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The Kickstarter Successes of ‘The Dylan Meconis Library 2012′ and ‘Godsend Volume 1′

Lots of Kickstarter projects struggle all the way to the bitter end, trying to hit their goal and rallying the internet to come together in the last moments to make their particular dream come true while making contingency plans that involve lots of ice cream and Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ Five Stages of Grieving. Others, though, explode out of the gate and past the finish line in the span of several days, hitting hundreds and thousands of dollars above what they originally solicited. Sadly there’s no instant formula to make it happen, but taking a look at two such projects, Dylan Meconis’ The Dylan Meconis Library 2012 and Meg Gandy’s Godsend: Volume One, helps light the path on how some people make the magic happen.

We spoke with both cartoonists about about made their respective Kickstarter projects successes, and why it’s still important to check out what they’re selling and contribute even though fund raising goals have been met.

The Dylan Meconis Library Project 2012 sounds a lot more high-falutin’ than it actually is, covering three of the writer/artist’s irreverent books from the last decade: the farcical French Revolutionary vampire epic Bite Me!, the Eisner-nominated short fable Outfoxed, and the modern-day art book look at the funny side of death, Danse Macabre. At turns funny, touching and goofy, with beautiful artwork to hold it all up, all three projects have always lived on the Internet for free, but now Meconis is crowd-funding a print run for those of us who find running our hands lovingly across our screens a less than satisfactory replacement for actual books.

With her money breakdown exactingly listed for those budding accountants out there, Meconis has left no question unanswered about how she intends to use the $15,000 she set out to raise. With percentages set towards taxes, fees and shipping, the rest will go to pay for printing costs, with an eye towards quality perks like hardcovers, fancy page stock and spot colors. Already passing her original goal — now up to $7,000 higher than expected — Meconis is now unlocking new rewards with each new level.

Originally offering rewards like DRM-free digital copies, books, prints and original commissions, each new level beyond her original goal has unlocked new perks to retroactively reward supporters like a brand new Bite Me! story, print sets and patches. Meconis’ project still has two weeks to go, with nearly 500 supporters on-board, and the only thing more exciting than seeing how the books come out is seeing just how much it raises and what new swag will be accompanying it.

We talked with Dylan Meconis about why she’s crowd-funding her library and how a decade on the Internet helps raise money.

Comics Alliance: What’s your timeline on these books? Not just how long they took but a history between you thinking stuff up for each of the three books and you finishing the books.

Dylan Meconis: I started Bite Me! in high school around the start of 2001, after noodling around with some character ideas for awhile. I finished it in 2004 (junior year of college), and I put it into print the first time in 2008. I ran out of copies of the second printing last year!

Danse Macabre 2.0 I did over the course of just a few weeks in the early winter of 2011, mostly to entertain myself and give myself a clever drawing project to start out my work mornings with. I’ve wanted to turn them into prints or a book over since, but held back on it – waiting for the right moment to strike, I suppose.

I wrote the script for Outfoxed almost five years ago, originally planning for it to be a story for a volume of the Flight anthologies. I couldn’t block out the time (or summon the nerve) to draw it until this past summer, when I took a writing hiatus from my current graphic novel. I did all the art over maybe two months, and intended to put it in print after it went online.

CA: Why should people fund your project? Would you be able to do any of this without crowdfunding?

DM: Because you get three lovely (and quite different) books from an independent creator! I earn more money per copy sold of these books than I would through any other means of publishing. I wrote it all, I drew it all, I put it all online for free, I’m designing the books, I’m printing and distributing them. If you like my work, there is literally no better way to thank me for it than funding the project. And, in return, you get these lovely print books! And some other cool stuff, too.

Without crowd funding of one kind of another (I’ve also funded books by taking pre-orders on my own website), no, I wouldn’t be able to self-publish nearly so effectively. The cost of printing is quite high, especially stacked against a freelancer’s income and the vagaries of American tax code. I’d be looking at a lot more dayjob work (freelance design and illustration) and spending a lot of time wooing publishers, many of whom are overwhelmed and underfunded and/or looking for very specific kinds of work that don’t necessarily match my skills and interests.

CA: How much do you think having your stuff up online for free helped with you reaching your goal so quickly/building an audience?

DM: I started doing comics as a teenager with Internet access, and what you did as a teenager with Internet access was put your comics online. My work was on a for-pay site for a few years, when folks were experimenting more with that model. It paid my rent for one month after college, but it limited the audience (more than print would, I think) for what amounted to a very modest pay-out. So eventually I made that work free again and just postponed making money from it until I could sell a book collection.

In the intervening years, nobody has yet given me a large-scale publishing offer that was really worth giving up my independence for. I don’t think of online publishing as a core element of my philosophy as a creator (oy! so pretentious!), but simply the best way for an unaffiliated creator like me to reach people and connect with readers in an otherwise very broken market that’s in the middle of a big transition.

For the last two and a half years, Godsend has been unfolding the story of a chosen messiah prophesied to save the world from a great darkness, and what happens when that prophecy turns out be to all sorts of wrong. Written by Jesse Bausch and drawn by Meg Gandy, Godsend creates a world of old gods, new religions and the kind of madcap hijinx usually reserved for buddy comedies, all wrapped up in a brand of fantasy that feels entirely accessible for those of us allergic to elves and dragons. With three chapters already complete and described by Gandy as an epic that could go on forever, Godsend: Volume One looks to be just the tip of an increasingly huge iceberg.

Given nods of approval by creators like Warren Ellis and Ross Campbell, Godsend has hit Kickstarter to raise $5,000, with the money going towards printing copies of the 150 page book, buying ISBN numbers and paying for shipping and the attendant Kickstarter/Amazon fees that come with every project. Having already gone almost $2,000 over that limit and with less than two weeks to go, the extra money raised is going towards fancying up the book with bookfetishy extras like nicer paper, spot gloss and french flaps.

Gandy, who in addition to drawing, lettering and maintaining Godsend’s website, is running the Kickstarter with rewards that include a numbered amount of extra swag including posters and charms, signed copies of the book, original art, commissions and your likeness appearing as a cameo. If you’re looking to snag any of these, you should act fast as the prestigious levels are going fast. Consider it an investment in continuing an already great story and possibly funding your future grandchildren’s secondary education.

We spoke with Meg Gandy about why you aren’t beholden to fund her book and how there’s not enough time in the day to make Godsend even greater.

ComicsAlliance: Can you give us a timeline of Godsend so far? When did you and Jesse come up with it, how long have you been working on it, etc. Is it what you’d call a passion project?

Meg Gandy: About four years ago, Jesse approached me with this pitch. He wanted to do this spectacular full color epic that would go on forever, and I love that stuff so I agreed. I did some pages, he shopped the pitch around to publishers — no bites. We didn’t want to give up on it, so he asked if I’d be willing to do a webcomic. I said yes, reworked it into something I knew we could self-publish if we had to, and here we are. And yes, I would call it a passion project. I don’t make any money on it, i don’t have ads on the site (yet. it would be nice if it paid for its own hosting someday). I have a number of things going on, and this project is the most fun, and the one I really wish I had more time for. I spend about a day, day and half per page, from thumbnail to lettering. But I wish I could spend a week.

CA: Why should people fund your project? Would you be able to do any of this without crowd funding?

MG: That’s kind of a funny question. People should only fund the book if they want a copy. We’re not trying to get anyone to buy something they don’t want. And yes, of course we could put it out without Kickstarter. Places like Lulu and Createspace guaranty it. We chose Kickstarter because I wanted to grow our audience and get more word out, and Kickstarter is amazing for that — Kickstarter is an event, not merely a means. Even if you fail, you succeed.

CA: How much do you think having your stuff up online for free helped with you reaching your goal so quickly and building an audience?

MG: People could go to the webcomic and read what they’re getting. It’s exactly what it says there on the tin, no surprises. You can walk into any comic shop or bookstore in the country, and do the same thing with any other book you’d consider buying. That’s how we shop. So of course it’s going to help. And, anyone who’s ever touched social media knows — we like to share. We love to share. If we find something we like a lot, we will post it up so others can see it too — and that’s chiefly what’s helped this project. It’s been amazing — worked far, far better than I actually anticipated.

And I don’t even mind if that’s all they do, if they go to the webcomic and read it and don’t buy. They read it. I hope they keep reading it. That’s the whole point of this.

To learn more about The Dylan Meconis Library 2012 project or to make a pledge, click over to its Kickstarter now. To find out more about Godsend: Volume One or to pledge towards it, head over to its Kickstarter here.

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