Remember the good old days? When Hollywood A&R Men would swarm the small press tables at San Diego Comic Con, looking for properties they could get an option on before anyone else? Dropping a thousand here, a thousand there, it was small change for Hollywood and maybe, just maybe, they could find the next Spider-Man. But most went nowhere. And those that did didn’t exactly do great numbers, a Bulletproof Monk here, a Surrogates there… and it faded away, somewhat. It was also a way for big publishers to find smaller nooks they may be able find a home for.
Now it seems it might be back. And rather than Artist’s Alley, they’re using Kickstarter. And rather than paying options… they are paying for the entire project.
That’s what happened to Mike S Miller‘s adaptation of Anne Rice‘s retelling of the life of Jesus Christ, in graphic novel form. Someone paid for the lot, and it was taken off Kickstarter.
But it’s not just a one off. Mike Lukash writes below for Bleeding Cool on a Kickstarter we’d previously covered;
Mike: The Clan of the Vein’s Kickstarter fundraising was canceled. You had almost collected all of the money you needed for your graphic novel, with a few days to go. What changed?
Neal Fischer: An outside backer approached us with an amazing opportunity to not only fully fund the graphic novel, but also with serious interest in a film development deal as well. It is an opportunity we simply cannot pass up! Yet, since we are fans as well as professionals, we refuse to take donations from anyone when we have investor backing. That is simply not how we operate and felt obligated to cancel the kickstarter as soon as we knew it was solid. Despite being so close to our goal, that time has come and we must opt to cancel our kickstarter!
Neo Edmund: Neal and I were interested, but were also careful not to allow ourselves to get caught up in the notion of locking down a major deal. It had to be the right deal, one we could live with, and one that would take the project in the direction we wanted it to go. Over the course of a few days we had many discussions with the backer, laying out our vision, and all the while, making it clear that we were not going to just sell out for a quick buck. I think our conviction to stand our ground and our passion for the project really sold the backer on the three of us as a team.
Mike: How were you approached by the backer?
Neal Fischer: They SAW our Kickstarter and were thoroughly impressed. So they messaged me.
Mike: So you found yourselves at a crossroads. Do you risk waiting for fan funding or instant security of an actual investor?
Neal Fischer: This was one of the hardest decisions we have ever had to make. These last few days have been a whirlwind… and we were so close, 93% with Friday night and the entire weekend left, which made this decision even more difficult. But we feel it is the right thing to do.
We will continue to update our websites on how the graphic novel is coming along, what conventions or expos we will be attending and when we will make all those extra goodies available in the future and how to get them.
Neo Edmund: The way it all came together, we would have received the fan funding on nearly the same time schedule as the big investor money. In the end the decision wasn’t merely about the cash, it was much more about us doing what we believed to be the right thing. The bottom line is that we had a hard time accepting money through crowdfunding when we had a major investor on the line. In the final days of the kickstarter, I looked through the list of backers and found that at least half of them were our close personal friends and family. Many of these people do not have deep pockets, they are people that care about us, believe in us, and are willing to drop some cash to give us a shot. I suspect a lot of the other KS backers are in the same boat. As much as we’re grateful for the kindness of those who believe so deeply in us, it would have been hard for us to look our friends and family in the eye and say thanks for your hard earned money, all while we were putting together a big with some wealthy source.
Mike: With Kickstarter funding, you would have kept complete control of the project. With a backer, did you have to give up some rights? And if so, how did you balance losing freedom to benefits of investors?
Neal Fischer: We gave up zero creative control on the graphic novel. I can’t get into too many details, but they love how our team (N-cubed) works and are very impressed with our creative choices and are leaving it all up to us.
We were also in the unique position we didn’t “need” their money because we were confident our kickstarter would meet the goal by the deadline. In fact, having a successful Kickstarter was preferable to us for many reasons, especially because we were doing so well and had some very unique and popular award packages. Ultimately, when they said they were also interested in talking about developing Clan of the Vein as a feature film, that is what really got our attention, as we have always thought Clan of the Vein would be an amazing film franchise as well.
Neo Edmund: Maintaining a high level of control was an important element in putting together our deal. In terms of the graphic novel, we laid out our story for to the funder and said this is what we are doing and if you want in, we’re not budging. Had they been unwilling to play our way, we could have walked away. Would we have? It’s hard to say. The deal on the table was something that doesn’t just come along every day, or it might be safe to say, this is a one in a lifetime situation. Fortunately we have bee granted total creative freedom on the graphic novel.
Mike: So you had a lot of interesting goodies as investor options. What can your supporter expect?
Neal Fischer: Fear not! Everyone who has pledged will get a pdf of the finished graphic novel, Clan Of The Vain – The Girl of Hy Brasil, as well as a HUGE Thank you on our official facebook and web pages. Once we are all done with the graphic novel, we may revisit a kickstarter to bring back the opportunity for people to get some of the cool awards packages that were so incredibly popular. And perhaps toss in a few more ta boot.
Neo Edmund: Most, if not all of those items, such as the sculptures and weapons replicas are still in the works. The plan is to make enough copies for not only Neil, Neal, myself, and our investor, but also to make those items available to those who wish to have them. How that will work exactly is still being worked out, but rest assured we will find a way.
Mike: Any last words to the Kickstarter supporters?
Neal Fischer: On behalf of the entire Clan of the Vein Team, I would like to thank everyone, (friends, family, fan, colleagues, etc.) for all the love, support, sharing and pledges we have been blessed with.Thanks again everyone!
Neo Edmund: Most, if not all of those items, such as the sculptures and weapons replicas are still in the works. The plan is to make enough copies for not only Neil, Neal, myself, and our investor, but also to make those items available to those who wish to have them. How that will work exactly is still being worked out, but rest assured we will find a way. From the bottom of my fanboy heart, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to all those who contributed and helped get the word out by tweeting, posting, blogging, and writing articles. The amazing level of support we receive throughout the kickstarter was both astonishing and humbling. I feel blessed to have the love and support of so many wonderful people. I promise that we will not squander this gift that of kindness! Neal, Neil and I will deliver the coolest graphic novel we can, and will strive to take Clan of the Vein as far as we possibly can go. ONWARD, MY FRIENDS!
Team Clan Of The Vein
Neil D’Monte – Co-creator & Illustrator
Neo Edmund – Co-creator & Writer
Neal Fischer – Editor & Publisher
James Walton – Colorist
Molly Celaschi – Publicity Manager