Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
Veteran creator Steve Lightle is busy contributing covers to DC Comics, but also spending much of his time on a new series, Justin Zane. Described as a comic “set in the future but made for the NOW!,” Justin Zane is a sci-fi romp reminscent more of Barbarella than Lightle’s work on The Legion of Super-Heroes.
Centering on a patient who adopts the name Justin Zayne while under the care of psychiatrist Glimmer Starborn, involves a TV host named Catrina Fellina, rock bands called the Idle Reich, and more. Part of an effort by Lightle to control his own destiny and creativity, Justine Zane is in need of support on Patreon.
Creators | In a new profile of Naif Al-Mutawa, the creator of the Islamic superhero comic The 99 addresses the death threats made against him by ISIS and the fatwa issued against the animated adaptation in Saudi Arabia, and reveals he recently met with Kuwaiti police “to answer the charges of being a heretic.” Mutawa also blames pressure from “a handful of conservative bloggers” in the United States for The Hub not following through with plans to air the animated series. He said that after President Obama praised his work in 2010, attacks on him escalated in the United States, where he was painted as a jihadist “intent on radicalizing young kids to make them suicide bombers. And here [in the Gulf] I became an apostate Zionist. My mother told me growing up, be careful who your friends are because you end up inheriting their enemies. And that’s what happened: I don’t know President Obama. I’m very honored he called me out. But the hate became magnified after that.” [Al-Monitor]
SLG Publishing has been a major part of the American comics industry, helping to usher in notable creators like Charles Soule, Jhonen Vasquez and Jim Rugg. But for the past few years the publisher has been struggling.
Founder Dan Vado has been public about the company’s financial status, turning to crowdfunding platforms for help in keeping the business afloat — but with little success. He organized two unsuccessful Kickstarter campaigns in 2012, and returned this year, first with a GoFundMe effort and now with Patreon.
While none of the campaigns have reached the stated goal, Vado remains hopeful. The comics industry has witnessed numerous successful crowdfunding campaigns (even on a publisher level, such as with Fantagraphics), but SLG’s plight underscores that, unfortunately, they don’t all work out that way. But what’s so different about SLG’s situation?
Steve Rolston, known for his work on such titles as Queen & Country, The Escapists and Ghost Projekt, is looking to return to telling his own stories — well, one story in particular, involving a bear, a raccoon and a writer.
They star in a new webcomic Rolston is developing called Trapezius Pepper, which he describes as “noir-ish tale of a washed-up writer pushing his luck in a city of crime.” Its’ the product of years of Rolston’s doodling and thinking while working on other projects. He’s beginning Trapezius Pepper with a series of one-page comics to develop the story and his approach, before jumping into long-form storytelling.
I was chatting with Professor Mole, an online acquaintance who used to run a webcomic review site. He was all, “Yo, bro, what do you think about Patreon, bro?” And I was all, “Bro! I never even heard about it, bro!” And he was all, “BRO!” And I was all, “BRO!”
Retailing | The manager of Dragon’s Lair Comics & Games in Omaha, Nebraska, estimates 50 to 60 percent of their inventory was ruined by smoke and water after a fire broke out Sunday in the building that’s housed the store’s main location since 1976. Employees have been sorting through tens of thousands of comics to determine what can be salvaged while directing customers to the Dragon’s Lair store in the city’s Millard neighborhood. The hope is to use a store room next to the damaged building to begin offering limited services to customers — pull lists and special orders — as the retailer plans for what comes next. “We have every intention of reopening, here or elsewhere,” manager Craig Patterson said. “More than likely it will be elsewhere. And hopefully bigger and better than before.” [World-Herald]
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.
In a relatively brief amount of time, crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have changed the way comics are published. From providing start-up funds for projects that wouldn’t otherwise exist to creating an influx of cash to prop up a publisher that’s hit a rough patch, it allows creators to go directly to potential readers for support. Services like Kickstarter have proved popular, but they’re not the only way it can be done. Enter Patreon.
Launched last year, Patreon doesn’t focus on funding a specific project, but instead allows fans to become patrons of their favorite creators by contributing money on a regular basis. Creators can choose to ask for money to be given on a monthly or, say, per-comic basis.