If you’re tired of the Potato Salad Kickstarter, why don’t you just skip to the bottom where I’ve listed the crowdfunders I’m currently supporting. They all could use some love.
Anyways, here’s my most basic thought on the matter: Brown’s campaign taking off like it has and the fact that so many people have asked me if I know him kind of cements a feeling that I’ve had for a while: People aren’t so much in love with the things they pledge for on Kickstarter as they are in love with Kickstarter itself.
That’s why his campaign, on the surface about potato salad, but actually about a gag, has been so successful. Brown cracked a joke that tickled a lot of funny bones and he did it in a venue where people reward jokes with money. If he had cracked this joke anywhere else but on Kickstarter, I doubt that anyone would have opened up their wallets for it. But he did, and things took off, and here we are talking about it. Some people like to see whimsy rewarded and are very happy about the campaign. Others resent the kickstarter because the money could go to actual art projects or, it being centered on food, to actual hungry people. That all adds drama and drama is why people love kickstarter.
So what do I think of:
Zack “Danger” Brown:
Like I said, I don’t know the guy. I have friends who have friends who say that he is “a really good guy” for what that’s worth. I’ll say this… In general I don’t think you can take the measure of a kickstarter creator until after it is completed. In this case, how well does Zack come through on his promises to backers who have chipped in their hard earned cash. Assuming that he makes a profit and has money left over, how does he or she spend that? In Brown’s case, it will be really interesting since I don’t imagine he could’ve foreseen this thing becoming some weird viral thing and there is no obvious project to reinvest the money in. (I mean, if I had a comic book kickstarter explode, I’d pour the money into more comics. Brown can’t just sink the money into more gag kickstarters.) No one could blame him if he just pocketed the dough, but it seems like he has plans for sinking back into the community. We’ll see!
On a side note, you folks all know that while Kickstarter’s terms of service does not allow a campaign that raises money for a charity, it doesn’t apply to the funds for ever and always. Brown can do whatever he wants with the profits he makes. The money that’s left over after he makes his potato salad and fulfills all of the backer awards us his money to save, spend, and donate as he likes. (There are going to be a lot of people telling he what he should do with the money. How he responds to those new “friends” will also be a measure of Brown as a person.)
I’ll also say this: I like the “my middle name is Danger” joke better than the potato salad kickstarter joke, although I suppose it’s probably trademarked by Mike Myers at this point.
The Kickstarter itself:
I can’t imagine giving my money to this goofy thing. It’s a funny joke, but not “take my money” funny. I also tend to side with those who feel that this project being about food, that people pledging should maybe consider dropping the same amount of money on the Mid Ohio Food Bank or some other charity that feeds some hungry people. If you can throw some money at a joke about food, you can kick in to feed some hungry folks too.
I’ve heard a lot of people worry that this campaign spells some sort of death knell for kickstarter, which will soon be flooded with numerous gag and annoyance campaigns. I really doubt that. It’s a pretty limited gag. While there might be some imitators, I think those weeds will choke themselves out soon enough.
I’ll confess to envy as well. I’m not in the clutches of the green eyed monster to the point that I begrudge Brown his success, but I do feel like my comics are a better investment than Potato Salad. I just can’t help but postulate what I could do with a kickstarter that pulled in $50,000 dollars and a couple thousand backers. I could both afford to raise my story rates to something closer to what my artists deserve and publish two or three more comics in a year. I could go back to offset printing, which makes a superior comic in my mind. I would build in a marketing and distribution budget, so those comics don’t just sit in my basement. Hell… Maybe I could parlay that success into a “quit my day job” situation.
Other Kickstarters I am currently backing:
The We’re the Shazzbots TV Pilot:
Roots: A Travelogue Comic
Not So Super Comics
When The Heart Betrays The Blood: A Post Modern Storybook
The Grayhaven Comics Summer Bash