I've been thinking a lot about Kickstarter recently. The crowdsourcing website has inarguably been a gamechanger in today's comic industry and has directly led to the publishing of hundreds of comics that otherwise wouldn't have seen print. But Kickstarter's not without its problems, either. Kickstarter campaigns live and die by their creators' ability to market as opposed to actual creative merit, and many fans have been turned off to the idea of Kickstarter after pledging money and seeing no return on their investment. Then, of course, there's the projects that could easily find a home at a publisher, but are funded via Kickstarter instead. Some feel that goes against "the spirit" of Kickstarter, while others think that it's a justified use of crowdsourcing.
What's even worse is how many Kickstarter campaigns are treated by online media. Many major websites (Newsarama, CBR) largely avoid covering campaigns at all, and others simply link to a bunch of them under an obligatory column title and go to bed knowing that few readers will actually bother to read the column, and even fewer will actually support any of the campaigns. There's a couple of major exceptions to this (Heidi MacDonald and her crew over at the Comics Beat are pretty superlative about supporting indie books, Tom Spurgeon is another obvious exception) but I've found that most websites put the bare minimum into support indie comics folks, especially when it comes to Kickstarters. We here at the Outhouse are certainly guilty of that, too, although we've tried to find a viable alternative several times without success. It can be hard to justify the time and effort that goes into interviewing/researching/featuring a project, and I often wonder how effective the articles actually are in getting these projects funded.
Anyways, all of this thinking ties into an ongoing Kickstarter campaign, one run by Ken Eppstein. If you're a regular reader of the Outhouse, you probably know Ken, he runs Nix Comics, an imprint that publishes a unique rock 'n roll/horror anthology that we've covered several times. Ken's one of the unheralded heroes of the industry, esepcially here in Columbus, OH. He's helped galvanize the local comics community here, and has been one of the driving forces in turning Columbus into the next Portland in terms of local comics and creators. He also a model for how to run a small publishing imprint. Ken pays all of his creators upfront, is constantly searching for new talent, and has funded reprints of other creators' material under the Nix Comics label. A lot of creators could benefit from studying how Ken runs things. He's one of the few that I've met who are able to balance both the creative and business sides of comics.
Ken has a new Kickstarter campaign, this time to publish two new comics. The first is Do You remember Rock n Roll Record Stores?, a real life story about two kids meeting the Ramones in the 1990s. The comic is drawn by Andy Bennett, a personal favorite of mine, and is marketed as a showcase of the indie and punk scenes of yesteryear. The other is a reprint of Pure Entertainment #4/5, an alternative comics anthology from the 1980s, with stories by Dave Simons, Peter Kuper and Pat Redding among others. It's a pretty cool piece of comics history, one which features early art from a bunch of underground comic creators.
I could go on and on about how great Ken's comics are. I could appeal to your punk sensibilities, your desire to help the underdog, or the need to keep rock 'n roll alive. However, I don't really think any of those will help Ken's Kickstarter along. So, instead, I'll make a pledge of my own. If Ken's Kickstarter campaign successfully funds, I will personally throw the full weight of the Outhouse behind any creator who pledges $45 or more.
What does this mean? No more shitty Kickstarter coverage, for one. If you help Ken out, we'll feature your future Kickstarters on our site. Interviews, features, previews, the whole works. You name how the Outhouse can help, and we'll do it. We'll even give you the Outhouse treatment if you want, and mock you with the same enthusiasm that caused various major publisher to blacklist us. Toss in our various social media tools, too. You'll get to see us Tweet and Facebook about your comics until our readers beg us to stop. The only thing we won't do is lie about your comics in a review, but we'll read review copies, and if we like them, we'll be sure to tell our readers about them. Basically, support Ken, and I'll make an active effort not to treat you the way every other mainstream comics site treats underground/indie/small publisher comics.
Anyone who's talked to me about my longterm goals for the Outhouse knows that I've wanted to beef up its small press comics for some time. I guess this is a good way of kickstarting it, while supporting the indie creator I think is most deserving of support from the larger community. I think it's time for online "journalists" like me to start putting their money where their mildly positive platitudes are. So support Ken Eppstein's Kickstarter, and I'll make sure you get the backing paid forward.
Note: I came up with this idea totally on my own, so if this blows back on me, don't take it out on Ken.