July 15, 2013

Kickstarter, retail sales propel comics in 2013


The newest of the myriad alt/indie comics to stir the comics culture is The Sleep of Reason, Iron Circus Comics’ new anthology of horror comics. It’s a 360-page assembly of the macabre, the grotesque, and the ostensibly horrifying, all inked in black-and-white. Prominent webcomic presence C. Spike Trotman announced the project by posting an open submission for scary sequential art and setting a Kickstarter goal of $20,000, which she more than doubled: the project nabbed $46,925 from 1,392 backers during a 30-day funding period that ended July 10th.

The anthology, named after an 18th-century etching by Francisco Goya (itself perhaps a proto-horror comic), features contributions from over 26 writer-illustrators, all of whom are getting paid for their work—because “writers should get paid for their work,” as Trotman told Comic Book Resources. Their collective goal, according to the Kickstarter page, is to “inspire dread.” The anthology will be purged of “garden-variety monsters,” though the whole package, from its cover art to its contents, is steeped in homage. Trotman makes no secret of her horror affinity:

“I love comics that inspire dread and disillusionment and disorientation, fear that’s about a lack of control and understanding. Fear where the worst part isn’t how ugly the monster is or how creatively The Hero dispatches a zombie; to me, gold-medal horror stories don’t even get heroes. Charles Burns‘ ‘Black Hole,’ the ‘Taboo’ anthologies edited by Steve Bissette, Junji Ito‘s ‘Uzumaki,’ Emily Carroll‘s ‘His Face All Red.’ Nobody wins there. That’s how I like my horror.”

During a time of uncertainty for the printed word, projects like The Sleep of Reason give comics fans reason to be jovial. In fact, comic sales haven’t decreased in the last year, according to Publishers Weekly’s 2013 Annual Comics Retailer Survey. The informal poll questioned ten stores, three of which are stocked by Diamond Comics Distributors, the largest comics distributor in North America; their cliental is a robust network of approximately 2,000 comics retailers, on both coasts, including New York’s comic Mecca, Midtown Comics.

It appears comics culture and modernity are finally working on amiable terms: there’s speculation that 40 million comics are downloaded annually, and most comics publishers and sellers agree that digital comics have no negative impact on corporeal comics sales. “We have heard from several customers that they tried something digitally then liked it well enough to own a hard copy of it,” Wayne Wise of Pittsburgh’s Phantom of the Attic told Publishers Weekly.