Kickstarting comics Free money? New fans? Cartoonists just want to do comics, but publishers don’t always want to print what artists want to draw. Enter one of the great innovations of this century: easy-to-use crowdfunding from Kickstarter and similar services that support self-publishing.
The goodies for cartoonists include funds for pet projects as well as publicity to attract more readers.
Kickstarter offers goodies for librarians, too—intriguing titles at moderate prices (although librarians may have to sidestep centralized purchasing by backing Kickstarter titles out of their own pockets while the comics are being drawn). To get started, go to kickstarter.com, click on “Comics” in the list at the right of the screen, then “See all comics projects.” Then scroll through current offerings, such as the puckish-sounding G.E.E.K.: “an original graphic novel about a secret crime fighting government organization made up of the world’s foremost Geeks.”
Other recent Kickstarter upstarts have included editor Carlton Hargro’s The African American Superhero Anthology; Alex Woolfson’s Artifice, about a gay android soldier; and Molly Danger, Jamal Igle’s “cross between Astroboy and the Powerpuff girls.”
Notable webcomics facilitated into print through Kickstarter campaigns include Guerillas and Sailor Twain (see reviews below), and The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal (LJ 3/15/12). Notable anthologies Womanthology: Heroic and Occupy Comics took the Kickstarter route as well.
Comics journalists have begun tracking the Kickstarter comics section as a site worth monitoring for hot news. Comicsbeat.com runs a regular “Kick-Watcher” feature, spotlighting interesting new efforts in progress. And efforts they are—not just at cartooning but at running a successful startup campaign, an enterprise that can be quite demanding and tends to weed out slackers.
Kickstarter’s track record in comics has caught the eye of more than just comics journalists. Last July, webcomics vendor iVerse announced its own crowdfunding platform just for comics: Comics Accelerator. So think about checking into Kickstarter or Comics Accelerator, and go shopping—er, pledging. Pledges of $25 or more often earn a print book suitable for library circulation.
Libraries can use crowdfunding sites too; the Berkeley Public Library Comix Club got funding through DonorChoose. For a list of crowdfunding sites compiled by the Free Library of Philadelphia, Google “crowdfunding web watch.”—M.C.
Goodwin, Michael & Dan E. Burr. Economix: How and Why our Economy Works (and Doesn’t Work), in Words and Pictures. Abrams ComicArts: Abrams. 2012. c.304p. bibliog. index. glossary. ISBN 9780810988392. pap. $19.95. GRAPHIC NOVELS
This dense yet readable exegesis makes economics entertaining despite current financial shenanigans worldwide. Goodwin takes a chronological approach, starting with the history of banking in the 17th century. As he marches through four centuries of economic theories and theorists, he attempts to show what happened, what succeeded, and what went wrong in terms of both public and private good, with a focus on the reasons particular theories didn’t pan out in real life. Confusing concepts are explained in text and in the glossary. Generally, Goodwin takes a liberal/progressive view, holding that laissez-faire approaches work best today when combined with other approaches in a “blended economy,” and that a healthy economy benefits average citizens rather than predominantly favoring large corporate/financial entities. Others may not agree, but then they can create their own graphic economics texts. VERDICT With quirky, engaging art that dramatizes the discussion well, Economix is a must have for all academic, public, and high school libraries and should be required reading for all of voting age. (Comprehensive references appear at economixcomix.com.) Note also Hill and Wang’s quite good two-volume The Cartoon Introduction to Economics, organized by concept.—M.C.
Hayes, Nick. The Rime of the Modern Mariner. Viking. 2012. c.336p. ISBN 9780670025800. $32. GRAPHIC NOVELS
In the ominous beginning of this remastered Coleridge poem, the wedding guest is recast as a cynical young man who’s just finalized his divorce, a “perfunctory affair” like his wedding had been. Visiting a park during the first chilly days of autumn, the divorcé encounters a modern mariner burning to talk about his disturbing voyage to find whalebone for making dominoes. As the domino fancier tells it, he hired a ship under the table and was taking potshots at floating garbage to escape on deck boredom. A bird overhead offers more challenging sport, so he shoots the albatross as in the original poem. But now the floating detritus surging through the waves isn’t just something to shoot at for kicks but a living nightmare showing him the consequences of human consumption and waste. VERDICT Hayes has crafted a real masterpiece of both writing and art. His rhymed text evokes Coleridge stylistically but with a contemporary, ecological message, and his swirling ink-and-teal wash drawings (with a woodcut feel) manage to be both beautiful and haunting. A good bet for teen literature classes, art/design folks, and fans of literary graphic novels.—M.C.
Superman: Vol. 1: Superman and the Men of Steel. DC Comics. 2012. c.256p. ISBN 9781401235468. $24.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS
The “New 52,” DC’s universe-wide continuity reboot, has drawn major attention and sales, and one pillar of it is naturally the revamp of the company’s most iconic character. Here, Morrison, writer of the Eisner and Harvey Award–winning All-Star Superman, returns Superman to his 1938 roots. This man of steel is still a street-level crusader against corruption and injustice, righteous and determined but inexperienced and with powers still developing. He’s also wanted by the government, which has enlisted scientific genius Lux Luthor to capture him. Ultimately, the down-to-earth hero is thrust into cosmic matters, when the Collector of Worlds, which preserves elements of planetary cultures doomed to extinction, comes for Metropolis. VERDICT Morrison brings big ideas to the table, and his protrait of the hero as a young man will prove more appealing to some readers than the mature, nearly omnipotent Superman of recent decades. Supporting characters, including Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Steel, are less changed. The artwork by Rags Morales, Andy Kubert, and others consistently reaches a high standard. A strong book for all DC fans.—S.R.
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The following titles are reviewed in the November 15 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Brahm, Revel. Guerillas: Vol. 2. Oni. 2012. c.120p. ISBN 9781934964996. pap. $24.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS
Hedges, Chris & Joe Sacco. Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. Nation Bks. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9781568586434. $28. GRAPHIC NOVELS
Hickman, Jonathan (text) & Nick Pitarra (illus.). The Manhattan Projects. Vol. 1: Science Bad. Image Comics. 2012. c.144p. ISBN 9781607066088. pap. $14.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS
Howe, Sean. Marvel Comics: The Untold Story. Harper: HarperCollins. 2012. c.496p. ISBN 9780061992100. $25.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS
Morrison, Grant (text) & & others. Siegel, Mark. Sailor Twain: Or, The Mermaid in the Hudson. First Second: Roaring Brook. 2012. c.400p. ISBN 9781596436367. $24.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS
Wimberly, Ron. The Prince of Cats. Vertigo: DC Comics. 2012. c.144p. ISBN 9781401220686. $16.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS
Zimmerman, Dwight Jon & Wayne Vansant. The Hammer and the Anvil: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the End of Slavery in America. Hill and Wang. 2012. c.150p. bibliog. ISBN 9780809053582. $24.95. GRAPHIC NOVELS