I founded Domino Books 7 years ago. In that time, I've published 10 books, distributed around 400 zines, and sent out close to 3,000 orders.
I am a fan of comics in all forms, all styles. But my focus with DOMINO has always been to work with artists who, for whatever reason, fall outside of whatever the moment dictates. Artists who make work that is unique not to a specific school or movement, but specific to themselves. An army of one attitude embodied in a single artists vision. Work like this is hard for a normal publisher (with catalog considerations, distribution deadlines, etc) to get behind. Context of a familiar style helps to tell a story to customers. But DOMINO is small, and we can publish whatever work we think is vital, regardless of it being potentially uncommercial or overflowing with obstruction. Comics are the most beautiful artistic medium I've ever encountered, so anything I spend time publishing is intended as an essential contribution to the form I care about so much. I'd always rather put DOMINO's weight behind a project that might not happen without us, rather than pursuing a publication that another publisher would be happy to acquire. This means avoiding obvious commercial hits to focus on work that exists as a vital undertone to the mediums underground. We owe a lot of this philosophy to Dylan Williams' efforts with Sparkplug Comics, which profoundly influenced what DOMINO does.
Most of the time, I fund DOMINO through sales of my own artwork. If I sell a few drawings, that means I can contact an artist about doing a book or get more ambitious with our distribution efforts. But that also means the project in question doesn't have an unlimited budget. We print books as best we can, on paper that fits our scrappy approach and take on as much distribution as we can handle with limited means.
The reason we are turning to Kickstarter is because this platform can be used to do something more ambitious than what we can do on our own. It can also be used to create some sustainability for our future. Here are some projects we couldn't do the right way on our own, and some plans to keep going.
1. Tad Martin #7 by Casanova Frankenstein
When I saw the pages for Casanova Frankenstein's Tad Martin #7, I knew it was the exact kind of project DOMINO should get behind. Frankenstein, a two time Best American Comics author, is one of my favorite contemporary cartoonists. Anyone who reads his work comes away from it moved---not in a treacly sentimental way, but rather in a thrilled way. Frankenstein communicates clearly and directly about layered emotional states. Nothing sharp is cleared away. With his masterful storytelling you are systematically guided through a precarious labyrinth.
DOMINO had long wanted to publish a work by Frankenstein, and Tad Martin #7 was the most breathtaking work of his I'd seen to date. As it requires full color printing, we are bringing it to Kickstarter. This will be the first DOMINO publication since 2011 we are printing outside of NYC, using the best printer and paper we could find, in order to make a genuinely beautiful object.
2. But is it...Comic Aht? #2 edited by Austin English and August Lipp
Why a print magazine about comics, and why now? The answers are...not simple. More than at any other time in my involvement in comics, I feel that things are artistically potent as they've ever been. More and more artists seem drawn to cartooning than at any other time, many of them making work of true beauty that doesn't fit into any mold that comics has appeared to be capable of. And yet the artistry and passion of these artists seems deeply out of sync with the institutions and structures that the comics 'industry' offers. Cartooning is a unique artform, yielding little support to artists, yet still acting as magnet for wildly ambitious expression, experimentation and thought.
I loved loved loved putting together our first issue. I want to publish this magazine for the rest of my life. But I also want to do it right, fill it with as many beautiful features and comics as possible. Page wise, this will be the longest publication in DOMINO's history. I want to go beyond the budget of our first issue to make this issue a force to be reckoned with.
one of our reward tiers is for a hand drawn ad in But is it...Comic Aht? #2, made by August Lipp, perfect for your art, small buisness or comics related scheme. Here's what Lipp's ads from issue #1 looked like:
Please note! I have offered this book for pre order on the DOMINO site already. All those orders will be honored, but if you haven't preordered yet, until this Kickstarter concludes, you will need to do so through this Kickstarter.
3. War Chest for Distribution
Domino has published 10 comics to date, but we've distributed around 400 self published zines, mini comics and artist books. I think the most pressing issue facing underground comics today is distribution. Comics is an intimate art form. An artist with energy and access to a photocopier can make a fully formed work of art in a way that is often impossible in most other mediums. Often, a publisher can be an unnecessary middle man, adding a diluted ingredient to an otherwise pure system. When DOMINO distributes self published zines that we find essential and compelling, we take true pride in stuffing a pamphlet of personal expression into an envelope and sending it around the world.
We want to be more ambitious with our distribution efforts. We find what John Porcellino does with his Spit 'n a Half distro to be extremely important. If more powerful distribution for underground and self published comics existed, the need for cartoonists to attend endless festivals would be less of a concern. That translates into artists saving money on travel and table costs, and expanding their audience outside of the realm of festival goers. Distribution seems like the most important issue for anyone who cares about comics to tackle right now.
Currently, DOMINO pays for distribution items on consignment. I want to change that as much as I can. Buying zines upfront from artists would be good for DOMINO and for the community of artists we care about.
This war chest would have a direct effect on artist payments, as product being bought up front is far more helpful to comic makers than a consignment schedule. Also, this infusion of cash would help us get way AHEAD, rather than periodically lagging behind, on getting $$ to people who make comics.
Kickstarter projects should look towards sustainability. Raising money for a distribution war chest with a goal of buying books up front would be a good step towards the future.
4. Cost breakdown
$5,000 = Printing costs/artist payment for Tad Martin #7 and But is it...Comic Aht? #2
$1,000 = Distribution War Chest
Founder and publisher, DOMINO BOOKS
Risks and challenges
Tad Martin #7 is completed, and production work will begin once funding is secured. But is it...Comic Aht? #2 is still being pieced together. We are committed to our October deadline, but may face a slight delay.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)