This is one of those weeks on Comics Disassembled where a lot of topics came up where I have a lot to say. We’ll start at the front of the comic, as the ten things I liked or didn’t like from the week of comics is led by something I have complicated feelings about.
1. Batman Spawn, Showing Restraint (Kind Of?)
When the upcoming Batman Spawn from Todd McFarlane and Greg Capullo was announced, McFarlane did his usual routine of making big, bold statements about what’s to come. Most notably, he suggested before it was even announced at San Diego Comic Con that “If done right, it could be the single best-selling comic book of the century of any kind.” It wasn’t a surprise to read that. Todd and big talk go together like me and writing overly long articles: you just can’t have one without the other.
In my mind, the only path to it being “done right” and reaching that sales number was for it to roll deep with variant covers. Batman Spawn’s going to generate organic interest from retailers and readers alike. But for it to put up a million plus, as it would take to live up to Todd’s prophecy, you’re going to need extra incentive…covers. That’s why I mentally set the over/under for variants at 20.5, because McFarlane recognizes the up front value variants bring for publishers. The path to a million would take a lot.
To their credit, they didn’t go that far. They did roll out 13, though! More importantly for the prospects of this title, six of the 13 are incentives, with regular covers from Capullo, McFarlane, Gabriele Dell’otto, Sean Murphy, Franceso Mattina, J. Scott Campbell and Jim Lee and incentives from Jason Fabok (1:25, meaning you have to order 25 regular covers to get one Fabok), Brett Booth (1:50), and Lee (1:100) as well as a signed inked one from McFarlane (1:250), a signed main cover variant by Capullo or McFarlane (1:666, naturally) and one signed by both (1:1000). It’s…a lot. It’s not 21 a lot. But it’s a lot, particularly on the incentive front. It’s also a textbook lineup of artists for this release, one I think I could have guessed if you gave me the parameters in which I was going to operate around.
Is it going to work? Probably not. A million is a lot. But we have seen how these McFarlane signed variants work for Spawn related titles, so adding Batman and Capullo to the mix might be enough to do the job. I’m skeptical, especially without some classic 90s throwbacks. Where’s my foil? Where’s my acetate? Where are my holograms?! Nowhere, that’s where. It’s an exhausting amount, and I do not envy the retailers trying to determine how many copies of this comic they should order, as they get lost in mathematical calculations for all the incentives they qualify for. This is, for better or worse, the playbook that ups orders today, so at least they’re used to it.
2. A Kind of Wild Number of Kickstarters Hitting at Once?
Kickstarters are very much part of the comic book ecosystem at this point, and have been for years. This isn’t news. We’ve seen million dollar Kickstarters, Kickstarter entrepreneurs, Kickstarter guide books, and many more variations to that formula, but the point is this: it’s a thing, and has been for years.
That said, I cannot remember another time when three notable projects from three notable names dropped on the platform on the same day like it did this week. All in the same day, Vault Comics launched a campaign for a deluxe omnibus edition of Wasted Space, Christopher Sebela rolled out an effort to fund two more (already complete) issues of his bee crime book Foulbrood, and writer Gerry Duggan revealed Luck/Timing, a book of photography by Duggan featuring some of our favorite creators. Each looks like a tremendous project, each is well-thought out, with an appropriate mix of rewards (whether that means a lot of options, like in Foulbrood’s case, or a limited menu, as Luck/Timing delivers) for potential backers.
The tricky part is all three arriving on the same day. It’s kind of a crunch when a trio of projects with fairly comparable markets arrive at the same time, because backing all three can get…I don’t want to say prohibitively expensive, because all three at the most minimal print release levels adds up to $162, which is a lot but not a nightmare. It’s just enough where you have to ask yourself, “Am I really going to do this?” It makes me wonder how much Kickstarter as a platform works with its creators to sequence and separate, or if the timing of release is a purely independent endeavor. That is undeniably something I can get an answer to. Maybe I should.
Either way, though, there’s a trio of exceedingly attractive comic projects now available for you on Kickstarter, as well as assuredly plenty of others I’m not aware of. Check those out, and if one – or three! – catch your eye, consider backing them! They look like great projects, and ones well worth supporting if they are up your alley.
One additional note: it appears there is a Kickstarter coming for an art book celebrating Alex Alice’s Castle in the Stars series. Given that that series is beloved in the SKTCHD offices, I will be backing it. But if you aren’t aware of it – as I wasn’t until the great Mark Tweedale notified me – then I highly recommend you request to be notified when this arrives because it will be glorious. Also if you haven’t read Castle in the Stars, I highly recommend that as well. A wondrous series, that.