In the economic climate of today’s comics industry, where distribution is often the only thing a creator requires a big company to do, the actual production and creative costs of comics is increasingly funded by Kickstarter. The company’s general publishing category reports that the number of publishing projects on Kickstarter increased to $22.2 million pledged in 2013, compared with $15.3 million in 2012, a substantial one-year increase. And comics, though they have a 50% success rate on Kickstarter, are the fourth most successful category of crowd-funded projects on Kickstarter altogether, behind dance (70%) theater (64%) and music (55%). Most probably presume the next largest category would be film, but the large interest in, and success with, comics funding demonstrates something about the crowdfunding audience.
Comics, like music, seem to hit the “sweet spot” for Kickstarter funding, with budgets low enough to be met and yet audience support high enough to meet a sometimes substantial goal. The challenge, as with most Kickstarter projects, is creating an audience for a product that does not yet exist. Comics creators have many challenges, and the economic model will no doubt continue to be mostly working “on spec”, even when the work is supported by a big company like Image. But Kickstarter works for comics in a way that it doesn’t for any other literary property, including magazines and novels. There’s something about comics that people still love enough to fork over money based on promises and some sample artwork. Given how much, and how fast, the distribution models for comics are changing, this is a welcome bit of good news. With Kickstarter and crowd-sourcing, comics are well positioned to continue as an important 21st century medium.