Noir City and the Guilt of the Kickstarter

image-185101-fullBy Cody Walker

When I began my Kickstarter, I was worried that it would fail. However, after we met our goal, I didn't realize how guilty I would feel.

First, a little context.

Picture it . . . Missouri, September 2004. Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner were finishing their run on Superman/Batman, Joss Whedon had surprised readers with the return of Colossus in Astonishing X-Men, and people were still guessing who killed Sue Dibny in Identity Crisis. I entered my first year of college and like most newly graduated high school students, I had my head in the clouds and I was ready to inherit the world. It was in a general education short story class that I met Richard Valerius and our personalities clicked. We had similar writing sensibilities and so we decided to collaborate on what kind of a comic book universe we would create.

After numerous 2 a.m. brainstorming sessions, Rich and I had come up with well over a hundred characters, four different series, and at least two hundred issues of stories that we wanted to tell. The only problem was that neither of us were artists and we had no idea how to find an artist either (never mind the larger logistical issues of printing comics, pitching to publishers, or distributing on our own). We lived in the middle of nowhere with no idea how to find the resources we needed. So, after a few unsuccessful attempts at finding an artist, we set the project aside.

Years later, all of the means of production are here for nobodies like me and Rich to make a comic book. So, we shopped around for artists until we found Allen Byrns, we researched printing costs, and we made our Kickstarter battle plan for the first issue of one of the four series we planned to make back in 2004. I went to twitter and begged for retweets from every comic professional that I could, I sent out e-mails to every comic website I could, and I virtually begged my friends and family to spread the word. In the end, we met our goal, and as Allen's pages were coming in, I started to panic.

I looked over the names of all of our donors and realized that so many of them were friends and family members that were just being nice. In-laws, grandparents, cousins, friends that I've only ever met on the Internet – so many people were willing to donate to see this little 2 a.m. fever dream come to life and all I could think about was, "What if this is awful? What if I let everyone down that invested money in this? What if they hate it and regret donating?" Worse than all of that, I felt like I owed everyone something that I couldn't pay back properly. To them, they might have believed that they were just donating money, but to me, I knew that I was completely dependent on seeing the project come to life through their funding and that scared the hell out of me.

My heart was racing the day I came home to find six boxes sitting on my doorstep. I kept my cool long enough to bring my 3 month old son into the house before the boxes, but as I tore through the tape and the wrapping, all of those worries sat in my stomach. Pulling out the first issue was beautiful and as I thumbed through the pages, I felt like I had never seen them before. I was so impressed with what we had done and suddenly all of that guilt went away. I finally had the perspective that I needed in order to work through the guilt of feeling like I owed everyone my firstborn child (who is really adorable, but you can't have him).

People donated to help create something. People that I knew believed in me, but complete strangers were trusting Rich, Allen, and me to deliver something that they would like and I don't think we disappointed. I know that it's not perfect, but it was built out of blood, sweat, and love. That's such a powerful feeling and one that took some time to work out after all the guilt.

Anyway, it's up on Comixology now for $0.99 and I hope you enjoy it.

Also, please check out our website Noir City Comic Book for some more short stories and news regarding our upcoming novel set in the Noir City universe!


About Rich Johnston

Head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world. Living in London, father of two. Political cartoonist.

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