Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Crowdfunding meets the underdog

I will freely confess that I am a big fan of both crowdfunding, in general, and of Kickstarter, specifically. They both allow for creative sparks to take actual life. They make things that might otherwise be left relegated to the obscurity of the idea realm, alone, into reality. In other words, they make dreams come true.

Maybe not for everyone, but certainly, for some.

This blog of mine that I seem to spend far more time forgetting about than I do posting on is focused primarily upon comic books or things of a comic nature. So, it should come as a surprise to no one that happens upon this out of the way blog upon the Internet of Many that my gaze for this particular blog posting lands squarely - and heavily - upon (what else?) a comic book.

Sidekicks: Dedicated - Dependable - Disrespected is a crowdfunding project launched by creator and writer Russell Brettholtz.

Writer Russell Brettholtz
Now, it's not important that you know who Russell BrettHoltz is. It's not even important whether you have ever heard of his whole Sidekicks comics concept before or not. No, what's important, for the purpose of this blog posting, is that I tell you why I am backing this project - and for that matter, why the Sidekicks concept for a series of comic books attracted my attention in the first place.

I'll take the last one first.

I've long been a fan of comic books, and of the superhero genre of comic books, specifically. Thus, the concept of what a sidekick is has long since become ingrained into my entertainment-loving psyche.

Yet, despite their close association with superheroes (or even super villains, for that matter), nonetheless, to be a sidekick is, by and large, to suffer the fate of being second fiddle. It's Batman and Robin, not Robin and Batman, after all.

People can relate to what it's like to play second fiddle, in life. Hell, it's part and parcel of the legacy of being an underdog. Who amongst us can't relate to being an underdog at some point in our respective lives?

To crowdfund a project for the very first time can no doubt come across as an intimidating prospect, for many. Thus, to launch a Kickstarter, at all, has a thick air of underdog quality about it. Doubt has a way of seeping in. Underdog status attaches, whether one likes it or not, whether one wants it to or not.

You're under the gun. You've got a project to fund. It's work. It's time consuming. Every crowdfunding project needs a superhero to accompany it, as standard equipment. But, life just plain doesn't work that way.

Now, Russell Brettholtz has crowdfunded, before. This ain't his first attempt at utilizing crowdfunding to turn dream into reality. He's attended this dance, before.

But, were you to ask him about his current project, Sidekicks: Dedicated - Dependable - Disrespected, I suspect that he would tell you that he's feeling a little bit under the gun, right now.

Time is running out, and he still has a considerable distance to close, on the funding end of things, before this latest venture into the realm of crowdfunding becomes successfully funded.

I'm backing this project, because first and foremost, it reeks of quality to me. Brettholtz's Sidekicks concept has always caught my eye, from the first moment that I laid eyes on it before his first Kickstarter that embodied it, to this latest incarnation of the same.

Sidekicks is blessed with characters that have been imbued with a heavy dose of humanity. Russell has a way of making them come alive, to me. They feel more real. I can relate to them - not just as characters, but as personalities.

The Flying Fox
With barely five days left in his project's crowdfunding campaign, his project is a little more than half way to its funding goal. It may succeed. It may fail. And it is the prospect of failure that moves something inside of me. Something within tells me that both Russell Brettholtz and this Sidekicks: Dedicated - Dependable - Disrespected project of his could use a few sidekicks of their own.

Now, the world won't end, certainly, if this project fails to meet its funding goal. But, I can't help but to think that the world won't be the better for it, if it does.

While I do love both Kickstarter and crowdfunding, I tend to back projects with small pledge amounts. I'm not one of the big guys, when it comes to the wallet wars. Nope, I'm just a little guy. Meet the proverbial nobody.

That's Mr. Nobody, to you!

I believe in becoming part of the crowd, not in becoming the crowd. I have no desire to become a crowd of one, and effectively try to fund a crowdfunding project to success, all on my own.

But, some crowdfunding projects just seem to have a way of mattering to you more than others. Granted, it doesn't automatically translate into more money magically appearing in your wallet, to make upping the ante on your pledge of support substantially bigger. Yet, projects like this one seem to press upon me a renewed sense of importance in them becoming a reality.

So, while I don't even have the benefit of a decent costume to wear, I choose to enter the fray, just the same.

Won't you join me?

The clock is ticking, and right now, Time, itself, seems to be the biggest enemy of all. Time is running out. Who will ride to the rescue? Who will save the day?

Click HERE to visit the Kickstarter project page for Sidekicks: Dedicated - Dependable - Disrespected

Never been a sidekick for a crowdfunding project, before? Not a problem. Just climb aboard. Just join in.

Still undecided? Just take your time.

You've got five days.


I'm already in the fight!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

To support or to not support: Support is not a static medium

There is the message, and then there is messaging.

During my treks across the vastness of creativity that is the Internet, I encounter all sorts of creative lads and lasses. People who are just starting out, individuals who have been out and about for a while, and even seasoned veterans of the independent publishing market.

One of the common themes that tends to run through their various attempts at communicating with the public masses is that of "support independent creators."

As an individual who is receptive to the core, underlying message, yet as an individual who tends to support independent creators in a limited, incremental fashion, I never cease to be amazed at the messaging and chosen approach to interacting and engaging that independent creators embrace, in an attempt to get people to support them and their artistic endeavors in various different ways.

I've backed Kickstarters. I've purchased independently published comic books. I've even begun to dabble with using Patreon as a mechanism for supporting independent creators.

Independent creators are free, of course, to choose the messaging that they prefer. They are also free to interact or not interact, as their individual preferences dictate. But, how and whether they do something does tend to impact how or whether I will bother to respond to various requests, pleas, and solicitations for support.

Much as though I were flipping a coin, I will intermittently flip around in my head the idea of who to support, and how much support to toss their way. Do I continue supporting this creator? Do I stop supporting that one?

Budgetary considerations tend to impact such decisions, also. Can I afford to support this? Should I take a chance on that? What if I find a way to support this one more thing?

Obviously, I can't buy every comic book published by every independent creator. Even if I did, what real difference would it make?

Along the way, I make observations, every now and again. One of those observations that I have made, and which I choose to share aloud, today, is that the people most likely to support a given artist or a particular creative undertaking may well not be the ones that the artist hopes to gain the support of.

If I'm inclined to support you, then odds are, something about or included within your messaging is responsible. It has been my experience, to date, that independent creators often don't have a clue as to why others are inclined to support or not support their creative endeavors.

If I ask a question, and an independent creator ignores or side-steps it, then is it more likely or less likely that I will be inclined to support that lack of answers?

Most work by independent creators that I encounter, I don't even bother to comment on. There would never be enough hours in the day for that. If I pause long enough to critique something, then something about it caught my eye long enough for me to part with some of my time. Yet, many independent creators fail to grasp that even critique is an opening for gaining support. If your work fails to connect with me, at all, then that is far worse than if your work generates a critique from me.

Critique tends to follow from where potential is encountered. Support tends to follow from where messaging, interaction, and engagement are sound.

Ultimately, building and growing and evolving relationships is critical to gaining and growing support for independent creators. There's a world full of people, of course, so every potential supporter isn't necessarily critical to gaining the level and degree of support that a given creator is after.

But, that said, every potential supporter can certainly help you get to where you are going, support-wise.

Creators have a message for us Earth people. Whether we understand the message and grasp why it should be important to us, just as it is important to the creator behind it or not, is another matter, entirely.

The world is full of creative types. The vast majority of them are not actively and effectively seeking support. Granted, it may sometimes seem like nothing can be further from the truth, if you're the poor creator out there racking your brain, trying like Hell to figure out how to persuade people to support you and your creative undertakings. But, you can thank the sheer number of people in existence for the fact that there's more than one way to kill a snake - with the snake, here, being the obstacle of securing sufficient support to allow you to make your artistic dreams a reality.

The art or other creative aspect, itself, in question is only one door to obtaining and growing support. There is also the personal element, making a personal connection (whether active or passive, or a combination of both). I don't always bother to explain to a given creative type why I am inclined to support them. Sometimes when I do, they don't always seem to listen.

One common mistake that creative types make is that they assume that because someone has supported them, previously, that they will necessarily remain inclined to support them. If you want to maintain a strong network of support, then make certain that you do not take your existing network of supporters for granted.

But, beyond that, which should be as obvious as the nose on one's face, one of the primary obstacles for many creative types is that they are often their own worst enemies, when it comes to being advocates for their artistic cause. Typically, they undersell themselves. All too often, they skimp or pass over details that non-creative types might actually find to be infinitely interesting.