Why are More Creators Choosing Crowdfunding Over Mainstream?

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Zombie Tramp

On Wednesday August 11, 2021 Zombie Tramp creator Dan Mendoza announced his girl will be exclusive to the platform Kickstarter under his own label, Still Ill Princess, starting in October 2021.

This announcement adds yet one more formerly mainstream property to the list of creations and creators that bucked the system and chose to sell directly to the fans themselves using such platforms as Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

Brian Pulido broke all expectations and sales records with his character, Lady Death, when he took her to the Kickstarter platform, and continues to be the dominant force in crowdfunding comics there with his brand Coffin Comics.

Ethan Van Sciver in 2018 also chose to take his character, Cyberfrog, to Indiegogo and with the second issue of the series, titled Rekt Planet, became the top selling comic on the platform at the time, grossing over a million dollars.

Not to be outdone, creator Todd McFarlane announced in 2020 that he would take Spawn into the crowdfunding realm. He subsequently made millions as well with the Kickstarter exclusive Spawn action figure.

Billy Tucci, creator of the popular 90’s heroine Shi, also utilizes both Kickstarter and Indiegogo at the same time, with much success, to get his character into the hands of his fans who, for whatever reason, may want to choose one platform over another.

But what exactly does this mean for us as customers, and what effect will these shifts have on stores and business that rely on top properties to drive sales to the stores that we frequent? Is the Wednesday “New Comic Book Day” over as we know it? Are customers no longer able to get the books they so lovingly bought at their shops on a weekly or monthly basis from their pull-lists? Are they now being forced to wait many months -- sometimes years -- to get a comic or graphic novel shipped to their door?

These are just some of the questions people are asking.

As it states on the terms of service when using these crowdfunding platforms, you as a customer are not shopping; you are donating money to a person in the hope that you will get something back in return. Investing, if you will. This leaves the door open to you possibly losing it all, as is the case with any investment. Detective Dead by Antonio Malpica was one such failed offering that raised tens of thousands from its backers on Indiegogo, and they will never see a return for the money and trust they gave him.

For a creator of these books, crowdfunding is the ultimate dream job if you can pull it off. Being your own boss, working at your own pace, making the things you want without being told to change this or that. For the customer it’s a double-edged sword: you get the best work that these creators can put out, but at what price? These are things you have to ask yourself when you are perusing the endless pages of projects on both crowdfunding platforms. Is this how you want to spent your hard-earned dollars? Do you take the leap of faith and back a creator in hope that you will get their work in a timely fashion -- if, indeed, at all? Or do you take the sure thing and get the cookie-cutter offerings churned out on a weekly basis at your local comic shop?

Personally, I continue to do both. And that’s the way we all should be when choosing what entertainment is right for us. Pick the things you like and want to see, grab that newest Batman book from your pull-list, go look on the new release shelf at your comic shop for an indie title that catches your eye and looks like it may give you fifteen minutes of fun and escapism from your day. Then go look at a crowdfunding platform, window shop to see if there is something that you’ve never seen before -- a concept or story that hooks you and makes you want to be a part of the making of it. You may not get the instant gratification you do at your local store, but if and when that day comes when you open your mailbox and that book is inside, waiting for you to be transported to strange and magical lands, you will get the gratification that comes from knowing you were a part of making the book you hold in your hands.

Don’t let your local business die out, either, if crowdfunding does become the new norm. Many crowdfunding creators offer retail options for stores to purchase multiple copies at a discounted rate to then resell to their customers. It’s up to you to ask the owners if they have heard of this. If they haven’t, educate them that things like this can be done. Because, in the end, they are there to sell things people want, and if they see there is a demand they may start ordering from small creators directly as well. Wouldn’t that be a great thing?