It just occurred to me that the above is a nice pun if you write it between September and November. Yet here we are in February of 2018. A little over four months ago, I was part of something that had me on pins and needles. Despite great community support from readers, backers, and creators, and an amazing push by my tireless publisher, the Kickstarter campaign for Comicker Press’s second season of books fell about $6000 short of its goal. (This post is thusly four months late, btw.)
The first volume of Waking Life was slated to be funded as part of that line, but as of the end of September, it looked like I was going to have to be content to have it be a digital-only comic for just a little while longer.
That said, I did learn a few things from the Kickstarter process:
- Community is valuable. Throughout the campaign, a few of the creators and I regularly texted and communicated on social media to brainstorm, process, and share ideas. That led to stronger connections with fellow Comicker creators, which considering the creator-owned nature of the brand, was a really cool thing.
- Likewise, a readership is part of your comic’s community, and cultivating that is part of the process. I haven’t quite hacked this aspect yet, though I’m chalking some of that down to bandwidth. My priorities outside of my family, my students, and my church community are pretty much writing, penciling, digitally inking, coloring, and lettering my comic. That leaves little space for an outreach effort– or at least one that hasn’t been thought through and designed. I love the act of discussing comics just about as much as making them, and I’m not alone in that. I think this summer will be a valuable time to intentionally find and connect with others who have the same mindset.
- Identity does not equal activity. I’ve been cartooning since I was a college sophomore, circa 2005. I’ve illustrated one graphic novel, and wrote and illustrated several short comics stories before embarking on Waking Life. And I am owed precisely what from this? Not a blessed thing. There’s more work yet to be done. And my comfort is in the fact that cartooning is a thing that I do, and a thing I can constantly improve upon. My sense of self and worth aren’t to be bound up in it– it’s to flow out of who I am. I’m satisfied intellectually that my locus of identity comes from my connection to Jesus of Nazareth. Practically, that’s harder on a day-to-day level. But finding out that I didn’t have enough people in my orbit who wanted to pre-order a book didn’t wreck who I was. There was no pity party, no lengthy mope-fest for Christin to have to put up with. I got to keep working. And I got to remember why.
One of the things I’ve loved about the Preemptive Love Coalition –a non-profit doing humanitarian work in Iraq, Syria, and post-Harvey Houston– is their old tradition of annual failure reports. They’ve loved to process in public what they tried, what didn’t work, and how they’ll apply those lessons going forward. It’s not a bad thing to learn from.
In 2016, I created a new comics story, based on the life and work of one of my cartooning heroes. In 2017, I invited people to help me bring it onto bookshelves. In the process of falling short, I learned a few things that will pay dividends in the future.
And while I’m not quite allowed to talk about it yet, there have been a few interesting developments behind the scenes since. We knew from the beginning that even if the Kickstarter fell short, Comicker would still find a way to bring all of our books to press in some shape, form, or fashion. I think I can safely say that’s going to come to fruition in the near future. Cagey enough?
Keep your eyes peeled is all I can say…