THE KICKSTAND: It's Not a Store, Just a Place to Buy Comics

"Kickstarter is not a store," the Kickstarter folks proclaim in their latest blog post. The site often feels like a retailer -- you give someone money, they give you a product -- but the difference is that the product is still in development when you pay the money, so it's not as simple as taking a widget off the shelf and shipping it out. Going forward, all new Kickstarter campaigns must include a "Risks and Challenges" page that outlines not only what might go wrong but what the creator will do to make sure that doesn't happen. And what might those challenges be? Wired's Design blog takes a look at several projects that were quietly removed recently and fingers copyright infringement as the main culprit -- whether or not infringement has actually occurred, Kickstarter takes down the project as soon as they get a notice.

In other crowdfunding news, Lea Hernandez promised she would be back -- and she is. After her high-profile Kickstarter campaign to fund The Garlicks failed to raise the $40,000 she was shooting for, Hernandez stepped back a bit and retooled. Now she has a new campaign on IndieGoGo, with a more modest goal of $19,000. Since Hernandez raised almost that much the first time around, chances are that this one will work, and because IndieGoGo operates differently, she will get all the pledges even if she falls short of her goal. The rewards are similar to those in her previous campaign, including not just the comic but special drawing kits and prints of Kurt Busiek eating a bug.

So, what's looking good among the Kickstarter comics campaigns this week?

Unsounded, Volume 1

What's the Big Idea? It's a print edition of a fantasy webcomic about Sette, the daughter of the King of Thieves, who is traveling the land with an undead companion named Duane. Stated like that, it sounds like every other fantasy comic ever made, but creator Ashley Cope brings a degree of originality and artistic quality that would be outstanding in any genre or format. This comic sings.

Moving force: Cope is a Florida-based writer and professional illustrator. This looks like her first comics work, but she has been working on it for 12 years (although in webcomic form it's only two years old).

Selling Point: Quality. Cope comes up with a winning pair in the feisty, black-hearted Sette and the bookish zombie Duane. The perils they face are original -- the story starts with Duane being swallowed up by a sentient tree, and battles ensue with all sorts of fantastic creatures, every one of them rendered believably by Cope. There is a lot of dialogue, and it's all fresh and witty. The art is stunning. This is exactly the sort of comic that should be preserved in book form.

Premiums: A little pricey. The digital version is $5, the print book plus digital is $25. On the other hand, a book plus original watercolor is just $100; not surprisingly, these are sold out. And for $400, Cope will write a short story about any character and illustrate it.

This caught my eye: For $400, she will draw the pledger into a brothel scene. This one is sold out too!

Goal: $9,800, although as of this writing she is at almost 300% of that.

Deadline to pledge: October 18.

Doug TenNapel Sketchbook Archives

What's the Big Idea? TenNapel has kept sketchbooks for the past 30 years; now he wants to publish some of his best sketches in a single volume.

Moving force: TenNapel is the creator of the video games "Earthworm Jim" and "The Neverhood," the Nickelodeon show "Catscratch," and a slew of well-regarded graphic novels, including "Bad Island" and "Creature Tech."

Selling Point: Obviously, this will have a lot of appeal for TenNapel fans, but it has a lot to offer would-be creators, or those who are simply interested in where stories come from: " This isn't just a collection of drawings, but it is a useful tool on how to create characters, worlds and story lines for anything from video games to graphic novels and television shows."

Premiums: TenNapel doesn't bother with thanking you on his website for a buck; the lowest-level pledge is $25, which gets you a copy of the book. For five bucks more he'll sign it; for $40 he'll draw Earthworm Jim in it, and for $50 he'll throw in an original page from one of his sketchbooks. The pledges top out at $55 for all that plus an original piece of "Catscratch" animation art and $120 for a deluxe package with lots of extras. There is no platinum level; clearly, this is all designed for TenNapel fans, with no nonsense at either end of the scale.

This caught my eye: This is a new campaign, so it contains that "Risks and challenges" section mentioned above. In TenNapel's case, it's keeping track of the orders, and his plan is simply to carefully record the orders and double-check everything.

Goal: $18,000.

Deadline to pledge: October 21.

The Strumpet 2 - A Second Transoceanic Blaze of Comics Glory

What's the Big Idea? An anthology of short comics by female indy creators from the U.S. and the UK, loosely organized around the theme of travel. This is the second Strumpet comic, and many of the creators also worked on the earlier anthology, "The Whores of Mensa."

Moving force: Ellen Lindner, who was part of the creative team for both "Strumpet #1" and "The Whores of Mensa," as well as the group comic "Nelson." She has one solo graphic novel, the self-published "Coney Island."

Selling Point: Comics you won't find anywhere else, plus handmade extras.

Premiums: The price is right on these Premiums: A digital copy is $3, a signed print copy is $12, and for $20 they throw in issue 1 as well. There are some other nice premiums, including a handmade Strumpet tote bag for just $40. The top pledge is the calendar plus comics and buttons for $50.

This caught my eye: The Kickstarter only covers about half the funds they will need to produce the comic. So instead of having stretch goals, they will just have to raise less than by other means. Also, it's interesting that they regard Kickstarter as a distributor as much as a fund-raiser: "Kickstarter is our main means of distribution, and your best chance of getting a copy."

Goal: $1,200, which has already been reached.

Deadline to pledge: October 23.

"Reality Not Included" Comic Anthology

What's the Big Idea? A collection of works by current and former students at Brigham Young University, a group that includes not only young talent but also professional artists and animators. They want to have the print anthology ready for the Creative Talent Network (CTN) Animation Expo in Burbank, California, where it will obviously serve as a ready-made sampler of the contributors' work.

Moving force: Recent BYU grad James C. Bourne, who does storyboards, animation and illustration and worked on the animated film "Ice Age: Continental Drift."

Selling Point: The quality of the art, as represented in numerous samples. This is an exceptionally well thought out Kickstarter campaign, with multiple levels of incentives.

Premiums: Pricey! The rewards are a simple credit for $5, an abridged digital copy of the book for $10, and a complete digital copy (plus a poster) for $15. The print edition (plus a PDF) is available for a $30 pledge. Then they go up the ladder, with sketches, retailer incentives, posters, and a Skype or Livestream session with one of the creators.

This caught my eye: The contributors include Matt Armstrong of Disney Interactive.

Goal: $8,000.

Deadline to pledge: October 13.

Biscuit and Lefty: A Cat's Tale

What's the Big Idea? It's a charming little story about writer Bill Williams's two cats. "I wanted to do a slice-of-life story," he says in the video. "I had been doing a whole bunch of superhero stuff, I wrote a mystery novel or two, and I just couldn't take another story where people stood around punching each other and delivering long, tedious speeches... I wrote about my two cats, and the way that cats kind of bond with owners and they help other people come together." This is already available as a digital comic; the Kickstarter is to fund a print version.

Moving force: Bill Williams, who is the publisher of Lone Star Press and a comics writer of long standing; he has written for DC, IDW, and APE Entertainment, and he is the creator of the webcomic "Sidechicks." The art is by Bobby Diaz, and "Love and Capes" creator Thom Zahler did the lettering.

Selling Point: Speedy delivery! Since the book is complete, and has been available digitally for a couple of years via comiXology and iVerse, Williams anticipates a quick turnaround time; the campaign ends in mid-October and he hopes to have the books in readers' hands by Halloween.

Premiums: It's a little awkward to offer a digital edition of a book you are already selling via digital channels. Williams gets around that by offering the digital copy for a $3 pledge; comiXology and iVerse charge $2.99. The Kickstarter edition is a bit different, with additional pages, and it's a DRM-free PDF, so pledgers get a lot of value for that extra penny. For $5, you get... a variant Richie Rich comic that includes a story by Williams -- a little off topic, it seems. The cost of the print edition of "Biscuit and Lefty" depends on where you are; for $10, he will hand you a copy at the signings he will be doing in Austin, Texas, in December, or he will deliver a copy locally for $15. The rewards get kind of complicated at this point, but basically, everyone else will pay at least $20 for the 60-page comic. For $65 you can skip "Biscuit and Lefty" and just get all the comics that contain Williams's Eddie Hope stories, which were published by IDW. That's an odd top-level pledge but it's a good way to sell off some back stock. Who says Kickstarter isn't a store?

This caught my eye: Williams has backed 81 Kickstarter projects, which means this one should succeed on karma alone.

Goal: $1,000.

Deadline to pledge: October 16.

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