First let’s look at the press release,
New York, NY (May 11) – Archie Comics, the acclaimed and bestselling comic book publisher that is home to some of the best-known pop culture creations in the world, including Archie, Jughead, Betty & Veronica, Josie & The Pussycats, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and the hit AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE series, announced today that it would launch a historic crowdfunding campaign via the popular Kickstarter platform.
The Kickstarter campaign’s call to action is a simple one: Help Archie Comics build a New Riverdale. Specifically, the Kickstarter will ask fans to help fund a slate of titles that build off the surefire success of ARCHIE #1 — the debut issue of a new, ongoing ARCHIE series from writer Mark Waid (Daredevil, Kingdom Come) and artist Fiona Staples (Saga). The series will be crafted by some of the biggest names in the comic book industry and feature the most beloved characters in comic book history.”
There are three titles mentioned in the Kickstarter material (and video pitch from publisher Jon Goldwater). Jughead with writer Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals, Howard the Duck), Betty and Veronica Written and drawn by Adam Hughes, and Life With Kevin Keller with Writer/artist Dan Parent (Kevin Keller) and inker J. Bone (The Spirit).
I guess what’s interesting to me is that these are professional, established writers and artists working with an established comic book publisher. Why the Kickstarter? The sales of Afterlife With Archie and Archie titles in general haven’t been suffering as of late (in January of 2015 three Sonic titles appeared in the top 300 books sold- source icv2.com) And there’s been no rumbles of financial trouble.
Twitter has been peppered with comments from all level of comic bookdom, pro and amateur, some supporting it and some asking questions like “My first question: what do the writers and artists get?” and “If Marvel says “Do you want this She-Hulk comic by Waid & Samnee? Back our $250,000 Kickstarter!” will you do it?”
I love Archie, the comics and the company, but I find myself asking if this is a good use for Kickstarter? How will this change the landscape of comic book publishing? One or two on twitter have mentioned that many Image books have been Kickstarted over the years but as far as most are concerned that has to do with Image’s publishing model, where the books are primarily creator owned. If that were the case in this new Archie wouldn’t it have been mentioned in the Kickstarter? Another interesting observation is the absence of the usual “here’s where your money is going” portion of the Kickstarter campaign. Instead of the usual transparent breakdown in the “Risks and Challenges” section we are treated to this:
Risks and challenges
We have approved pitches and outlines for the three new series we’ve listed above. We’re also in the process of filling out the creative teams. These books are in the pipeline and will debut over the next six months—you may even see some pop up in monthly solicitations to comic book shops. With your help, these projects will go from “theoretical” to certain.
We can’t do this alone. Even with an effective publicity and social media machine, word of mouth is important to getting people on board with this important initiative. We’re looking to you—our amazing fans—to be complete collaborators on this journey. That means we’d be honored if you’d plug the Kickstarter even if you can’t contribute. Be it Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube or whatever new platform is born in the next few weeks, help us spread the word: we’re building a new Riverdale, and we want all of you to join us!
We’ve decided to offer a wide array of rewards—some are more immediately gratifying than others in terms of how quickly we can get them to you. Specific issues are tied to the release dates for the books, and we will do our best to keep you, our awesome backers, informed as we go. If you’ve selected a high-end, interactive reward that includes you being drawn into a comic book, we will be in touch directly and provide you with a unique timeline of delivery.
So you want me to invest in your new comic line, but you’re not being really clear on who your paying, how, what the rights distribution (or if this is work-for-hire) may be. And your not quite sure on your fulfillment schedule.
I’ve backed many campaigns from mid and small level publishers in the past but I guess I’ve always assumed that Kickstarting projects was a means to an end. A way to get a company off the ground. This feels like a new way of doing business, and I don’t know how good (or bad) it might be for the artist/writer, the retailer, and most importantly you, the reader.
What’s your take on this? Should companies with proven direct market track records ask for pre-funding? Will it open the door for pseudo-extortion from larger publishers who just want a “sure thing?”
Sound off in the comments!