Kickstarter offers many different opportunities to a variety of enterprises, some more fringe-y than others. This method of raising funds seems especially suited to geeks, probably because the very definition of geek implies a concentrated subculture of some variety—big enough to be a subculture, but too small to have much meaning to established mainstream businesses. Happily, there have been some noteworthy successful Kickstarters from Minnesota in the last year. Here are some of those, as well as one that is currently looking for backers. These are in no particular order.
This is a tough little graphic novel about a variety of characters who have all been committed at one time or another. One arsonist, one exotic dancer, and one fringe psychiatrist become intertwined in a story about abuse, mental health, and friendship. This looks to sit somewhere between Love and Rockets and Watchmen. The project was funded in November 2014 and Saint Paul, MN artist Elena Carrillo plans to bring it to SDCC in 2015. She raised $1,270 for this project.
As the title says, this is a Kickstarter for a roleplaying game. Let’s get some figures out of the way, first of all—Atlas Games, hailing from Saint Paul, MN, sought to raise $8,000 to bring this new edition to print. Over the course of their Kickstarter campaign, they raised $185,137. That is some serious fan support. The game has great graphics and cool attitude, so it’s easy to understand the appeal. This project was funded in October 2014 and is set for release in late 2015.
While the recent Manara debacle with Spider-Woman is a great example of what happens when mainstream publishers go for full-tilt exploitation in their titles, this particular graphic novel is a TnA title that makes no excuses for what it is. A bit of Heavy Metal, but closer to a pure raunch title, Vixens features cleavage and more in most every frame. The art and lettering is pretty classic, in lock step with the decidedly retro attitude of the entire book. Duluth, MN artist Clint Hilinksi is a bit of a Kickstarter mainstay, and he raised $10,801 total for this book. His goal was $3,500.
Minnesota miniatures company Dark Sword Miniatures looks to be hitting above its weight class. The company’s got an authorized series of Game of Thrones miniatures that are personally approved by GRRM himself and some Ral Partha alumni on its creative staff. I doubt that they needed to go to Kickstarter to expand their Game of Thrones line, but this was probably a better way to engage the fans and collectors. Worth noting that these designs are based on descriptions in the written version and not the hit HBO series. They sought $10,000 and raised $64,777 in March of 2014.
This Kickstarter sought to bring a web comic into the world of print. The web comic concerns a fallen angel named Devoto who is in a relationship with an insurance underwriter named Scott Zielinski. This is a LGBT romance, so it is my understanding that Devoto’s and Scott’s relationship incorporates significant “enthusiastically consensual” sex. It’s an interesting take on Faustian bargains that also dances with science fiction. Minneapolis, MN artist Anne Notation sought to raise $725 and brought in $8,094 for this issue. Funded in August of 2014.
6. O Human Star
Another graphic-novel offering. This one collects three chapters into both a softcover and hardcover print edition and is also a science-fiction drama with LGBT themes. Alastair Sterling sparked the “robot revolution” but died before he could see his work mature; sixteen years later, he awakes in a robotic body built in his former likeness by his (secret) lover, Brendan Pinsky. Together they form a family with Sulla, a teenage robot that is modeled on Alastair’s former personality. This is a pretty delightful what-if scenario that is perfect for both graphic novels and Kickstarter. $20,197 was raised and the goal was $15,000. Artist Blue Delliquanti lives in Minneapolis, MN and has received the Prism Comics Queer Press Grant.
This customizable card game is the only currently active Kickstarter of this bunch; creator Iron Maul Entertainment is seeking $14,000 by January 26, 2015. This CCG is built around Civil War history, and Iron Maul claim they are creating a more balanced and engaging card-game mechanic for this project. One major part of this is the removal of random card packs like you may have seen in older games such as Magic: The Gathering. The artwork and card design look pretty solid and this could be a pretty exciting development in the CCG world. The company is based in Minneapolis, MN and this is their first start-up project.
These are all very impressive projects, and each of them represents the best of what Kickstarter can offer geek and fringe subcultures. As inspiring as these all are, they are the results of massive amounts of effort and experience. There are scores and scores of projects that go unfunded, so aspiring crowdfundees could benefit from studying any one of these. Likewise, the larger geek community should be proud that we can support and sustain such a diverse group of professional-level crowdfunded projects.