The webcomics blog about webcomics

I Hope That’s A Typo And Not An Oversight

Will I ever be able to put Kickstarter behind me? Probably not — the admixture of nerdy analysis and optimistic financials will, I suspect, always captivate me, and I’m not alone. Yesterday, TopatoCo Vice Premier In Charge Of Kicking Your Ass Holly Post pointed out an infographic and article at Wired that I’d previously missed, despite the fact it’s been out for most of a month. Then again, it hit while I was trying to catch up from San Diego Comic Con, so I don’t feel too badly about it.

Said article is about the generalities of Kickstarter campaigns, and correlations that state the more X is true, the more (or less likely) Y will occur — there’s some nice, quick take-aways in the infographic about how if you succeed, you’ll likely squeak over the line rather than destroy your goal, and if you fail, you’ll likely fail big (the latter of which squares with my own, earlier analyses). Drilling down to the underlying article, however, something caught me on my first read.

Namely, webcomics seem to buck a lot of trends. Go read the work of Jeanne Pi and Ethan Mollick (of the Wharton School), and it seems that their first (and most prominent) conclusion doesn’t track well with our corner of funnybooks:

Projects that successfully fund tend to do so by relatively small margins. 25% of them funded at 3% or less over their goal. And 50% raised only 10% over their goal. In other words, when you succeed, it’s not by much. Projects that raised double or more over their goal are the exception.

I’m not going to gainsay their conclusions because I know they’re speaking from a large population of data (as much as 99% of successful projects and 82% of failed projects from the entire history of Kickstarter), and the webcomics I looked at were a pitifully small population by comparison (39 projects, if I remember my math), and that’s exactly the sort of situation where local contradictions to larger truths can hide. So if you were wondering if webcomics are inherently special, the answer is “Maybe, sorta”.

But the part that really stopped me in my tracks was this:

Failures happen by large amounts, successes by small amounts…unless you are: An Overachiever

Over·achiev·er: A large project (over $10,000) that received over 10x its funding goal.

  • Of the 106 projects that received over 10 times their goal, only 33 were large projects.
  • With the exception of a single music project, all of these 33 overachievers were in the hardware, software, games, or product design categories.

Now, Pi and Mollick’s piece is, as near as I can tell, undated, but it is referenced in Wired in mid-July. It also references an earlier piece by Pi which garnered attention in mid-June, so I’m guessing they did the bulk of their analysis in that monthlong timeframe.

Last time I checked, mid-June to mid-July is after February, which was the closing date of a project with a goal over US$10,000, which achieved more than 10x goal, and which did not fall into the categories of music, hardware, software, games, or product design categories. You might have heard of it. Other comics projects may not have met the $10K floor or the 10x multiplier, but Order of the Stick damn well did, so like I said in the title, I’m hoping that Pi and Mollick just missed including “comics” on their list.

Webcomics: special snowflakes kinda maybe, and also easily overlooked.

Also, I’ll note that Penny Arcade’s Kickstarter to kick advertising in the junk will complete in about … ten minutes as I write this, and will probably hit somewhere in the US$525 to 535K range and somewhere in the vicinity of 9000 backers. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the new Number Two.

Edit to add: Yep, there we go.

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