Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Comics & Cola on Patreon

So, I set up a Patreon. I've written a (hopefully) accessible overview on the Patreon page, which is geared more towards anyone who happens to come across it: general and new audiences, but I wanted to write with a little more detail about the reasons behind the decision.

I started really getting into comics about 8 years ago when I was about 20. I'd read Tintin and Asterix and some Batman as a kid, but now I was eager to know and read more- which artists to look out for, what comics looked interesting, accessible reviews- but I struggled to find a site that covered a broad range of work in a way that didn't require vast amounts of prior context and knowledge. So I set up Comics & Cola, partly as a way of documenting my own thoughts and experiences, and partly in a bid to try and be that place for other people like me. I think not having any fixed points of reference helped to keep me open-minded in picking up and reading anything. It's sort of grown from there- I'd hope I've become more informed and articulate- and with the help of readers and cartoonists and publishers, and it's become a space I'm really very proud of.

I've written before about not being 100% comfortable with crowd-funding and asking people for money, but this year I've done a lot of thinking over my comics writing, over whether this is a community I want to be part of and contribute to, and the decision I've come to is that this is 100% what I really want to do (for better or worse). I love comics, and I love writing about them- it's really that simple. When racist and sexist shit happens- and it happens often- I feel angry and frustrated and I feel like giving up. I think that's natural, if perhaps a little reactionary. Comics has issues. It can't be explained away by 'every field has it's problems.' That's a poor side-swipe: we're talking about this field which we're in together and it's specific problems and what we're going to do to address and improve them. I don't have answers for this. Removing yourself from a place that doesn't appear to value you and causes you harm is not a shameful option at all, but I always come back to comics and writing about them, because I honestly love the medium; its breadth and scope and its potential still. Whenever I read something interesting or amazing, my first instinct is to break it down and analyse it, to share it with people- to tell someone about all these bits and pieces. I think that's a widely recognisable and relatable impulse.

But comic journalism is a non-career. I've been lucky to have several opportunities at various publications, but invariably the comics I cover don't get much traction at these sites, which when you're working on a click-rate/hits basis means they're the first to go. And the pay isn't even close to great! I currently do a weekly 500 word review for The AV Club for $25. I don't do it for the money; but because the platform allows me to maybe give some fantastic lesser-discussed comics and cartoonists a greater visibility. And this is pretty much how it goes- you're supposed to work to the bone writing and writing and writing and collecting together all your $25 from a dozen different places and maybe cobble together a passable cheque. It's immensely tiring and dis-heartening. And to be frank and more to the point, there aren't a dozen different paying sites that would even be interested in the kind of comics coverage I produce- there probably aren't even half that amount. So I'm aware I'm operating in a very niche area. But I believe in its importance and worth.

We talk a lot about the kind of comics sites we'd like to see: more women critics, more people of colour, somebody who talks about the art in depth, somebody who covers webcomics, somebody who's fair, somebody who looks beyond DC, Marvel, and Image, somebody, somebody, somebody. These discussions circle around every so often, and much of it seems to be superficial grumbling for the sake of grumbling to which I can't help but roll my eyes a little because these places do exist- you just have to search for them: the Forbidden Planet blog, Women Write About Comics, Broken Frontier, and more. Seek them out, read them, support them. And me- I'm fair, and good, and passionate, and I'm right damn here! :)

To get to the point, Comics & Cola isn't going anywhere. I update here every week with at least 3 new pieces and that isn't going to change, but if I could garner some financial support, it would mean instead of having to pitch around at various places, I can focus all my energies here. There's a lot I'd like to do: hire regular columnists to write about various areas and issues in comics -David Brothers did a hugely popular piece earlier in the year- and it would be excellent to get people of that quality writing here and be able to pay them well. I used to serialise Daryl Seitchik's Missy comics until I was unable to afford it, and that's another thing I'd love to see  Comics & Cola do- commission fresh, exciting cartoonists to create exclusive comics and strips. I want to go to and report on more events and cons. These goals are far off at this point- it depends how the Patreon does. I've worked hard to build this space and platform, and am pretty lucky that Comics & Cola seems to have a readership, and I really want to make it better -as best as it can be. 

I don't know how this will pan out -it could be no one pledges at all!-, or how sustainable it will be, but there are such limited options that not exploring this as an avenue sounds daft. I'm going to see how it goes after 6 months and review. If you would like and are able to support, the Patreon is here- it has only pledge level of $1 (you can pledge more if you want), and the way it works is the amount you pledge is taken from your account each month. And that's it. As ever, thank you for reading, and thank you for all the continued support.

The Comics & Cola frog by Isaac Lenkiewicz

2 comments:

  1. As an arts librarian and small press/indie comics enthusiast, your reviews and recommendations have really helped me to build our institution's collection (and are the reason that I need more bookshelf space at home). So happy to support your work!

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    1. That's so great to hear! Our college comics library is pretty great because it gets all my review copies and 'need to make space' books as donations, haha! Thanks so much for your support.

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