Today, comic book publisher Boom Studios launched a Kickstarter campaign for their Keanu Reeves co-created comic book series BRZRKR, launching in November. Co-writer Matt Kindt is no stranger to Kickstarter, having run two successful campaigns on his own for MIND MGMT and for Cosmic Detective with Jeff Lemire and David Rubin. And this announcement certainly adds some context, if not elucidation, to the timing of last Thursday's announcement of Ron Garney replacing Alessandro Vitti as the series artist.
Boom's creator-owned rivalry with Image Comics is well covered on this site so perhaps this is just their way of following in the footsteps of the Kickstarter currently running for Scott Snyder and Tony S Daniel's new Image series, Nocterra? Or maybe it's just a plan to expose Keanu Reeves' new project to as many people as possible as Bill And Ted Face The Music is released.
But in a letter to retailers, Boom CEO Ross Richie claims Boom doesn't need Kickstarter to fund BRZRKR and Boom's official announcement refers to it as a pre-order campaign. Most Kickstarter campaigns, whether from smaller publishers or creators like Kindt and Lemire, are run to raise funds for either the creative or manufacturing costs of their projects. More recently some campaigns, like Snyder and Daniel's, are replacing lost convention sales and promotion. Boom doesn't appear to be doing that, although there are some high-end editions including an opportunity to get a Keanu Reeves signature as part of the package. So, it's less crowdfunding and more a new channel of distribution outside of the comic book store.
Boom appears to be going after Keanu fans who are not regular comic readers. The campaign only gives new fans the option to pre-order all 3 of the eventual collections with one click through Kickstarter. Then the collections will mail out to customers as the books are released. It's an appealing option for a first-time reader (or the celebrity-obsessed), who wants to get a complete reading experience without having to remember to order Volume 2 and 3 later, but I don't know many comic shop regulars who'll take the plunge on three books at one time sight unseen, even from the likes of John Wick. Not unless their dog's life is threatened.
Comic shops will still get to sell the 12-issue comic series first and Boom is saying they'll promote the comic releases to any new Kickstarter customers. When the collections come out, comic shops and bookstores will have them at the same time as usual. Will this bring new readers into comic shops? Only time will tell, but bigger publishers have tried…
But the biggest question in my mind is – how much money will a genuinely created Keanu Reeves project generate on Kickstarter? As of this writing, Nocterra has raised $155,115 with 16 days to go. Will BRZRKR fetch double that…or triple?
Here's the full letter from Ross Richie to comic book shops.
Dear retail partners,
Store owners consistently ask me: "How do we get more people to read comic books?"
When Keanu Reeves approached me to publish BRZRKR, I recognized a once in a lifetime opportunity to reach people who had never read comic books.
Many Keanu Reeves fans don't even know comic book stores exist.
How do we get to regular people curious about the medium of comics?
What we needed was a one-click platform on the internet so we could reach everyone, everywhere.
Once a fan decides they want to read their first comic book, it needs to be easy.
And it needs to be from an online platform that's familiar. A risky new interface could be scary.
It should be a pre-order for the entire series of collections — volumes 1 to 3 — so someone excited about Keanu Reeves could get the whole story and not be confused by having to come back for volumes 2 or 3 later.
Each time you give a new fan an incomplete experience or ask them to come back later, you risk creating a negative first impression and losing them forever.
However we did this, we needed to make sure that comic shops got the product first.
So we created 4 release windows for BRZRKR:
1. Comic shops are first. Print copies of issues 1 to 12 of BRZRKR will be serialized in comic shops first and exclusively, just like every other BOOM! Studios series.
2. Once the issues are serialized, they will be collected into 3 softcover collections offered to comic shops, just like every other BOOM! Studios series.
3. That same collection will be offered to the book trade: Barnes and Noble, Amazon, independent bookstores, and libraries, just like every other BOOM! Studios series.
Which brought us to the 4th window: what online platform is known all over the world?
Who is set up for a one click buy for all three volumes to ship right to your door as they release — set and forget?
The answer was clear: KICKSTARTER.
We didn't need Kickstarter to fund the series, that was already done.
We needed Kickstarter's reach. Its distribution platform.
So we're offering through Kickstarter a preorder: $50 for the 3 volumes of BRZRKR. There are other tiers, high end deluxe versions of the book for hardcore Keanu fans. These expensive low print run versions traditionally don't sell well in comic shops. If you are interested in any of the versions offered through Kickstarter for your store, contact Retail Sales Coordinator Morgan Perry at firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
Now for the really exciting part!
Once the Kickstarter campaign runs its course we will have amassed a huge email list of Keanu Reeves fans who don't (yet) read comics.
When the first issue comes out in shops, we will send them an email blast:
"Hey, you preordered the complete set of collections and we're going to ship them to you when they're published. But before then, the individual chapters of the story are coming out as single issue comic books at your local comic book store. If you're interested and can't wait to read the story, go check them out!"
We're going to use the Kickstarter platform to drive new readers into comic shops.
We'll be letting them know as each issue comes out they can buy them at their local comic shop.
And to make sure you can maximize your sales on the entire series, we're making every single issue of BRZRKR and all 3 collections returnable through the BOOM! Guarantee program.
We want these fans to discover the joy of monthly comic book reading!
This was a chance to fulfill a longstanding request from comic shop retailers the world over.
We're listening when you talk to us. You're our partners. You're the lifeblood of the business. Thank you for all the success and support you've shown us, especially in the past year and a
And together, there's plenty more success to come! I guarantee it.
Best-Ross Richie, CEO and Founder, BOOM! Studios