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Crowd-funded comics nearly 2% the size of direct market

by  in Comic News Comment

After about five years of slowly building momentum, the crowd-funding sector of comics may be nearly 2 percent the size of the direct market. Based on analysis of the past three months of campaigns, funds generated through Kickstarter and Indiegogo would be roughly the equivalent of the sixth- or seventh-largest publisher distributing to specialty shops in North America.

While crowd-funded comics haven’t seen as brisk of an increase as digital comics, it’s a sector of the industry that’s undeniably growing. As more established creators and publishers experiment with running campaigns, they have pulled in their readers, increasing the awareness, and even the legitimacy, of the platforms. I’ve found this area to be under-studied, and I was curious to see just how economically significant crowd-funding is becoming to the comics industry. So I have collected data on every campaign that successfully raised funds through Kickstarter and Indiegogo from October 2013 to December 2013. I’m actually going further back than that, but that data isn’t ready yet; I’m still digging through the numbers, as data collecting, sorting and number-crunching can be challenging due to the different platforms and currencies. But I wanted to make public what I have so far because as we head into 2014, following Fantagraphics’ amazing Kickstarter campaign (as just one example), I believe we’re going to be seeing the industry embrace crowd-funding more and more, and there’s a lot we can still learn about how it works and how it affects comics.

Over the past year or two, the buzzword for digital comics was “additive” to win the hearts and minds of retailers and others worried about digital cannibalizing print. We’ve since seen that it’s true, and that both digital and print have excelled. It’s worth noting that in October 2013, Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns surpassed $1 million raised. For some campaigns, they are additive in more ways than one, as many books and products that was financed by backers are later distributed to and sold at comic book stores, generating more funds.

Crowd-funding may share something else with comic book stores: Similar to the direct market’s slower holiday months, November and December didn’t generate as much; funds raised through campaigns decreased to slightly more than $850,000 and $750,000, respectively. However, the average amount raised per campaign and the average number of backers per campaign increased by the end of the year. In October, each campaign raised an average of $11,379, but in December, that amount increased to $15,862 per campaign. To look at it another way, October saw each campaign have an average of 218 people each give $52.20. In December, each campaign averaged 263 backers pledging $60.25 each. This could show that while the number of people who ran campaigns decreased in the holiday months, the number of people participating in campaigns is increasing. What’s more, they may be gaining confidence in giving more. If that analysis is correct, that’s an excellent indicator for a building momentum. However, November’s averages saw a dip in comparison to October and December, so more data will be needed to better track the progress.

As mentioned above, the crowd-funding sector appears to be almost 2 percent the size of the direct market; that’s based on the monthly sales estimates of the direct market as provided by John Jackson Miller’s Comichron.com. In October, the direct market moved about $50.32 million. Crowd-funding campaigns raised approximately $1,001,310, about 1.99 percent the size of the direct market. In November, crowd-funding’s $856,364 was 1.80 percent of the direct market’s $42.24 million. If Kickstarter and Indiegogo were a comics publisher delivering comics to the direct market, and they were collectively doing those kinds of numbers, they would be just slightly larger  in market share than BOOM! Studios and Valiant Entertainment. Crowd-funding campaigns raised $761,382 in December; however, December numbers for the direct market haven’t been released. It could end up about 1.90 percent, but we will see in a couple weeks how it shakes out. Based on the numbers I have for earlier in 2013 and how they’ve tracked, I expect 2014 will surpass 2 percent fairly soon.

It’s worth taking a moment to compare the performance of Kickstarter and Indiegogo. It’s no surprise that Kickstarter is the leader here. However, in the raw numbers below, note Kickstarter’s relative stability over the three months; it’s always in the $700,000 range. Indiegogo’s fluctuation is what causes the dip during the holidays. It’s also possible that Indiegogo’s decrease over the past three months isn’t due to the holidays, but due to abandonment. If so, it doesn’t appear to be abandonment in favor of Kickstarter, at least not yet. Whatever the reason, without a blockbuster campaign like DC Entertainment’s We Can Be Heroes, the numbers on Indiegogo appear to plummet.

Just like with estimates of the North American direct market through Diamond Comic Distributors, there are caveats galore here as well. Most notably, while the amount pledged by backers is public knowledge, the final amount fulfilled for each campaign is not. Anecdotally, people running campaigns have sometimes said a surprisingly significant amount was never paid, while some seem to consider it negligible. It’s also worth noting this only includes Kickstarter and Indiegogo. These are far and away the most used and most successful platforms for comics, but there are others with a number of relevant campaigns that likely add an as-yet-unaccounted long tail to these numbers.

Finally, because I know we all love lists, I’ve included the Top 40 fundraising campaigns for each of the three months I’ve discussed here. Sometimes the blockbusters may surprise you. You’ll notice some entries have two amounts. That is due to the campaign being run in a different currency. I converted those to U.S. dollars, but it is an approximation due to the fluctuating dollar, euro, pound or what have you. I’ve also included the Top 10 campaigns with the most backers, as I think it’s interesting to see where the people flock. You’ll see that sometimes projects have a larger following that maybe can’t spend as much, and some have fewer fans with bigger pocketbooks. But first, here are the totals for each month, and divided by platform.

October 2013/November 2013/December 2013

Total Raised on Kickstarter: $757,258 / $734,232 / $721,260
Total Raised on Indiegogo: $244,052 / $122,132 / $40,121
Total Funding: $1,001,310 / $856,364 / $761,382

Total Backers on Kickstarter: 15,259 / 16,160 / 11,984
Total Backers on Indiegogo: 3,922 / 2,330 / 652
Total Backers: 19,181 / 18,490 / 12,636

Total Campaigns Funded on Kickstarter: 72 / 64 / 35
Total Campaigns Funded on Indiegogo: 16 / 17 / 13
Total Campaigns Funded: 88 / 81 / 48

Average Raised per Campaign on Kickstarter: $10,517 / $11,472 / $20,607
Average Raised per Campaign on Indiegogo: $15,253 / $7,184 / $3,086
Combined Average Raised per Campaign: $11,379 / $10,572 / $15,862

Average Backers per Campaign on Kickstarter: 212 / 253 / 342
Average Backers per Campaign on Indiegogo: 245 / 137 / 50
Combined Average Backers per Campaign: 218 / 228 / 263

Average Donation on Kickstarter: $49.63 / $45.44 / $60.19
Average Donation on Indiegogo: $62.23 / $52.42 / $61.54
Average Donation: $52.20 / $46.32 / $60.25

Top 40 Campaigns – Most Funded – October 2013

  1. We Can Be Heroes: Justice League Edition – $217,932
  2. Fubar: Mother Russia – $95,908
  3. In the Dark – $75,350
  4. Akiba Anime Art Magazine Vol. 00 – $74,003
  5. Library Ranger Badges – $33,298
  6. Forager – $27,043
  7. LVL UP – $26,813
  8. ACE 2014 – $20,251
  9. JFK and the Unspeakable – $18,087
  10. The Dead Roots – $17,527
  11. Brandi Bare #4 – $17,280
  12. Maelstrom – ~$17,040 ($18,806 CAD)
  13. Legend of Ztarr Vol. 1 – ~$16,211 ($17,206 CAD)
  14. The Adventures of Super Penguin – $15,164
  15. The Will of Captain Crown – ~$14,471 ($15,359 CAD)
  16. Lilith Dark and the Beasties Tree – $14,146
  17. Era: Ibuki – $14,089
  18. Game Cave Vol. 1: Fighting Junkies – $12,577
  19. Yeti Press 2014 Subscription – $12,069
  20. Grave Soldiers – $11,710
  21. Captain Kitty – $10,790
  22. A is for Antichrist: Obama’s Conspiracy Alphabet – $10,262
  23. Pariah, Missouri: Director’s Cut – $9,479
  24. Decrypting Rita Vol. 2 – $9,313
  25. Persimmon Cup – $9,235
  26. Suicide 5 – $8,798
  27. Dawn of the Black Age – $8,446
  28. Afroella – ~$8,121 (£5,180)
  29. Adamsville Book 1: The Unknowns – $8,106
  30. Nightworld – $8,070
  31. Boss Snake: Cold Blood, Cold Streets – $7,540
  32. Epic – $6,483
  33. Last Res0rt Vol. 2 – $6,035
  34. Space Bastards – $6,020
  35. Beatrice is Dead Vol. 1 – $5,986
  36. Kids, Eh? The First Year – ~$5,768 ($6,122 CAD)
  37. Ben Vol. 1 – ~$5,567 ($6,028 CAD)
  38. Dare2Draw: The Series TV pilot – $5,498
  39. Agent: Wild #0 – $5,011
  40. Banished – ~$4,442 ($4,715 CAD)

Top 10 Campaigns – Most Backers – October 2013

  1. We Can Be Heroes: Justice League Edition – 3,317
  2. Fubar: Mother Russia – 1,890
  3. In the Dark – 1,588
  4. Akiba Anime Art Magazine Vol. 00 – 1,548
  5. Forager – 840
  6. Library Ranger Badges – 612
  7. LVL UP – 504
  8. Lilith Dark and the Beasties Tree – 468
  9. The Will of Captain Crown – 402
  10. The Dead Roots – 339

Top 40 Campaigns – Most Funded – November 2013

  1. Doug TenNapel Sketch Book Vol. 2 – $87,334
  2. The Middleman: The Crowd-Funded Franchise Resurrection – $67,759
  3. Serenity Rose: 10 Awkward Years – $61,575
  4. Nelvana of the Northern Lights: Canada’s First Superheroine – $52,391
  5. Weapon Brown: The Funny Pages…Weaponized! – $45,555
  6. Cradle of Filth: The Curse of Venus Aversa – $42,938
  7. Brick by Brick – $39,531
  8. Bittersweet Candy Bowl Volume Three – $25,761
  9. A Hero’s Death – $16,263
  10. Fat Rabbit Farm: Mutated Bill’s Sweet Revenge – $16,021
  11. Far from Faith – $15,875
  12. Ninja High School: A New Semester – $15,358
  13. Tales of Mr. Rhee – $15,158
  14. The Circle – $14,175
  15. Nenetl of the Forgotten Realms Part 2 – $14,000
  16. Head Lopper 2: The Wolves of Barra – $13,468
  17. Clockwork Game – $13,341
  18. Not a Villain: Book 2 – $12,940
  19. School Bites: Night Classes Part One – Just Desserts – $12,243
  20. QU33R: New Queer Comics Anthology – $11,798
  21. CruZader – $11,315
  22. Stray – $11,246
  23. Dude and Dude: Fish Tacos and Far Out Friends – $11,202
  24. Ultrasylvania Vol. 3: The Book of the Damned – $11,042
  25. Shattered with Curve of Horn – $10,455
  26. A Piggy’s Tale – $10,285
  27. Super-Ego – $9,244
  28. Tara Normal – $9,047
  29. Zombies Hate Kung Fu – ~$8,929 (£5,619)
  30. Ruin – $8,661
  31. The Daily Cartoonist – $7,945
  32. Peter is the Wolf 2: Living in the Doghouse – $7,882
  33. The Mighty Titan #3 and 4 – $7,824
  34. Noam Chomsky graphic novel – $7,665
  35. A Mad Tea-Party – $7,654
  36. Manga Reborn – $7,098
  37. Killweather – $6,990
  38. White Worm – $6,671
  39. Hey-Zeus – $6,569
  40. Modo: Ember’s End – $6,591

Top 10 Campaigns – Most Backers – November 2013

  1. Brick by Brick – 1,920
  2. Doug TenNapel Sketch Book Vol. 2 – 1,365
  3. Serenity Rose: 10 Awkward Years – 1,365
  4. The Middleman: The Crowd-Funded Franchise Resurrection – 1,340
  5. Nelvana of the Northern Lights: Canada’s First Superheroine – 1,096
  6. Weapon Brown: The Funny Pages…Weaponized! – 827
  7. Nenetl of the Forgotten Realms Part 2 – 717
  8. Cradle of Filth: The Curse of Venus Aversa – 689
  9. Head Lopper 2: The Wolves of Barra – 544
  10. A Hero’s Death – 406

Top 40 Campaigns – Most Funded – December 2013

  1. Fantagraphics 2014 Spring Season – $222,327
  2. The Squidder – $137,708
  3. Mould Map 3 – ~$48,801 (£29,735)
  4. The Looking Glass Wars: Hatter M – $39,453
  5. Periscope Studio: Maiden Voyage – $27,528
  6. Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell – $22,662
  7. True Patriot Vol. 2 – ~$21,637 ($23,367 CAD)
  8. Cain: First Born – $19,882
  9. Thrilling Visions 2 – $16,035
  10. Monsters, Maidens & Mayhem – $13,009
  11. Finn McCool – $12,501
  12. Eden #1 – $12,020
  13. Swords of Edo – ~$10,780 (£6,568)
  14. Lyon’s Den – $10,000
  15. Phileas Reid and the Institute of the Impossible – $9,941
  16. Plume: The Collected Edition – $9,876
  17. Hood – ~$9,397 (£5,725)
  18. Top of the Line – $8,833
  19. Welcome to Harts Pass – $8,213
  20. Le Jardinier des Molson – ~$7,737 ($8,354 CAD)
  21. Cazadora – $7,370
  22. Z’Isle #1-6 – $6,711 ($7,245 CAD)
  23. iMAGiNOs PLUS – $6,650
  24. The Locksmith #1 – $6,570
  25. The Bully’s Bully – $6,417
  26. iPlates – $6,389
  27. Crimes Against Hugh’s Manatees Vol. 3 – $5,784
  28. Grey Is… Vol. 3 – $5,746
  29. 51 Serif: The Actress – $5,275
  30. The Rise – $4,390
  31. Breakball – $3,271
  32. Yellow Zine #4 – $3,239
  33. Gridcurrent #1 – $2,637
  34. Concrete Martians – $2,550
  35. Death’s New Lease on Life – $2,487 (€1,825)
  36. The Ugly Duckling – $2,301
  37. The Amazing Adventures of David Walker Blackstone – $2,191
  38. Freaks’ Progress – $2,077
  39. Haiyan’s Wrath – $2,060
  40. Autogen: The Motion Comic – $1,870

Top 10 Campaigns – Most Backers – December 2013

  1. Fantagraphics 2014 Spring Season – 2,974
  2. The Squidder – 1,912
  3. Mould Map 3 – 823
  4. Periscope Studio: Maiden Voyage – 719
  5. Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell – 505
  6. The Looking Glass Wars: Hatter M – 480
  7. True Patriot Vol. 2 – 383
  8. Monsters, Maidens & Mayhem – 351
  9. Plume: The Collected Edition – 329
  10. Phileas Reid and the Institute of the Impossible – 268