The UK Guardian’s written another piece about the new wave of crowdfunded comic projects using sites like Kickstarter for the bankrolling, with Keanu Reeves’ BRZRKR a prime example. But it’s regrettable they’ve decided to take quotes from one of the most pretentious scribes in the industry, that being Alex deCampi, whose involvement in this scene was mentioned earlier:
One huge Kickstarter success of 2020 is Madi, the graphic novel created by film director Duncan Jones and comic writer Alex de Campi, which raised $360,000. “I was worried that a lot of people who might be interested in the book would miss it if it was primarily available in comic shops,” says de Campi. “Plus the word of mouth from a successful campaign helps raise the book’s profile, especially in this crowded market.”
Jones, who wasn’t sure that his success with film would necessarily translate to the comics world, says he was driven to Kickstarter by “fear, terror, lack of confidence, a desire to have some inkling that there would be interest in me doing a graphic novel when I had never published one before”.
Based on this, surely it wasn’t Jones’ name that got the project as far as it’s gone, as I’d guessed before? Yet they make it sound like De Campi’s deserves all the credit:
“The idea of going to a publisher and telling them ‘I would like to make a book please’ seemed so absurd that when Alex suggested the Kickstarter route, I immediately felt more calm. Thankfully it went well. Really well! Well enough we were able to stride into our publisher’s office like Lord Flashheart,” he says.
Since its success, De Campi has been approached by big publishers who moaned that she didn’t approach them with Madi, but she says that is with $360,000 of hindsight. “And Duncan and I never give away our film rights, which immediately cut out 75% of publishers,” she added.
It’s beginning to sound like this is the umpteenth product made to serve as a springboard for moviemaking. I’m not impressed, and based on the troublemaking deCampi was involved in, that’s why I won’t be buying a book with her name on it. Besides, word of mouth, in case I hadn’t mentioned, only counts for these establishment reps when the politics of the writers in question meet their own, and you can’t expect them to mention Billy Tucci’s, Chuck Dixon’s and Brian Pulido’s, for example. The Guardian even made sure to add social justice propaganda to the mess:
But it’s not about just the nuts and bolts of comic production and selling. Kickstarter has also opened up publishing to voices that are marginalised in mainstream comics. Take Zainab Akhtar’s quarterly ShortBox project: each box contains five original comics from a wide range of independent and diverse creators. It has been phenomenally successful in bringing new voices to a wider market, with the most recent campaign raising £36,600 from a £17,000 target. And Ngozi Ukazu’s Check, Please!, originally a Tumblr webcomic about a gay man navigating college hockey culture, amassed such a fanbase that Ukazu could fund a series of physical books that were eventually picked up by a publisher.
In an age when LGBT and racial ideologues are far from “marginalized”, that sounds awfully rich. Marvel and DC alike brought in only so many supporters of these ideologies (and IDW brought in Brian Visaggio, to name but one), that to say marginalization of ideologues is laughable. As is the following:
Before Kickstarter, Trotman says, “if you wanted to make something that didn’t have anything to do with superheroes, you had already locked yourself out of the most potentially profitable part of the industry, the one that was the most likely to be able to financially sustain you. And marginalized people already have a hell of a time finding a foothold in most, if not all, creative industries, which still, and definitely used to even more so, prioritize the attention of the white, cis, male demographic.”
I miss the part where merit counts.
Besides, crowdfunded comics can focus on creator-owned superhero characters too, so this elicits a yawn, as does the continued victim-culture statement. In any event, superhero fare is failing so badly now, with the Big Two publishing considerably less than before, that it’s no longer guaranteed to be profitable, save for the ideologically-based if they want to push their agendas down everyone’s throats.
Towards the end:
Before anyone thinks crowdfunding comics is a fast route to making a quick buck, De Campi sounds a note of caution. “You’re not making a decent profit off a graphic novel unless you hit $100,000,” she says. “A lot of people raise about $40,000 for their books – with that, you’re just washing your face. You might even be losing money once shipping is included. And you need to talk to your fans a lot. Some creators don’t want to do that.”
Has it ever occurred to this phony that it’s actually better not to blabber so much on social media, because you might make yourself look like a politically-driven clod? Stephen King’s long made that mistake over the past decade. De Campi might not communicate because some people might be curious about her role in the Whisper Network group on Facebook. Personally, I think it’s ludicrous to go by the notion you cannot sell a product by advertising it, as many writers of yesteryear usually did, so are we to assume she’s not up to looking for product advertising avenues? If you can advertise in Previews, I’d say do it, along with looking for magazines, newspapers and online advertisers who can put up a banner ad sponsoring the book in question, and don’t make a fuss about the costs. Why, if the publishers you turn to can do that, then as their client, expect them to fulfill what you hired them for as well.