Comics on Kickstarter Keep Hitting New Highs

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Camilla Zhang, Comics Outreach Lead at Kickstarter.
Camilla Zhang, Comics Outreach Lead at Kickstarter.

The Kickstarter Comics category had a massive year in 2018, with backers from around the world pledging a record $16 million to projects large and small. For nearly a decade, comics makers have been coming to Kickstarter in pursuit of creative autonomy. This sense of independence has fostered the robust community of comics lovers we see on Kickstarter today. And it keeps growing!

Here’s the breakdown from last year:

  • $16 million pledged to all projects, up 26% from 2017.
  • $15.3 million pledged to successfully funded projects, up 27% from 2017.
  • 1,457 projects funded, up 14% from 2017, the previous best year, and nearly triple the amount in 2012.
  • 70% funding success rate

What I love most about these projects is that they don’t need mass appeal to be successful and have an impact. With cool comic projects like (Be)Loved and Burn Man, independent creators can make something unconventional and niche with 100 backers or less. That kind of intimate and direct connection between creator and backer is way more meaningful than followers or likes.

Breaking Down Barriers

I’m especially proud that Kickstarter has become a place where women, artists of color, and LGBTQ creators come to create work their own way, build and engage with their communities, and bypass the typical gatekeepers.

A big part of my role is to nurture new creators, especially those from marginalized communities. 

Mainstream publishers and media tend to treat diversity like a trend. But you can't just create a cast of characters that look like a Benetton ad and call it a day. We need to dig below the surface and find out which creators are getting the resources and support they need to make new work. To really foster stories that promote empathy and break the cycle of oppression and inequity, marginalized creators need to benefit financially and have more opportunities to keep creating. 

And it’s now more important than ever to spread empathy and bring people together. Kickstarter was born in New York, but we know that supporting marginalized communities must go beyond U.S. borders. That’s the reality of globalization. Our creators and backers know this too. Just take a look at Singapore’s first ever Queer Zine Fest. The creators started with local outreach, which grew to rally and unite supporters around the world. Comics projects have that kind of power. It’s truly amazing.

And the Award Goes to…

Kickstarter creators are winning some of the most prestigious awards in their industry. In 2018, Taneka Stotts won an Eisner, Joamette Gil was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, and Jeanne Thornton won the Lambda Literary Judith A. Markowitz Award. Kickstarter creators like Tee Franklin and Ngozi Ukazu also got to reach a wider audience after their successfully funded books were picked up by bigger publishers.

What’s Next

I’m excited to keep building on the momentum of 2018, especially as I head to some of the industry’s most important events. I just wrapped a visit to the Schomburg Center's Annual Black Comic Book Festival, and throughout 2019 look for me at ECCC, TCAF, SPX, and BlerdCon.

One of my goals this year is to make Kickstarter’s Comics & Illustration page a content destination, where folks come to find projects they’ll love by creators they don’t know yet. The first step is to make projects more easily discoverable, so I’ve carved out genre sections. Check them out here!

I’m also planning workshops to help creators get their projects off the ground. For comics creators who want to get a head start, start building your community before you even think about raising money. In the meantime, I’m here to help! Watch this space for more soon.