Indie publishers Fantagraphics and McSweeney’s join the crowd to raise cash

Fantagraphics are looking for financial backing for their fantastic spring/summer list of graphic novels
Fantagraphics are looking for financial backing for their fantastic spring/summer list of graphic novels

Two top indie publishers are running unusual crowdfunding campaigns which are proving to be big successes.

Graphic novel publisher Fantagraphics has hit its target to raise cash to back for its entire spring/summer season while McSweeney’s is marking its 15th anniversary with a record-breaking campaign.

Fantagraphics is inviting supporters to invest in the company’s spring/summer list of books for next year. It set a target of $150,000 and smashed through that figure with more than three weeks still to run. It currently has $156,000 pledged from 2,350 backers.

The firm says 2013 has been a particularly hard year after the death in June of co-founder Kim Thompson. He edited the European graphic novel line and 13 of his books scheduled for spring-summer 2014 had to be cancelled or postponed, representing the loss of nearly a third of that season.

Severe shortfall

The company’s fixed costs stayed the same but the income that the 13 books would have generated was lost, disrupting cashflow and leaving Fantagraphics in a tight spot with a severe shortfall. The money contributed in the crowdfunding campaign will go towards production, design, marketing, and printing the books.

The spring/summer season comprises 39 books by a stellar line-up of cartoonists, which Fantagraphics says is possibly its best ever. Some of the well known authors include Peter Bagge, Dan Clowes, Joe Sacco, Drew Friedman, Michael Kupperman, Jim Woodring, Don Rosa, Tony Millionaire, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, Charles Schulz, Steve Ditko, Simon & Kirby, Hal Foster, Carl Barks, Floyd Gottfredson, L B.  Cole, Jacques Tardi, Joihn Severin, S Clay Wilson, Wally Wood and more. The firm also has one of it strongest line-ups of original graphic novels.

The incentives for backers range from being added to the firm’s co-founder Gary Groth’s prayers for $1 to pre-order signed special editions of graphic novels in the $30-$40 range and every book put out by the firm for a year for contributions of $2,000 or more (three backers).

McSweeney’s hits record

The Best of McSweeney's celebrates the publisher's 15th anniversary.
The Best of McSweeney’s celebrates the publisher’s 15th anniversary.

McSweeney’s idiosyncratic campaign celebrates the firm’s 15th birthday and is claiming to be already the most successful crowdfunding campaign of all time as it’s raised 94,080% of its target from 230 backers with a month still to go.

However, McSweeney’s set the bar low at $15 in a ploy to get the crowdfunding record for percentage of target raised. At present, it seems to have raised just over $14,000.

The first issue of McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern appeared in 1998 and this year will see the 45th issue of the quarterly, the 103rd issue of the Believer, a gorgeous 600-page anthology of some of the most remarkable stories the firm has published and a 15th birthday party in San Francisco.

McSweeney’s points out that it is no less and no more than an independent publishing house and it wants to continue to grow and flourish. Incentives for backers in the crowdfunded subscription drive include totes, subscription bundles, fun experiences, and deep discounts. All subscriptions over $20 get an invitation to the firm’s 15th birthday bash.

The campaign is being run on Crowdhoster, an open source platform which has been called the WordPress of crowdfunding, and powered by CrowdTilt.

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