The Kickstarter Blog

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  1. Cats vs. Dogs! A Statistical Analysis

    Here at Kickstarter, we have an incredible data team — people who spend their days assembling intricate queries, digging deep into Kickstarter’s data-guts, analyzing what they find, and helping build the very best platform possible. (If that sounds like a blast to you, then you’re in luck, because they’re currently looking for a new member to join them.) These people are very smart, very busy, and very rigorous about their work, which is why we try not to bother them when we get curious about less pressing questions, like whether there have been more projects involving pirates or more involving ninjas.

    But such questions deserve answers, don’t they? (Answers like: it’s pirates.) So welcome to our department of amateur data-wrangling, in which non-data people take it upon ourselves to investigate matters the data team doesn’t normally have time for, and then we bug them for help when we get stuck.

    Today’s question: Is it possible that Kickstarter is one of the few places on the internet where dogs are more popular than cats?

    To answer, we pulled the numbers for projects that used words like dog or cat (or puppy, or feline, or a few other related terms) in their main data fields — the project title and the short descriptive blurb. Is this method super-rigorous? Well, no. It means that something like John Vanderslice recording a full-album cover of David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs will wind up in the dog column. But is it spiritually sound? Vanderslice could have recorded a full-album cover of Harry Nilsson’s Pussy Cats, Poison’s Look What the Cat Dragged In, or The Very Best of Cat Stevens, but he chose not to. He invoked the spirit of the dog, and for our purposes that makes him Team Dog, forever.

    Which is good news for him, because by many measures, Team Dog is winning. Here are the stats for total number of projects launched, and total money pledged, for cats and for dogs. (You’ll have to take our word for it that, at a quick glance, the bulk of these projects really did seem to be related to actual cats and dogs, not David Bowie — projects like a documentary about dogs who ride in motorcycle sidecars, a film starring James Cromwell as a veterinarian, and a cat-shaped candle with a terrifying secret.) Voila:

    So: is it possible there’s a place on the internet where people are more into dogs than cats? Like, besides and this Yahoo! Answers question? Some signs point to yes!

    Dig deeper into the stats, and things get more interesting:

    You’ll notice two things here. One is that Team Cat projects were more likely to be funded — their success rate lands at 44%, pretty much the same as Kickstarter projects as a whole. The other is that the average number of backers for Team Cat projects was significantly higher than the average for Team Dog. The Kickstarter data team has warned us about drawing cavalier conclusions from limited information, but hey, does it not look at least possible that the world of cat-related-project backers is … underserved, as a community? Look at it this way:

    See, when it comes to the number of people pledging to Team Dog versus Team Cat projects, the difference isn’t huge — dogs are up by just under 20%, whether you’re counting overall pledges or unique backers. But when it comes to the number of projects they were supporting, and the amount of money pledged, the difference is much bigger — around 60%. As a whole, Team Dog backers would seem to be spread more thinly across a larger number of projects, getting more ideas funded, while Team Cat backers are clustered around a smaller number of projects, with higher pledge counts and success rates.

    Which brings us to a sensitive issue. We love dogs, and dog people. We also love cats, and cat people. The last thing we’d ever wish to do is sow discord between these two communities. (We are not instigators, and if we were going to instigate, we’d probably try and get ferret people into the mix.) But if you couldn’t already guess, here’s one way Team Dog is getting all those projects funded:

    Does this mean dog-type backers are more generous than their cat-type counterparts? Not at all! Given what we see above, it could just be that the larger number of pledges per cat project meant each individual backer didn’t need to contribute as much to ensure a project reached its goal. Or maybe dog projects tended to offer substantial rewards at higher pledge levels. Or maybe a really rich dachshund made some huge pledges. There are lots of possibilities! Don’t hold it against cat-lovers. Or, you know, lovers of projects with “cat” in the title or blurb.

    What have we learned from all this? Very little, to be honest. But if you think cats deserve as much space on Kickstarter as dogs, maybe now is the time to rally your people, start your project, widen the Team Cat project pool, and perhaps follow in the footsteps of our most-funded cat-and-dog projects to date:

    Stay tuned for more amateur data-wrangling — and some actual serious analysis from our actual skilled data team — in the months to come. Next time, we’ll be tackling ZOMBIES vs. ROBOTS.

  2. Interview with Zack Soto of Study Group Comics

    Zack Soto's Study Group Comics operates sort of like a regular small-press publishing house. Soto is exceptional at finding new talent and presenting their work beautifully. But unlike many other publishers, Soto is not beholden to any single format. The material he's released through Study Group is sometimes in standard comic book form, sometimes anthologies or thicker graphic novels. Often he'll release things exclusively to the web. Looking at the range of material Soto has released, or will soon be releasing, it's clear that though he loves print as a medium, he's not beholden to it. His latest batch of material — including work from noted creators Sam Alden and Farel Dalrymple, among others — is diverse and often gorgeous. We spoke to him about the ethos and origins of Study Group.

    What's the story behind the name Study Group? What does it mean for you?

    It was initially taken from a drunken voicemail a friend left on my answering machine, but since then, I have found it to be an apt enough name. I like to think that Study Group is a super cool, sometimes experimental, always entertaining, bubbling cauldron of comics.

    Why did you decide to start Study Group? Did you see a hole in comics publishing that you wanted to fill?

    I did. I have a pretty broad scope of comics and art that I'm into, but I sometimes flatter myself into thinking that the kind of things that I highlight wouldn't necessarily find homes elsewhere, or at least that the specific combinations of work and kinds of work are unique to Study Group. 

     Would you say that there is a "mission statement" for Study Group?

    I really just want to put out cool comics for more people to see! It's a simple goal, but I'm a simple man. A simpleton, if you will. Wait, uh. Let me take that one back.

    What about an aesthetic similarity between creators you publish?

    Generally speaking, the kind of work I enjoy is all over the map. I love weird abstract stuff as much as I love cool adventure comics or cerebral sci-fi epics. That said, I think that my favorite artists, both SG artists and generally speaking, have a strong element of "the hand" in their work. I wanna see the drawing. I also think that I focus on readability and storytelling as an artist, and the kinds of comics I like to publish have the same kinds of focus. Farel Dalrymple and Sam Alden are both just relentlessly narrative artists who really draw the hell out of their comics.  

    Do you put together a publishing schedule for all of these at once?

    Well, it comes in waves. The webcomics thing is cool, because it's at the point where people can take breaks and come back between chapters or stories, and there's almost always something else running. I am always finding new stuff for the online thing. Sometimes people come to me, sometimes I try to plant the idea in the heads of artists I love.

    It's been nice to take a few of the comics from the web to print. IWAH, my comic The Secret Voice, and now Haunter are all making that transition. When it makes sense or the timing is right to do so, it's a really cool thing. Honestly, I love doing the webcomics, I love having lots of little deadlines to keep me moving, I love the opportunity to get things in front of people's eyeballs, but when it comes down to it, the print object is where it's at for me. These comics, printed in vibrant colors on newsprint or whatever, it doesn't get better than that. 

    Study Group is also very diverse genre-wise. Do you gravitate toward a particular genre in your day-to-day comics reading?

    I work at a couple great comics shops, so I have a lot of opportunity to at least browse through pretty much everything that's getting put out. From weird little hand made zines to the latest version of She Hulk or whatever. I really enjoy a lot of European comics, and manga. Strange little books with nothing but morphing characters, sorta underground stuff, super heroes, crime comics, etc. 

    When you started making comics did you ever anticipate also starting a publishing house? Is there anything difficult about running Study Group that you weren't expecting?

    Actually, it's always been a bit of a dream for me. Study Group is definitely bigger than I ever would have hoped, as tiny as it is in the scheme of things (very, very tiny). The only real difficulties are just not having enough energy to feel like I'm operating art full potential, and the biggest cliche every artist-turned-publisher always says: "I'm almost too busy to draw comics!" That's a cliche for a reason. It's real stuff.

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