In its first day, the Kickstarter campaign for Bill Willingham and Frank Cho’s Bifrost has already generated around 10% of its $30,000 funding goal – and has turned out to be fairly controversial among other comics professionals.
The novel, which will not be self-published, will be written and illustrated upon the successful completion of the Kickstarter campaign–and then submitted to publishers and, once approved, published. At that point, backers who bid $125 or more will be eligible to get a copy of the novel itself.
“Basically this is a Kickstarter project for selecting out the inordinately patient from the rest,” wrote Willingham in the campaign’s pitch page.
It also, until a few hours after it went live, didn’t actually include the opportunity to purchase the book that would be generated as a result of the campaign–something that was latched onto and lampooned by a number of other comics pros and fans on social media sites.
“Looks like Kickstarter has finally jumped the shark. Unless you refuse to support the Kickstarter That Shall Not Be Named,” poked Superior Spider-Man artist Ryan Stegman.
Rewards, at the outset, included VIP seatings at comic book conventions, written and phone correspondence with the creators and even meals with them, both at conventions and at Cho’s home.
“The finished product doesn’t make it into the rewards because we don’t know who will be finally publishing it and can’t pre-obligate them,” Willingham explained. “We’re working on a way to add actual books to the rewards, without throwing a monkey wrench into any actual publishing deal.”
After some discussion with fans, creators and Kickstarter veterans, Willingham retweeted the link with rewards added that included copies of the novel.
And yes – novel. The book is not a graphic novel, as Cho is Marvel-exclusive. Rather, this is a “lavishly-illustrated” prose novel, which Cho’s exclusivity deal allows. Cho’s exclusivity deal also apparently allows for him to work on his long-running, sporadically-published, creator-owned work Liberty Meadows, which he’s said he’ll be Kickstarting a new volume for in the fall.
Kickstarter campaigns featuring established talent and/or intellectual properties, particularly those perceived by the fans to be independently wealthy, are often the subject of close scrutiny and criticism. The recent, record-breaking Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter was not without its critics online complaining of the use of the funding platform to back a major studio. In comics, Top Cow’s CyberForce Kickstarter faced similar criticism. Both were successful, with the Veronica Mars movie planned to go before the cameras in two months and CyberForce currently on its fourth issue.