The webcomics blog about webcomics

She Is The Safest For Work

I’m assuming that you’ve seen the latest bit of The Internet directed at Kate Beaton¹; her unwillingness to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous dickishness in silence is commendable in and of itself, but I’m actually more interested in a broader reaction she had. Namely, to reinforce the idea that, despite their general shouty volume and unwillingness to Just Stop It Please, the dicks aren’t in charge, Beaton spent some time on Saturday soliciting for names of and links to webcomics that she could share with her followers. When more came in that could be easily re-tweeted, she put ’em on her Tumblr; there’s more than 150 listed there — some new, some established, all potentially My New Favorite That I Wouldn’t Have Know About Otherwise.

  • Speaking of new to me (and maybe to you) webcomics, almost two years ago Danielle Corsetto² pointed me at Space-Time Condominium, “based on a failed Canadian sitcom” about a guy named Griff and all of his parallel-universe alternate self roomies. I hadn’t thought about S-TC since I archive-binged season one, and quite frankly I’m sure I’ve forgotten most of it (though I remember enjoying it, particularly the Griff from the cow dimension). Fortunately, S-TC has gone and published season one in handy book form, which fact I overlooked until I happened to see it on this week’s release list from the always-hip-to-webcomics Midtown Comics. Well done, Griffs.
  • Let’s end on what may be a somber note.

    I spoke last week (Friday, to be specific) about how we need to be careful not to overestimate the potential of Kickstarter as [web]comics Next Big Thing. I started digging a bit and have some numbers that you might be interested in. As of this writing, the number of comics projects submitted to Kickstarter is somewhere between 420 and 940. My methodology is as follows, and I’ve got to warn you, it’s inexact.

    I searched Kickstarter for the term “comics” as a literal, but did not go to the “comics” category. This is because the category shows editor’s picks, most-funded, and other called-out projects. The search for the word reveals each project that incorporates the literal string “comics” in its description — not all of which may be actual comics; there were 422 results, at least two of which in my casual examination were not actually comics. Similarly, a search on “comic” as a literal showed 940 results, which likely include the vast majority of the 420, but which I have not attempted to confirm beyond casual skimming.

    Now here’s the fun part. If you look at all the pages of results from those searches (up to twelve projects per page; 79 pages in all for the 940 superset, 36 pages for the 420 subset), all of the successful projects are at the front of the list, and the unsuccessful ones at the end. That made it relatively easy to determine that the number of successfully projects were 543/940 and 243/420, respectively; those ratios are remarkably close to each other: 57.77% vs. 57.86%.

    In any event, it appears that more than four out of ten comics-related Kickstarts fail, and when they do, they frequently really fail. Without getting into names (no need to embarrass anyone), a random sampling of those failed projects revealed results like:

    • 22 backers, US$1013 of US$8500 goal
    • 1 backer, US$10 of US$8500 goal
    • 0 backers, US$0 of US$10,000 goal

    And that’s before we get into active campaigns that likely are going to fail, but haven’t yet, so they’re still listed at the front:

    • 15 backers, US$165 of US$7500 goal, 15 days to go (project approximately six days old)
    • 3 backers, US$210 of US$3000 goal, 19 days to go (project approximately ten days old)
    • 0 backers, US$0 of US$2100 goal, 21 days to go (unknown project age)

    There’s one other project that I’ve been keeping my eye on that looks like it might finish just shy of goal, which is heartbreaking; it’s under two and a half days from completion, sitting at some 85% of goal, but has been trickling one or two supporters for each of the past several days.

    What makes this project interesting to me is its supporter breakdown. Out of not quite 50 backers, a full 45% pledged US$25, which is just enough to get a signed copy of the book. Add in a few more people looking for unsigned copies and you come to 55% of backers, and 61% when you get to the lesser rewards. There’s a few people in the mid-ranges (book + assorted goodies), and then nobody until you get to the very top reward at US$100.

    18% of the backers sit at that mega-support level. I’m left with no possible interpretation other than the creator has a few dozen loyal readers, of whom a portion are willing to get a book. He’s also got close friends and family that really want him to succeed and have put their money where their respective mouths are. I wasn’t watching this project from the beginning, but I’d be willing to bet that they were among the earliest supporters, which could easily have made the project appear more viable than it actually was.

    Also worth remembering: a lot of those successful projects were from long-time established creators with long-time established audiences and they squeaked by with 103% or 104% support. The superjumbomega successes are few and far between, and they’re driven by the people that are already making a living at comics.

    Despite the news making the rounds over the weekend that Kickstarter may disburse more monies this year than the NEA, that does not translate into free money for all [web]comickers who are smart enough to just ask for it. So what’s the lesson here? Same as everything else in business matters — you can’t buy into your own press and think yourself more important than you actually are. Do the work, build the audience up to something substantial, then look at it as a business. There’s no shortcuts.

¹ More precisely, two separate instances of The Internet were lobbed at Beaton. The first was her finding yet another of her comics posted without attribution (just as common: other people claiming credit over the funny for themselves, having excised references to Beaton). The second, and more vile, was somebody sent Beaton a pornographic representation of herself because That’ll Show Her And Now She’ll Behave As I Want Her To.

² Who’s got me on tenterhooks with her current story-arc; I have a sinking feeling that Hazel really doesn’t realize what thin ice she’s on in her relationship and hope she works it out before things with Zach are really damaged.

Also worth noting: before OOTS and Benign Kingdom (and honestly, Erfworld is raking in more dough on Kickstarter than Diesel Sweeties), the most any webcomics-related project in the Comics category had made on Kickstarter was less than $30,000. The good news is that $40,000 or more looks a lot more viable now; the bad news is we don’t know if that’s just a blip.

I could probably turn those numbers around and say a lot of those catastrophic failures are people who should have never gone on Kickstarter in the first place because they basically want to say “I want to make a comic so I don’t have to do real work even though I’m a nobody, can you toss me coin?” As such, they skew the success rate.

You do have to have shown that you can
pump out work and that people actually like that work and are potentially willing to help contribute to it, but once you do Kickstarter can be a viable source of funding, though only as long as you do it right and don’t rely on it as a continuing source of support.

I should hedge that comment on webcomics-related comics-category projects by adding “as far as I can tell based on Kickstarter’s most-funded list that I have reason to believe is leaving out some projects for some inscrutable reason”.

[…] yesterday’s Big Think on Kickstarter, I decided to let somebody else do the big thinkin’ today. Fortunately, that somebody is the […]

I know the Kickstarter comments are meant to be cautionary, but that’s way better than I thought. More than 50% of comics kickstarters get funded?!? I would’ve thought like 20%-25%!

RSS feed for comments on this post.