NYCC 11 – Be Your Own Publisher: Making Comics with Kickstarter Panel

Kickstarter Panel at New York Comic ConI’ve been a bit fascinated with Kickstarter.  The idea of skipping the publisher and the editors and allowing comic book creators to make their case to the fans as to whether something should be published is very democratic.  It’s now no longer the projections and balance sheet that matter, it’s really up to the fans as to whether a project sees the light of day.  The website is a platform for creative funding.  With that being said, I looked forward to the Kickstarter panel at this year’s New York Comic Con and so were others judging by the packed room.

The panel was moderated by Cindy Au, the Community Director at Kickstarter, with special guests Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl), Jimmy Palmiotti (Jonah Hex, Deadpool, Painkiller Jane, Queen Crab), Renae De Liz (The Last Unicorn, Womanthology), and Joey Esposito (Footprints, comics editor at IGN).  There was a second person from Womanthology, but I didn’t catch her name.

Kickstarter is pretty impressive in the stats department.  We’ve been keeping tabs on our own for comic book projects successfully funded through the site, but Au shared some interesting ones for the site as a whole:

  • 1 million backers with 150,000 being repeat givers.
  • Over $100 million has been pledged and they average $2 million a wekk
  • Over 13,000 projects have been funded
  • $4,500 is the average goal of a successful project with $6,100 being the average raised for a successful project
  • The average successful project has 85 backers
  • There’s a 30% tipping point, if you get to that part in your goal, you’ll succeed 90% of the time
  • $25 is the most common giving amount, $70 is the average pledge
  • 5-7 is the ideal number of tiers

Palmiotti gave the bluntest and most honest opinions of the bunch, laying it out there and not pulling punches.  He funded Queen Crab through Kickstarter because he didn’t think a traditional publisher would dig it as it’s a bit out there.  He was inspired by what others had done with the site and his wanting to do something non-mainstream made him try his own hand at it.  He learned a lot from the process, including to make sure to add postage for overseas gifts (one of the numerous humorous hints that were thrown out there).  But Palmiotti admitted it was work and a commitment to get the gifts out to the project backers and using social media to promote it.

That sentiment of it being a job was echoed by the Womanthology team.  They thought it’d be a side project, but it quickly spiraled through the support driven by social media such as Twitter.  That tool is how they initially recruited the folks who participated in the woman driven anthology.  But, Kickstarter allowed them to take the money out of the equation, something a publisher is focused on.  And this virtual convention website had the contributors and givers driving the funding of this project.  But the team learned that this wasn’t something they could do in their free time and turned into a full time job, with lots of time and thought being focused towards their successful project.

Everyone on the panel looked at the site as community building and even if your project isn’t funded, you get the names and contact information for the people who supported your project.  Palmiotti joked that it was a great way to find out which family members didn’t care about what you do.

The site is the ultimate democritization of the publishing process relying on supporters to spread the word on the project.  No public relations team here.  Word of mouth, social media, it was key for all of those on the panel.  It also allows everyone to see what has an audience by having the fans spread the word and show their support with their own money.

Palmiotti stressed this referring to his supporters as a virtual army to get the word out.  It’s the ultimate community that’s driving one of the most successful and prolific publishers out there, a website, where anyone can get a project funded if they make their case.

SuperHeroStuff - Shop Now!

2 comments

  • I’m eager to try out Kickstarter, but I’m concerned about the amount of work that seems to be required. My day job is time prohibitive.

    • The general consensus from the panel was it’s a lot of work, but well worth it, especially if you can’t get published another way.