Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Help "One and Done" Anthology Make a Killing for Charity

I had the pleasure of speaking with Jay Katz, head honcho of InvestComics, about his upcoming anthology, Deadly Tales: One and Done. Jay picked my brain a bit about charity leads and directing proceeds from the book to different beneficiaries. He even offered me a spot in the book (which I gladly accepted, thank you very much)! At the time, InvestComics had yet to work out the details to making the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund their beneficiary, so we kicked around some other "good cause" possibilities. CBLDF is a fine and noble organization sworn to defending free speech and artistic freedom, so Jay and his team have a great cause to champion with their cool concept. Hooking up with CBLDF was a great idea and I wish them all the best of luck with the book.


I had a great idea, too. (Not in any way an official part of InvestComics's plan, the guidelines for the One and Done anthology, or the CBLDF fundraising model. My idea is my own. Consider it the Comics Cure bonus plan!)

Small-press comics don't make a whole lot of money. (This is not the "great idea," but it has been my experience and the frustrating experience of plenty of other far more prolific, ambitious, and successful indie creators. It is what it is. That's why there's a BIG two and a small rest.) So I was concerned about a promise to donate "100% of profits" to charity from a book that may not make much, if any, profit. It would be a shame to let all of the hard work and genuine good intentions--in this case, of Jay, his IC partners, and every artist who contributes to the book (self included)--amount to a few pennies in the pot for the chosen cause.
This is not to say in any way, shape, or form that I think One and Done is a bad bet. It could very well be a big money maker for CBLDF. It's the concept of approach to charity comics in general that I want to revisit here, and this book is a killer opportunity to try something new.

In this age of Kickstarter comics and DIY empires, any writer or illustrator contributing to a fundraising project could (and dare I say should) give more than their words and pictures to their cause du jour. Small press comics rarely make a profit, but if every contributor on a "charity" book were to approach their effort like some people approach marathons or bike races or even bake sales, it could change the game entirely.

If creators were to treat their participation in charity books like a sponsorship drive--soliciting contributions from friends and families and employers (who might even offer matching contributions!), shooting for an ambitious fundraising goal of hundreds or thousands of dollars--even the tiniest small-press book otherwise destined for the discount bin might help make a significant difference for those in need. More than 100 creators will be involved in the creation of One and Done. What if they each set a modest goal of raising $100? What if they were more ambitious and less modest, setting the goal at $500 or $1000? What if they simply spread the word that they are supporting CBLDF through this anthology and want others to help you?

I'm like a living "before" photo, yet last year I was able to raise nearly $4000 for cancer research, with some humble e-mails to the right people and a few hours on a stationary bike alongside some like-minded do-gooders. That particular event raised over 4 million. Couldn't we take that same approach with the marathon that is making comics? It is a hell of a lot harder to create a comic book than it is to ride a bike for a few hours. (Try it, bikers!)

Deadly Tales: One and Done is going to be a cool book--especially MY page! It's a solid concept that should make for both an excellent read AND an exciting creative challenge for any creators who participate. And CBLDF is a major force in the comic industry, which should help attract the big names needed to draw the big sales needed to raise some big funds for the cause. But I dare you and everyone involved or looking to be involved with the book to add this new dimension to the charity angle and make it a huge fundraising success before a single page is printed.
My original recommendation to Jay was a little different than this. I suggested that he require that contributors make their own donation (at the time, any amount to any cause they wanted) and show the receipt or other proof that they did so in order to be considered for the book, and then list the cause each contributor supported as part of the credits for the book. It was more about twisting people's arms to be active in their charity. Forced fundraising may have been ill-advised, but credit earned is credit deserved. So I invite anyone who chooses to donate to CBLDF (or any other charity) while working on or otherwise supporting this book to drop by Comics Cure for their virtual pat on the back. And if this grand experiment in suggestive giving doesn't work for you, well, it's just one and done.

Here's What You Do:

1. Check out the Official One and Done Press Release and One and Done Submission Guidelines so you understand the project and know what/when/how to contribute.
2. Ask your friends, family, etc, to support your efforts on the book with a donation to CBLDF
3. Support the organization yourself by purchasing a membership -- just $25 for the basic 1-year membership, plus premiums if you get a higher level membership.
4. Tell your local comic shop about the project and, when the time comes, be sure to tell them how to preorder copies.
5. Share your progress -- here, on Facebook or Twitter, or in the InvestComics community -- to help rally others around the effort.
6. Tell a great story! Make this anthology worth it for everyone.

Now get to it!

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