Friday, 1 August 2014

Funding Friday - Comics & Crowdfunding News

Every Friday my Twitter feed exhibits a host of people hashtagging lists of follow-worthy people as part of the weekly internet trend "Follow Friday". I'm putting my own spin on that; today is FUNDING FRIDAY.

Well, Crowdfunding Friday, but for the sake of alliteration...

On the list today: comics, comics, comics, and, um, well yeah, it's mostly just comics. It's a wonderful thing, really. The amount of crowdfunding going into the comics industry these days is phenomenal. It builds community, closes the gap between the creator and consumer and helps each recognize the other is there. Which is important. It's something that's too damn easy to lose sight of. For me, it's provided a way for me to interact with and support people who are making things that I think are incredible. I was even recognized by someone at TCAF this year because I'd been vocal on Twitter in promoting their project, and that kinda blew my mind. So, without further ado (that was already quite a bit of ado), here are the projects on my radar this week.

There's a bunch of wicked exciting stuff happening in Canadian comics at the moment, and I'm bumping this to the top of the list because it's the latest release. Hope's Kickstarter went live yesterday, and support for the project is already well underway. A little bit of background: Brok Windsor is the latest in a string of Canadian Golden Age comics reprints, the initiative of historians Hope Nicholson and Rachel Richey to pull these old stories out of obscurity. Many of them have simply been unavailable to readers for some fifty years, despite being an important piece of Canada's popular culture in the 20th century. Projects like this are my favourite answer to the rants I hear against our government for cutting arts and culture funding. It's evidence that the people still care about cultivating their country's arts and reinvigorating their cultural history, even when the government seems to have abandoned such causes. Last year Hope and Rachel Kickstarted a reprint of Adrian Dingle's iconic Nelvana of the Northern Lights, to enthusiastic public response. And these projects are gaining momentum online; Comics Alliance just published this interview with Hope, which sheds some light on the character, the matter of forgotten history, and the forward-looking goals for Canadian Golden Age comics. Hopefully, exposure like this brings more backers (like you!) on board with this project and many, many more to come.

You ever watch a Vancouver Canucks game and see their mascot, that goofy-looking lumberjack in plaid, with a hockey stick in his hand and pom-pom proudly bouncing on top of his toque? That's Johnny Canuck, or one rendition of him at any rate. He used to be part of Canada's stable of action-adventure heroes back in the 1940s, along with Brok Windsor. Rachel Richey, the other half of the Nelvana team, is Kickstarting the printing of a Johnny Canuck collection which will feature an introduction written by legendary Canadian cartoonist Seth and a short biography of Johnny Canuck creator Leo Bachle, written by Robert Pincombe. The campaign kicked off earlier this week and is in full swing. Among the backer rewards for this project (and for the Brok Windsor campaign) is a host of original artwork by various industry giants, providing a superb opportunity for you to support classic Canadian comics and build a collection of comic art! Ever wanted work by Ramon Perez, Francis Manapul, or Marcus To? Go get it! I snagged the Scott Chantler piece as soon as I could, and now I'm broke. But it was worth it.

"Sunswift", campaign art by Gary Shipman

I can't look at this campaign without feeling a twinge of guilt about how little I can actually expound on it. I'd never heard the name Dave Cockrum before this gem popped up in my Twitter feed, but looking at the attention this project has garnered and the artists who have jumped on board and contributed their work to commemorate his work it's clear that he was a giant of the Bronze Age. The project achieved its financial goals a while ago, soaring past its $6000 goal and on to stratospheric heights. It looks like the final book is gonna be a blast to read, a treat for anyone who appreciates the superhero classics and misses a time when comics were free of the expectations Hollywood blockbusters have now burdened them with. 

This project's a little more low-key than the previous ones. No superheroes or lumberjacks here (unless Betozzi surprises us; there could very well be lumberjacks). Just an alt cartoonist from New York pulling together printing costs for issue #6 of a snazzy looking comic. The goal is modest, and the backer rewards are nothing drastic: comics, posters, a bit of original art. The top end of the reward list, if you want to pitch $200 his way and happen to be in New York at the time, is a portfolio review, which I think is a stellar reward. Crowdfunding should build community, and Bertozzi seems to have a handle on that.

Let me preface everything else I'm going to say with this statement:

That cover is BADASS.

I've never read D.A. Bishop's webcomic Stranger, but I plan to remedy that shortly. This Kickstarter from Canadian publishing newcomer AH Comics Inc. looks sweet. I helped back their Jewish Comix Anthology Vol. 1 project a while back, a beautiful volume collecting some wonderful cultural treasures. Stranger looks equally promising, and decidedly less Jewish. The backer rewards are pretty cool, too: t-shirts (I'm snagging one of those), bookmarks, prints etc.
However, in my opinion, the crown jewel of the rewards list is down at the $500 dollar mark: Adam Gorham's original cover art, plus the book, t-shirt, stamps, bookmarks, and a digital edition. It's still open, and damned if I'm not tempted to scoop it before the rest of you. That is a gorgeous piece of artwork. If any of you readers end up getting it, let me know. I'll drool on my keyboard in jealousy on your behalf.

And that's all for now, folks! Of course, there's a host of other projects out there. My tastes may not be yours (in which case you're reading the wrong blog); head on over to Kickstarter's comics project page and see if anything there catches your fancy. Many, many creators are looking for funding, or looking to build a following as they start out on the long road that is a career in comics. You might be the addition they need to make that happen, you never really know. That is, quite simply, the beauty of crowdfunding.

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