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Kickstarter: A Perfect Home for Fair Trade Comics

A column article, Manifesto by: Jason Sacks

One of the initiatives that I've been trying to get off the ground here on Comics Bulletin is a "Kickstarter Spotlight" column. I'd really love for CB to run a column where creators looking to get exposure to their projects posted to the crowd-sourced platform get a chance to go direct to our readers and ask for their help in funding their project.

I've always thought a column like this was a great idea; we've just lacked a person who could create the template for the project and get one or two creators a week to come to CB and make a pitch for their series. I hope we can still get to this project; heck, if you're a contributor or just a reader of CB with time on your hands and the enthusiasm to work on a project like this, we'd be really excited to help you get this off the ground. Just send us an email, tweet or facebook message.

In the meantime, we have a kind of "backdoor pilot" for the series today as Lea Hernandez goes in great depth and detail talking about her Kickstarter project, The Garlicks, which sounds really wonderful and which could really use your help. Can you do Lea and me a favor and just click over to that page and at least look at the hilarious picture of Kurt Buseik eating a bug that you can get from helping to fund this project? I know our new friend Lea would appreciate it.

I'm really excited to be able to be part of something like Kickstarter because it finally gives me a chance to help fund creators' most personal projects. Kickstarter is really the epitome of a Fair Trade Comic, since it allows creators to seek out people to help them finance specific, individual projects. These creators can choose to bypass the regular publishers by essentially self-fund and self-publish, giving them a chance to build funds by use of their reputation, the quality of their work and the quality of the incentives that they offer.

Image from The Astronomer, from Kickstarter

I've long been a big supporter of the small press, and Kickstarter is a great way for me to show that love while also giving me the chance to feel like a crowd-sourced medium of support for the creators. I can put my money where my mouth is, and I have. To date I've backed 36 projects on Kickstarter, all in the comics fiend or related fields.

The latest project I supported is a new documentary about Bill Watterson and Calvin & Hobbes. Anyone who's ever read a handful of Bill Watterson's classic comics about a boy and his pet tiger has fallen in love with the strip, and finally some talented creators are working on an interesting-sounding documentary that will explore the world of that classic strip. As the creators say, "It is an exploration to discover why his 'simple' comic strip made such an impact on so many readers in the '80s and '90s, and why it still means so much to us today." What a compelling vision! How can you resist that?

If you're looking for something a little less high-minded, can I recommend Sidekick,  the often hilarious take on the crappiness of being a super-hero's sidekick by the madcap team of Paul Jenkins and Chris Moreno that offers, among other incentives, the chance for you to choose your favorite completely useless super-hero and maybe have Moreno draw it for you.

Support Sidekick on Kickstarter!

But whatever you'd like to fund – and of course there is a huge amount of content available for funding in media other that comics – please take some time to go out to Kickstarter and take a look at the projects that are interesting to you. It's incredible to be able to see the full panoply of creativity that exists in the world and be able to be part of getting them funded.

Maybe the most exciting aspect of Kickstarter is that it shows a third way – a way where the creator doesn't have to publish through the big publishers or by taking all the risk by self-publishing. Instead a successful Kickstarter campaign allows a creator to both have the freedom of self-publishing and the luxury of some financial certainty. The creator can start with a built-in audience who are interested and committed to the work that is being created, but at the same time is able to create work that means a lot to them.

This is the epitome of Fair Trade Comics – and Fair Trade Music, and Fair Trade Theatre and Fair Trade iOS Devices. It's all about the creator making their own way, with a little help from their friends and fans. Do yourself a favor and pop over to Kickstarter and fund a few projects that excite you. Then come back here and share your discoveries. Because I'm always looking for more projects to fund. How can you not be? This stuff is like an addiction.

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