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Buying In The Gutters

Ryan Sohmer writes;

GUT438_finalRyan Sohmer here, writer of Gutters among a few other things.

If you're not familiar with it, Gutters is a series of stand-alone pages that parody the comic book industry and the heroes and characters that dwell within. Rather than have one artist pencil each page, we elected to have a rotating roster of professional artists, among them some giants in the comic book industry alongside new and emerging talent.

You may peruse our archive over here: Gutters Archives

A couple months ago, we made the hard decision to put Gutters on hiatus.

This decision was made for 2 reasons. The first one being that we were about to embark on our summer convention season and trimming down on our workload made sense.

The second reason though, is one I've been wrestling with for over a year:

Gutters is very expensive to produce. Each page can cost a minimum of 300$ for pencils, inks, colors and letters. At 3 times a week, 52 weeks a year, the art alone on Gutters for the year is $46,800.

That doesn't take into account the other costs associated with the site, such as hosting, graphic design, etc. I'd rather keep the focus on the art.

So yes, Gutters is a very expensive product to produce, and worse, Gutters is very difficult to monetize.

As it's a work of parody, we can't start producing t-shirts, figures or plushies. The big publishers would have a problem with that, and I'd rather not get sued this year (maybe next).

That leaves advertising.

Unfortunately, with the ad market on a decline, ads generate barely enough to cover the bandwidth and hosting costs this site uses.

After 3 years, the losses on this project are becoming too much for Blind Ferret to bear, and though I was paying artists out of my own pocket for a time, I can't sustain that either.

So where does that leave us?

The smart man would shelve Gutters, walk away and move on to something profitable. The problem there, and the reality of it all, is that we love doing Gutters. We love it. It's a pure passion project for all of us, and we want to keep doing it more than anything.

Never one to be called smart, I laid out our problems on the Gutters Facebook page last week, and the overwhelming response from you folks was to go the hail Mary play (a sports reference?) and try one last shot.

And that last shot is Kickstarter.

We've setup a very simple Kickstarter campaign with the goal of continuing to publish Gutters, by raising enough coin to pay for the actual art costs. The initial goal is to help pay for 1 update a week, with stretch goals going up to 3 times a week. Hell, I'd go more if we could generate enough.

You can pick up some books, some prints, original art, even the chance to work with me on a Gutters page. There's a sponsorship level in there as well, for the industry-folks among you.

And that's it, folks: We want to keep doing Gutters, and we need your help to do so.

From all of us here at Gutters HQ: Moss, Rich, Ed, Rus, Lar, Ari, Jeff, Stone and Will, we thank you for your continued support. It means a huge amount to us, more than we could ever hope to express.

Doesn't mean we won't try.


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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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