Marc Alan Fishman: Kickstart Your Life, Beg For A Fortune
I hate to start an op-ed with a big ole’ caveat, but screw it, I’m not in a good mood. Folks, I was sacked the other day, and apparently I burnt the bridge and salted the Earth on my way out. The best part? I don’t know how I did it. Since I’m not prone to experimenting with gamma-radiation, nor have I proved my Kryptonian lineage, I figured it best not to stand my ground and attempt to fight. Suffice to say, I’m in a funk right now… and it’s straight up Parliament in this mutha’.
Like a good cry though, I’d rather dive head first into this bad attitude and ride it out. You only live once – unless you’re Hindu – and as such, I figure it’s good to feel something different every now and then. For now? I’m feeling pretty mean. With the whole job situation running amok in my mind, I took some time to daydream. On TV, or in the movies, this would be where I – the leading man (played by Zach Galifinakis) – would consider breaking the shackles of working world to finally make a living doing what I love. There’d be a tearful exchange with my wife where she says she’ll support me. Then a nice dramatic montage of me furiously drawing at my computer. Then some heroic music as my comics take the world by storm, and suddenly I will have “won” at life.
Back to reality, son. Fact is that making a living in comic books ain’t easy. And when that living has to support a lovely wife and toddling son? Even harder. The fact is, even with a pair of day jobs my household isn’t rolling in dough. Heck, we don’t even have time to roll dough. But I digress. I’ve noticed a trend as of late for my fellow creatives to turn towards Kickstarter (and other sundry nest-egg-gathering sites) with pie-in-the-sky dreams. They’re asking the world for a small fortune to pursue their comic endeavors, and I’m always apt to help where I can. But I’m here to piss on the parade, and plead (not with those already entrenched in a campaign, but those considering it) to carefully consider the cache of cash sought.
When it’s done right, Kickstarter (in my humble opinion) is meant to kickstart a creative project into fruition. Take for example The Gutters or Aw Yeah Comics. Both asked for an amount enough to get their projects up and running. In the case of the Gutters, they’re actually looking to get themselves back and running, but again I digress. This is how I see crowd-funding being done right. Solid rewards, and an attainable goal. And in both cases, stretch goals existed should the zeitgeist deem the idea über-worthy.
In other cases, I’ve seen folks turn to the world with pockets out and idea in hand all with the hope of realizing an actual dream. Take for example the recently unearthed Mutant League license seeking to reanimate itself as a game. Truth be told: I loved the cartoon series. I’d kill for Unshaven Comics to create a comic about it. I’ve given to the Kickstarter literally on the first day it was announced. But asking for three-quarters of a million dollars is almost laughable to me. I’ll restate: I want this to succeed. But the site is called Kickstarter, not Sharktank.
While Mutant League is perhaps an extreme example (heh), I’ve seen similarly hyperbolic goals set by friends and colleagues pop up from time to time. It hurts when I see them go live, and proceed to turn their social media pages into 30-day PBS plead-a-thons as they try to reach for the gold. And it hurts worse when they don’t come close to reaching those goals, and are left kicking the dirt. When Unshaven Comics took the leap, our real goal was to afford a complete set of film-grade costumes for the Samurnauts. We opted instead to seek to afford one. And we did it. I say this not to brag, but to make a point. We sought the crowd to help us start something cool… not become our angel investors.
What ultimately poops my Pampers is the notion that one would turn towards crowd-funding as a way to literally live to create. Because at the end of the day, I founded Unshaven Comics with my own money. I work(ed) every day to grant myself the pleasure of being able to pursue my dreams on my own dime. And one day, it will either come to fruition, or wither away in a whimper. Either way, I will have enjoyed the journey, and that’s really what all of this comic crap is about, right? It also doesn’t hurt that every person in the industry with good intention who told me they’d help me seem to forget they said those words. Lesson learned:
The only person you can safely rely on to see your dreams come true is yourself. Now Kickstart that.
Ha! I’m in a better mood already.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander
MONDAY: Mindy Newell
You were sacked? Really? Give me a name, I know people.
P.S. Have a alibi…