Crowdfunded Comics Bestsellers: Are They Exploitive?

Crowdfunded Comics are quickly gaining attention across the comics community. Even here on MFR, there is an entire section of reviews in dedication to Kickstarter comics. Looking at the trends on sites like Kicktraq and BackerKit however, some questions rise up. Many of the series involve women with certain “appeals.” In recent years some projects involve titles from the 90s like Lady Death and Shi. Does this mean that crowdfunding comics are just taking advantage of readers’ instincts? This is the research from the gutters.

Crowdfunding Platforms

Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are becoming the go-to means of creator-owned content to flourish. YouNeek Studios, in particular, lives up to the Kickstarter name for its publishing. Starting with E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams, comes a superhero fantasy franchise joining the ranks of legends like Marvel. Which, in turn, leads to several imitators like Epoch Comics. Even notable series like Witchblade go on these sites to get funding for their omnibuses when its publishers can’t provide it. Which brings up the next point.

Advertising Exploitation?

Crowdfunding is far from easy because that means giving your backers their money’s worth. Artwork, writing, printing, and distribution doesn’t come cheap. Most single issue comics usually need roughly $1000 just to get that bare minimum. So advertising is key to getting the necessary funds. At the same time, just throwing money at companies like Facebook doesn’t guarantee success. So there comes a controversial means of appealing to potential backers, taking advantage of their instincts.


Crowd Instinct

Some comics get a called out for suggestively dressed women on their covers. Even today, comics like Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose doesn’t shirk away from these depictions. Since most of the artists behind such series are men and appeal to men, there comes a familiar saying, “Sex Sells.” However, that’s not to say that female artists don’t draw women provocatively, including Sorah Suhng. This saying also appeals to female readers as well. One series that often appears in Kicktraq’s Closed Projects, Sweet Boy is a yaoi series, a demographic that appeals primarily to women for how attractive the men are. There’s a double standard for everything.

A webcomic that gets attention
Just imagine what this would look like in animation.

Neoteny is another aspect that often gets attention, especially in webcomics. Thanks to how youthful and simple designs can look, people can’t look away. Japan has an entire subculture in dedication to this, Kawaii. A good number of these webcomics also involve cats, including fan-favorite Lackadaisy. Probably because cats, even mature ones, retain their neoteny. The most successful crowdfunding projects, regardless of medium, however, go beyond surface appeal.

Crowdfunding On Nostalgia

Probably one of the most exploitive natures people use in entertainment is nostalgia. Whether it’s remakes, reboots, or relaunches, people are more than willing to stick with familiar names. The name of Lady Death alone amasses over 1 million dollars in crowdfunding for more than ten graphic novels. All while spearheading Brian Pulido’s Coffin Comics universe. It’s little wonder why Coffin Comics amasses enough net profits to get on the Diamond catalogs.

Did you know that Jim Starlin made this crowdfunded comic as a means of advertising?
From the maker of half of Cosmic Marvel, comes a Space Opera.

Of course, notable creators like Jim Starlin and Kevin Eastman use their names and influence to advertise. Starlin himself generates a lot of hype with his fans through his souring relationship with Marvel. His campaigns, in turn, advertises Creation.INK, “the first truly creator-owned company,” composed of veterans like Starlin and Ron Marz. Eastman meanwhile uses his fame from TMNT to catapult Drawing Blood. This series about what goes behind the scenes perfectly encapsulates the means behind crowdfunded comics.

Crowdfunded Comics Are For Fans

Crowdfunding is for all kinds of fans
Can you blame the guy for the fan-art crossovers?

It isn’t enough to generate interest through pin-up models or human psychology; crowdfunding has to be something fans can relate to. Relative newcomer, White Widow is quickly becoming popular in the comic community. Series artist and co-creator Jamie Tyndall makes a name for this title by crossing it over with fan-art. The Spider-Gwen crossover designs are so popular; cosplayers make regular use of them at conventions. But even more so, these designs have character.

Character is arguably the most significant piece surrounding these crowdfunded comics. Despite how underdressed many of these characters and series appear to be, there are real stories surrounding them. Some of them like Lady Death starts as ideas until they grow into something more, even to the point of a small publishing empire. Imagine how some fans feel about being the ones to bring these series into the public.

The Community of Crowdfunding

Comics are a medium of combining elements that are greater than the whole, a medium of community. While creators can direct readers to and through their content, readers experience it in ways they share with others. Crowdfunding is one-way fans give back to their creators, by being the ones to breathe life into it.

What do you think of bestselling crowdfunded comics? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Jake Palermo
Jake Palermo
Greeting panel readers, My name is Jake but I never replace anyone or anything; I merely follow and fill in the gaps. I write stories and articles that help people piece together anything that helps them understand subjects like culture, the people who write their favorite stories, and how it affects other people.