstarter found out about the breach on Wednesday, when they were contacted by law enforcement. They said they’ve only found evidence of unauthorized activity on two Kickstarter user accounts thus far. They later added that they don’t store full credit card numbers, but for pledges to projects outside of the United States, they store the last four digits and expiration dates for credit cards. Payments for domestic projects go through Amazon rather than through the Kickstarter site.

Comics A.M. | New DreamWorks imprint won’t affect licenses

DreamWorks Animation

DreamWorks Animation

Publishing | DreamWorks Animation’s announcement on Monday that it is launching its own book-publishing unit doesn’t mean the end of the road for its comics licensees, at least not yet: ICv2 talked to representatives from IDW Publishing, which publishes the Rocky & Bullwinkle comics, and Ape Entertainment, which has had a number of DreamWorks licenses, and both say that this won’t affect their comics. [ICv2]

Auctions | A collection of comics that included the first issues of The Amazing Spider-Man and the British satirical comic Viz, as well as long runs of several Marvel series, brought in almost £25,000 (about $41,300 U.S.) at an auction in Newcastle, England. The majority of the comics were from a single collector whose wife decided to put them up for sale after he died. For those who are curious about the details, Duncan Leatherdale of The Northern Echo liveblogged the auction. [BBC News]

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Sequart seeks to fund documentary about women in comics

she makes comics

Sequart, the folks behind Grant Morrison: Talking with Gods and Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a film celebrating female comics creators and fans.

Directed by Marisa Stotter, She Makes Comics “intends to emphasize the valuable contributions women have made since the Golden Age of comics,” combining an oral history told by many of the key figures with commentary from industry observers. Production began late last year — interviews have already been shot with the likes of Karen Berger, Joan Hilty, Chris Claremont and Joyce Farmer — but funding is still needed to cover additional travel and interviews, as well as more than 800 hours of editing.

To help reach its $41,500, the campaign is offering some unique incentives, ranging from original art from Jill Thompson and Colleen Doran (they’ll draw you into a page illustrating the history of women in comics) to a script review to a certificate for a custom corset. The campaign ends March 7.

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Jake Parker takes on Hulk, Spider-Man, other Marvel heroes

HulkParker-banner

A few months back Utah-based freelance designer and comics artist Jake Parker revealed a series of Marvel characters he drew–Captain America, Wolverine and Iron Man among them — for his followers to enjoy. At that time, he asked readers to suggest other characters to add to the series. The past week and this week he revealed Spider-Man and Hulk pieces he completed in response to feedback.

It is particularly interesting to see how Parker uses one dominant color to tie each piece together with the respective characters’  costumes.

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Comics A.M. | This weekend, it’s the Black Comic Book Festival

Black Comic Book Festival

Black Comic Book Festival

Events | The second annual Black Comic Book Festival will take place this weekend at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City. The lineup of guests includes Norwood Steven Harris, Grey Williamson and Tim Fielder. “It is the largest gathering of black comic book fans in the country,” says Schomburg Director Khalil Gibran Muhammad. “There is something for everyone from the aspirational 9-year-old illustrator, to the costumed superheroes, to the lifelong collectors.” [New York Daily News]

Creators | Ed Brubaker discusses the exclusive deal he and Sean Phillips signed with Image Comics, announced last week at Image Expo: ” It’s almost like having your own label or something. Just the fact that we can green-light our own projects and we have approval over format, everything. … I feel like we have such a core audience that seems to follow us from thing to thing, so let’s take advantage of that and really just experiment and go crazy and just be artists.” [IGN]

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Robot Reviews | ‘Dennis P. Eichhorn’s Real Good Stuff’ 1 & 2

Real Good Stuff #1 & 2There’s are a number of reasons why Dennis Eichhorn‘s Real Stuff was regarded as one of the better autobiographical comics of the 1990s. One thing, of course, was that he has lived an interesting and varied life – including a stint in jail – and has come across some unique, and at times bizarre, characters.

The other is that Eichhorn was a gifted raconteur, knowing exactly what beats of his story to hit and when, and the perfect point to deliver the punchline, even if it was retelling a funny thing someone said over drinks. Add to that the fact he collaborated with some of the most talented cartoonists in the industry at the time – Mary Fleener, Julie Doucet, Peter Bagge and Chester Brown, to name just a few – and tailored his stories to fit each artist’s unique strengths. I don’t know how the division of labor works with Eichhorn, whether he gives out detailed thumbnails or just a page of uninterrupted text, but he seems to understand the rhythm of comics exceedingly well.

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Crowd-funded comics nearly 2% the size of direct market

Fantagraphics-on-Kickstarter

Fantagraphics on Kickstarter

After about five years of slowly building momentum, the crowd-funding sector of comics may be nearly 2 percent the size of the direct market. Based on analysis of the past three months of campaigns, funds generated through Kickstarter and Indiegogo would be roughly the equivalent of the sixth- or seventh-largest publisher distributing to specialty shops in North America.

While crowd-funded comics haven’t seen as brisk of an increase as digital comics, it’s a sector of the industry that’s undeniably growing. As more established creators and publishers experiment with running campaigns, they have pulled in their readers, increasing the awareness, and even the legitimacy, of the platforms. I’ve found this area to be under-studied, and I was curious to see just how economically significant crowd-funding is becoming to the comics industry. So I have collected data on every campaign that successfully raised funds through Kickstarter and Indiegogo from October 2013 to December 2013. I’m actually going further back than that, but that data isn’t ready yet; I’m still digging through the numbers, as data collecting, sorting and number-crunching can be challenging due to the different platforms and currencies. But I wanted to make public what I have so far because as we head into 2014, following Fantagraphics’ amazing Kickstarter campaign (as just one example), I believe we’re going to be seeing the industry embrace crowd-funding more and more, and there’s a lot we can still learn about how it works and how it affects comics.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Jane Irwin on Her Successful ‘Clockwork Game’ Kickstarter

clockworkgame-banner

Last year writer/artist Jane Irwin executed a successful Kickstarter for Clockwork Game: The Illustrious Career of a Chess-Playing Automaton, a historical fiction graphic novel. I was curious to learn about her experience in getting the project successfully funded, and she was kind enough to answer my questions in this brief interview.

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Simpson says ‘Nonplayer’ #2 nearly done, teases new webcomic

nonplayerthumbSome 31 months after the release of Nonplayer #1, writer/artist Nate Simpson has revealed that, as of November, the second issue is fully penciled and partially colored. He also refers to plans for an additional project, a webcomic and a subsequent collection he hopes to fund through Kickstarter.

Published through Image Comics, the first issue of Nonplayer thrust readers into the double life of Dana Stevens. The story opens in a lushly rendered fantasy world, the game space of a fictional MMO called Warriors of Jarvath. There, Dana operates as a ruthless assassin, murdering one of the game’s pivotal non-player characters. Once logged out, the young woman returns to work delivering tamales. The series debuted in April 2011 to widespread acclaim, heralded by advance praise from Geof Darrow, Frank Quitely and Jean “Moebius” Giraud, each a key influence on Simpson’s visual sensibility.

“The moment I sat down and read a printout of the book, I was seriously knocked on my ass,” Joe Keatinge (Glory, Hell Yeah) wrote on ROBOT 6 ahead of the issue’s release. “This dude’s comics debut is ridiculous and puts many a veteran cartoonist to shame.”

The single issue earned Simpson the 2011 Eisner Award for Best Newcomer.

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It’s Vikings vs. aliens in cool-looking ‘Spider King’

spider king

I don’t back that many projects on Kickstarter, but The Spider King is a great-looking book, so I’m seriously considering it. I can’t remember which artist acquaintance put me on to the Facebook page of Italian artist Simone D’Armini, but the guy has a very cool style, synthesizing the influence of all kinds of the right folks (I detect hints of Ben Caldwell, Andrew MacLean, WJC and Uli Oesterle; check out his DeviantArt page here). The Spider King is one of that old chestnut, Vikings versus aliens, written by Australian writer Josh Vann, which is why those prices on the Kickstarter page might seem a bit on the high side, as they’re in Australian dollars.

It’s hard to get an idea of a comic from just a few scattered panels on a Kickstarter campaign page, but Vann’s dialog seems as witty as D’Armini’s images are stylish. They’re about halfway there towards their target, with 16 days to go, so take a look and see if you agree that this project deserves to see the light of day.

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Scott Fogg talks ‘Phileas Reid,’ Kickstarter and kicking puppies

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A once-respected scientist became the laughing stock of the scientific community when he published a book claiming aliens are real. But as attested by the title of Scott Fogg and Marc Thomas‘ upcoming graphic novel Phileas Reid Knows We Are Not Alone, he’s about to be proved right in a big way.

Fogg and Thomas — the artist and writer — have turned to Kickstarter to fund Reid’s story, which brings the scientist together with a reporter, her 10-year-old son and a 14-year-old alien to stop a war between Earth and Io. Joining Fogg and Thomas’ own team are Dean Trippe and Vito Delsante, who will respectively color and letter the project.

Currently they’ve made more than $6,600 of the $8,500 they’re looking for to create and publish the graphic novel, with just nine more days to go. I spoke with Fogg about the project, using Kickstarter and why his Super Bunny comic never made it past the first issue.

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