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No Good Reason

Today on the site Tucker Stone, who recently told me “Everything’s coming up roses for Tucker Stone”, and then sold me some Punisher comics, is sticking to his “positivity” vibe, and also ropes in Tim O’Neil to tell us more.

And our fearless leader, Gary Groth, interviews Gilbert Shelton in this video straight from the streets and alleys of SDCC.

And now, instead of a buncha links, I have to get something off my chest. I am irritated by this Kickstarter project for a Garo tribute book called SP7: Alt. Comics Tribute to GARO Manga, edited by Ian Harker and Box Brown. Here’s why…

This is some of the pitch:

The concept behind SP7 is to contextualize the post-manga wave in western art-comix within the broader history of manga itself by paying tribute to the ground-breaking publication GARO. In short, we feel as though the GARO phenomenon of personal, idiosyncratic, and experimental manga is re-manifesting itself within contemporary art-comix due to the residual influence of the 2000’s manga boom in America.

-It’s deeply stupid about history. Yes, Garo contained plenty of avant-garde work, but, as anyone who has read any of the work therein would know, that was more than equally balanced with genre historical fiction; sentimental memoirs; literary fiction, etc, etc. The editors would also know that if they’d actually stopped to consider the material they’re claiming as their own, or, hey dipped into any random hundred words written on this web site over the past year by Ryan Holmberg. He also wrote a book on the subject! It amazes me that even now, in 2012, with all the resources available, that people supposedly engaged in the medium aren’t actually curious about it. They’re far more entrenched in making it reflect themselves than in actually learning something. It’s just a lot easier to just grab something (Rob Liefeld! Garo!) and make it your “thing” than to actually carve out an identity or do some research.

This passage is particularly silly:

What EC was to the Undergrounds of the late-60’s/early 70’s, Manga is to today’s most interesting underground cartoonists.

Here manga suddenly comes to mean the same as Garo, and Garo the same as manga. That would mean that the less-than-a-dozen books in the US containing Garo-related material somehow equals all of manga. Manga has been an influence on a generation of cartoonists, from Bryan Lee O’Malley (Underground? Art? I have no idea) to Brandon Graham to Dash Shaw to C.F., but it’s not primarily Garo so much as the overwhelming mass of manga that hit these shores over the last decade.

And what the fuck is “underground comics” in 2012? I literally have no idea. I mean, not so underground that it’s not being promoted on an Amazon.com-administered web site? Worse yet, the writers don’t even know their US-comics history/theory. EC was a comic book company. Manga is the Japanese term for comics. Garo was an anthology. Three very different things. But let’s just follow this windy logic — Sure, EC was important  to 1960s-70s underground comics as a liberating influence, but was equally a weight to get out from under. Just ask Bill Griffith, who decried its pervasiveness. Many of the best of those cartoonists (Crumb, Spiegelman, Green, Kominsky, Noomin, Wilson, et al) show no influence by EC at all.

By featuring the works of these western artists together in a traditional right-to-left/newsprint/pulp-manga format we hope to engender discussion about the trans-national influence of manga on the broader world of art-comix.

-Ok, we’re back to manga again. From Garo to manga. How does a format engender a discussion? You know what engenders discussion? Intelligent writing or informed art on the subject. And if you want to make a groovy anthology just make it — don’t latch onto something you don’t understand (in the slightest) to make your point. It’s sleazy. Stand on your own. Then again, maybe it’s time I got around to my “Metal Hurlant Tribute Anthology”. Wait a minute…

-And what the fuck does art-comix even mean? People call what I publish “art-comix” and I  look over my shoulder as though someone called me “Mr. Nadel”. I don’t understand. What is art-comix? Different than regular comics? I like comics. I also liked the zine I Like Comics. But I don’t think I like “comix”. Garo contained comics, right? Was there an “x” involved? I doubt it. Was Winsor McCay “art comix”? If you make comics, make comics.

-And finally, Kickstarter. Guess what? You don’t get to call yourself underground if you’re on Kickstarter. Guess what else? You don’t get to call yourself a publisher either; you’re just someone who pays a printing bill. Take pre-orders on your site. Sell your boots. Do what you have to do. But don’t go begging for money so that you can then give 5% of it to Amazon.com, which is actively trying to put you (!), and the stores you hope to shove this shit into, out of business. I’m all for raising money for art, but it would be nice if there was some sense of proportion. No one needs this anthology but it might do fine “in the market”. I’m so sick of seeing perfectly viable (viable, but not smart or interesting; viable) comic book projects on there. People can do what they want, but when you’re out there hustling dough for your movie-ready zombie-baseball graphic novel, or fucking Cyberforce, or your poorly thought through Garo book, you just look like a schmuck.

I realize there are seemingly bigger problems in the comics world, but I guess I’m thinking locally.

Ok, have a great weekend!

p.s.: Frank Santoro is having another big back issue sale this weekend in NYC!


183 Responses to No Good Reason

  1. Interesting stuff.

    1) Full disclosure: I’m backing this project.

    2) I know next to nothing about Manga/Garo, so I cannot speak to your historical critique. I like your point about the land-grab for critical attention without attention to detail or history. I think it’s important to know the terrain you’re on, in, or making. You make something and put it into the world, and it has a social contract. Producing art this way, you’re part of a cultural conversation, like it or not.

    3) But… You’re assuming shortcomings from copy written for the campaign. Do we know that, in fact, those responsible for putting it together HAVEN’T read or thought through the points you raise? Can you bury this book based on your perception of it as ‘just another anthology’, based only on some (potentially poorly worded) copy?

    4) When I come to read this book (back to front) will I be another idiot dupe who has failed to learn what needs to be learned from its remit, or is it a way for me to engage in other ways of seeing and thinking about a) comics b) international comics c) history d) my place in there? Is there a fine line between being conversant with history, and being proprietary about art/genre/whatever. Are you gatekeeper or facilitator?

    5) If this anthology is part of, and your argument seems to suggest it is, a broader cultural/historical conversation about where comics come from and how they are made, you cannot divorce the ‘thing’ from ‘the context’. In other words I think the format has engendered a discussion already.

    6) If your point was about semantics (that logically the format itself is an object/concept/arrangement/set of signs, and has no agency without signification) then it seems a bit pedantic.

    7) Why judge art you haven’t seen for being neither smart nor interesting nor capable of sustaining discussion?

    8) a personal distaste for Kickstarter is one thing: but critiquing a product on the basis of its means of production shouldn’t be a selective endeavour. That is, talk about the ethics of any means of production. I don’t know what books you read. You think Penguin has anymore ethical traction than Kickstarter? Or any other publisher? Where does their money go?

    9) That said, I think we share opinions on that. I ran an IndieGoGo once and I didn’t like it. I don’t like crowd sourcing particularly. So why did I donate? Exploring forms of funding and platforms that are different, more peer-to-peer is a step towards an economy I’d prefer. It’s an experiment.

    10) I’m sure categories about what is and what is not ‘publishing’ are changing. I’m sure the role of the editor, is changing. Artist producer consumer reader writer connector funder publisher WHAT. That normativity is all a bit burgh to me.

    11) ‘No-one needs this anthology’. What art does anyone need? What do you think we need?

    12) Perhaps I’m just annoyed because I like Box. Will this make my critique invalid?

  2. Robert Boyd says:

    “Many of the best of those cartoonists (Crumb, Spiegelman, Green, Kominsky, Noomin, Wilson, et al) show no influence by EC at all.”

    Wha–? I believe that at the very least, Crumb and Spiegelman have both explicitly acknowledged their debt to MAD and Harvey Kurtzman. Spiegelman has also talked in detail about Bernard Krigstein and “Master Race.” Spiegelman’s technique of composing pages comes directly from Kurtzman’s.

    I think the undergrounds would have happened even if EC hadn’t happened. They are a product of social and economic factors far larger than any single comicbook publisher. But it is simply a fact that many, if not most, underground cartoonists read EC comics and were to some extent influenced by them.

  3. Andrew White says:

    Even if SP might have articulated the argument imprecisely, I don’t think it is incorrect that, in brief, the influence of the manga boom is leading many younger cartoonists to make manga-influenced work that is comparable to that found in Garo. At the least this work is closer to Garo (in its diversity as well) than it is to the mass market shonen and shoujo stuff to which most North Americans were first exposed. So Garo has “remanifested” itself (maybe not the best term, but it’ll work) in North America because cartoonists started combining manga idioms, techniques, etc. with more idiosyncratic, less formulaic storytelling without seeing work by Garo artists and others that had been doing the same type of thing decades previously.

  4. Tim Hodler says:

    Yeah, I gotta second Robert on this one, especially Crumb and Spiegelman!

  5. Dan Nadel says:

    Yep, in haste I goofed and somehow forgot entirely about (a) MAD and (b) Spiegleman’s work on Krigstein. Mea Culpa. I think the larger point stands.

  6. Ian Harker says:

    We’re willing to let the quality of the book itself stand on it’s own ultimately. The rest of the contextualizing is perhaps a bit of mental masturbation, spare me this one conceit!

    Dan is one of the few people I’d respect the opinion of when it comes to the context of this book. So it turns him off, oh well. There are others heavily invested in the alt-comics/manga cultural exchange as well, and many of them have been very supportive. I’m always happy to have at least one major voice on the con side. I had my fair share of goes at Dan’s books in the past. Fair play to Dan.

  7. Paul P says:

    ” Guess what? You don’t get to call yourself underground if you’re on Kickstarter”

    Why the hell not? Why can’t underground, small publishers/cartoonists living in year of 2012 use Kickstarter to create an anthology? Kickstarter is a good way to see if there is interest in larger projects, offset printing costs as well as even pay the artists for their contribution. And who made you the comics police? If there is no interest then people won’t fund it – people are free to do whatever they like. Most of the funding is coming from people who understand what they are funding and are interested in zines, mini-comics & comics.

    “ I don’t understand. What is art-comix? Different than regular comics? I like comics. I also liked the zine I Like Comics. But I don’t think I like “comix”. Garo contained comics, right? Was there an “x” involved? I doubt it. Was Winsor McCay “art comix”? If you make comics, make comics.”

    Really are we being petty here – who gives a FUCK what its called comix, comics, art comics or art-comix – its the same shit in the end they are COMICS. There are comics you like and comics you don’t like – that’s it.

  8. The “x” thing was a little petty, yeah. And the EC thing felt like evidence that this post stemmed from a lot of preexisting peeves on Dan’s part, so that when he found something that triggered a bunch of them all at once, he started swinging at it with any weapon to hand. A little more focus and a little less grumpiness would have helped the valid points land. Don’t blog angry!

  9. Daniel C. Parmenter says:

    That’s fair. But doesn’t S. Clay Wilson have at least a smidge of EC influence? Perhaps limited to the occasional utterance of “Good Lord! *choke*” in his comix?

    EC is mentioned as Wilson’s reason for wanting to be a cartoonist here: http://www.tcj.com/the-s-clay-wilson-interview/ but of course that’s not the same as doing obviously EC-inspired UG comix (e.g. Jaxon, Spain).

  10. BradyDale says:

    While I am very tempted to snark back with the same level of pedantry contained in the above, I’ll save it. I just want to say,

    WTF, Kickstarter?

    Alright… let’s drop some history.

    Once upon a time, artists had patrons. Then that shit stopped. Then they had foundations, but guess what, foundations didn’t do crap for comics.

    But now comics has Kickstarter. And that’s awesome.

    I do not understand why anyone pro-comics would rip on a system that is enabling people to get funding for comics in a serious way. Holy crap… even a “viable” book doesn’t make its makers any money under the current system. It would be nice if someone could actually make a living making comics and Kickstarter has increased the number of people who are. And that’s awesome. Because even “successful” comics seldom make enough to cover an artist’s life, especially if they have to front the printing costs.

    And why the hell can’t you call yourself underground if you’re on Kickstarter? There’s no gatekeeper on Kickstarter. You just throw your stuff up and it gets funded or it doesn’t. No one vets it. When you’re underground, it means you didn’t get past a gatekeeper. If there’s no gatekeeper on Kickstarter (and there’s not) then how does being on Kickstarter make you not underground?

    I am totally, totally baffled how anyone who loves this medium would be pissed about a new entity that’s come along to bring more money in for its creators.

    And boo-hoo about the shops. Guess what, I became a fan of comics sitting on the floor of the magazine rack next to the spinner rack in my hometown grocery store. When I was a kid, we had grocery stores with spinner racks and no comics shops. I never understand why the heck they had the spinner racks because I never knew one single other kid who bought those comics, but I bought them. A lot.

    Then we got a comic shop, and that was kind of cool, but the grocery stores got rid of their spinner racks.

    Now, my hometown (a little town in Kansas) has no comic shop and no spinner rack. How many new fans do you think are coming out of their now?

    All I’ve ever felt in a comic shop is the uncomfortable urge to prove myself nerd enough to talk to the den of weirdoes hanging around in there – though usually I would regret trying. I have lived in six cities in the last ten years and never felt the slightest affinity to a single comic shop I have ever frequented and can’t imagine how anyone thinks they would broaden the fan base.

    The Internet is bringing in new fans and the shops aren’t and never have.

    Whatever.

  11. I can imagine it being a difficult place to raise money for projects when others around you are getting books funded so “seemingly” easily. I know I thought it was sleazy when Microcosm started using Kickstarter. Imagine if D & Q or Fanta used Kickstarter, or Picturebox. So there might appear or feel to be a barrier between established publishers and newer project based publications. Yeah, Amazon is evil. That’s a fine point, but let’s not attack one another. Be constructive. I prefer “comics” as opposed to “comix,” and I also prefer “pamphlet” to “floppy,” the latter, a term Box, I believe, used in the creation of his earlier Retrofit Project. Although I disliked the word “floppy” used in that pitch, when I saw those comics on the shelves of my local stores I was very very happy this project existed. In fact there were several gems that came out of Retrofit. I think Box was actually able to PAY the creators. Now that’s ethical! Maybe I’ll like this new project just as much. I hope so.

  12. Gabe Fowler says:

    Regardless of the other content of this post, I have to concur with the kickstarter rant at the end. Whatever happened to artists and would-be publishers saving their hard-earned money to produce a project they believe in? Reliance on kickstarter equals not-publishing-unless-your-friends-think-its-cool, with is pretty spineless. Add on the siphoning of funds to a huge opposite-of-underground entity like amazon and you have a doubly bullshit proposition.

  13. Ian Harker says:

    To be fair, Fantagraphics, D&Q, Picturebox, etc. etc. all sell their books through Amazon. So we’re really just talking about robbing Peter to pay Paul. Dan partially crowdfund PM3 & ifNOof. Sure he did that on his own site, but both books are available on Amazon.

  14. Mike Dawson says:

    I’m generally OK with Kickstarter, but this raises a question I never thought about before: have there been any books that were ultimately self-published (using the creator’s own $$$), after an unsuccessful attempt to get it crowd-funded?

    Or, is it more likely that a creator would just scrap a comic if it failed to get Kickstarted.

    That second scenario is really lame, and yeah, spineless, and I suspect, more likely to happen than the first one.

  15. jasontmiles says:

    CRICKETS by sammy harkham and don’t forget a lot of self publishers first submit their comic or book to publisher’s rejection

  16. jasontmiles says:

    peter? paul?

    ian, i recommend you read-up on both garo and the way amazon.com works. multitude’s and ambiguities abound

  17. jasontmiles says:

    it’d be counter-intuitive and fiscally idiotic for any publisher that sell’s to amazon.com to use kickstarter.

  18. Ian Harker says:

    I’m pretty sure the way it works is that you sell your books on there and Amazon takes a cut. In other words, the exact same situation as Kickstarter only on the back end.

  19. Mike Dawson says:

    I might not have worded it well: Has there been a book that was originally on Kickstarter (or some other crowdfunding site), failed to raise the money, and then the creator went ahead and paid for the publication out of his/her own pocket?

    There are a ton of instances of creators getting a book rejected by a publisher, then going DIY. That’s what most of the self-publishers were, right? (Not all, but a lot).

    For some reason, I feel like with Kickstarter there’d be more people just scrapping their idea if it fell financially short, and that seems like a real shame.

  20. I get a little confused by constant kickstarter campaigns as well. I run a very small publishing company—I had a small fundraiser (not through kickstarter) for our first effort, which covered half the cost of our first book. Since then, I’ve put the books out myself.

    I first thought kickstarter was for huge, dream-level projects (like jim woodring’s giant nib). I see so many kickstarter campaigns for small pamphlet comics or things of similar ambition.

    A big part of me feels that if you really believe in the project you’re publishing, you can find ways to save to publish it. You can work a couple extra weekends at your job, you can work a second job a few weekends a month. I put all the money I make from selling art (which isn’t much but a lot to me) and from my dayjob (which is doing deleveries for a bakery—again, not a lot) into publishing. Sometimes I’d rather use this money for other stuff, but (for now at least) I believe in maing these books, and a big part of that is making them whether people tell me its ok to make them or not. The books I publish are not things people are clamoring for—the burden is on me to make the thing and once it is made, have faith that the quality of the project brings people around to supporting it/loving it.

  21. Also, as sanctimonious as it sounds, if you’re small enough to not have to rely on Amazon (ie if you’re publishing efforts dont determine whether there is food on the table) you should probably not use amazon in any way, shape or form.

  22. jasontmiles says:

    thanks for the rant dan!

    kickstarter’s agreement with amazon.com is a can of worms and the more i read about it the less likely i am to use kickstarter. more importantly there are other ways to fund awesome and excellent art projects. these other ways may not have the same radiant branding that kickstarter now has but relying on shit like branding is the least of your problems.

    i’d like to dispel any concepts that amazon.com’s only iron in the fire is books or ebooks. those things are their front. they make a shit-ton (seriously, A SHIT-TON) more money (MORE MONEY! INSANE AMOUNTS OF MONEY!) by developing and maintaining other equally prominent websites. books are a small part of their income. what’s so scary for the returnable-based-publishing industry (this has nothing to do with mini-comics, zines, books or any other print product that isn’t DIRECTLY sold to amazon.com) is that amazon.com is the number one account for each and every publisher that directly sells to them and more to the point: amazon.com buys on a non-returnable basis. So you can consider what you sell to amazon.com (and diamond, for those of you interested in wanting to know why they’re so powerful) as money in the bank, whereas sales to barnes & nobles and your awesome local independent book store are returnable (ie. as a publisher you’re gambling when you send anything to them and the only thing you know is that a percentage of what you send will in fact be returned to you).

    despite the above… what’s central in dan’s rant above, to me, is this:

    “that people supposedly engaged in the medium aren’t actually curious about it. They’re far more entrenched in making it reflect themselves than in actually learning something. It’s just a lot easier to just grab something (Rob Liefeld! Garo!) and make it your “thing” than to actually carve out an identity or do some research.”

    our culture, both pop and otherwise, is exhibiting a disturbing amount of solipsism in how it articulates its experience. and where solipsism is concerned comics as a medium may’ve had a foot in the grave before all the adaptations and relaunches and tumblr fanart bullshit began. a lot of comics tacitly reference what came before without questioning why or without knowing the reference. racial stereotypes, anyone!?! i think r. crumb’s work is a treasure but i’m sick of seeing young artists (and older established artists) tacitly follow his lead and simply wallow in their comforts and fetishes without asking themselves (and readers) why? at least crumb asks why and share’s his search for answers. personally, i’m more interested in what you don’t know as an artist than what you know. let yer freak flag fly!

  23. Yes, beautifully put.

  24. Ian Harker says:

    If you can afford to publish with cash then you don’t need financing. If you can’t you need financing. Would you rather take out a loan and pay 100% plus interest to a bank or pay 5% to Amazon? It’s called a cost/benefit analysis.

  25. jasontmiles says:

    this is actually a reply to ian’s reply to austin:

    “If you can afford to publish with cash then you don’t need financing. If you can’t you need financing. Would you rather take out a loan and pay 100% plus interest to a bank or pay 5% to Amazon? It’s called a cost/benefit analysis.”

    actually it’s called begging, especially if you’re planning on making a profit and you’re not planning on paying back investors, as is case with kickstarter. if you’re not planning on making a profit, why use the biz speak? also, apply your 5% to buying a house and take a time machine to the year 2008 and discover foreclosure in the year 2010.

    and if you can’t afford your ideas you can’t afford them! cash or credit.

    i’m a big fan of this book on the subject: SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_Is_Beautiful

    i also like what mat brinkman sed in his tcj interview: “the more money you put into it, the less you’re actually putting into it..”

  26. Pat says:

    “I do not understand why anyone pro-comics would rip on a system that is enabling people to get funding for comics in a serious way.”

    Me neither. I’m someone who honestly really likes this new version of the site and the people behind it, but I am seriously rather grossed out by this whole thing.

  27. Pat says:

    (this should be below jason’s post but i can’t seem to reply to that one)

    “actually it’s called begging, especially if you’re planning on making a profit and you’re not planning on paying back investors, as is case with kickstarter.”

    If I give these guys 20 bucks (which i am planning on doing), I get a digital and print copy of the book. I don’t see how that’s even remotely like begging or not getting a return on my investment.

  28. Pat says:

    oops, i guess it did go to the right spot

  29. Ian Harker says:

    It’s called a different way of handling pre-orders. The amount we’re asking for essentially equates to the retail value + shipping.

  30. mickey z says:

    kickstarter always felt (and still feels) to me like a way to trick people into funding your life while you jerk off and publish comics the same way you always did!
    i’ve never used it personally because i feel like i haven’t come up with a good enough “project” to lure 5 grand out of the peoples and then publish things the same way i always do except i get to go on a extravagant vacation and pay my rent for 3 months. but i don’t think it’s necessary to raise 5, 3 or even 2 grand to publish anything, especially if it’s black and white! — and not to get into the self publishing vs. outsourcing thing but it costs me like….. i dunno….AT MOST 200-300 bux to publish qty 300-400, 80-90 page, 5.5×8.5 zines, not including my personal time which i don’t include because 100% of the profit goes back in my pocket and partially funds my idiot life. and for ME, people kind of max out at caring about whatever the hell i’ve published around person # 300, so i don’t usually have much left over to worry about storing — whereas i feel like people raise funds to publish these wonderful smaller anthologies in the quantities of 1000’s and then they’re sitting on 600 books for the next 4 years (this is probably not true across the board).

    i think its good that people can fund their projects, and support other people in doing so — but i also think the got-2-get-money in order to do ANYTHING mentality is a bad one to propagate! especially in these “harsh economic times” —- publishers don’t make money anyway so why spend money to publish anything? why not raise 5 grand and buy an OFFSET PRESS? or 5 risographs. then you’re basically “publishing” for the cost of your time! and paper.

    im not trying to talk shit by the way!!!! do what u can! also i don’t know nothing about garo and japanese/american manga history so i can’t weigh in on that one.

  31. Bill Kartalopoulos says:

    I don’t have a deep principled objection to crowdfunding. People have solicited funds to execute grassroot projects forever, ranging from soliciting pre-orders to benefit concerts to rent parties, and if you translate that impulse to the internet it’s only natural that you end up with something like Kickstarter.

    I think crowdfunding can be used and misused, and should be evaluated on a case by case basis. I strongly object when people who don’t need the money use Kickstarter for, basically, promotional purposes (and get some cash they don’t need in the bargain).

    I think crowdfunding makes more sense for self-publishing artists (who have already sacrificed income opportunities just to complete the work) than for publishers. But in either case, I think it is best used as as, essentially, a mechanism for preorder. If I could suggest a rule for publishing projects, I’d advocate for no more than two levels of funding: 1) the cost of the book (a straight pre-order); and perhaps 2) a slightly higher pledge for a bonus signed print or something like that. I really object when some popular person solicits giant donations in exchange for lunch and a pony ride with the artist or whatever.

    I’d also advocate for an upper limit on funding. I don’t think someone should walk away with more than, say, 110% of the solicited funding. Again, I find it really obscene when Kickstarter turns into some kind of popularity contest (or “biggest fan” competition) and people walk away with multiples of what they need to fund their project. I don’t know if this is even technically possible on Kickstarter or on other platforms, but it should be.

    Beyond that, I agree with the critiques of Kickstarter’s ties to Amazon. I don’t know if Indiegogo or the other crowdfunding platforms have similar ties or not.

    Bill Kartalopoulos

  32. Ian Harker says:

    I know most of this discussion has been about Kickstarter (which sucked me in) but on a side note, about the book itself… Don’t fool yourself into thinking this is going to be a bad book. Myself & Box stand behind the artists and the work featured within 100%. Despite Dan’s misperceptions I can assure you that the book is an absolute love letter to Garo. I’m hoping you’ll all give it a fair shake when it’s time arrives.

  33. jasontmiles says:

    yeah, pat, you’ve got a point… i can’t help but look at it from a publisher standpoint (my dayjob): one of paying artists and employee’s and getting paid from stores and distributors and individual consumers, etc etc. i think you’ve nailed the simple appeal of kickstarter on the head, along with ian’s comment regarding pre-orders. i’ve contributed to 2 book kickstarters and basically looked at it as a pre-order. my gripe is tied to amazon.com’s involvement and as well as small press shit trying to get kickstarted so it can pretend to be big press shit. it’s all a big stinky onion!

  34. jasontmiles says:

    want to add that i’m involved in an ambitious comics festival thing that’s going to use kickstarter to help generate funding… i wasn’t in on the decision to use kickstarter and i trust and respect the higher ups that made that decision… but it’s not something that rests easy in my gut… i’d feel a lot more bogus about it if we were trying to use it to fund a zine or book rather than a 3 day event… the contradiction that an arts based festival will be contributing 5% of what it raises to amazon.com does leave me with a bitter taste

  35. “but i also think the got-2-get-money in order to do ANYTHING mentality is a bad one to propagate!”
    yes—wish i could have said this as well myself.

  36. Mike Hunter says:

    ——————————
    BradyDale says:

    I do not understand why anyone pro-comics would rip on a system that is enabling people to get funding for comics in a serious way.
    ——————————-

    Is Dan Nadel “pro-comics” in the sense that he cheers exuberantly, Team Comics style, for anything “comics” that is published?

    Or does he have critical faculties, which means — though he appreciates the art form, what it’s capable of and what has been done in it — that he’ll cast a fishy eye upon work that he considers dubious? (Or, in this case, a work whose publicity material raises his hackles. The irritation uderstandable in parts, in others puzzling.)

    Still, Gawd save us from “pro-comics” folk; they’d be like “pro-plants” gardeners who’d lovingly water and fertilize every weed that comes along and crowds out fine and beautiful vegetation.

    ——————————
    And boo-hoo about the shops.
    ——————————

    For someone who considers being “pro-comics” to be an utter cheerleader, that’s a…strange reaction.

    ——————————
    All I’ve ever felt in a comic shop is the uncomfortable urge to prove myself nerd enough to talk to the den of weirdoes hanging around in there – though usually I would regret trying.
    ——————————-

    Gee, I just see comics shops as a place to…buy comics. With a vastly better selection than available in even the good ol’ days of spinner racks. Where I first got into Fantagraphics and the whole world of alternative comics.

    ——————————-
    I have lived in six cities in the last ten years and never felt the slightest affinity to a single comic shop I have ever frequented and can’t imagine how anyone thinks they would broaden the fan base.
    ——————————–

    Oh, because all you “felt in a comic shop is the uncomfortable urge to prove myself nerd enough,” “never felt the slightest affinity to a single comic shop [you] have ever frequented,” therefore comics shops are hopeless for “broaden[ing] the fan base.”

    They may indeed fail to broaden the fan base, but what’s at work are a host of factors, of which they are only partly responsible. What about all the non-nerdly bookstores, indie music stores, and record store chains that have gone under? It’s Amazon, the decline of literacy, the Web and the culture of instant gratification, expecting to get everything for free that it teaches, which are the villains here.

    ——————————
    The Internet is bringing in new fans and the shops aren’t and never have.
    ——————————

    Yeah, fans who demand to get it all for nothing. And the shops “never have” done anything to expand the audience for comics? Must be nice to be young enough to be unaware of how much you don’t know.

  37. LWV says:

    It’s a *great* thing that artists can release projects without relying on publisher, or the fear that nobody will buy it/give a shit, or the need to second guess themselves when it comes to production costs.

    And It’s not “begging” when you have a product. I know what I get for $10, and if I want it I’ll buy it.

    “sell your boots”= probably the most offensive thing anyone has ever written on this website.

  38. Sean Ford says:

    good post, mickey

  39. LWV says:

    *insert image of Dan Nadel publishing comiCS uphill both ways in the snow with no boots*

  40. Jesse Moynihan says:

    I think you’re splitting hairs all over the place, Dan. People without publishers use the newest available tools to get their work out there. If I didn’t have a publisher, and was trying to put out a book, I’d Indiegogo or Kickstarter the hell out of it. We used to have the Xeric Foundation, but now we don’t. Big ups to Austin for his thriftiness/dedication to getting the $$$, but two years ago I couldn’t pay my rent, let alone save up $1500 to put out a floppy. I think Peter Laird called it quits at least in part because of Kickstarter proving to be effective for upstarts. I don’t think it’s a wimp move at all. If people want the product, they’ll invest in it. Meanwhile I’ve got hundreds of my old self published comic sitting in storage that I’ll never get rid of because I had no clue how to approximate my potential buyers.

    As far as their understanding of the semantics of Japanese comics I can’t even begin to enter that conversation, but to me, it seems like you’re laying into them a bit hard. This coming from a guy who digs Nick Gazin reviews. Seems a bit trite, especially to rag on them about the Rob Leifeld tribute, man come on.

  41. Zack Soto says:

    JT Miles and others raise valid questions about Amazon’s cut of Kickstarter, so much so that I will definitely be looking at IndieGoGo as an option for crowd-sourcing pre-orders for the couple larger projects I have been pondering (despite the fact that it seems like IndieGoGo projects have a lower success rate than KS projects).

    That said, other than the Amazon connection, I’m left wondering what the difference between using a Kickstarter to basically take pre-orders (with tiered incentives) and using your own website to take pre-orders (with tiered incentives) is?

  42. Brad McGinty says:

    I’ve done presales on my website, and they seem to work out well. You are on the hook for some minute paypal fees if you don’t meet your quota, but it’s a small price to pay for showing commitment to the work you’re publishing.

    Kickstarter is a great IDEA, but it’s not necessarily the best option all of the time. With such high profile creators with such a large internet presence I’d be curious to see what Ian and Box could do by raising the funds on their own site or blog.

    If we’re going to be self publishers or underground cartoonists, let’s do our best to keep our work out of the hands of any unnecessary corporations. After all, that is the point, right?

  43. What I like about xomics (typo, but I guess it’s appropriate) is the generally inherent nature of support amongst it’s participants for each other. Criticism has a valid place within any art form’s circles, but I don’t get it when criticism transforms into anger, or talking smack (on either ‘side’ of the ‘argument’), when noone’s done anything intentionally wrong. I don’t see anyone doing anything wrong here, just heads that love comics trying to make comics inspired by the comics they love.

  44. Milo George says:

    I love it when Dan’s had all he can stand and can’t stand no more. More meanness, please.

    That anthology has a good lineup, but the volume and intensity of editorial dumbness in that KS solicitation hurts to see; it sounds like a tribute to the thumbnail impression of GARO from reference books, not the actual work itself — and they seem much more into fetishizing the most superficial, literally surface-deep characteristics of the series [thick, newsprint book read right-to-left] than the series’ content. Don’t you have to be a fan to create fanfic?

    Martin Wagner single-handedly ruined self-publisher pre-orders for at least a few generations; at least you get your money back from crowdsourcing sites if nothing comes of it.

  45. Jarrett says:

    IIRC, there is no actual guaranteed way to get your money back from crowdsourcing sites (at least Kickstarter) if nothing comes of it, besides an informal agreement that the person you are funding would give you back your money if nothing came out. Your credit card is only going to cover you for a couple months right? Some Kickstarter projects don’t even start production until the end of the fundraising. That Tim Schafer video game isn’t going to be out for a while still, and if nothing comes out it, no one will probably get their money back because that money is spent and long gone (the problem with investing without any guarantee whatsoever, and the only payment you get is a future product that doesn’t exist yet). Bringing up Martin Wagner is a good point though, because he often pops into my head when I think about when, inevitably, the Kickstarter/crowdsourcing bubble pops. It isn’t if, but when The Big Project fails to materialize, and people reject Kickstarter and crowdsourcing in general.

  46. Angie says:

    This is extreeeeemely anecdotal, but I wanted to make a note about your first point: I grew up reading exclusively manga until my twenties, so when I discovered Tsuge and Susumu Katsumata and etc etc, their material resonated with me in a way Kirby, Crumb, Spiegelman, a lot of the important North American comics creators never did. So it’s probably fair to criticize the Kickstarter description for painting with broad strokes and not being particularly concerned with history, but it did describe my experience–being a product of the manga boom led me to look backwards towards works that fall under the umbrella of Garo, and to want to tease out the mystery of those story structures, the compositions of the panels, scene breaks, etc, stuff that doesn’t require deep knowledge of the history to parse and/or reuse.

    Or, well, I can’t speak for anyone else, but that’s what I assumed the anthology was about, so, um, 12 pages of it will be a love letter to Susumu Katsumata and his use of small panels during intimate moments.

  47. Geoff says:

    Seems to me that life throws enough obstacles in the way of creators/artists/writers producing work of any kind without being chastised for how one raises money to do so. OR for selling 5 copies of your book on Amazon.

    “sell your boots” indeed.

  48. skuds says:

    I feel like people riffing on kickstarter are just hating cause other people are getting there work out and getting money for what they like to do. I funded a kickstarter and let me tell you two of my friends contributed the rest where fans and random people that liked what they saw. Stop hating on things that are progressive for comics, embrace the new instead of clinging to the past with broken, dead fingers.
    and Dan probably just got this project more funding by posting this crazy ass rant.

  49. Cheese says:

    Ha! Whatta dick!

    I tend to lean on the side of ‘putting your money where your mouth is’ when it comes to publishing stuff, I’m old school and got stuck in my ways long before internet crowd-sourcing was even imagined. But I also know every single creative medium has been drastically changed in the last 10 years and will continue to evolve at seemingly exponential rate, both in content and execution. I give these guys credit for even doing a print version. Comixology sold $19,000,000 in comics last year and expect to sell $70,000,000 this year. They just pulled out an iPad with the words, “PRINT’S DONE, SON!” flashing on it in day glow letters and buried it in the comic industry’s face.

    These days I only get miffed at Kickstarters when it’s someone asking for people to pay for them to quit their jobs. The SP guys make some fun books and usually only take in as much money as they need plus a bit for production costs, then give the damned things away for free. They’re good yeggs with their hearts in the right place, and certainly didn’t deserve to get kicked in the teeth on TCJ. If Kickstarter is the way folks are getting their stuff out there now, fine by me. Getting uppity about someone using a popular site whose name is instantly recognized in the minds of millions of people, but being totally cool with hosting the exact same thing on your own site which get 4 hits a month (half from your mom) is fucking weird. Finding the best ways to get your material out there has always been the hardest part about making comics for me, if this makes it easier for someone, more power to them.

    What’s with the hate-on for Amazon? In this instance they run a service that seems to work like gang-busters and charge a pittance for it. I don’t have the energy to see if Dan slagged Woodring for his giant pen project, or Daniel Johnston’s Space Ducks, but I’m going to guess he didn’t.

    Dan Nadel knows exactly what art comics are, (not zombie comics!) you could present the majority of his own titles as Exhibit A in court. A five-minute spin around his site found the phrase describing his own books. Does Picturebox publish any adventure stories? Any guys in capes not done ironically? Anything the world-at-large would call a “comic book”? The $15.00, 8-page, photo-copied mini-comic grabbed my eye, but I didn’t see anything even closely reminiscent of Little Nemo. Dan obviously loves comics of all stripes (except Cyberforce), and maybe his passions got the better of him here, or maybe he he was drunk, but screaming at people, “If you make comics, MAKE COMICS!” after berating them for not reading your prescribed textbook first is a dick-move.

    Cheese

    PS – the whole “x” section is just too weird.

  50. R. Pistilli says:

    If there is no interest then people won’t MAKE them, especially if they’re not getting paid. Cartooning has always been stigmatized as being somehow less than “fine” art. Mr. Harker has certainly been fighting that useless put-down, so he likes to refer to his collections as “art”. The word “comix” is probably from the brand name of the Philadelphia group called Philly Comix Jam. Who the FUCK indeed.

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  52. Ed Brisson says:

    Was working on a longer response, but Cheese beat me to it.

    So: What Cheese said.

  53. Kevin Mutch says:

    It seems to me there’s an obvious conflict of interest when one art comics publisher attacks another in a highly visible forum he happens to control.

  54. “And what the fuck is “underground comics” in 2012? I literally have no idea.” ~ Dan Nadel

  55. Ben Dale says:

    I think Kickstarter is the new Image in a lot of ways. Creators can solicit a book for a limited period, get their orders, and then print and ship their books. I think it could be used really well to get creator owned books initial print run out there. It’s still new and there’s no rules. People are having to find their own rules.
    It’s also a good way for a creator to sell his work directly to his audience, instead of having to split the money 3 ways with a store and diamond. It’s a pro-creator system that works well for things like books which will become a special edition thing for collectors eventually, just like in music.

  56. Leah says:

    i used kickstarter to fund the first issue of an antho i put out and, and it was great for raising awareness and generating excitement (plus i got to make a crazy video) but boy did i feel dirty! the amount amazon took was gross, and i just felt gross pestering people i didn’t know for money. however, i understand the use of kickstarter for a first time project (ie, i was right out of college and not making any money when i did my campaign), but if one is using it over and over again, than I certainly would get a little tired of them! now i’m working hard to save up for the next issue, and yeah, it sucks, but at least i don’t feel like a sleaze.

  57. @Leah,

    Pestering people you don’t know for money is what the rest of us call doing business. Welcome to capitalism!

    Less facetiously, I think part of the point of Kickstarter is it brings your project to the attention of people who might genuinely want it. If you’re giving people something they want, it’s OK to take their money. Before the internet, you might not be able to get a critical mass of people, enough to fund a project, but putting it out there increases your exposure and therefore the likelihood that someone, somewhere, will be delighted by it.

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  59. I basically agree except for the upper limit. If you’re using it for pre-orders and you’re still delivering a product for the money paid, I don’t see why there should be a maximum amount of money you can make. Some james stokoe book recently got around $90,000 over what they needed for funding, but it was exactly the same as if they had just sold that many books and posters without using kickstarter. I don’t know why it being in the context of kickstarter means that artists shouldn’t be able to make a bunch of money and live off their art.

  60. Mike L. says:

    Actually, you don’t have to give up any money unless they hit their goal.

  61. T. Alixopulos says:

    just wait, Wagner’s going to figure out Kickstarter and rip off Tom all over again.

  62. Small press comics are already very much a special edition thing for collectors.

  63. T. Alixopulos says:

    Comics-people have not exactly distinguished themselves in the edifying use of Kickstarter. Without even thinking hard, we can all recall campaigns that were obnoxious, embarrassing, unnecessary and morally bankrupt. Like, worse than “help me quit my job” (that at least has the merit of vulgar honesty).

    But so what, Kickstarter is sort of inherently tacky, and so are “underground” comics, right? (whatever that means). Except it seems like their respective tackiness clashes. Looked at in the broadest sense, underground comics are comics that are sort of challenging, don’t cater to convention, don’t care if you like them etc. In contrast, Kickstarter is a form of organized begging, with tools built in to flatter the ego of the patrons, and controlled by a humongous corporation.

    One could argue that there have always been underground publishers, who put up money and fulfilled the role of the patron, but in the original milieu of undergrounds they were more like implicated accomplices than patrons. So, based on all that, I can sort of see the point in Dan’s rant.

  64. Jesse Moynihan says:

    It’s NOT begging. “Begging” would be accepting money without offering anything in return. That’s not what it is. It’s a currently, more successful-than-not model for generating pre-sales. People are using it because it works. As far as I can tell, the reason why people are dumping on it is because works. You can pick apart the kickstarter model any way you want. It’s easy. Just look down at your bellybutton and start typing. That’s your business. But your personal nitpicks with the classiness of crowd funding will not stop the world from trying it out.

    I’ve only contributed money to two projects. One was the Sparkplug Indiegogo fundraiser. The other was for a battery-free bike light on Kickstarter. I didn’t contribute to the project in question, because I don’t really want it that bad. I don’t really want anything that bad (except Dungeon Quest 4 and a new Yokoyama book). But if other people do, good for them, man. The publishing world has no reliable model. People are trying out new shit; Throwing shit at the wall to see what will help them thrive as artists, not just survive in their mom’s basement. Poo-pooing them for it is bogus and a real downer.

  65. Michael DeForge says:

    “why not raise 5 grand and buy an OFFSET PRESS? or 5 risographs. then you’re basically “publishing” for the cost of your time! and paper.”

    this is on point. there’s a shortsightedness to the way a lot of creators use sites like this. i’m not against crowdfunding, but i’ve been seeing more and more people fundraising on a project-to-project basis, which just seems like a bad business model.

    i’m always surprised i don’t see more kickstarters trying to raise money for, like, printing equipment or studio space – things that would be a better long term investment than paying off the printing costs of a single book run. buying a risograph has meant that i never have to worry about finding the cash to print a mini comic ever again. bla bla everyone loves risographs risograph risograph risograph

    i’m speaking more generally in this post – not trying to single out the garo book or any other creators. and i’d be happy to be corrected if there are a ton of fundraisers like what i’m describing out there that i’m just missing – the only ones that tend to be on my radar are the campaigns that pop up on my twitter and tumblr feeds the most. my overall point is, a lot of people are printing with risographs this year and we can all blame Mickey for it

  66. Kickstarter’s always seemed like an extra publicity/promotion builder as well, which doesn’t bother me as it’s not always easy for small press books to get the word out beyond their own site. This adds an extra social media component to it.

  67. DanielJoseMata says:

    The term “comix” has been around a lot longer since Philly Comix Jam, and it along with “underground” are really designations for a certain time period of comics rather than a type.

  68. DanielJoseMata says:

    There aren’t underground comics anymore when they’re so easily read and distributed nowadays.

    “Art-comix” is an annoying term because its used by people who feel like they are making something of greater worth, when in fact they’re usually just regurgitating the same excess as the comics they absorbed when they were thirteen. Kinda like what Tarantino is doing, except he has the logic to just say that he makes movies. Then again, they use “alt. comics” in the KS title, and “art-comix” in the copy. So, who knows what’s really going on….

    But, maybe I’m just still reeling from how terrible “Rub the Blood” was. Why was Batgirl in there? Why didn’t they get cartoonists who actually read those comics? Why not actually use it as a critique, not just for titters? It seemed to use Image as an interchangeable term for the early ’90s, just like it seems to use Garo for manga here. How many have they actually read issues of Garo?

  69. DanielJoseMata says:

    *thumbs up*

  70. Beyla says:

    The terms of service for kickstarter say that it’s for funding finite creative projects, not for making investments in the future. If you can bury buying printing equipment in the costs for your project’s print run you’re cool, but starting up your own print shop for your work is the sort of thing that might not get approval to go live on the site.

  71. Zack Soto says:

    Stop being so reasonable!

  72. Frank Santoro says:

    No one is buying Paul Gulacy back issues anymore…

  73. DanielJoseMata says:

    WHAT?! I just reread Sirius Six and Slash Miraud. Wonderful, dead-eyed stuff.

    Although, what time period? His stuff on the past decade is definitely phoned it.

  74. John V says:

    The thing that is pretty vile about Kickstarter is that it’s basically a service that rewards cliques. The person with the most twitter followers wins. If, for example, Kim Kardashian wanted to fund a comic book adaptation of her sex tape on Kickstarter, she would have it funded within seconds. I was going through kickstarter pitches the other day and alternating between laughing my ass off and puking a little in my mouth at the dreck that gets funded. One project, by someone named Kelly Thompson, was laughably amateurish and got something upwards of 20 grand. Seriously? Sometimes, actually most of the time, when a publisher says no, he means it for a reason.

  75. D. Peace says:

    “And boo boo about the shops…”
    snip
    “The Internet is bringing in new fans…”

    I completely agree. Your experiences, observations, and opinions on this particular topic match my own entirely. I am bothered by how desperately fans of DC and Marvel superhero books cling to the direct market system but that’s almost to be expected. More surprising and disconcerting is this conservative streak among indie creators and publishers where Kickstarter and the Kickstarter scene isn’t valid because its not the established standard-bearer and it needs to up its cred first. What could possibly be worse than the direct market system (creatively, financially, you name it) and why should we piss all over the ONLY true growth comics have experienced in generations?

  76. DanielJoseMata says:

    Actually never mind.

  77. James says:

    Damn, I meant to go to Frank’s sale if only to skew his negative Kirby sales judgement and while I was at it decry cartoonists who hate EC

  78. D. Peace says:

    Best reply so far. Naysayers have nothing on this. Cheers, Cheese.

  79. I just recently discovered all those crazy Batman comics he did with Moench in the 80s and 90s. Clearly I should have stuck around after Don Newton passed. Good stuff.

  80. Dunja says:

    Mainly about funding issues:
    Aside the connection with the Amazon, Kickstarter offers a great model of help to make projects come true. Anybody has a chance to submit a project, people who donate choose weather they want to support or not, weather they find the project bullshit or valid and talking about who should put their projects on the Kickstarter or not, is just an unnecessary rant shaped by personal taste/wish.

    Then, why should everything be organized through standard business operative, in order to be completely fair and “clean”? You should work with all the means you have.
    /// Example outside of US: In Croatia I organize a Skver art project on a small island, mainly with government money. Friends from Rome ( who organize the biggest comics fest in Europe; Crack ) resent that ( anarchist’s politics ), but then again, they make their festival in the squatted fortress in the middle of Rome where there is so many visitors that they can pay off the entire fest expenses just by charging the entrance. On the island where Skver is happening, 10 people come to the opening. So, in order to spread the idealism and utopia of art happening on some fucking distant island in the middle of nowhere, where there’s amazing moment happening between 30 artists from all over the world, I need to rely on the help of the government and local sponsors. I “beg” money for more then 3 months of a year, bureaucracy style and that’s the price I pay to keep this project rolling. You choose your priorities and use what you have. ///

    Also, one big point in this story is, not everyone can or wants to be a successful businessman in the comics world, some just want to make a project on the side. ( not going into weather this Garo project is good or not, it’s tastes again. )
    In a super-capitalistic world such as is US, where the common idea seems to be = you are in charge of your own success and/or guilty on your own if you fail, this is one rare opportunity for a different equation. A bit more humane, a bit more socialistic. Kickstarter just seems to be the most efficient carrier of this new mathematics. I agree, maybe some other alternative, not linked with the corporation like Amazon would be better. But then again, everything is fucking linked with corporations today, or megalomania in some way. We all get dirty as soon as we step outside of the house.

    Whatever it is, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, etc, this new system is absolutely great, and this, what some of you call “begging” for money, should be the right of every man, no shame. It’s the right everybody has to be supported by he’s/her’s fellow men. This is coming from a person who lived under socialism and knows the difference.
    Some things shouldn’t be dependable on money and modern capitalistic exchange ( money product ), some things should be based purely on enthusiasm shared by everybody involved.

  81. Rob Kirby says:

    I did things with my comic book series THREE the way Austin English described. I wanted to make it happen so I saved the money up and went for it. I did try sending it initially to two publishers just to see what might happen, to see if I might at least get some interesting feedback, but they never even answered me (boo hoo hoo). So I went for it and published it myself and I’m glad I did and wouldn’t had it any other way. I do like helping to fund projects when I can – I seriously wanted Dave Kiersh’s Afterschool Special to happen, for example, and it did – but I do get fatigued by the constant “demands” of crowd funding. I think it takes an enormous amount of love, passion and even hubris to put something out in the world and I would not like to think a little thing like money would completely stymie a passionate creator.

  82. Derik Badman says:

    Clicks do not equal supporting the product. I’ve looked at plenty of Kickstarter projects I haven’t contributed to. And sure Kardashian could get something like that funded, for some inane reason people are interested in her.

    Popularity is part of publishing too. And thinking something is necessarily bad/amateurish because a publisher doesn’t want it is shockingly ignorant of how publishing works. Publishers have to think about popularity too, and they have editorial tastes, etc. Plenty of novels of genius were rejected by dozens of publishers (at a time when there were enough publishers that that was possible). I don’t want to discount the gatekeeping function of publishers, but it’s not just a matter of the work being good/bad (of whatever value judgement one wants to use).

  83. Derik Badman says:

    That’s a good perspective on the issue, Dunja.

  84. Pat says:

    This seems like another massively arbitrary stand to me. Yes, people who have lots of fans likely have an easier time getting stuff out there. Not sure how this is vile or in any way unique to Kickstarter.

  85. TJ says:

    The most important works of GARO are effectively underground. No one in the western world is widely familiar with Garo and the very few people who write on it as specialists and do nothing to promote the academic acknowledgement of these works in the US as legitimate art. Your “fat dude who is really angry about people stepping on his comic authority” colors are showing.

    If people in the US or elsewhere are going to recognize GARO and other Japanese comics it’s going to be through the hardwork that these people have put into building communities surrounding them. You have done nothing similar, and will never do anything similar judging from your demonstrated lack of knowledge. Stop being a shitty comic nerd because people like you are why no one interesting is ever going to feel like they should participate in our community.

  86. TBH says:

    It isn’t always begging, but it can be. This one (not on Kickstarter, but something similar) from Jim Woodring was pretty off-putting: http://www.usaprojects.org/project/fran/
    Unless you donated 300+ dollars, you either got a postcard or a certificate, but no book.

  87. Shannon says:

    I had to double check on this before I put it out there, but I am the only person in the world who bought both a subscription to the Retrofit series through Kickstarter and also pre-funded PowerMasters3 and If’n Oof from PictureBox, at least at the level that got my name in the “credits” section. I’m not a comics creator or publisher, nor am I in any way wealthy. I’m just a fan of comics; my disposable income has allowed me to become more knowledgable about the various indie comics communities and I’ve had the opportunity to pool my money with other like minded people to allow some comics to come into the world that might not otherwise have existed. To be hectored about the purity of one pre-funding channel (pre-sales on your own site) over another (Kickstarter) is a bit rich, considering that from my experience as a buyer there wasn’t much difference.

    Let’s take a look though at the math, and what differentiates being an underground publisher and a, what, a poseur who only pays the printing bills? Apparently that line bright line is at 5 cents on the dollar. Big bad Amazon takes 5 cents on the dollar to put shops out of business. But the pre-funding I did for those PictureBox books invariably had some merchant processing fees or PayPal fees, I can’t remember which payment option was in play. If it was PayPal, that’s roughly 3% in fees going to eBay, who, you know, kind of put certain kinds of businesses under as well. So that’s now what, 2 cents on the dollar difference? Given that the Retrofit series hauled in just shy of 10k, the price of purity is around $200. That’s the difference in fees going to Amazon over some other corporate entity. That’s only like 3 pairs of boots. For the Garo project in question, that number is gonna be even smaller.

    But here’s the thing, I don’t know how much PictureBox hauled in for their pre-funded books. Kickstarter has some transparency at least and I can work the math backwards on how much money landed in Amazon’s coffers. Looking at the contributor list, PowerMasters and If’n Oof possibly pulled in even more money than Box’s Retrofit series, but how do I know? More civilian money like mine may be in eBay’s or VISA’s pockets because of PictureBox than in Amazon’s because of Retrofit just based on volume. I don’t know and don’t really care, but that money in Amazon’s pockets sure seems to bug Dan. Given that If’n Oof is discounted 12% on Amazon over what my neighbors could spend waltzing in to Domy Books Austin to pick up a book I helped get into print, and that only 3 Retrofit books are even on Amazon at all, undiscounted, well that purity math gets even murkier doesn’t it?

    But maybe the issue is cred and embarrassment over the words “comix” and “underground,” ’cause it’s all just comics so “If you make comics, make comics.” Well, yeah, Box Brown does that. In that in addition to putting out other people’s work, work he wrangled and helped envision and sure seems like publishing to me and not just paying the printer, he makes his own comics, and is not just a crate digger/archivist/publisher/scholar. The world needs both obviously, but I’m willing to cut a practicing artist more slack for inaccuracy than I would an archivist. Somewhere in Paris in 1886, an expert in Japanese art was probably horked off at Van Gogh and Degas and others’ creative misunderstandings of ukiyo-e. That expert would have been right of course, but he may have also willfully blinded himself to some great work. For what it’s worth, I’m a backer of this Garo project, mostly because Box is involved and he’s become an online friend over the past year, not because of the Garo connection. Maybe this project is not optimally packaged as a scholarly homage to Garo, but I don’t really give a rip. I can walk and chew gum at the same time, and anyone who thinks that attaching oneself to Garo poorly is gonna result in some kind of unearned reputational clout outside of like 50 people is living deep inside an “art-comix” bubble himself. Ultimately that’s what this whole rant felt like, jockeying for position in the small end of the pool. “Thinking locally” indeed.

    Ultimately, here’s the thing. TCJ has a great institutional history of punching up. This felt like a pretty egregious case of punching down and using this bully pulpit mostly to be a bully. But maybe in 2012, digital distribution and crowd-funding make it hard to tell down from up in the first place. Sure seems that way from the outside.

  88. Pat says:

    “More civilian money like mine may be in eBay’s or VISA’s pockets because of PictureBox than in Amazon’s because of Retrofit just based on volume.”

    Isn’t it completely safe to assume that Amazon itself has generated far more revenue off PictureBox just from selling their books than this Kickstarter could ever funnel to them?

  89. Leah says:

    ah, capitalism :)

  90. tom Neely says:

    This whole thing makes me wanna barf and never read TCJ again. Good job, Dan.

  91. tom Neely says:

    After reading this (the post, not the comments), I think there should be a campaign for a new editor at this magazine.

  92. Cheese says:

    This is my favorite post on this topic.

  93. DanielJoseMata says:

    If you’ve ever perused the PictureBox webstore, you’d see that Dan is very knowledgable on his Japanese art culture, manga, and underground. He has published Monster Men Burienko, Yokoyama, and the forthcoming Gengoroh Tagame book, not to mention countless trips of going over there and blogging and informing of what he has learned and discovered (particularly King Tubby). In addition, he has also published and distributed several books, zines, pamphlets on art movements, collectives, design, and countless other topics that are supremely under the radar. He’s even curated shows on such topics. He knows what he is talking about, and through the work he has done, he’s more than earned his stripes to be a crotchety old comic nerd. Dan’s probably one of the more interesting people in the comics community now. I’m tired of treating comics with kid’s gloves. It’s not a Sunday night sketch club.

    The copy in the KS post just reads like a guy who has just skimmed the history of American comics, and just latched on a word to sound interesting in the “art-comix” debt context to manga in general. There just doesn’t seem to be much thought there. Hey, maybe all the people involved have read Garo. But from his previous “tribute”, it seems unlikely. It’d be nice if the cartoonists involved would write a one to two page essay describing their history and affinity to Garo (but with a proper outside editor because neither have yet to prove to be one). Yes, communities surrounding work are important to raising awareness, but there also needs to be vocal discussion from those who are actively influenced by it. Some voices may be stronger than others, but at least they’ll be coming out. You can’t leave everything for the academics and specialists.

  94. John V says:

    “Clicks do not equal supporting the product”

    It’s spelled “Cliques”, and actually it does. The project still gets funded solely because of the persons popularity, not for the worth of the project(as 90% of kickstarter projects will attest). News flash, that ain’t “supporting the arts”. I mean…look at Womanthology. Case closed.

  95. John V says:

    No one said it was vile. It simply means that popular people with no talent can easily fund a project. As 90% of kickstarter projects will attest. Good on them.

  96. Derik Badman says:

    Sorry I read clique as click.

    Either way… “The project still gets funded solely because of the persons popularity, not for the worth of the project” Kind of like how a lot of comics get published by “real” publishers because the artist is popular?

    Ah, yes, one example is enough to convince anyone of anything. Very good. I will close the case.

  97. Pat says:

    “The thing that is pretty vile about Kickstarter…”

    Again, “popular people with no talent can easily fund a project” is a reality that has absolutely nothing to do with Kickstarter.

  98. Sean Ford says:

    wow, really good post.

  99. Annie Murphy says:

    ….aand Dunja with the win!!

  100. I also purchased all of Slash Maraud within the last 6 months. So, neener neener for you.

  101. Shannon says:

    Oh! One thing I forgot to mention. I’ve contributed to other Kickstarters outside of comics, and those get a little more troublesome when the creators try to come up with incentives. Films, performances, web series, etc that don’t result in a tangible product to hold in your hand at the end of the day? People end up having to add so many extra perks that it hardly seems worth the headache. Comics though? Man, it’s clean. Here’s the retail price plus shipping–there’s a level and there’s your book. Want to come in for more? Well, here’s some of the orignal art, whatever. A straightforward exchange and like Jesse says, not even remotely like begging. And you pay a 5% premium to an organization with a real ecosystem around it that can help you get word out about your project, buzz, marketing, etc? I think a lot of people find and will continue to find that a good proposition.

    And Djuna! Thanks for bringing in the European and grant-writing perspective. I come from a theater world where people have to write grants, etc. The market wouldn’t support our work otherwise; a lot of people find asking for money distasteful. Fine. Don’t ask then. But don’t equate people who do ask as somehow cheating the otherwise accurate marketplace.

  102. Sam Henderson says:

    I agree with the part about going through Kickstarter not making something underground anymore. The term was appropriate for a certain time and place. There’s a ZAP collection next year from Fantagraphics you can be sure will have a bar code and be available through mall bookstores. Spiegelman wrote a book your mother’s heard of. So you can’t call the better cartoonists of the 60’s and 70’s underground anymore either in the sense of the dictionary term. I would amend the essay to say “Unless you risk having your project be illegal contraband, you have no right to call yourself underground.”

    I wouldn’t call Kickstarter begging anymore than PBS is. At least Kickstarter’s corporate kickback are smaller than the corporate sponsorship PBS relies on. Amazon is big but at the very least they’re not evil like the Koch Brothers or someone like that. My problem with them is they’re more of a bandwagon now. They’re kind of like Williamsburg, which was once a small unknown working-class neighborhood that because of its third generation of pilgrims is now the trendiest neighborhood in Brooklyn. It’s also too much of a popularity contest. I had a book in limbo for three years and we almost used them as a last resort. Thank god someone came in at the last minute to fund it, so we wouldn’t have to keep our fingers crossed to see if we’d reach our goal.

  103. Shannon says:

    Ugh, I meant Dunja, not Djuna. I know the difference. Sorry, lady.

  104. Frank Santoro says:

    Wait, I did sell a Slash Maraud set yesterday. I should have said “Master of Kung Fu” issues. No one buys MOKF back issues anymore. Or at least mine aren’t selling. Ben Marra was supposed to buy them all but he only buys romance comics now.

  105. Shannon says:

    This is my favorite subthread of this whole deal.

  106. Lies we cherish says:

    Wow, this is Nadel’s Kalish obituary.

    Only it’s not Peter David getting angry, but a bunch of thin-skinned nobodies.

  107. zack soto says:

    I want them all

  108. Since some of the cartoonists involved in this book regularly work with trademarked characters that they have no legal claim to, I would say that they probably meet your requirement of “unless you risk having your project be illegal contraband, you have no right to call yourself underground.”

  109. Second half of the Grant Morrison CBR interview is here: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=40083

  110. I always buy Moench/Gulacy MoKF issues whenever I run across them, but then return home to find I have three copies or more of each of the issues I’d totally forgotten I already possessed. I’m on a strict Romance comic book diet right now, it’s true.

  111. Trademark infringement is a fairly mainstream activity, isn’t it? Your Friend From Highschool does it nearly every time they share something on facebook.

  112. s sharpe says:

    “generations” is a stretch.

  113. Cricket says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but most comics Kickstarters seem to basically be pre-orders. Isn’t that something Picturebox has done? Was that begging, too?

    As for Amazon. We’d all like to completely disentangle ourselves from corporate behemoths, but if I’m gonna get a lecture about it, I’d rather it was from someone who isn’t, say, selling things through them.

    All of which makes me suspect your objection isn’t really to crowdfunding or even Amazon. It’s that other people are using them to produce things you don’t like.

  114. Jenn says:

    I’ve gotta say, Picture box is a dream of a publishing company, I think Dan puts a lot of energy into his projects, and I appreciate his hard research and dedication over the years.

    That being said, it should be noted that Picture Box’s first books were all funded with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Does that constitute begging? Asking for free money? What is the moral difference between crowd funding and applying for a grant? Crowd funding seems more open, you see who is sponsoring you, if you don’t get enough support you don’t get funded; submitting to a grant is a more mysterious process, usually decided by a group of anonymous people. I don’t see how Dan can criticize the process here, his company has ties to amazon, he uses pre-order funding, he obviously hasn’t sold his boots to put out the doomed Cold Heat collection that he took pre-orders for back in… 2006.

    I can’t follow his moral judgement of Retrofit/SP for using kickstarter. If it doesn’t get funded then it doesn’t deserve it, if it does then let it be. What’s the point in sturring all this negativity?

  115. Cricket says:

    Also, contrary to what many seem to believe/assert here, Amazon doesn’t run or own Kickstarter. Kickstarter simply uses Amazon’s payment processing system — which does indeed take a cut, much like PayPal, or any credit card. Not sure how much that matters, just saying.

  116. inkstuds says:

    Cold Heat’s not done.

  117. Geoff says:

    I think what I object to more than anything else in this post, is the suggestion that some money has more validity, integrity than other money thus, it follows-that “my comics have more validity and cache than your comics. ” When we begin parsing definitions of “underground” according to this litmus test, we automatically acquiesce to the writer’s worldview-which seems to be the strategy-so that now when we look at a comics, we’ll ask “oh-is this a Kickstarter comic?” thus it falls into arbitrary sub-category deemed less worthy. So what follows? Barack Obama’s money isn’t as good as Mitt Romney’s because Obama has to beg for $3.oo donations and Romney has his own zillions?
    Artists shouldn’t buy in to this B.S. It’s hard enough. Take the money and run-get your money wherever you can and get your work out there. If you have a zillion friends to help you out on Kickstarter, more power to you. In 2012, “underground” is an historical term, but nevertheless, its spirit lives on-not in the source of funding-but in the work itself.

  118. Sean T. Collins says:

    Way to speak truth to thin-skinned nobodies, “Lies we cherish”—if that IS your real name…

  119. Yes, that’s very true, of course.

    I’ve heard that many underground comics had print runs in the tens of thousands, which would actually make them quite a bit more mainstream than most of the indy comics being published today. But I guess it depends mostly on how you choose to define underground and mainstream, so it’s not really a point I want to argue.

    How did I get pulled into this?

  120. Pingback: 15 thoughts on the Comics Journal/Kickstarter/SP7 fight « Attentiondeficitdisorderly by Sean T. Collins

  121. Robert Boyd says:

    I don’t have a lot to add, but I will say that I often support Kickstarter comics projects in order to preorder books because I don’t have any expectation that these books will ever show up in my local comic stores or bookstores, including our local hip art/comics shop Domy. So many of these things are so far under the radar that there is no way that they’ll ever get effective national distribution. So how else am I going to see them? (I do wish Kickstarter would find someone else besides Amazon to handle their money, though.)

  122. Bmackay says:

    I find myself agreeing with Dan’s grumpy post here, despite the flood of well-reasoned arguments that have followed in its ill-tempered wake. Here’s the thing: I think the ethics of Kickstarter are a non-starter (my apologies). Whether people choose to support a project or not is really up to them, even if the choices they make are crappy.

    Maybe what we have to do is consider KS as what it really is: the 4th largest publisher of graphic novels (which it has been widely hailed as). In this light you can criticize the hell out of the books it plays a hand in getting to market, and avoid getting bogged down in the mucky ethical discussions which seem to go nowhere.

  123. Jesse Post says:

    It seems weird to go after small-operation publishing for not being “real” publishers. Isn’t that the point? You and your friends don’t have the time, the strength, or anywhere near the capital to invest in starting a going concern, so you do your best with what you’ve got. If that used to be saving up money from the cafe job until you had enough to run to Kinkos, and now it’s asking your audience for pre-orders to fund the production, what exactly is the problem? It seems more like the gears of the indie comics “business” just evolved and got more efficient, like we expect all good businesses to do.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with unpacking that efficiency and exploring what the industry gets from it in return, but this piece seems to ignore the result (more small-operation comics) for the method (“Hey, you’re not indie!”). Each individual project should be taken to ask on the merits, of course, and it sounds like this one needs some task-taking, but how does their means of production have any relevance to that?

  124. James says:

    Kickstarter is fine and cliques are formed by alternatives and mainstream alike but I just have to point out that “take the money and run—get your money from wherever you can to get your work out there” also can lead to the endless, ethic-less rehashes of Jack Kirby’s ideas and “Before Watchmen”.

  125. Robert Boyd says:

    I agree and don’t see how this is substantially different from ordering zines and mini-comics that one learned about from Factsheet 5 back in the pre-internet days.

  126. Joe S. Walker says:

    Kelly Thompson is a columnist at Comic Book Resources and plugged her Kickstarter repeatedly there. You’re too polite about her book – it stunk.

  127. Robert Boyd says:

    Money is fungible. While the stated objective might be for a specific project, pre-funding that project may free up money for a capital expense (such as a printing press, as you suggest).

  128. Sam Henderson says:

    I’ve always hated those terms “mainstream”, “underground”, and “independent” because there are so many gray areas. Is Watchmen independent because it was done by single creators? What are Chris Ware and Dan Clowes who do New Yorker covers? Is Mike Diana still underground after 15 years? What do you call something by Crumb when it has a higher circulation than Spiderman? It made sense when there was a comics code authority for anything at a newsstand, head shops risked arrest for carrying obscene material, and everything was a uniform size. Most of that material today can be shown on prime-time TV. People will remember some of the better or upcoming “independents” of today long after whoever pencilled the latest movie ad (a more apt definition than “mainstream”) is long forgotten.

    Similar is the distinction in movies. Something like JUNO or the latest Kevin Smith film is considered “independent” because they’re not action films with CGI.

    But enough nitpicking and back to Kickstarter. Funding is funding whether from a relative, the NEA, or the aforementioned Koch Brothers. But as long as there’s no outside editorial interference, publishers can call their comic whatever they want.

  129. Sam says:

    So your scathing critique of this book and it’s creators is based on a kickstarter page? Could this be any more elitist and petty? Not having read the book due its current non-existence I can’t exactly defend it but I definitely can’t condemn it either. Seems like you just wanted to show off how much you know, and if you wanted everyone to know what a snob you are you could have done it in a lot less words.

  130. Rui Tenreiro says:

    I think was more biased against this GARO anthology before I read this article. This comes off as elitism. As if everyone could possibly be born a connoisseur into the comics world. And as if you HAD to be a connoisseur to be entitled to make anthologies.

    But seeing as this anthology seems so far removed from GARO on several levels, it might come off as opportunistic. So, more research please :) However, once you hit Kickstarter you can hardly call yourself “underground” (come on!)

    Nevertheless, I think people are entitled to make their schmuck tributes if they’d like — and fail/succeed.
    The interesting thing is that this article will probably bring a lot of publicity (possibly even funding) to this “viable” project.

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  132. Ryan Watkins says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t Kickstarter used to crowdfund the new Rich Tommasso book coming out from Fantagraphics?

    I am still on the fence about KS. I have supported some recent projects, but waiting to see how rewards are delivered before making a full judgment.

  133. Austin English says:

    I think this project
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/floatingworldcomics/the-projects-experimental-art-comics-festival-in-p
    is really exciting and something that couldn’t happpen without Kickstarter or some sort of involvement from the community.But I guess my feeling that the SP7 project and Dunja and Jason’s festival being different is splitting hairs. i do think Kickstarter is really good for gigantic, impossible, leap of faith things like Dunja and Jasons project—to me, it should be used for things like that or what Mickey suggested earlier about sustainable things like buying a risograph. But that’s just me and I feel a bit silly supporting one thing while feeling strange about another because it just comes down to personal taste/ideas about how to get things done.

  134. Jesse Post says:

    I think you’re on to something, though, in your approach. It’s not just that Kickstarter isn’t your personal taste, but almost like if you don’t take some kind of risk then half the fun is taken out of it? I don’t mean to put words in your mouth, just trying to unpack some of what you’ve been saying (very reasonably, I might add).

    I guess I would add that Kickstarter doesn’t have to be the end point but the beginning. Maybe you put up your dream comics project on Kickstarter and thus you have the first issue covered. But now you take that first issue and solicit it to comics stores and bring it out with you to SPX and everything else. Maybe now you have enough to at least dream of a second issue or second project. That’s kind of the point of Kickstarter — it kickstarts something amazing.

    I think Retrofit is a great example of what I’m talking about. I love getting those in the mail every month. Whatever I spent on it at the Kickstarter stage was worth every penny and I plan to renew my subscription.

  135. Shannon says:

    Fair enough. I’m gonna be supporting this project, too. It is rich, though, though that so many of the perks one can claim are in fact PictureBox products. Which are being used to enrich Amazon. Or something. I was just joking with Dunja about this. Can we get some boots with that copy of 1-800-MICE?

    All kidding aside, one of the reasons Kickstarter won’t let people do campaigns that underwrite someone’s business model as opposed to a singular project has to do with federal investment law. A law that is slated to change once new SEC (I think) rules are implemented in January. When that happens, I think we’ll see crowdsourcing move to “hey, become an investor/underwriter of my BUSINESS, rather than my PROJECT.” A lot if it has to do with legal compliance as I understand it.

  136. But Brad Kickstarter isn’t anymore a publisher than a bank that gives loans to a publisher would be. I agree you can definitely criticize the hell out of some of the projects that are funded through Kickstarter, but really they’re just a glorified middleman ferrying money between people, keeping a percentage, and giving another percentage to Amazon. I think there’s way more grist in Dan’s position that the connection to Amazon is a potentially odious one, although I think that position is pretty substantially eroded by things like this: http://www.amazon.com/Brian-Chippendale-Oof-Picturebox-Books/dp/0982094752 Kickstarter is no more a publisher than Bank of America is.

  137. Shannon says:

    I also love getting my monthly injection of Retrofit. So nice to have a wonderful surprise waiting for me in the mail. Even more, I love seeing individual issues for sale at Domy when I stop in, knowing I helped get that thing in front of folks.

  138. Mike Baehr says:

    The Tommaso book is self-published; we’re merely facilitating distribution via the book market and DM.

  139. Pingback: Who did what now? | STUDYGROUP blog

  140. Geoff says:

    Hi James-
    I’m not referring to work for hire, rather independent artists, writers, editors, etc., funding their own vision.

  141. Geoff says:

    oh-and as for what it all leads to…ethic-less or not… Thankfully, neither you nor I can pre-determine outcomes—or say what birds may or may not feed at somebody’s else’s birdfeeder. You want to set up your own bird-feeder and keep the Bluejays away-go ahead. But it’s ludicrous, not to mention ego-maniacal, to suggest that everyone play by your (or my or whoever’s) rules-just because we find certain potential outcomes annoying. And I’m talking Kickstarter, comics and birdfeeders, not global warming.

  142. R. Fiore says:

    One of the problems with independent comics is that advances of any significant amount are not available. I could see Kickstarter as a way of addressing that problem.

  143. Ash says:

    Anyone who has read good manga will not help feeling a little nauseous at this attempt at cashing in on Garo. It’s true that there’s no ‘good reason’ for this anthology to exist AS a Garo tribute. Garo tribute? Please. In any case here are 5 thoughts:

    1) Any chance this anthology had of “making it” in the academic comics circle was never there. So there’s only profit to be made from it. Profit and personal advancement. So this anthology would have failed on its own even without this article.

    2) Dan’s article has a personal rant tone and effectively bullies the SP7 people. That’s not cool. Not journalistic. And definitely professional either.

    3) Picturebox does “groovy” books too but these editors are because they’re not doing it right. So they’re not entitled to do it. So the real “cool / hip” editors and creators are not going to be on the side of this anthology so you decide where you wanna be Sean T. Collins. But there’s room for everyone not just the published stars.

    4) In this day and age does it REALLY matter if you’re a Printer or a Publisher or a System? Isn’t that one of the beauties of the cheap printing/free publishing/interwebs? A more democratic voice? Ahhh.
    Publishing happens at several ‘heights’ of the comics business. The reality is that you’re not gonna get only knowledgeable editors doing it nowadays and that’s been one of the discussions in media: too much information isn’t necessarily good. But it’s still happening and that can generate new things: bad AND good. And the otaku are out there and they will MAKE those zines. oh yes.

    5) Would this anthology work if the SP7 editors would drop the Garo connection? I wonder WHY and WHAT is the connection to Garo here? Would it be funded without that connection or is that a stunt to get some $$$?
    I googled all the artists a few weeks back when I saw this and I could see almost no connection between their work and the Garo stuff. So yeah: WHY Garo!?!?!

    So it seems like Dan feels entitled to do this because someone is “stepping” on something that is very dear to him. But culture doesn’t belong to anyone. Culture is organic and interchangeable. It flows / vanishes / is swapped / misused / vandalized / treasured. Culture doesn’t obey editing rules. It doesn’t necessarily follow research nor responsibility. We might have better culture if that was the case – but that’s just not how the world works.

    All in all: I think it’s ugly to use the TCJ as a personal vehicle to bash others – precisely because you’re in a position high enough to do it. You can cause more damage than you imagine Dan Nadel.

  144. Ash says:

    PS: on point 3) I meant:
    “Picturebox does ‘groovy’ books too but these editors are bashed because they’re not doing it right.”

  145. Kevin Mutch says:

    Ash – I agree with many of your points, but not with your preamble or point 1.

    I’ve read good manga but, amazingly, I don’t feel nauseous at the prospect of Box and Ian’s anthology. What I DO feel nauseous about (seriously!) is the assumption that such a project is necessarily being done for “profit” or “personal advancement” because “…any chance this anthology had of ‘making it’ in the academic comics circle was never there”.

    Why am I so queasy? Leaving aside the obvious silliness (to put it charitably) of presuming to know the motives of the editors or the reception of a still unpublished book based on its Kickstarter blurb, I’m creeped right out by the idea that the only audience that matters is the “academic comics circle”.

    BAAAAARRRRFFFF!!!

  146. james says:

    Yeah Geoff, my comment was a little muddled—-I am all for people getting their comics out through Kickstarter, whatever floats yr boat. I meant I am unimpressed by some of what my contemporaries will do for money— but I also was stupid enough to work for corporate types and will have to live it down

  147. Beyla says:

    The thing is, a pretty decent number of these people would NOT BE ABLE TO FUND THEIR PROJECTS OUT OF POCKET. That is the reason for kickstarter’s existence, along with the terms of service fot a Paypal merchant account specifically prohibiting pre-orders and the history of paypal using any violation of their terms they can find to seize all of the money in any accounts they are given access to.

  148. Bmackay says:

    Dustin, maybe you’re right. Perhaps Kickstarter needs to act MORE like a publisher, selectively choosing their projects based on merit and quality. No one is served by a wave of shitty GNs and anthologies clogging up the racks and competing for attention/moolah.

    As a major player in GNs we have every right to question and criticize the books that they have a hand bringing to market. It’s no different than the onslaught of indie B+W publishers who churned out a steady stream of TMNT-inspired junk in the late 80s and early 90s, looking to make a buck. They diluted the industry as a whole.

  149. Shannon says:

    Every publishing paradigm poses some pitfalls and unexpected downsides. More than crummy stuff getting past taste filters, I think the biggest downside for Kickstarter is what Mike Dawson writes about really smartly here:

    http://www.mikedawsoncomics.com/pre-failing-financially-v-succeeding-creatively/

    This is similar to what Mickey Z was talking about up above as well. I think Kickstarter is best reserved for either projects that could use a little cost defrayal and will happen regardless of if it makes its goals or projects which the creators are cool with walking away from if it doesn’t make, gravy projects. The one project I funded that didn’t make and about which I’m very sad is Lizz Hickey’s etchings comics project from a year or two ago.

  150. Bmackay says:

    ” I think it’s ugly to use the TCJ as a personal vehicle to bash others – precisely because you’re in a position high enough to do it.”

    Ash, did you JUST start reading the Journal? You could fill a crack in the earth with the personal proselytizing and pontificating that has been published in the hallowed pages on TCJ. That’s part of their mandate — stated or not.

  151. Briany Najar says:

    Trivial marginalia:
    “Spa Fon” is uttered in Crumb’s Abstract Expressionist Comix (if I remember the title right).

  152. “.It’s no different than the onslaught of indie B+W publishers who churned out a steady stream of TMNT-inspired junk in the late 80s and early 90s, looking to make a buck. They diluted the industry as a whole.”
    um, from what I see from comics peoples on the Internet these days a lot of these exact books are pretty popular. Isn’t Mr. Santoro making money peddling these things and this website helps promote it every time he does? (not saying I have a problem with that, just observing)

  153. zack soto says:

    So Kickstarter is like Solson or Aircel? Setting aside the fact that we currently have people crate digging for these forgotten comics to reassess or at least enjoy them on their own merits (including tcj contributors like Frank and Jog), I think Dustin’s analogy that they’re more like BoA still holds more weight.

    And again, most of the time “the market” is actually being very well served, in exactly the way it desires, because the market is people voting for what they want with their pre-order dollars. Things that the market doesn’t want don’t usually get funded.

  154. zack soto says:

    Cross-post with Jotham ..

  155. nfpendleton says:

    There’s some validity to the Dawson piece, linked above. Though Kickstarter is fine for everyone else, pre-failing is exactly what keeps someone like me from even contemplating a campaign. I prefer to save my money, fund my own printing, and get ready to fail the old fashioned way (or not).

    I have no opinion about the Garo issue, as I don’t generally appreciate Japanese comics and unfairly equate them with the grating, shrill Japanese cartoons my kids used to watch.

    Anyway, it’s fun to see Mr. Nadel tossing a turd into the TCJ punchbowl.

  156. Bmackay says:

    Jotham and Zack: “I’m not trying to convince anyone that these ‘throwaway’ comics are actually any good. I just really like them for the airbrushed tones – real airbrush, none of this Photoshop airbrush crap. Over and out.” – Frank S. in his recent post on Aircel.

    Zack, Only in this crazee world would favourably comparing a business to Bank of America be preferable than favourably comparing it to a comics publisher. But, i joke. Seriously though, I just agreed with Dustin. I think KS should act more like a publisher. The KS model as it stands is only good for generating $$$, a lot of which goes towards putting out cruddy comics and GNs — which then threaten to crowd out good quality stuff.

    It’s kind of like what Craig Yoe does over at IDW.

  157. Zack Soto says:

    haha well, I wasn’t really comparing them favorably to Bank Of America, just saying that they’re more of a money aggregating force. Whatevs, I know you know what I meant.

    And I think Frank has a genuine affection for these things, as does Jog, without actually wanting to hold up most of them as “good comics” (though some of them are surprisingly effective when you return to them 20 yrs later). It’s sort of sideways to my point, anyhow. The point is: people want something, they will buy it, if they don’t they won’t. That doesn’t really impact the market negatively..

    Also: who’s to say what is worthwhile? Sparkplug, Picturebox, Fanta, D&Q, et al have spent large portions of their history publishing things that the vast majority of the market didn’t really seem to want or maybe even need, depending on your perspective.

    Eh, I don’t know. I don’t particularly have a lot of stakes in the argument, it just seems weird to me to want KS to start “acting like a publisher” under some kind of assumption that they would actually make good aesthetic choices. If that happened, t’d probably be more like Virgin Comics US or something than PictureBox2.0.

  158. well, I’ve only really getting back into comics for real for the last year or two, so all this crap about who knows more about what is and isn’t proper regarding obscure (for the USA) Japanese comics is opaque to me.

    However, I worked and hung out in comic stores a lot from the early-mid 1980’s through the early 1990’s, and I would challenge the implication that if there hadn’t been so many copies of “Post-Apocalypse Ninja Death Fighters” in B&W flooding the shelves that Dan Clowes would have achieved godhead that much sooner or RAW would have made more money. The kids who came in and bought those books were buying them either because Marvel and DC were not cranking out enough Post-Apocalypse Ninja Death comics fast enough to satiate them, or they were imagining that if they had copies of them in 6 months when they were “hot” like the Turtles they could unload them for a lot of money, or for both reason. You could NOT have gotten them to spend that same money on “Love & Rockets”, or even “Flaming Carrot”. Believe me, I tried.
    I didn’t like those “exploitation” comics of that era then, and I’m not really interested in them now. But a lot of the time I’d rather watch a Roger Corman movie than Godard, so I can dig where the people into them now are coming from

  159. …and cross-posted with Zack, we must be on the same schedule

  160. Ash says:

    You got me :) I don’t read it very often. And now probably will not either.

  161. Ash says:

    You’re both right and wrong Kevin.

    I still think SP7 will fail in an academic/purist and in a more ‘serious’ comics circle. But it won’t fail for the majority. In fact it has already succeeded. I wonder if Dan isn’t secretly publicizing it because this is probably one of the best things that could happen publicity-wise ;) Discussion.

    I do agree with Dan Nadel that a better researched theme will result in a better book. After all there must be a reason why PB makes good books. But I think that others who know less on the subject are ALSo entitled to try and prove that they can edit a good book.

    You’re wrong to assume I meant to say that the only audience that matters is the academic circle. And my other points back that. More down-to-earthness and democracy and less exclusivity is my desire.

    You’re right to assume that deep down I think this Sp7 tribute seems to be done as a publicity stunt. But I hope hope hooope not.

    Garo was a very specific anthology. I’m just imagining what would be like to make the Kramer’s Ergot 4 “Tribute” with a bunch of artists who had nothing to do with K.E. neither in style nor narrative voice. And who knew little of the american scene. And who worked in a completely different way. Someone could make a cover that would resemble a rainbow surfer dude and we could just ride that K.E. “wave”.

    I’m not presuming I know that the editors want to do. They Don’t tell us enough about their project for us to get an idea. A well-thought-through project has a tight press release and explains already in detail what it will do. Here it’s not all that clear. That makes me think it will depend largely on contributions. All I read on KS is a superficial explanation where reading from left to right seems to play a major role in the experience. And that’s not very important at all. It’s a gimmick. Many AMAZING manga read the western way and work like a charm because of the content.

    I’m sure you do realize that a Garo tribute is a HARD thing to pull off. So if this anthology has nothing to do with Garo neither in content nor style then I think it will prove my point. But – believe me – I hope I’m wrong.

    The inclusion of M. Matsumoto is encouraging. But… then… what makes it a tribute instead of a reprint?

    So yes you’re right to assume there are things that I assume the editors have not picked on AND that this is just a “cool” stunt. But at the same time I believe they’re ENTITLED to do it. So you’re wrong to assume I think highly of the so-called academic comics circle. Doing comics for the academia would be like doing films for the critics. And when that happens I don’t want to be around.

  162. Kevin Mutch says:

    Ash – I’m glad you clarified that. I think the reason I’m more optimistic about projects like this – even in the absence of serious academic research — or maybe ESPECIALLY in the absence of such research – is that in my experience artists (as opposed to critics and academics) are really good at synthesizing new forms out of borrowed and half-understood (or MISunderstood) bits.

    I don’t expect Box and Ian to achieve some sort of footnoted fidelity to Garo or anything else (nor would I find that very interesting) – I expect something crazy and messy and new.

  163. Mxyzptlk says:

    What the hell is the “academics comics circle”? What comics succeed in the “academic/purist… circle”?

    Not a rhetorical question, by the way. I’d like specific examples, please, to know what you’re talking about. Most comics academics I know don’t care about art-comics. They rave about X-Men and Grant Morrison. At first I thought that maybe that was not the audience you were talking about, but when you talk about “doing comics for academia” I guess it is.

  164. Ash says:

    Kevin:
    I think mis/interpretations of things are really great actually. Anyway I’m now more curious than ever about SP7. I’m remembering that several manga I read in english in the last year were published by D&Q or another major publisher – as opposed to really small press. With the exception of Ryan Sands’ stuff. So those publishing houses are the ones who have had the privilege to pioneer some Garo artists in the western market. There’s a hierarchy in the comics industry – just like in any business – and it’s healthy to see people who are not editors in those big publishing houses breaking the “hierarchy” of who is entitled to publish Garo or “Garo” and make their version of things.

    Mxyzptlk:
    Don’t mix the word comics with anthology. I said the anthology – the book – would not succeed. A book might contain good comics but be badly edited.

    What I call “academic” circle – it should have been between two ” ” – are the people in the know. I’d say Frederik L. Schodt is in that circle. or Paul Gravett. But I’d also say editors like Chris oliveros Dan Nadel are in that circle. I still think it will be hard for SP7 to succeed in a ‘knowledgeable’ circle. Because there are too many details to consider in Garo and a history that can’t be matched. But there any many types and levels of anthologies. We’ll see at which level this one will be.

    BUT it would have been much worse if the SP7 lineup would have included names like Chris Ware / Joe Matt / Jeffrey Brown / etc etc. Having younger artists somehow helps it.

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