Thrillbent + Kickstarter: The Future of Comics

Thrillbent & Kickstarter LogoBehind the myriad of new titles, movies and mega-arcs there are two emerging concepts that promise to change the dynamic of the comics industry forever. The concept of a digital publication, championed by Mark Waid, and crowd funding, such as Kickstarter, now offer a clear and unfettered path from creators to audience for quality creative narratives. This new process in publishing changes every aspect of the comic industry as we know it, and raises many bold questions to what will happen to the previous regime.

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The current establishment is that there are publishers and distributers who are responsible for selecting, sponsoring, and distributing creative talent and their work. There are few other ways to achieve proper credentials in the industry aside from gaining employment by a publisher. Furthermore, even fewer ways to promote and distribute projects without a distributer considering a majority of them only contract with the publishers. For new talent the barriers for entry are high and navigating through them is based more on luck of being discovered than anything else.

Even if discovered, and credentials achieved, there is still no guarantee that the new artist or writer gets to work on the projects he or she wants to work on to the extent desired; never mind the proverbial mine-field of legal red tape involved over creative rights and ownership.

Fast forward to a not too distant future…

All publishers are digital, and the barriers to create a publication is next to nil. The determining factor for a successful publication is the number of sales desired by the owner or owners, but no one can be shoved out of the environment because they can’t compete with others. The fans provide the starter funds for the publications and the projects, and then fans are thusly rewarded for doing so with quality work and added bonuses. Each fan can have the choice to receive a printed and or digital copy of each project. Stores are free to select and endorse a wide variety of talent, able to contribute to the starter funds and sell projects en-mass with additional separate content designed to reward stores for their endorsement.

Back in the present day, Kickstarter is a wonderful tool for talent to begin projects that otherwise would have been overlooked by big publishers. Kickstarter allows creators to list their project, a desired goal, a number of incentives for contributors, and let their fans contribute to their goal. As fans contribute they earn the incentives from the creators. It provides a way to both reward contributors and establish a more consistent stream of work for creators. As long as there are fans or contributors artists and writers can always create. Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray have launched their own Kickstarter project, Retrovirus.

Digital publications provide an easy to make and cheap to maintain venue for talent to easily distribute projects. The only barriers to establishing this type of publication are two-fold; technological and legislative. Both barriers are common and already exist for other venues, obtaining an LLC license is a good practice for start-up businesses and hosting is required for any online establishment business or otherwise. Mark Waid has announced the launch of his own digital publication, Thrillbent (USA Today).

The future is out there, and it is being built today by these creators for us, the fans, tomorrow.


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Alex Añé

I am a geek, writer, web developer and avid comic book fan.

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