Amidst publishing titans like Marvel and DC, it’s not easy for independent comic creators to promote their work. However, with social media and self-promotion on the rise, it’s a little easier to get your name out there. Crowdfunding in particular has become a vital tool. This method collects a small amount of money from many people, so supporters don’t feel pressured to give more than they’re able to — which means you have a bit more wiggle room when it comes to supporting multiple comics.

But where do you even start? Understandably, the world of crowdfunding comics can get a little overwhelming. So here’s a guide to help you start your journey into independent comic territory.

Where to Look

Image courtesy of Kickstarter

The most important step is obviously finding the comics. Usually, creators use Kickstarter or Patreon. There are definitely other sites, but they’re not always reputable. At least when starting out, you should stick to well-known sites. You don’t want to get caught up in a scam, which we’ll talk about later.

READ: Learn more about Patreon and possible creators to back!

Patreon and Kickstarter are different though. And, depending on what you want from a comic, one might be better for you than the other. Patreon is a recurring patron-based website, which means you pledge a certain amount of money each month like a subscription. Think of it like Spotify. The creator can post certain goals and tiers showing the benefits of supporting their work. Patreon is great for anyone who wants to see the progress of a comic behind-the-scenes.

Kickstarter, one of the most popular crowdsourcing choices, is a one time deal. You choose from a tier of rewards, which vary in price. So you can choose as little as $5, or you can go for the highest possible tier – whatever your bank account can handle. Lower tiers usually include a copy of the finished book and some other cool incentives like postcards or prints. But as you climb, you can unlock commissions, cameos in the comic, and anything else the creator chooses.

What to Consider

When money is tight, you want to know that your hard-earned dough is going towards something you’ll love. And with independent creators, there’s a lot more variety. For example, independent comics are more likely to engage in themes and issues that larger publishers tend to shy away from. Independent comics do a much better job of representing and giving voices to marginalized groups. And in today’s political climate it’s refreshing to see a push towards more diverse comics. Although, don’t count on every indie comic being this way.

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Aside from content, you’ll want to consider some other aspects: Budget, creators, and format. Your budget should be fairly easy to suss out. Just make sure you’re getting your money’s worth, whatever tier you choose. If the project doesn’t offer a copy of the book until the $50 tier, you might want to reconsider or figure out why that is.

RESTLESS MINDS: NIGHTMARES! image courtesy of Uppermind Ink!

Creators, of course, are a huge part of any crowdfunded comic. Do you want to support somebody new? Or are you looking to back a friend? Keep these in mind as you search. And don’t pounce on the first thing you see, because you never know what you might come across as you search deeper.

Format will also be a deciding factor. Graphic novels are usually more self-contained than single issues. But with single issues, you’ll have to wait a bit longer in between. Anthologies are very popular within crowdfunding comics because they include work from a variety of artists and writers. These are great if you want a sampler of many creators. And don’t forget your webcomic creators who are looking to print their comics.

Something’s Fishy

Scams, while usually pretty easy to spot, sometimes slip through the cracks. Most Kickstarter pages are packed with information and statistics about how the creators plan to use their budget. If a campaign doesn’t tell you much about the project, there’s something wrong. And if a creator (especially one who is new to the scene) promises huge rewards, it’s best to be suspicious. Usually, Kickstarter tiers are pretty modest until you get into the triple digits. By that point, it makes sense to have more expensive rewards.

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Sometimes shady comics don’t have immediate red flags. As with any investment, do your research! Look up the creator on Twitter or Facebook. See if they’ve had successful campaigns in the past. The last thing you want to do is support a problematic creator. You don’t have to go full Sherlock Holmes on them, but sometimes people hide their unsavory views in plain sight.

And scams aren’t the only threat. Remember: independent doesn’t always mean better in terms of content. When researching creators, usually it’s pretty clear when somebody is supporting an agenda you’re not cool with. You might not even have to look much further than the crowdfunding description itself.

Why Crowdfunding Counts

Unfortunately, comics are pretty unrewarding when it comes to making a living. But when creators put so much effort into a project that readers enjoy, it only seems fair to thank them. We have a tendency to consume content without considering the person behind the curtain. Comics don’t just show up; they take hours of hard work and dedication. And making the comics climate more appealing, especially for independent creators, is a step in the right direction.

READ: See what proper representation can create in MOONSHOT: THE INDIGENOUS COMICS COLLECTION! 

Large publishers have certainly come a long way, but they’re nowhere near the level they should be in terms of quality and diversity. By supporting those who have our best interests in mind and really want to create a compelling story, we can encourage larger publishers to get with the program. And even if they don’t, we can help smaller independent publishers thrive and grow. With so many cool and original ideas out there, it’s definitely worth a few bucks.

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