Charlie Says: Why crowd funding can mean creative freedom

Charlie-SaysLet’s take a ramble off the beaten track of comic books, away from the bigger publishers and those all important sales targets. Set course for adventure with the art of the crowd-funded comic book, where anybody can pitch an idea and bring together a like-minded group of people. As we regularly see on out Kickstarter Of The Week feature on the site, there are some absolute gems and we take a look at why you should looking at the world of crowd funding for your next favourite comic book.

Enough Space for EveryoneThe main thing that attracts readers away from established presses and towards a crowd-funded project is the creative freedom on offer. These creators have complete free-reign over their content, script, art style and presentation, are able to push boundaries and to take risks. And it’s these risks that’ll make a project stand out.

What are we talking about when we say ‘risks’? Not as in remortgage-my-house-for-this-project risks but creative risks, trying out things that bigger publishers wouldn’t go near with a stick because risk does not always equal reward. We’re looking at you diversity and representation of the LBGT+ community! Looking at you Enough Space for Everyone Else with your focus on the science fiction genre, but staying away from the oversaturated tropes of war and imperialism. Deliberately breaking the moulds of recycled, tired character types we see over and over again. Enough Space for Everyone Else is fresh and injecting new life into a stale genre, and all through the medium of the comic book.

Or perhaps music is your thing, music which has the power to hold people together even when everything is falling apart. Well, get your eyeballs around Silence: Track Two which is looking at this! After the success of Silence: Track One last year, creator Devin Kraft is back for more and you can join him in this continued adventure.

But of course there’ll always be the risk that people will take such umbrage at a creative idea (because it’s just too gosh darn bold) that things will get nasty – and when you’re a tiny little creative group working on a comic in your spare time, stuff like that can tear down everything you’ve built and leave a permanent mark.

Crowdfunding is a fantastic way to get away from the traditional gatekeepers of publishing, the faceless people (always referred to as ‘They’ with a shudder) who decide what we, as comic book readers, want to consume. Well, hold the phone – what makes Them think they know what people want to read? Because of sales and trending topics? Nah, mate – that’s tripping down collelation lane. And let’s not forget that there’s still this binary-centric focus: gatekeepers will look at what a particular audience wants to read first  – usually Men and Women – totally oblivious to non-binary genders or anything outside of established boxes – because it’s a risk! A risk to break down those boxes and challenge the way our society is conditioned to think when it comes to the individual. Crowdfunding is offering the comic book market content that perhaps we’ve never thought about in our wildest dreams because it might only appeal to a tiny, tiny group of people. That isn’t a bad thing. Maybe it’ll be a flop – at least those creators can hold their heads high and say, “I tried.” And that’s fantastic. It’s all about the experience and gaining it – to build and improve on your craft as a creator in your chosen medium. So stuff it to the traditional gatekeepers of publishing centred around sales targets and their outdated ideals!

photo-originalBut alas, as with all things in life there are, of course, negatives. Those pesky think-they-know-it-all gatekeepers do deter people who want to do the comic book thing as a laugh or who perhaps are less than honest and who’ll drop everything if to gets too hard or if they decide they can’t be bothered when it’s crunch time. We do avoid a lot of disappointment in this way – how many stories are floating around regarding funded projects that just went radio silent? Backers’ confidence in crowdfunding shattered by a few dishonest individuals who tarnish the whole lot? Too many.

And the creative freedom offered to these few creators daring to push boundaries, while fantastic, these traditional gatekeepers and editors and publishers all come together to produce a work that is proof-read within an inch of its life, is glossy and beautiful in its execution, and they are able to push those creators to develop their skills in a more constructive fashion, can push them to produce higher quality goods for our collections. And crowdfunding doesn’t really have anything like that unless you can get an experienced editor on board. The polish at the end of the project isn’t always as shiny as it could be if attached to a bigger publisher or press.

But don’t let these little things deter you from seeking out a crowdfunded project to back. It is a genuine delight to find something that just clicks with your interests, to find something that ‘yes I want to invest my attention and money in’. So take a step off the beaten track, dip your toe in the crowd-funding sector and maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a little gem to add to your collection.

The Kickstarter for Devin Kraft’s Silence: Track Two is now running and you find out more about Enough Space For Everyone vis their Tumblr