Robbie’s Comic Corner: Kickstarter: The future of comics

For comics, 2018 was quite a big year.

With cinematic experiences like “Black Panther” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse” dominating movie theaters across the world, Marvel had a pretty good year, and that’s not even getting into the comics.

DC Comics was no slouch, either – they put in their fair share of work by releasing “Aquaman” and “Teen Titans GO! To the Movies” in theaters, putting up respectable numbers in viewership and revenue. 

However, DC’s movie efforts did not translate to their comics – series like “Doomsday Clock” and “Dark Nights: Metal” continued their runs that started in 2017 to great praise, but acclaim from critics does not exactly translate to sales.

In December, 2018, DC faced a massive wave of layoffs, dropping writers, artists, and colorists from the company to maintain their budget for 2019, which, as of now, is lower than what DC is accustomed to, according to their annual report. 

It should go without saying that Marvel won this year. 

Or did they?

While DC Comics struggled to find their footing throughout late 2018, Kickstarter-funded comics found much success in the market, funding new and imaginative concepts under the shadow of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Camilla Zhang, the comics outreach lead at Kickstarter, shared her 2018 report, “Comics on Kickstarter Keep Hitting New Highs,” regarding the comics category of the website, sharing some impressive statistics in the process.

Sixteen million dollars was pledged toward all projects, which is a 26 percent increase from 2017, and $15.3 million of that went to comic-related projects that have succeeded in the funding process, equating to 1,457 projects – a 70 percent success rate! 

The “Big Two” – DC Comics and Marvel, for those uninitiated – have a gatekeeping problem when it comes to hiring talent, and very few independent comic creators ever get the chance to see what it’s like to write, draw, or color for those media juggernauts, unless you work absurdly hard to get there or get picked by the slimmest of chances.

Kickstarter comics, in a way, bypasses that recognition requirement. 

In an era when comics are more accessible than ever, Kickstarter is a fantastic place for new creators to find the footing the “Big Two” refuse to give any geek on the streets, especially in a post-1960’s comic landscape.

Take C. Spike Trotman’s Chicago-based company, Iron Circus Comics, for example. 

Trotman, a person of color, is one of the most recognizable figureheads on Kickstarter, and, as a result, she is a champion for the service’s treatment of indie comics. 

Last year, Iron Circus Comics proposed 19 projects on Kickstarter, and all 19 projects got funded, bringing Trotman’s grand total, across her years on the service, to $1.25 million, as of Dec. 28, 2018.

Obviously, she knew how much of a big deal that was, given that she wrote the “$1.25 MILLION” in all capital letters in a Tweet. I would, too. 

Kickstarter projects by indie creators bring a new flavor to the industry – one that lifts the voices of underrepresented groups in society. We need more of that than another generic “Superman” reboot – you have 80-plus years of that stuff to get through, anyways. 

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