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This week, Kickstarter launched a series of special "Kickstarter Gold" projects. Basically, they went back to the folks behind successful campaigns and asked if they wanted to revisit their projects. They run the gamut from comic books to music to technology to typography. Here's how Kickstarter describes their "Gold" concept...
From June 20 through July 31, we’re spotlighting new projects by exciting artists and makers who use Kickstarter to sustain their creative independence.

Why? Because repeat creators are an integral part of the Kickstarter ecosystem. In fact, a third of all pledges to successful projects —over $1 billion since 2009 — go toward projects by creators who have run two, three, four, or even 100+ projects.

We selected Kickstarter Gold creators for their creativity, ingenuity, and success using the platform. They’ll be making new works inspired by their past projects, so backers can discover extra-amazing ideas, plus special rewards that aren’t available anywhere else.
Now, what I find interesting is that a number of the projects are the creation of traditionally sidelined groups, i.e. everybody except straight white men. What I don't know, but would be interested to discover, is how the demographics of these creators lines up with the demographics of all successful KS creators. That is, are POC (for example) more represented in the "Gold" category or is there simply a higher percentage of POC creators utilizing Kickstarter than the overall population.

Either way, the answer would be interesting and enlightening, I think. If there are more minorities represented in "Gold" than we typically see in Kickstarter, that would suggest the people at Kickstarter themselves are intentionally trying to foster inclusivity and diversity by selecting minority creators. If, on the other hand, the overall population of Kickstarter creators tends to favor minorities more than broader population demographics would suggest, this would imply that these minorities aren't finding other venues where their ideas might be accepted, and have turned to crowd-funding because traditional gatekeepers are keeping them out. This would further suggest that Kickstarter itself is a very agnostic platform; they don't care who you are, just do something cool.

Again, either way, the answers would be interesting, since Kickstarter is one of the top comic publishers these days.

The "Gold" projects seem to all be doing very well in general, but I'll end today with a specific plug for one of my favorite projects that, as of this writing, hasn't quite met it's goal yet.
The basic history of the Fantastic Four is relatively well-known. Four people, experimental starship, cosmic rays, super powers. Pretty simple and straight-forward. The story was fleshed out over the years. Reed Richards and Ben Grimm were revealed to have been college roommates. Dr. Doom was included in the mix later. Reed having met Sue Storm when he was boarding at her aunt's house came later still.

It was in Fantastic Four #11, though, that we first learned that Ben was an accomplished pilot before their fateful starship ride. Later stories would expand on the adventures he had in the Air Force and/or Marines (both have been cited at various times) and we've seen a pre-cosmic-rays Ben fighting alongside Logan, Carol Danvers, Nick Fury, and Capt. Savage at various points. By pretty much all accounts, Ben was a very talented and famous pilot. His adventures with Capt. Savage came about because he was specifically targeted and captured for his skill in shooting down enemy aircraft. So that Reed would come back to his friend years after college to fly this starship makes sense.

But it just dawned on me that there's a weird little wrinkle that was added back in 1983. In Thing #1, they elaborate on Ben's backstory considerably, going into detail about seeing his older brother killed and his time in the Yancy Street Gang before eventually getting to college. It then covers Reed and Ben's first meeting and, as they're introducing themselves to one another, we get this exchange...
So, I got to thinking: why suggest that he'd fly it? Of all the ways to respond that would provide some level of snark, why specifically "I'll fly your rocket ship"?

If someone tells you something you deem far-fetched, it's not uncommon to respond with something you might consider equally implausible. And typically, you'd want to keep your comeback thematically similar...

"I'm a Saudi prince."
"Yeah, well, I'm the king of Spain."

"I build car engines that run on water."
"And I make solar powered flashlights."

"I'm dating Chris Hemsworth."
"And my wife is Scarlett Johansson."

You keep the same idea in your retort. Whatever it is that you claim to do or be should follow the same line of thinking as the original statement. So if Reed says, "I'm going to build a rocket," a typical retort might be "And I'm going to build a Mars rover" or "I'm going to build a space station." (Bear in mind that both of these were still science fiction in 1983.)

The other likely response is to extrapolate and exaggerate your own self to the same extent that you think the other speaker is. If someone claimed they were going to be a first round draft pick in the NFL next season because they play high school football now, you might come back with the claim that you're going to win the Noble prize for literature because you got an "A" on that short story you wrote for Mr. Reynolds' English class last semester. Or if someone says they're going to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because they play in a shitty bar band, your response might be that you're going to win an Olympic gold medal for figure skating because you're a pretty good player on the local ice hockey team.

It's the second concept that seems to be where Ben is coming from since he certainly isn't mimicking Reed's basic structure. But if Ben's suggestion that he fly a starship is an extrapolation/exaggeration of his current abilities, he must have some flying ability at this point, right? If you had zero experience flying anything at all, you wouldn't make that joke. Being a football player, he might've gone with, "You build that rocket an' I'll punt it into space myself!" Or maybe going back to his Yancy Street days, "You build that rocket an' I'll cut anyone who keeps ya from launchin' it!"

But, no, he went with the notion of piloting it. This would suggest Ben already knows how to fly a plane at this point. Perhaps he didn't have his actual pilot's license, but at least the basic knowledge and skill with only some additional flight time and/or a written test remaining.

Although Reed is later identified as being 18 when he met Ben, Ben's age is never expressly noted. Presumably, he's around that age as well, but given his problematic days as a youngster, he may have been held back a year or two in school. (It's also possible that he took some time off between high school and college, but given that he had a football scholarship, this strikes me as unlikely.) Ben's expressly noted as having a layabout father who didn't bring much money in, so flying lessons seem out of the question before his parents died and he was taken in by his Uncle Jake.

So was that something his Uncle Jake did for him then? Give him or pay for him to take flying lessons? Did Ben actually have a pilot's license as a teenager? Did years of experience flying before even getting into the armed forces help propel him up the ranks faster than others that entered around the same time?

It's an absurdly minor character point, and based off one line of dialogue that was probably written with more foreshadowing in mind than anything else, but an interesting notion to think about nonetheless. Well, interesting to me at any rate!
This past weekend saw the sixth annual East London Comics & Arts Festival (ELCAF) and publisher Broken Frontier hosted a panel entitled "Comics and the Micropublishing Revolution." The panel, hosted by EIC Andy Oliver featured Tillie Walden, Sanita Muižniece, David White, and Peony Gent.

Jenny Robins was in the audience and took notes in her sketchbook, which she then posted on Twitter. I wouldn't necessarily call all this business advice, but it's interesting that all of these creators boiled things down to more or less the same central idea...
Some of the comments she's written down (if you're unable to read them) include:
  • Put some brilliant alternative work out there.
  • Big publishing works really slowly. Micropublishing is quick.
  • The scene is usually supportive.
  • Distribution is the biggest challenge. Distributors need 6 months notice.
  • The only way to stay engaged is to do a lot of difficult things.
  • Advice:
    • Sanita: Make a website.
    • David: Make work and show people.
    • Peony: Believe that it's worth showing people.
    • Tillie: Finish what you start -- nothing better to show a publisher than commitment.
Robins summed things up nicely in her Tweet:
Regardless of your business model, your social media strategy, your connections... everything still relies on the basic tenet: make work and show it.
Here are this week's links to what I've had published recently...

Kleefeld on Comics: On Business: Small Con

Kleefeld on Comics: On History: Influence

Patreon: MTV Geek Classic: Kleefeld on Webcomics #4: Making Money

Kleefeld on Comics: Weekly Comics Links

FreakSugar: Webcomics Wednesday: LOC Archives!

Kleefeld on Comics: On -isms: Hysteria

Comics Alternative: Webcomics: Reviews of the 2017 Eisner Award Nominees

Patreon: MTV Geek Classic: Kleefeld on Webcomics #5: Why Buy Them in Print

Kleefeld on Comics: On Strips: The Four District Herald

At CAKE last weekend, I stopped by the Sequential Artists Workshop table. As usual, they had a variety of books from their current crop of students. But in signing up for their mailing list, they were handing out copies of the 2014 Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency annual report. Who are the CRA and why would SAW be giving away their annual report from a few years ago?

According to the CRA's site...
We help underserved regions attract private investment through community partnerships, competitive economic development incentives and improved public infrastructure. Projects have ranged from building Depot Park, renovating Bo Diddley Plaza, and replacing the former 13th St pedestrian overpass with the signature Helyx Bridge, to incentivizing Mindtree Ltd.’s pledge to create 400 high-wage local jobs. We target our redevelopment efforts in four core urban areas (Downtown, Eastside, Fifth Avenue/Pleasant Street and College Park/University Heights). After achieving our strategic goals in a district, we step out of the way and let the private sector do the rest. The CRA is devoted to helping Gainesville achieve its full potential as a vibrant, diverse community.
Like many such organizations, the CRA produces an annual report every year to tout their accomplishments, and offer some degree of transparency about their operations. And in 2014, the annual report was produced by SAW and it took the form of a newspaper funnies section. Called The Four District Herald and printed on a newsprint broadsheet, the entire report consists of parodies of many classic comic strips: Little Nemo, Peanuts, Prince Valiant, and Dick Tracy to name a few. Each strip closely approximately the visual and tonal style of the original, but the captions and dialogue speak to the CRA's goals and accomplishments, also thematically tied to the original strips. The Pogo parody takes about preserving area wetlands, for example, and The Family Circus one is one of those dotted-line adventures through a local park.

Credit is primarily given to Justine Mara Andersen, the lead instructor at SAW. Additional credit is given to Sally Cantirino (another instructor) and SAW founder Tom Hart. There's no mention of how they became involved, other than what you might infer from both CRA and SAW operating out of Gainseville.

The parodies are all very well executed, capturing the essence of the source strips. Particularly for coming from such a small group of people, it's impressive. I'd suggest checking it out, if you're able. (The copies they had at CAKE seem to have gone very quickly.)

Fortunately for you, CRA has an electronic version posted on their website here! It doesn't have quite the same feel since you end up missing the tactile qualities of the newsprint, but it's still well worth checking out for the content itself!
Look, Howard Chaykin is an excellent craftsmen when it comes to comic book storytelling. He's one of the few professional creators that brings a sense of design to his pages. But Hysteria... no. Just... no.

Image publisher Eric Stephenson said of the series, "a society, not on the verge, but in the midst of collapse... its warts-and-all depiction of the modern world reveals it to be an ugly place, governed by hatred, fear, and intolerance."

The first issue includes a brutally viscous attack on a trans woman from a gang of men who are surprised to discover she's trans. The character clearly states, though, that every one of them knew beforehand, and the attack is presented as a reaction to seeing what's in her underwear. As if she were no longer female, and they were suddenly having gay sex. She then goes on to note -- during the attack -- that they'll likely escape punishment precisely because she's trans.

I haven't read the issue myself, just two pages from this particular sequence, so I'm not really in a position to comment on it. Also, I'm a cisgendered heterosexual guy, so even if I had read it, I wouldn't be in a good position to speak to the potential impact of this scene. So let's do something that more people should do more often: listen to those who are closer to these types of scenarios...
Fuck all the way off.