A podcast about indie comics, webcomics, and the people who love them. Exploring small press comics through interviews and panels.
Exploring Comics launched as a weekly podcast in the spring of 2017 out of Tim McLaughlin's love of the small press comics community. Each weekly episode hosts someone involved in the community, usually a comics creator, in a topical conversation on a way their comic connects to larger genres and movements, such as worldbuilding or sci-fi. These are accompanied by a monthly episode in which a panel of guests talk about matters relevant to the community at large, like representation or writing comics. Each episode gives creators the chance to highlight their works to a broad audience, show some part of how small press comics play into the greater body of human literature and art, and recommend other works that deserve a spotlight. Early that summer, the podcast began receiving press passes to comic conventions in New England, and in August, Exploring Comics entered an arrangement with the free online comics magazine, StArt Faire, to embed an extended version of the monthly panel discussions in their digital issues.
In late summer of last year, however, Tim had some medical issues that hindered his ability to maintain a weekly schedule, and had to reduce his work load to only handling the monthly panels and occasional convention coverage episodes. Economic concerns and a limited number of full-time jobs available forced him to pick up three part-time jobs, and he returned to school to help ensure a better future for his family, limiting his schedule further. As a result, Exploring Comics has not yet been able to return to its intended weekly schedule, and is now planning a full relaunch as soon as the podcast's technical means can be met, which this campaign is designed to handle.
The goal of this Kickstarter is primarily to create a fund that can be used to pay for editing services, the time-consuming part of production that Tim just hasn't been able to keep up with alone. Having that help would ensure that episodes can begin going up every Friday again, giving small press creators an avenue for the public attention they deserve. The existing episodes are proof of concept: the support of the small press community on the pre-hiatus run and the ongoing interaction on Twitter show that the project has a place and that it will be warmly welcomed when it returns.
Money raised above the goal will be used for paying Tim for his work, getting tables for Exploring Comics at conventions, and upgrading equipment.
Risks and challenges
There are a few obstacles standing in the way of a project like Exploring Comics. These fundamentally fall into two camps: production and audience.
Finding an audience is a significant hurdle to new projects, and Exploring Comics has been busy attending to that. We began with a small pool of friends in the small press community, who have been listening and sharing from day one. The podcast is shared on the Nerd Herder network on Facebook, the forums for Comic Book Hour, as well as being available in iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, and TuneIn. Monthly panel episodes appear in a magazine specifically targeted at the small press comics community, and have been well received there. The podcast has established a partnership with Ink Drop Cafe, a body of comics and related media who support and promote each other. The contacts that have been made through our convention coverage, whether with organizers or attendees, have helped spread the word about the podcast and legitimize its place in the market. It has been slow growth, which is to be expected with this specific topic, but it has also been steady growth that is expected to continue as soon as we return to our regular publishing schedule. And as stretch goals are met, other avenues for advertising and promoting will become available.
There is some ground that will need to be made up, however. While most of the community is accustomed to hiatuses and understands the need to address medical and personal issues, the fact is that Exploring Comics has not been as reliable or as constant in the last few months as it was at first. There may be some time needed to establish the trust we once had from our guests and listeners that we will continue doing what we say we'll do. Tim has been in communication with various corners of the small press comics community during the hiatus, keeping our audience informed about how things are going. We have reason to believe this will give us a significant head start on rebuilding any relationships that have eroded during this break.
As for production, the problems are really only time and technology. Addressing these hurdles is exactly what this campaign is attempting to do. The target goal, $3,700, is enough to absorb Kickstarter's fees and pay for a service like Podfly which can handle all of the editing and other technical aspects for a full year. Systems like this also help monetize the podcast, which means that success in this campaign, effective work with advertisers, and careful planning will hopefully have the podcast at or near self-sustaining by the time this campaign's money runs out. As always, there are aspects of this that are variable, but Tim has been doing research into available options and ways to work with it that we believe will get us off to a solid start.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)