Lessons Learned from a KickStarter Project

seeing him webcomic logo work in progress
Click to enlarge.

My sister Kia and I were running a KickStarter to help fund the beginning of our new webcomic, Seeing Him.

AND…

It did not meet the goal.

To be honest, Kia and I weren’t really sure whether this project would get funded or not. We were hoping for the best, whatever the best may be.

Now that the KickStarter is over, I think, for now, it DID turned out for the best.

I am sad our comic cannot be made right away.

However, we did learn the following things from this KickStarter:

  • People WANT to support indie comic creators (we did, after all, raise a little over $500. We didn’t get any of that money because KickStarter is an all-or-nothing fundraising system, but people were still willing to contribute money towards our project!)
  • People WANT to see more positive trans representation, especially for trans men.
  • People are more altruistic than we are lead to believe.
  • And digital rewards are way more popular than I thought they would be.

Kia and I are going to take these lessons in and plan our next move.

We are hoping to fund raise for the project again sometime after New Years, and perhaps…

  • Lower the asking goal.
  • Offer more/only digital rewards (so we don’t spend our funds on making rewards for the backers, therefore justifying our lower goal amount and getting the comic made faster and sooner)
  • Offer more ways backers can be included into the comic, because MY GOODNESS during the campaign the $100 reward to be drawn as a recurring character got sold out FAST.

As soon as Kia and I have a plan, I will let you fabulous readers know so we can try again and, hopefully, succeed.

Thank you to everyone who shared Seeing Him on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and elsewhere on the internet.

Thank you to Pink Dollar Comics and Women Write About Comics who wrote about the KickStarter project as it was going.

Thank you to all of the backers who contributed (sorry we didn’t make the goal).

And a very special thank you to my friends and family who were eager and supportive for our project. You know who you are.

Again, stay tuned for further developments for Seeing Him!

Thank you for reading (and for all of your support), and I will see you tomorrow.

Why I Make Diverse Comics

validation promo image

There’s been some… “intense discussions” online about “including” women, people of color, and other minorities in fiction.

These discussions include articles all over the internet, Twitter hashtags, and a good chunk of GamerGate.

The discussions I have witnessed seem to boil down to “We need more diverse books” vs “writing about minorities is hard and uninteresting, so let’s stick with something comfortable.”

Here’s what I have to say about it.

Saying that writing stories with minorities in them – much less as lead characters – is “hard,” shows a tremendous lack of imagination and empathy. Even, I daresay, an unwillingness to try and empathize with them.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “But I’m not a black woman/asian person/lesbian/gay man/blind person/ etc. and I don’t want to write something and risk offending them by saying something wrong.”

And that’s a fair enough concern. Everyone’s experience is different. My view on life as a poor white genderqueer person sexually attracted to dudes is very different from, say, a black lesbian woman, or a wealthy white heterosexual man, or…you get the idea.

Should that deter us from trying to understand the point of view we want to write, that is outside of our realm of experience? No.

If anything, it should encourage us.

Part of the fun and challenge of writing any character (that is not a white man) is that you can talk to people of that demographic, and learn about them. And you take what you learned and make stories with that knowledge.

Even if you don’t do the research, you’re still a step ahead of those who won’t even write these types of characters. Just the act of writing characters outside of your experience is rebellious and rewarding.

validation mr dino print

Here’s the thing: I love the comics I make. The main characters I draw include a young trans girl, a genderqueer elf policeman, and most recently, a young, black, goth punk woman.

charlie and clow main character
Her name is Charlie and I love her.

Am I any of those? No.

Do I make stories starring these characters? Yep.

I write and illustrate these stories because I want to understand my characters. Making these stories helps me explore their world, what they experience, and how they feel about their experiences, because I don’t get that easily outside of fiction.

I do my best to research as much as I can. If I get something wrong, that’s ok – I learn something new everyday. And if I get to learn about people outside of my experience, that’s awesome!

In making these stories to seek understanding, it helps me become more empathetic to others out in the real world. It helps me understand the lives of others. It makes me want to listen and learn more about them.

Writing these fictions helps me to become more human.

That’s why I love making diverse comics, and why I believe we need more diverse media.

For those of you who want to stick to writing about white dudes, that’s ok. Just be warned that

1. There are already plenty of stories about white heterosexual men, because

2. mass media tries to make characters generic enough that the audience can empathize with them immediately and have traits that are desirable. So they make their main characters white men. They figure white men are simple enough and common enough to create that the audience can insert themselves into that character. However,

3. White men become the default main character because they fit mass media formulas so well. And therefore

4. It makes women and PoC main characters hard to empathize with because they are not the default main character and don’t fit the formulas very well.

Hank Green did a really good job of discussing this in regard to Batman. You can watch that video here.

And if you still have reservations about writing or even reading stories with minority characters, please check out this awesome speech by Gene Luen Yang. He made some truly excellent points. (If the video won’t work, here’s a transcript.)

Don’t be afraid to make diverse characters and stories!

If you have any reading suggestions for books starring minority characters, leave them in comments below!

Have any questions? Still have reservations? Voice them in comments, too!

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you on Friday.

How to Take a Day Off

I realized something recently.

I was finishing some comics on Sunday morning, and then I went to a shift at my day job as a Michael’s cashier.

And when I got home, I splurged for myself and knitted and crocheted ALL OF THE THINGS.

crocheted head with cute face
ALL THE THINGS includes this little potato face here. He needs a hat.

The reason?

I needed a little time off to do something for myself.

And then I realized that, as a freelancer, I don’t do that nearly as often as I think I do.

As freelancers, we all need a little time off.

Freelancing is a lot of running around to manage everything, from finances to invoicing to actually making the things you promised to make for that client who forgot to pay you last week and –

It’s chaotic.

Sometimes the chaos is fun, in a “How will I kick Chaos’ ass THIS time” kind of way.

However, it can be really easy to get caught up in the chaos and never take a day off.

On the other hand, it’s easy to take a lot of days off.

Freelancing gives us the ability to set our own schedules, which is both awesome and terrifying.

It’s awesome because if you need to take a day to help mom move a fridge, get a haircut at some random hour of the day, or drive into the city to get a thing, you can totally do that.

But it’s terrifying because it’s easy to fall into one of two extremes: too many days off, or not enough of them.

Too many days off means you’ll be cramming to meet your deadlines, and that can infringe on your ability to meet promises you made to the folks outside of your work. Did you promise your sister you would drive her over to a friend’s house? Well you can’t do it because you have a deadline to meet and you slacked off too much earlier this week.

Too few days off means you’ll start seeing numbers in your sleep, you’ll see everything you do as “work” or “in the way of work,” and your friends and family will be deeply concerned for your health and possibly have the hospital on speed-dial.

So how do you handle this conundrum?

It’s all about balance.

It’s all about knowing when you’ve worked too many days, when you’ve taken off too much time, and knowing how your body and mind acts in those scenarios.

Listen to your body.

Don’t overwork yourself to the point that you get sick. Don’t take off so much time that you start sleeping in for eleven hours and wake up even more tired than you anticipated.

Know the rhythms of your body. Know when it’s tired, when it’s active and driven to get work done.

Make a schedule and stick to it.

If you are the type to make schedules and stick to them (like I am), decide how many days off you need and incorporate it into your flow. I usually do two days off, but they don’t have to be consecutive. Even if it’s mega-crunch time, I make room for one day off, at least.

If you are the type to not make schedules, then figure out the number of days off you would need in a given week/month/quarter and incorporate it into your flow. Do you need two days off in a row? Ok. Or do you need three days off a week? This will depend on your lifestyle and your responsibilities, but always make sure you have time off and that it’s balanced with your work.

And relax.

It will get done.

I know sometimes I tend to overwork myself because I feel a sense of urgency. Like, “If I don’t get this done now, it will never get done!”

That’s bull-crap.

Things will get done. Your project will get finished, and then you will move on to the next one.

Nothing needs to be done “right now.” It just needs done.

How soon, or how late, is up to you.

I’m not telling you to shurk your deadlines.

I’m telling you that if you need to take a breather so you’re not overworked, take that breather.

Take care of yourself first. The rest will follow.

I hope this helped you in some way. Please take good care of yourselves.

So when was your last day off? Did you do anything/nothing/all of the things? Leave a comment!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on Friday.