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"Order of the Stick" comic seeks $58K on KickStarter; raises $1.2M (singularityhub.com)
62 points by cpeterso on Mar 14, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 20 comments



Oh look. Artists. Making money. Without selling 98% of the profits and all creative rights to some middle man only to sue their best customers for "piracy" and make asses of them.

Kickstarter. Its like "piracy" running backwards.


Knowing a little bit about the greed and stupidity of some big publishers; i think they will start panicking soon enough and they will try to do things against kickstarter like force a you-will-never-use-kickstarter-or-anything-like-it agreement to the artists.


It wouldn't have helped them at all in this case. The argument used to be that everything was as it should be because only big media could make you famous enough for this sort of thing to work on a big scale. Uh-oh.

They mostly already do have this sort of thing in all of their contracts. They try to make everything "work for hire" in which the artist retains zero rights to his/her own work. Prince couldn't even keep calling himself Prince without a legal fight to the death.

The more worrying possibility is that a certain type of busybody who can't/doesn't create anything says to himself "People shouldn't just be able to succeed like this! There should be laws! Why wasn't I consulted?!" in not so many words and goes about trying to remedy this perceived failure.


Several methods they can attempt;

1) Tax/Licence fee. Look at Germany taxing Google News et al for the News collection societies.

2) Put pressure on the financial areas they're allowing money. There's a reason why KickStarter isn't adopting PayPal.

3) Negative media campaign highlighting fraudulent abuses of trusting users.


The argument used to be that everything was as it should be because only big media could make you famous enough for this sort of thing to work on a big scale. Uh-oh.

Uh-oh is right. This is the sort of thing that Scott McCloud wanted to bring about with micropayments -- a more direct connection between artists and their fans.

According to the "Economics of Anime" post, it should be possible now for people to revive gone but beloved shows in that medium on Kickstarter. New episode of Firefly, anyone?

Doing something like that would be as important as Louis CK's video. It would be another step towards the fall of the media status quo.


> According to the "Economics of Anime" post, it should be possible now for people to revive gone but beloved shows in that medium on Kickstarter. New episode of Firefly, anyone?

That IP is owned by Fox isn't it? Surely Fox would notice the large amount of cash on the table and demand a large percentage cut of it.

I think this model only works for well-known creators making new work. So Joss Whedon could make something new by using his popularity to raise funds...

(Edit: not to ignore the unknown people out there using kickstarter to make work. They're a workable model too)


Well, perhaps if someone were able to get an offer in writing of what Fox would accept, then start the Kickstarter to raise the funds? Seems like it would work fine...


Fox would want to know the final amount raised before setting a price. They don't know what its worth until you tell them... then they'll want 108% of the amount you raise in advance.

I suspect its far better for an exec at a company like Fox to simply prevent anyone from ever using a property again than to be seen as even a tiny bit giving it away when more could have been charged.


...they'll want 108% of the amount you raise in advance.

I suspect its far better for an exec at a company like Fox to simply prevent anyone from ever using a property again than to be seen as even a tiny bit giving it away when more could have been charged.

There are ways to address this. For one thing, you don't have to tell them you're going to Kickstarter it. (You'll need other initial backers in this case, though.) For another thing, you can set out the expenses ahead of time and promise the actors the overage as a "promotional bonus." This lets the exec save face and it motivates the actors to promote the project.


I suspect (but have no evidence for) studios being able to get a lot more money selling the rights to another studio, rather than crowd-sourced single episodes.


I'm a bit worried about cases like this. A cash injection of 20x the desired budget is just as likely to lead to poor financial controls or tax errors as it is to enhance the prospects of the business in question, with potentially serious administrative liabilities that could end up hurting customers or lead to overreaction from legislators. Perhaps there should be some cap on Kickstarter fundraising, like if you raise more than 3x your initial goal, the rest goes into an escrow account or something until you begin to ship product.


Or it might be just the thing you need to put a good lawyer on retainer and hire a decent accounting firm to set up the kind of production company your fans seem to want to exist. 58k is bread for a year, and at the end you muddle through your own taxes with that flunky from the H&R Block in the strip mall. 1.2M is a real company that has the chops to do it right. I'd say the audit causing personal ruin is more likely in the former scenario.


Rich claims that most of this cash will have to go to fulfilling the orders from Kickstarter, postage, and ordering reprints of all the books he's written, many of which have long been out of print. I've been reading OotS for a long time now and I don't think this is going to cause him any problems.

If anything causes a problem for him, it will be trying to keep the comic updated while shipping out all this stuff out to people. If he has any weakness, it's keeping a regular update schedule.


I understand the concern premise, but I disagree.

In the US we already live in an increasingly padded walls nanny state. Personally I've had enough of it. Forbid we be daring and reach for the stars again, and take on the risk that goes with it.


There might or might not be truth to what you say, but if there's one area that you're wrong (regarding the U.S. having too much regulation), it's financial regulation. I thought we'd just spent the last five years learning that lesson. Admittedly, it may be overgeneralizing, to apply the lessons of investment banking to what amounts to small business financing. But you're the one that started reaching for the broad-strokes brush.

NB: I am not an American myself, and glad of it.

NB2: Not that I think the GP's suggestion makes sense in THIS case, because we know that Rich Burlew can ship product, because he's already shipped all this product.


America isn't lacking, in any regard, in financial regulation. There are more laws on the books regarding that industry than any other.

Regulation does not inherently = smart or good.

You know what isn't regulated? How stupid the Fed gets to be with our dollar. How careless they get to be with interest rates and QE programs.

The lesson we apparently didn't spend the last five years learning, is what happens when the Fed intervenes (2001 / 2002) with a massive liquidity pump to falsify a recovery and artificially avoid a worse recession for political points. Oh hey, what does that remind you of?

The chaos of 2008/09 was almost exclusively derived out of trillions in bad real estate bets, which took down other bets when they began to fold in 2006 and 2007.

It was the Fed that spurred the gambling with their crazy rate policies; the government threw gasoline on the fire with bad legislation. The Fed has admitted it has the ability to generate bubbles through rate policy mistakes; and a bubble is exactly what they created. If you inflate a $10 trillion real estate bubble, when it crashes it's going to wipe out your financial system.

Then it was the Fed that bailed out all the institutions they were previously dealing financial smack to. A trillion for Citi, a trillion for Bank of America, a trillion for Fannie/Freddie, and so on. During the recession post 9/11, the Fed 'encouraged' the banks to lend with the spigots wide open, and encouraged hyper risk with low rates.

2007/08 was a sugar crash, the Fed supplied the sugar. They're doing it all over again right now, and nobody gives a shit.


I think it's great what it has come down to. Peoples' projects more or less directly being funded by those who want the product!

I feel though, that when you want to raise 58k and suddenly you have 1.2m on your hands, it might not even be what you desired in the first place. More often than not, the expectations rise quite a bit when the money you receive 20folds.

In case that will indeed turn out to be an issue (we will see soon enough), I think it might be sensitive to include a default setting in Kickstarter saying: "Maximum amount that can be risen: 5x the desired funding". People could still set that cap to whatever they desire, but they would have to think about it first.

Obviously, I do not know anything personally about how those guys felt raising that much, but this would be my own point of view and I think such a setting could not cause any harm...


Is this also a telling point though? "After years and years of giving his work away for free, Rich Burlew just raked in more than a million"

IE: You need to spend possibly years and years building your brand before you can expect any type of money like this. Everyone cites Louis CK as a way to raising tons of money online directly from fans, but a huge part of this is having fans in the first place. Isn't the hardest part of all of this struggling along for possibly years as just another small artist online trying to pay your bills before you make it big?


That is certainly the hard part, but technology like kickstarter is still helping to make it easier. I don't think it's really fair to judge by extremes- they show what is possible, but not what is typical- but there are artists who are happy to make a livable salary to continue making their art and growing their fanbase. The thing that's exciting about this new technology isn't it's potential for getting rich quick (which really isn't likely for most people) but how it cuts out middle men like publishers and record execs who have not been adding much value for their cost lately.


  ...or were pre-orders for the books (through the reward system) so dominant that
  you’re in the same model, just on a larger scale?
  RB: Definitely the latter.
Although he's giving away his comics online, dollar-wise it's advertising for a hardcopy. I guess selling physical goods like that would work without copyright.




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