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My Former Life as a Kickstarter Junkie

Kickstarter sampler

Top to bottom: Ashes (art by Richard Pace); Jamal Igle’s Molly Danger; Neil DeGrasse Tyson, interviewee from Fight for Space; and Great Pacific (art by Martin Morazzo).

When Kickstarter was relatively new and not yet a household name, it took a while before I warmed up to the concept. Once I dipped my toe into the pool, I had a hard time convincing myself to come up for air.

I loved the idea of artists, writer, musicians, inventors, designers, and other makers of stuff bypassing the corporate processes that normally rule their respective fields and obtaining the necessary funding to self-publish, self-release, or otherwise bring their works to life through the magic of crowdfunding, which in most cases works a lot like pre-ordering an item except you’re also adding a generous tip.

At the end of 2012 I drew a line because I realized I’d gone overboard. I have disposable income set aside each month for doing fun things such as comics and movies, but Kickstarter was devouring more than its fair share and compromising my hobbies. With my son preparing to start college this coming fall, the time has come to batten down the hatches, tighten the belts, and find ways to slash our budget, unless some wealthy benefactor wants to start donating enormous sums in care of this humble blog.

Consequently, one of the first extravagances on the chopping block was my Kickstarter patronage. I like philanthropy. I like helping creators create. I like watching success stories in action. But other priorities have come a-callin’. My last pledge was in December 2012 (a Bob Mould tribute concert film); I can’t swear it’ll be my final use of the site, but any future contributions will have to be severely limited, judiciously selected, frugally committed, and wildly recompensed with endless freebies.

Thus I bid farewell-for-now to my active Kickstarter status with a look back at our history together thus far. The following are past campaigns about which I’ve posted here previously, with updates about their subsequent progress:

* Rich Burlew’s phenomenal Order of the Stick reprint drive. A year after the fact, Burlew is still working hard to fulfill the remaining supporter perks that were delayed due to a severe hand injury. I’ve already received everything I was expecting and then some. (The OotS notepad used for a previous MCC entry was made possible by Kickstarter.)

* The Fight for Space documentary, about mankind’s retreat from the stars. Project mastermind Paul Hildebrandt wisely set a distant but realistic delivery date of December 2013; as of January 2013 his team was still conducting interviews with relevant parties in Washington D.C., making the most of their surplus funding.

* Jamal Igle’s Molly Danger graphic novel. Counting down to the release date later this year, Igle has provided backers with frequent updates and exclusive preview materials, including a heads-up that an eleven-page preview that will appear in Action Lab’s Free Comic Book Day 2013 sampler.

* Lea Hernandez’ The Garlicks. When the campaign proved unsuccessful (arguably because the goalpost was set too ambitiously high), Hernandez tried again on another crowdfunding site, Indiegogo, which some creators prefer because even campaigns who fall short of their goal are allowed to keep a portion of the pledges, as opposed to Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing approach. (For the curious, select pages from The Garlicks have been posted online over the past year-plus.)

Most recently I’ve written about the welcome but controversial Veronica Mars revival. (Twice, even!) However, I declined to add the project to my plate for a few different reasons, least of which being that they already met their goal without my assistance, and the prize packages aren’t tempting for the pledge levels required. Also: cost-cutting. At this point settling for a movie ticket is the most cost-effective option. (I realize the current promotional thinking is, “The more money we make, the better we can make the movie!” That’s understandable, but frankly a smaller-scale film will be fine by me, even on a CW-level budget. I trust they’ll overcome their limitations.)

A few other successful projects I’ve enjoyed seeing realized include:

* The Harvey Pekar memorial statue. The three-dimensional tribute to the creator of American Splendor is now on display at the Cleveland Heights – University Heights Public Library. I fully plan to view the statue firsthand when we stop in Cleveland during our 2013 road trip, now in its planning stages.

* Alex DeCampi’s Ashes, a sequel to her previous graphic novel Smoke. A dispute with the original artist necessitated some postponement, but the replacement artists who lined up to make it happen (with names like Bill Sienkiewicz, Colleen Doran, Carla Speed McNeil, R.M. Guera, and Igor Kordey) were more than enough for me to ignore the announced delivery date and wait patiently for the awesomeness to arrive in my mailbox. DeCampi’s updates have been generous with frequency, extras, and opportunities to view the digital version of the book, though I’d much rather read my hard copy in hand.

* Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore’s Leaving Megalopolis graphic novel, from the team that brought us Secret Six, one of the best DC Comics series of the last ten years, until DC ordered it demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass, by which I mean the dispiriting void of the New 52.

* Classy Broad freeform crochet. Not everything I’ve supported is comics. I thought it was an interesting idea, and also she’s a friend of a friend. (I was unaware that her Etsy store is on hiatus, but still.)

* Anomalisa, a forty-minute animated film coming soon from the minds of Community creator Dan Harmon, Community staffer/supporting player Dino Stamatopoulos (Star-Burns!), and mind-bending, Academy Award-winning screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. I have a very hard time envisioning such a team-up producing terrible results, so they’d totally better not.

Alas, despite those success stories, I’ve also experienced my share of Kickstarter disappointments:

* Joe Harris’ Great Pacific, another case of a goal possibly set too high. Just as some American Idol losers went on to winning careers anyway, Harris refused to let the results impede him and launched Great Pacific as an ongoing Image Comics series. So far the series is interesting and fantastically drawn.

* Our Village, a proposed historical tourism comic book about Oak Park, Illinois, to have been written by local man Kevin Bry and illustrated by onetime Marvel Star Wars artist Cynthia Martin. I don’t believe I’ve ever stopped in Oak Park, but I’m not opposed to the idea. Free comics would’ve been a keen incentive.

* Mary Lou Lord’s new album. The obscure singer-songwriter reached her funding goal in October 2011. The announced delivery date was December 2011. In February 2012 we received a copy of the first single. In September 2012 a demo was shared with us. As of March 2013 that’s all we’ve received. I trust there’ll be an interesting story if/when the finished product comes to exist.

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