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:
If you think that artists should work for free because your project will give them great exposure (and anyway, art isn’t really work, because people like to do it) then stay away from Ryan Estrada’s latest Twitter account, For Exposure, which mocks that attitude by posting real requests from the Internet. On the other hand, if you believe in paying people for their work and you need a good laugh, check it out. The tweeted material is presumably from aspiring comics writers, although they might think about paying an editor, as misspellings and grammatical errors are legion.
For good measure, he also presents a dramatic reading (below) of a letter requesting an artist work for free — actually, offering it as if it were a great opportunity.
Creator Ryan Estrada has created a new digital comics site, The Whole Story, that—if it succeeds—could change the whole way digital comics are sold.
The site basically delivers what people have been clamoring for: Downloadable, DRM-free comics at a reasonable price. In fact, until July 23, the starter bundle is pay-what-you-want (with a $1 minimum, which sounds reasonable). The rest of the comics are sold in bundles with various extras thrown in—it’s sort of like Kickstarter, only with instantaneous delivery. Even more Kickstarter-y: On the FAQ page, Estrada promises to make more rewards, such as being drawn into his comics, available via Twitter.
Who’s on board? A host of indy creators, that’s who: The free bundle gets you comics by Estrada and Box Brown as well as Fusion Elementary, illustrated by Nam Dong Yoon and written by Meredith Gran, Jeffrey Brown, C. Spike Trotman, and other luminaries, most of whom have made their names in the webcomics world. At the higher levels, you get more new books by Brown and Yoon, and for $200 you can get download links to share with ten friends.
By cutting out the middleman, Estrada also cuts out a lot of the nonsense involved with digital comics purchases, such as licenses, geographical restrictions, and DRM. The sales mechanism is a bit clumsy at the moment—he e-mails out the higher-priced bundles by hand—but this site might have the right combination of talent and user-friendliness to really be a game changer.
Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Chris Butcher.
Butcher is the manager of The Beguiling in Toronto and founder of The Toronto Comic Arts Festival. He’ll be at the UDON Booth #5037 and The Beguiling Original Art Sales Booth #1629 at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend.
To see what Chris and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Aki Alliance, Ryan Estrada’s kid-friendly webcomic about a girl who sets out to make friends with every girl in her all-girl school, is complete, and he has posted all 200 pages of it online to read for free or download for later. Larry Cruz wrote a short review a few years ago, when it was looking dangerously sporadic, and praised the screwy humor and innovative layouts. So go, read, laugh, and then share it with a deserving kid.