Marc Silvestri: Free “Cyber Force” Comics Through Kickstarter?

So who here has checked out Kickstarter? The website is a way to get sponsorship/patronage for artistic endeavors. A bunch of comic books and comic related projects have received sponsorship from the website, most prominently Dave Sim was able to fund-raise over $60,000 for an audio/visual adaptation of Cerebus: High Society. Image Comics co-founder Marc Silvestri is taking fan-sourcing one step further with the relaunch of Cyber Force.

Cyber Force featured a team of cyborg mutant heroes, first published back in 1992 as one of the original Image Comics titles. Over the last twenty years, the characters have appeared on and off. But for the next relaunch of the series, Silvestri is turning to Kickstarter.

In the past, fans have been able to support projects they wanted through Kickstarter. It goes something like this:

  1. Creator makes appeal to audience, asking for them to sponsor the project. As incentive, they give sponsors a copy of the work or some other token of appreciation.
  2. Once they get the desired funding, they use said funds to pay for/support themselves while producing the project.
  3. Project gets sold, creator makes money and sponsors feel they did their part.

According to the Los Angeles Times’ Hero Complex, Silvestri plans on doing something different with the Kickstarter model. He plans on using it to fund the project, then distribute it for free, both digitally and physically.

So because of that mind-set our unique plan to reintroduce Top Cow’s original launch series “Cyber Force” using Kickstarter fits right in. Kickstarter itself is a genius idea and a win-win for everybody, really. And we want to use its crowd-sourced funding in typical Top Cow fashion, meaning differently. While most everybody uses Kickstarter to fund a project in order to build it and then sell it, we at Top Cow are going to use the funds to build “Cyber Force” and give it away — for free! Plus we’re not talking just one issue but five full issues of the comic. And it won’t be free just digitally, but also as a full-color printed comic that will be available at any participating comic shop. So for people that want to read “Cyber Force” digitally — yes, including torrent sites — it’s free. And for anyone wanting to hold a traditional comic in their hands to read it — it’s still free. We figure this is a great way to reward loyal comic fans plus get new people to get onboard reading comics and see what they’ve been missing. Plus it allows fans to actually get involved in the comic making process and be part of something truly groundbreaking that will help all of us that love the genre.


So Silvestri and company are doing this for free. Well, sort of. The cost of making the comic, including financial compensation for the creative staff, production costs and printing distribution, is all coming from crowdsourcing. I wonder if any of the other major publishers are going to give this a try. This might be the only way we can get another Longshot mini-series. What do you think?

On Steve Jobs

So here’s another post about Steve Jobs, since he’s been all over the media since his passing last night. Jobs has had a definite influence on my life; he ran companies that made things that I wanted to have. Badly.

I’ve been a firm supporter of Apple’s products since I first set my hands on an Apple II as a first grader back in 1986. My family’s Mac SE is still fully functioning. I’ve picked up my fair share of nostalgic Apple products, many of which I saved from a painful demise at the recycling yard to being used for my various projects. To this day, I’m still trying to track down a complete NeXT system. I spend a good part of my day working on a modern Mac and my iPod is always on me. I may forget to bring my wallet, but I always have my iPod.

The products that Apple has produced under Jobs have definitely changed the consumer electronics landscape time and time again, but in recent years Jobs led the release of the iPad, a device that makes an impact on the comics industry.

Seeing how poorly the music and film industries have done in the digital age, the release of the iPad pushed comic book publishers into the modern era. Now that there is feasibly a way to enjoy reading comics digitally (lets face it…reading comics on screen really isn’t that much fun), they’ve gotten on the iPad/digital comics with making sure that their content is accessible–in a way that they can monetize–and easy for their audience.

Say you still haven’t gotten that first issue of the new Hawk and Dove series, now a month later. You can just purchase it online. Not only current titles, but a bunch of stuff from the back catalog. This is great for the reader, but what about your local comic shop?

Now that consumers have a new way to get their comics, what happens to the brick and mortar location? If they don’t want to wind up like Borders, they’re going to have to rethink their strategy.

But it certainly helps the publisher’s bottom line, as they’ve made their inventory available to everyone. Across the board, digital sales are up, no doubt thanks to people wanting an iPad.

A Steve Jobs helmed Apple created a device that revolutionized how we use content, just like how the Apple II brought computers into the home and school, and how Macs made everything easier on the computer, and how the iPod changed how we listened music, and how the iPhone made cell phones exactly like the stuff that Captain Kirk used.

So Steve did it again.