Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Laid Back Comics OP/ED: Kickstarters and Animation

Kickstarter and comics may have had a short relationship together but it has become one of the main places creators both in art and writing have gone to try and get personal projects off the ground.  Something they can do without higher up companies taking too much from them or just out right rejecting ideas leaving them to never been seen by the public.  I have given to some of these Kickstarts, All right I have given it to one, but it was an awesome one done by MST3K star Bill Corbett. Then something happened just the other day which has raised everyone eyebrows just a little bit more.

We really need to let this show go.
Creators of the Veronica Mars TV show set up a Kickstarter asking for two million dollars to make a Veronica Mars movie.  It sounds like a lot of money to gather for a movie based on a show last seen in 2007. But, low and behold not only did they hit their mark; they did so in less than a single day. It took me by surprise for the most part and I am sure it took fan of the show and possible the creators by surprise. And this has suddenly turned from what could be just little blip of news story into a whole other topic of discussion all together. I mean once we get over the ‘Hey this can work for Firefly too!’ fans coming out of the wood work. Sorry guys but it got a movie and still didn't really do much to help return it to the screen, nor will the success of the Avengers under Joss Whedon help return it to the screen. You all are starting to sound a tad cultist.

By this being completely interesting is more to the business side of Hollywood. How often have you heard of something failing because for some reason it didn't make enough money, despite the quality of what is involved. Or how many projects go under funded because a studio didn't want to take the risk of spending the money and then losing it ‘if’ it wasn't to succeed. But, here there was this new step not taken into account before. Now I don’t know any of the details of how this came about, but I am sure that a studio has to be involved in some way, Veronica Mars is not an independent franchise. A studio must be helping this project in some way or fashion. The Kickstarter might just be a way to build up some of the budget and show it to them to remove a set of the risk involved in just making it. It is a clever way to try and get over that very first hurtle. If creators can get the money to help invest it removes the amount of risk and the studios easily take up some of the funding and get a bigger payout. Now this is all well and good but, what does this have to do with comics or as my title implied comic book animation?

Well, this past weekend saw the finale episodes of well-regarded shows of Young Justice as well as Green Lantern the Animated series. What killed these shows? Answer;  same thing that kills a lot of animated shows from the early days to today, the dreaded double edge sword that is toy sales. Seems there wasn't enough revenue on that end to keep the higher ups of Cartoon Network happy to keep the show going, Green Lantern especially with the expensive CGI. On one hand relaying on mostly toy sales to drive a show has always felt short sighted, but at the same the success of shows solely based on those sales is staggering at times, which is why many want to repeat it. But, with this new idea in Kickstarter one can wonder if that can change?

In the news the shows were not going to be picked up again, there was a lot of sadness and anger (Lots of anger, maybe too much) and of course groups started to form and turn to the one thing they think can help. Petitions, mostly online ones now and not so much pin and paper. The thing is you have to look at this through the eyes of executives, if you show up with a piece of paper with let say, 60,000 signatures they will only see the paper and a ‘maybe’ we can get those 60,000 to actually watched the show.  But, with Kickstarter those names could be added with dollars amounts next to them. 60,000 people donating $10 a person, suddenly you are looking at $600,000 dollars now. The executive’s eyes might clear up a little bit more.

Now, I am not saying this is something the producers of the show SHOULD do, there is a lot I am not familiar with in both how Kickstarter works or how the Veronica Mars one works as well, there are some cons I now for a fact I am overlooking mainly because I don’t know them yet. But, I do like this alternate way of funding for shows, comics, and movies like this. We are always asked when we see a show failing or about to be axed to try this reactionary save it at the last moment routine to be heroes, we rarely that ever works out.  But, here we are putting money directly into something we want to see, doing this at the start can possible boost these projects, remove a lot of the risk, make them last maybe a tiny bit longer because more of the sales of merchandise makes it to studio/creators.  If anything this opens up a new possible road for people to look to in trying to get something they love made. This to me feels like a win-win for both parties.

Bryan "BAC" Clendening
Twitter @BAClend

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