Kickstarter Comic Outreach Lead, Camilla Zhang Amongst Layoffs

It was revealed last month that crowdfunding service popular amongst comic book creators, Kickstarter, had let 40% of staffers go. They are not alone in this, Patreon also made redundancies, and IndieGoGo had similar last year. However, one of Kickstarter's 40% was Kickstarter's Comic Outreach Lead, Camilla Zhang, posted the following to Twitter. As she notes that by helping to establish a union, Camilla Zhang and others similarly affected will be able to claim four months salary.

Kickstarter Comic Outreach Lead, Camilla Zhang Amongst Layoffs.
Kickstarter Comic Outreach Lead, Camilla Zhang Amongst Layoffs. Image from LinkedIn.

It breaks my heart to say that this will be my last week at Kickstarter. May 8th marked my second year at the company, and only a day before I found out that I would be among the 40% of staff laid off. It has been an immense honor and joy to have served the comics community in my capacity as Comics Outreach Lead. From organizing free creator headshots at Flame Con, to creating the Small Press, Big Ideas initiative with SPX, to helping my category gain over $16 Million in pledges each year for the last two years, to launching Kickstarter's first-ever comics anthology, to providing feedback on hundreds of campaigns, large and small—I am very proud of my work. But I am even more grateful to have met so many passionate, funny, thoughtful, and generous creators, some of whom are now my good friends.

Speaking of comrades, I want to shout out Kickstarter United. Organizing and winning our union has been one of the best experiences of my life. Yes, it was tumultuous, stressful, and, at times, painful, but it was all worth it and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Because of our union and our incredible Collective Bargaining Committee, we were able to negotiate a severance package of 4 months pay with 6 months of paid COBRA for those making under the median salary of $110K. Those making above the median are receiving 4 months of paid COBRA. We were also able to win a year of recall rights, which gives me some hope that I may return to grow and serve the community I love so much.

I am very excited to see the remaining Bargaining Unit members win their very first contract. I only wish that I could be there to help make it happen. In the next few months, I will be sitting on the sidelines of Kickstarter United, however, I will not remain a stranger to the comics community. I'll be taking a few months to focus on my novel and graphic novel, but I'll also be starting my own newsletter where I'll offer free crowdfunding education. My hope is that I can continue to help creators by lowering the barrier to entry. I'm working on setting up a Patreon page as well so I can share my own creative work. I will eventually be available for consulting, so please stay tuned!

To the creators I've had the pleasure of helping, to the creators I've shared a beverage or meal with, to the creators I just met briefly at a con, to the creators | have not yet met: Thank you for being brave and daring and hilarious and poignant. Please keep making comics. The world needs beautiful, powerful stories. Thank you for being you.

To my boss, Margot: Thank you for always being in my corner, for challenging me with respect and openness, for advocating for marginalized voices with humility and grace. I have never had a better manager and I know the comics community on Kickstarter is in the best hands.

To my fellow publishing teammate, Oriana: Your patience is inspiring. Thank you for always being willing to give my email and newsletter drafts a second pair of eyes. Thank you for listening to me rant about privilege and entitlement with calm and validation. Thank you for fighting for me. I'm happy to be "graduating" with you.

To the Kickstarter "Graduating Class" of 2020: I love you. You are strong, you are fucking smart, you are compassionate and so, so thoughtful in all the plans you make and propose. Anyone who tells you differently is a liar and anyone would be a fool not to hire you. But always remember that your value is more than what someone would pay you for.

To all of Kickstarter United: Yo, we f-cking did it. We won the first tech union in history. We may not have agreed on everything and we have made mistakes, but what resulted has been so gorgeous and resilient and I can't even begin to describe how much I will miss you all.

Camilla Zhang successfully helped put together the recent free Kickstarter comics anthology – did you get a copy? Given the high standing Zhang is held by many comic creators and publishers, as well as a history working editorially for DC Comics, Mad Cave and Squarespace, those in a position to snap her up may do just that.

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About 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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