Kickstarter Getting Pretty Comical

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Kickstarter is the third-largest publisher of comic books in the U.S., by some counts–or at least the third-largest funding source. Off-beat comics artists with small but loyal followings are successfully self-publishing titles like Cursed Pirate Girl, Inferno 2010 and Moriarty: The Dark Chamber, a story based around Sherlock Holmes’s arch-nemesis, as well as other, weirder things. The site has become such a force in the comics world that noted comic Johanna Carlson wrote a post declaring she wouldn’t be giving to any more Kickstarters. “I’m already tired of getting ‘press releases’ that are thinly disguised pleas for funds. I want to buy a book when I know when it’s available and what it looks like,” she wrote. A week later she walked it back with a post titled “More on Kickstarter: I Was Wrong.”

Kickstarter has gotten so big for comics creators that it’s starting to rival the independent and mainstream publishers in volume. Here’s a list of how many comic books indie publishers commissioned in May, according to Publishers Weekly, which asserts Kickstarter is “playing with the big kids”:

Dark Horse: 15 Books
IDW: 15 Books
Kickstarter: 10 Books
Image: 6 Books
Boom: 5 Books
Dynamite: 5 Books.

What draws comics authors to Kickstarter? Escaping stringent book contracts may be the motive for established authors, but some of these artists are just too indie for indie. “When you’re talking about less than 500 copies, or even 1000 copies, most publishers are just plain uninterested in today’s climate,” a commenter wrote on Ms. Carlson’s blog.