Introducing Google Analytics — and an inside look at the creator dashboard

If you’ve never launched a project on Kickstarter — or if it’s just been a while since your last — you might not know about all the tools and data waiting for creators behind the scenes.

Take the project dashboard, for instance. It’s pretty much Mission Control for monitoring everything going on with a project, with at-a-glance tracking of key data: funding, top referrers, reward breakdowns, even a continuous feed of all project activity. It’s our way of making sure everyone has all the information they need to run a great project, while keeping the whole thing simple and intuitive enough that creators can focus their energies on, you know, creating.

There are some, however, who need even more advanced, more granular methods of monitoring their projects. That’s why we’ve now enabled creators to connect their projects to Google Analytics. It’s simple and seamless — just add a Google Analytics tracking ID to any Kickstarter project, and all the right data will flow over for analysis. For larger, more complex projects, it opens up a whole new world of trusted, powerful tools, from custom reports and dashboards to the ability to track how many visits to the project page are converting into pledges.

It’s just one of a host of new features and upgrades we’ve been rolling out for creators over the past months, from big changes to small improvements — things like shipping tools, spotlight pages, easier payment setup, and subtitles and captions. And of course there’s still a terrific suite of data already waiting on every project’s dashboard, no setup required. Never seen it? Here’s a quick spin through what’s available.

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Discover Webcomics

Picture a comic. Assuming you don't immediately think of a person that practices comedy in some form, you probably picture a newspaper comic strip or a stapled, magazine-style comic book. It's the beauty of the format. You can do whatever you want with the structure built into the medium.

But what about webcomics? For as long as they've been around (longer than you think! The first webcomic was actually distributed through Compuserve) no one's ever been quite sure what to do with them. Do you treat them as you would any paper comic, only on a screen? Or do you use the freedom of that screen to push boundaries? To make them interactive? To take what was printed on the web and convert it to an actual, physical book? True to comics history, rather than figure out one definitive way, all manner of work in all manner of format is available to read online, and if looking at hundreds of these projects a day tells us anything, it's that the community around webcomics is thriving just as much as the projects themselves. Here's a few that are live right now.

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Talking Shop: An Evening with Bill Plympton

From the moment the first full-length computer-animated feature film, Toy Story, came out in 1995, people recognized the computer's potential with regard to animation. Much later, in 2009, television's longest-running sitcom, The Simpsons, finally updated their introduction, replacing the hand-drawn sequence with computer-aided animation and effects. There's no longer any question that technology has revolutionized animation.

So why would an animator work harder than they now have to? 

Bill Plympton has been illustrating and animating professionally for the past 40 years. He's perhaps best known for his 1987 animated short Your Face, which was nominated for an Academy Award. Plympton is an animation legend, as well-known for his iconic style as the fact that he still draws every single frame by hand.

After a screening of his most recent film, Cheatin', at Kickstarter HQ, Plympton fielded some questions from the audience and fellow animator/moderator Signe Baumane. He shared the details of his process, thoughts on his style, and one incredible story about how he turned down a job at Disney.

Please enjoy this candid conversation with Bill Plympton in the video above. And when you're done, seek out more of his work, like his hand-drawn couch gag for The Simpsons, or his eighth hand-drawn animated feature film, REVENGEANCE.

Revolution Revisited: Stanley Nelson Explains the Black Panther Movement

Filmmaker Stanley Nelson’s The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is coming to theaters at a critical point in time. When the Black Panther Party was founded in 1966, it was in reaction to unjust conditions: police violence, substandard education, and joblessness. Nelson writes: “As we witness the similarities between the injustices of yesterday and the tragedies of today, we feel a sense of urgency to share the story of the Black Panther Party. We are struck by the way today's movement around police brutality and accountability is being led by young people seeking change, just as it was with the Black Panther Party almost 50 years ago.”

Nelson has won literally every major award in broadcasting, including a National Medal from President Barack Obama, a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, and a Primetime Emmy, to name just a few. Since Nelson is currently running a Kickstarter project to help fund the theatrical release of The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, we asked him to share his impactful and inspiring insights with us. What follows is an annotated series of archival photos from the Black Panther movement, plus his thoughts on how we can learn from our past, and how today's filmmakers can best use storytelling for positive social impact.

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Tech Weekly: Light-Bulb Moments

Every project in our Technology category starts with a bright idea. This week we saw everything from a quirky bike/car hybrid to a levitating light bulb. Eureka!

Flyte: Levitating Light

At the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Nikola Tesla demonstrated wireless power by illuminating light bulbs from across a stage. The audience there probably felt the same way we did when we first saw Flyte. Making use of both magnetic levitation and inductive power, Flyte is a levitating light. Just plug in the base, set the shatterproof light bulb in place, and bask in the light of the coolest lamp you've ever seen.

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Congratulations to the Eisner Award Nominees

Every year at the San Diego International Comic-Con, the Eisner Awards are distributed to recognize creative achievement in the comics industry. Named for comic writer and artist Will Eisner, creator of The Spirit and the man responsible for popularizing the term "graphic novel," the awards are the comic industry's equivalent of the Oscars. Yesterday the 2015 nominations were announced, and we were stoked to see a wide range of familiar creators on the list.

Our sincerest congratulations to the nominees:

Failing Sky, by Dax Tran-Caffee

"I wanted to make a piece of art that would be the change I wanted to see in the world," says Dax Tran-Caffee. Failing Sky, a web-based indie graphic novel with giant robots, which Tran-Caffee partially describes as "a memoir, a failed sailor, a genderqueer Nancy Drew, giant robots" is the result of that effort. Failing Sky has been nominated in the Best Digital/Web Comic category.

In the Dark: A Horror Anthology, edited by Rachel Deering

In The Dark is an exploration of all the frightful things that go bump in the night. With over 20 all-new, original horror stories, this collection features the work of an incredible roster of writers and artists. In The Dark has been nominated in the Best Anthology category.

Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream, edited by Josh O’Neill, Andrew Carl, & Chris Stevens (Locust Moon)

Over 100 years ago, Winsor McCay created a full-page weekly comic strip titled Little Nemo in Slumberland. His pioneering work has been celebrated ever since. Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream is an anthology featuring the work of some of the world's finest contemporary cartoonists, as they weave a new dream world for Nemo, and pay tribute to McCay in the process. Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream has been nominated in the Best Anthology and Best Publication Design categories.

The Leaning Girl, by Benoît Peeters & François Schuiten (Alaxis Press)

The Obscure Cities is a French graphic novel series set on a counter-Earth, started in the early 1980s. The publisher responsible for the English translations stopped issuing new editions in 2002, leaving three graphic novels and at least five other books in the series without translation. The Leaning Girl is book six in The Obscure Cities series, and Steve Smith of Alaxis Press spent months translating this story of a 13-year-old girl who lives life at a 30 degree angle after an amusement park accident. The Leaning Girl has been nominated in the Best U.S. Edition of International Material
, and Best Penciller/Inker (François Schuiten) categories.

Fantagraphics

At the end of 2013, Fantagraphics ran a project to fund its 2014 publishing season. As a publisher of alternative comics, classic comic strip anthologies, graphic novels, and more, Fantagraphics is deeply rooted in the comic community and they saw a tremendous outpouring of support. We were delighted to see that Fantagraphics received 15 total nomination for various books in various categories.

Congratulations once again to all of the nominees. We'll be rooting for you come July!

The Process: Simone Paasche Explains Jewelry

Obvious statement alert: making jewelry is hard and time consuming. The actual process of putting together jewelry tends to inform its place in the world as a luxury item. But it's also a craft worthy of being celebrated for its artistry. While combing through the Jewelry category on our site (it's a thing!) we came across Simone Paasche's excellent line, SPUR. We asked her to tell us about making it.

As a jewelry designer and object lover, I am terribly sentimental. I’ll often walk around for months with all sorts of collected odds and ends that I’m drawn to in my jacket pockets. I have that same reaction towards objects behind glass at archaeological and fine arts museums, and since I can’t take things home with me I record what interests me in my notebook and find a way to hold on to it. This impulse informs my jewelry. What better way to hold on to something than to wear it?

When I design I start on paper and then need to get to the physical form quickly, since so much consideration goes into how it relates to the body. I tend to use red sticky wax to initially sculpt pieces and I get it into a pliable state by rolling it out into thin strings before I start working.

Here you can see a piece built as a rough draft in red wax and than as a formal version in purple hard wax. Sometimes I transfer the piece into a CAD drawing on the computer if it involves repetitive repetitive stone settings.

Then it is time to head to midtown and work with my casters and stone setters! I discuss the piece with my stone setter and figure out if any variations must be made to ensure that the stones will sit the most securely.

Silicon molds are made with great care and the final pieces are cast, cleaned up and set. Check out a newly finished SPUR piece featured below!

 For more jewelry from Simone Paasche, check out the SPUR project page.