About this project
Exiles is the first collection of my transgender-themed comics stories. These stories have appeared in various places on the web and I'd like to collect them in one place for a nice print edition. The centerpiece of this collection is "The Exile and Happy Landing of Natalie Rios," a queer erotic melodrama written by Rachel K. Zall. Rachel has previously appeared in Tristan Taormino's Lambda Literary-winning collection of trans erotica, Take Me There, and this story is a quasi sequel to her story in that collection. The other material includes a couple of short comedic pieces that have appeared on my art blog and "With A Little Help From My Friends," a piece of didactica that I wrote and drew for Pam Harrison's anthology series, Voices Against Bullying (Sword and Labrys Press). The final book will include 28 pages of comics, subject to change should we make our stretch goal of $3000.
The breakdown of how we plan to use the money we raise with this campaign is as follows:
Printing costs: 25%
Fulfillment costs: 15%
Kickstarter fees: 10%
The remaining 17% will go to myself and Rachel as a page rate for the labor involved in creating these comics. Comics are hard work and both Rachel and I believe that art is work that deserves to be paid. It is our hope that our Kickstarter will be successful enough to expand the page rate.
Update: Now that we've made our bare minimum funding goal, our first stretch goal is in play! At $3000, I plan to add eight pages to the comic. Those eight pages will contain a new short story exclusive to the Kickstarter edition. We've still got a long campaign ahead of us and I think this goal is realistic. I can't wait to share my new story with everyone.
A note on the ethics of crowdfunding this project. Given that our primary audience for these stories are members of the transgender community, and given that our target audience is unusually impoverished, we feel it is beholden on us to provide the following caveat: If you are a trans person who is at economic risk, we do NOT want your money. Your support and readership? Sure. Give us a mention on twitter or on a blog or mention us to your friends, but we do not want to contribute to the penury of our friends in the trans community. Almost all of this material is currently available for free on the web with the exception of a couple of pages that are exclusive to the print edition (one page of The Exile was drawn specifically so a couple of two-page spreads would fall on the correct pages in the book, but it has no impact whatsoever on the story). The print-exclusive material will appear on the web after the book is printed. Additionally, all of the the images for the reward art--the prints, drawings, and anything else I come up with, will also appear on my art blog after the print edition ships and the backers are rewarded.
There are a couple of questions that should be answered regarding the mission of this project:
Does this benefit the community? I think it does because art always benefits a community. It's the expression of our experiences from our own mouths and hands and it enables us to define ourselves without the imposition of the norms of a majority that does not share those experiences. Indeed, art from our hands can educate that majority. Additionally, I believe that it is beholden upon us to create an economy of our own as a counterbalance to the economic iniquities many of us experience in late capitalism. This is, admittedly, also self-interested.
Can we fund this project without crowdfunding? Probably not. Rachel and I both fall into the category of economically distressed trans women. Even the relatively modest goal we've set for our campaign is beyond our current means.
Do you have to be trans or queer to enjoy our comics? We don't think so. Certainly, comedy should appeal across a broad set of cultural experiences. The dramatic pieces? Well, we don't assume an audience that cannot enjoy works about people who don't look like them. We understand that some elements of our comic will make some audiences very uncomfortable, but we don't view the reification of comforting cultural norms as one of the missions of art. At the very least, the drawings and formal comics elements should be pleasing in and of themselves (we hope). Fortunately, we have non-trans/non-queer friends who have enjoyed the comics, so this isn't entirely speculation.
This is, hopefully, the first of many collections of comics stories from us. As any hobbit might tell you, every journey starts with a first step.
Thank you for your support.
Risks and challenges
The main risks and challenges of this project are mostly minimal. Almost all of the art needed for publication is complete and has already been formatted for press. Labor costs are sunk at this point and if we don't recover them, well, that's the way the cookie crumbles. We foresee only a couple of difficulties: The first is the variable cost of printing. Obviously, the more copies we order, the cheaper it will be, but we have NO idea how many copies will be demanded by this campaign so our current estimate on the printing cost is at the high end of things. This may pleasantly surprise us. The other challenge is the size and affluence of our target audience. If we were more mercenary business people, this project would be very different. It would appeal more broadly to a cisgender straight audience. That's not us, and that kind of thinking is death to art. Hopefully, we'll be able to reach beyond the core audience--and we'll need to do that to be successful--but we'll see how that goes. We are also unsure of how long it will take to get the book printed. We've budgeted two months from the conclusion of the Kickstarter Campaign, but we don't know if that's conservative or optimistic. This is terra incognito to us. Again, we shall see.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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