Bleeding Cool has covered extensively the Ashes graphic novel by Alex De Campi and Jimmy Broxton, the pen name of James Hodgkins, a sequel to Smoke by De Campi and Igor Kordey, and funded by Kickstarter. It was successful on Kickstarter and those who funded the book awaited the production of the comic. That was then.
Alex De Campi posted to the backers via Kickstarter;
It's been a hellacious week. Jimmy and I have had an irreconcileable split over creative differences, with the result that yesterday evening I asked him to leave Ashes. I have no desire to hang out dirty laundry in public so I hope you don't mind if I leave the explanation at that.
Looking for a new artist, she stated that she'll refund the pledge of anyone who did so purely for Jimmy Broxton, or who does not like the new artist chosen.
James Hodgkins posted on Facebook;
BREAKING NEWS: Jimmy Broxton has been fired, and his services are no longer required on the Ashes Kickstarter graphic novel project. This has come as a bolt out of the blue, you will be hearing a lot about this, but you heard it here first. Blimey….
Following up with;
Hi all, I'm sorry this is not a joke, Jimmy (you all know who he really is) has been fired, and will be replaced on the book, naturally I'm not at all happy about this, but I have no control. I have posted this here on FB to start the process of presenting my (Jimmy's) side of the story. I sincerely hope it doesn't get too ugly, but I have to try and protect his reputation. I'm incredibly sorry that this has happened, and feel strongly that a lot of people who have shown tremendous support (to say nothing of actually giving money to pre order the book) are being let down. I acted in good faith, you all acted in good faith, this is a mess, make no mistake. Jimmy worked for 6 months off and on (unpaid) preparing the project, and he has not, and will now not receive a penny of the $32,000 raised a s part of the Kickstarter campaign. I hope to be able to offer more information soon, I'm waiting to hear from Kickstarter themselves, I only found out about this a few hours ago. Please feel free to contact me privately, I can say more off the record. Thanks all.
all I have done is work my ass off for 6 months, for no pay, only to be fired once the money is in the bank, because I'm told "I'm impossible to work with" by the writer (but not so impossible that I can't help to raise $32,000), I have not received a penny, I need to consider my legal position, please be aware, I did not walk, I was fired, and not asked to leave as the writer states, asking implies a choice, I was left with no choice. This is not good, but the situation is not of my making, I hope folks believe me.
Alex De Campi then issued another update.
First, the promise. If no new artist is signed on one calendar month from today (which would be Valentine's day), the entire project will be cancelled and your funds will ALL be refunded, every last cent.
Second, the refund process for those who want refunds at any point, for any reason: I have to do it through Amazon Payments, to make sure it gets back exactly, fees and all, to the person who sent it and that is recorded through the Kickstarter process. I've just tried to do two refunds and because I had already withdrawn the funds so I could transfer them to James, I have to re-transfer the funds back into Amazon Payments. I have initiated the transfer, but according to Amazon Payments this will take five days (WHY?!). I am so sorry for this delay. It is not me, it is Amazon Payments.I had wrongly assumed th at like Paypal it would just hoover money out of the linked account upon request.
Pledgers Paul Cornell, Harry Markos, David Hitchcock and
Tony Lee have emailed to be asked to be removed from funders of the graphic novel.
As a funder, and a fan of the original Smoke, I have not, and hope for its completion in whatever form.
But this does raise issues about Kickstarter and social funding networks of its ilk. Once the recipient gets the money they can basically do what they want with it. This became an issue with the Womanthology funding that went many times over its funding aim, and had people, including Alex De Campi, criticising the project for still not paying contributors, even with its windfall.
I felt then as I feel now. Tough. That Alex De Campi is refunding those who want it is a moral gesture, but it is not one that she is legally forced to do. Hell, she could take all the money and go on a world cruise instead and there's nothing you, or Kickstarter could do about it. This is part of the way Kickstarter works, you have to be able to trust the people you are funding, and for them to make reparations if something goes wrong.
Of course, sometimes those people fall out.
More to come on this I'm sure. I'll keep Kickstarting, and I'll keep funding Ashes.
UPDATE: Alex De Campi writes in the comments;
There's still a lot I need to settle; my first concern was really that the Kickstarter backers hear about this first and have time to digest it before it hit news sites. Hopefully I've managed to do that.
Then I need to figure out what to do about the 10 pages of finished art Jimmy did for Ashes. There are also about 10 more half-completed/roughed pages, and 5 or 6 sketches done for the Kickstarter. I do know two things: first, Jimmy should get recompensed for them; and second, we can't use them in the book (the 10 pages — two of which were pending revision — are scattered across three chapters of the book, plus it would be unfair to whoever is the incoming artist).
As stated, anyone who wants a refund, at any time, just ask (via Kickstarter or via email) and you will get every cent back.
As also stated, hopefully this is not the end. I need to let the dust settle a little bit (and get some sleep) and then begin the search for another artist. A 252-page book is a loooong project to go through with someone when it just isn't working, and sometimes you don't know it's not working until the pages start being produced. Jimmy is a very talented artist; I'm sorry it turned out to be an unsuccessful creative match.