In Blackwater, Maine, werewolves and ghosts are about as abundant as high school drama. BLACKWATER, a webcomic created by artist duo Ren and Jeannette, follows Eli Hirsch and Tony Price as they navigate the oddities of their hometown, such as fisherman ghouls and werewolves. Eli and Tony couldn’t be more different, as Eli is used to being cooped up due to an autoimmune disorder and Tony is a popular track star. But through uncovering the town’s mysteries, they become closer and eventually fall in love. These supernatural stories are episodic (ranging from paranormal encounters to simply waiting at the bus stop in the cold), but there is an underlying plot that ties the main characters together. The comic is still in the works, but the creators plan to launch it by August 2017.

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Image courtesy of Ren and Jeannette (BLACKWATER)

However, making comics isn’t easy. They take a lot of time and hard work. And with webcomics, the creators usually make them because they’re passionate about the project. Mainstream artists are just as passionate, but they benefit from exposure and a set income. Therefore, for independent creators, their comic often takes a backseat to jobs and life in general. We see the finished product, but none of the brainstorming, character development, thumb-nailing, and writing scripts. But with BLACKWATER, you can read the comic while also getting those sweet details through its Patreon. So if a supernatural story with queer characters sounds like your cup of tea, get your PayPals ready!

Why Patreon?

When it comes to supporting independent artists, every dollar counts. That’s why sites like Kickstarter and Patreon have become such important tools for webcomic creators. Kickstarter is good for specific goals, like printing and shipping complete comic issues or graphic novels. Patreon, on the other hand, is best for ongoing income. Like Kickstarter, Patreon includes tiers with different rewards or perks, but your patronage lasts (hopefully) beyond one goal. Creators charge monthly or per update, so patrons can choose the tier that suits them best based on income and what content they want to see most. You can pay as little as $1 per month and still access great content, but if you want to go above and beyond to support a favorite creator, you have a wealth of options.

CLICK: Need spooky content while you wait for BLACKWATER? Check out THE UNSOUND #1!

That sounds pretty similar to Kickstarter though, right? Well, the difference between the two platforms is that Patreon is a lot more personal. Both sites are great and have their own pros, but if you’re interested in getting a closer look at a creator’s process, Patreon is the way to go. You can comment and like posts, participate in polls, see exclusive content, and be a part of a community.

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Image courtesy of Ren and Jeannette (BLACKWATER)

BLACKWATER Perks

Just looking at Ren and Jeannette’s illustrations is a reward of its own. But there’s much more to supporting them on Patreon. The reward tiers span from $1 to $25, which will be charged per month for now (to be changed to once per update after the comic’s launch). Even though $1 seems like nothing, creators will thank you and give you early access to comic pages (both finished and works in progress).

READ: If BLACKWATER sounds great, you’ll probably love LONG EXPOSURE too!

But as you step up, each tier has something new to offer. Most include early access to comic pages, concept art, tutorials, script pages, short fiction, PDF zines, and so much more. That’s a lot of content! And it’s totally worth the dough when you see the production value of the promotional illustrations alone. Even if you can only spare a dollar per month, you’ll still be able to see works in progress as well as finished pages before they hit the public eye.

Personally, I chose the $5 tier. This tier includes concept art, tutorials, and even a monthly postcard with a spooky illustration. As an artist myself, I love that I can learn more about the comic-making process with this tier. I haven’t been a patron for long, but there’s already plenty of inspiring content. I love seeing process videos, sketches, and how different artists approach color, backgrounds, and other illustration aspects. But if you’re looking for the ultimate experience, the $25 tier includes free PDFs of future art books and a chance to see yourself (or your character) in BLACKWATER. And, of course, this includes everything from the previous tiers as well. More than anything else, it feels nice to support a project you’re truly passionate about.

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Image courtesy of Ren and Jeannette (BLACKWATER)

Support Independent Creators

But aside from all the cool perks, you’ll know you’re supporting a worthwhile project. Ren and Jeannette are excellent artists, the main characters are queer, and there’s a wealth of lore and legend to explore. Supporting BLACKWATER on Patreon will also help to open more doors when it comes to how we interact with comics and their creators. Independent projects or small publishers tend to be more progressive and interesting in terms of stories and characters. But to keep the progress rolling, we need to support the content we want to see.

Check out the BLACKWATER Patreon here!

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