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Crowd Funding Watch: ‘Home Of The Brave’ Tackles Human Trafficking

Though it’s true that crowd-source funding has been a huge help to independent comics creators, it’s not easy to follow through on large projects. Both Kickstarter and IndieGoGo have their benefits and drawbacks — Kickstarter is more popular but doesn’t allow projects to keep any money unless they meet their fundraising goal. And though IndieGoGo is somewhat less familiar to comics fans, it does allow projects to keep any funds already collected — even when the project is stated to require far more to be completed. In any case, crowd funding is a complex but increasingly crucial form of publishing.

I’ve worked on several crowd funded Kickstarter projects over the last couple of years, including comic book collections, musical endeavors, and technology ventures. All have been successfully funded, and all have delivered final products or are continuing to deliver assets to backers as the final product is completed.

Starting with this column, I’m hoping to bring more attention to crowd funded projects that are worthy of your support or otherwise notable in some way. Each week, the format will, more or less, follow five straight forward categories: What It Is, How Much It Will Cost, What You Will Get, When You Will Get It, and Why You Should Care.

This week: Home of the Brave, a new graphic novel by Spencer Toyama and Jon Lewis about the slave trade in the 21st century.

What It Is: Home of the Brave takes place in an alternative America where the country is a struggling nation in deep poverty following a complete economic collapse in the 1920s, made worse by a devastating drought and famine from which the nation never recovered. In this world we meet a young girl named Aria Monfort who is sold into slavery. Even though her education didn’t start until age 12, her incredible mind is already years ahead of its time. Home of the Brave follows her story and her struggles.

How Much It Will Cost: $12,000 for the printing of a 135-page hardcover book along with other materials, which is a fair price to ask. Printing just 1,000 full-color, hardcover books can easily start to cost upwards of $10,000, if you want a quality product. Given the work and effort the pair have put into the project, they have set a reasonable goal for backers to reach.

What You Will Get: $10 gets backers a digital copy of the book, $20 for the physical edition, all the way up to $4,000 for a six-night stay in Hawaii where the creators live (airfare not included), and a bunch of original art in the tiers in-between.

When You Will Get It: August, 2013. Unfortunately, such a far off target date is surprising as the team seems to have much of the work already completed. Still, better for them to be cautious, I suppose. Given final layouts, printing time and shipping, it may take up to a full year in order for fulfillment.

Why You Should Care: Blending graphic design sensibilities with artwork that resembles a less polished Riley Rossmo, Home of the Brave shows great promise for both creators. The story and layout are both noncommercial, so it’s not all that surprising that a traditional publisher would likely pass on this project. The pair clearly have talent and have proven their professionalism with details that suggest they’ll follow through with a final product on time.

Things like a quality video, smart tiers for backers, and even setting up fake websites for the fictional ads within the story all contribute to the sense that the creators understand the effort it will take to release a solid book. Plus, they have already released a free, 19-page preview of the book that anyone can download.

Idealistically, Toyama and Spencer believe their project, although fiction, will help raise awareness about the horrible practice of human trafficking, a crime the Department of Justice says is growing faster than any other outside of drug smuggling, and nearly half of the cases involve children.

Home of the Brave looks to be a well-made project by two promising creators that helps call attention to some of the most pressing problems our society faces. So, help Toyama and Lewis reach their goal by backing the book, today.

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