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Kickstarter Fail: John Campbell Burns Comics Rather Than Sending Them To Donors


People who use crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo to publish comic books have become commonplace of late. Many creator owned series that might take a battering in the direct market and found funding and a financial sense of independence that they might have otherwise failed to get and it has led to greater diversity, choice and business plans available.

But sometimes they go wrong. Shipping can be underestimated. costs can appear from nowhere. Creators can be lazy, or suddenly find high paying work elsewhere, leaving those who donated money in return for a comic book spinning in the wind.

And then there can be the bizarre. Such as that of John Campbell of Pictures for Sad Children.

Author of said popular webcomic, he published the first 200 strips in 2009. In 2012 he set up a Kickstarter to raise the money to publish a second volume, Sad Pictures for Children.

He asked for $8000. He got $51,615.

Some people got their books. Some didn't. Yesterday, Campbell explained in a massive rambling Kickstarter update. Here are some highlights.

Well first, there's the video of him burning 127 copies of the book because he had received emails asking him where the books were. And the threat he will continue to burn copies with every email, tweet, facebook message etc he receives.

Don't believe me?

I shipped about 75% of kickstarter rewards to backers. I will not be shipping any more. I will not be issuing any refunds. For every message I receive about this book through e-mail, social media or any other means, I will burn another book.

Let's have some more.

If you would like a refund, please contact a fan of my work directly for your money. This is where the money would come from anyway. I am cutting out the middle man.

I refunded some of the preorders I received through paypal in addition to the kickstarter orders, but I will not be refunding any more.

The backers who gave me the most money received the least "reward" from me. After shipping costs, I "lost money" on most of the books I sold at the $25 level so, backers at the higher levels, you could perceive of yourselves as having "paid for" the books that the "lower" backers currently have, and you could try to get those books that you "paid for" somehow.

You could try to obtain refunds through kickstarter or paypal, through your bank or credit card company. You could try to harass me or inconvenience me or tell other people negative things about me or this kickstarter in the hope that this will affect me negatively. Be aware that each attempt to contact me about this book will individually result in the burning of a book until the books are gone.

There's a lot of psychobabble which makes Shia Labeouf look like Andy Capp. But let's skip past that to find what he does want.

I want direct funding for my living necessities. I want to establish relationships with a group of people who can pay for my baseline needs like food and rent. I am looking for people who do not feel they need to see any "return" on their "investment." I am looking for people who understand that money is a bad joke we use to hurt each other. I'm looking for people who like me were born with a lot of privileges but who have had the awareness and emotional stability to keep their bucket under the faucet when the money comes out.

I am not looking for the support of anyone who wants a book, or wants to see me put stick figure comics on the internet. I do not need the support of anyone who thinks that I will deserve to eat and sleep only after I have fulfilled some standard they've chosen to hold me to. I am looking for people who believe that if you spend your life in a small room thinking, you deserve to live and breathe the same amount as someone who spends their life doing intense physical or mental labor, or who has money that "makes money."

He then talks about a dead rabbit. Oh and he does say,

If you have been skimming this to get the "gist" of it, it is not going to work in my opinion. If you are reading this to summarize it for someone else, please fuck yourself instead if possible.

Sadly my anatomy doesn't quite reach that far. But since he's fucked so many other people, I don't see why I should do it myself. But he did want to let people know his financial situation.

I have $750 in my only bank account.

Kickstarter Fail: John Campbell Burns Comics Rather Than Sending Them To Donors

75!! What a huge number!!!

I have $0 in my paypal account.

Kickstarter Fail: John Campbell Burns Comics Rather Than Sending Them To Donors

What a huge number!!!

He ends, telling us,

I do not feel a pressing need to establish a form of income right now, but I would be interested in reading ideas about money and I'd love to hear that there are people interested in meeting another person's needs directly with no hope for reward of any kind. I'd love to read intelligent thoughts about any of these things posted publicly. It's okay if that's not how things go. I am trying to figure out what kind of world I live in and what is possible within it, whatever happens I will try to learn from it.

I stopped reading my kickstarter messages in January. I may not log into kickstarter again, I don't know if I'll read the comments on this post. If I get a lot of emails I will delete my email address. I'm not sure where I'll post next or when or what I'll say or what will have happened, but I look forward to it.

You know what John? We look forward to it as well.

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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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