Kickstarter is already off to another huge year for comic book projects on the platform, both from independent creators and established publishers, with multiple projects cracking the top ten all time funded Kickstarter comics in the first six months of 2021 alone.
Which ones? Well, we'll get to that - as we're taking a deeper dive into the history of successful Kickstarter comic book projects, including some that remain controversial, and some you may learn you never knew you wanted to read.
Here are the ten most funded Kickstarter comic books of all time - with a combined funding total of $6.9 million dollars.
10. Girl Genius Volume 12 Printing and Reprint Frenzy!
Amount Raised: $389,079
Before there was Kickstarter or even formalized webcomics, Phil and Kaja Foglio's Girl Genius was a cult-favorite independent comic book series. The steampunk serial was an early adopter of the webcomic format in 2005, and found an even bigger (and paying) audience when it began crowdfunding collections on Kickstarter.
The Foglios' first Kickstarter, for printing Girl Genius Volume 12 (opens in new tab), was their most successful to date, but they have followed it up with eight subsequent campaigns, with the latest concluding in August 2020.
9. Check, Please!: Year Two
Amount Raised: $398,520
Check, Please! writer/artist Ngozi Ukazu built an extremely loyal social media following with the webcomic, which translated directly to crowdfunding success for the print version.
Check, Please! (opens in new tab) began as a webcomic in 2013 following Ethan 'Bitty', a vlogger and figure skater turned ice hockey player as he navigates life as a college athlete and a gay man.
After a successful campaign to fund a print collection of the first volume, 2016's Kickstarter for Check, Please!: Year Two (opens in new tab) was even more successful, with tripling the amount collected in pledges.
8. Lady Death: Cataclysmic Majesty #1
Amount Raised: $426,241
Among the many independent comic book creators who have found a home for their stories on Kickstarter are many writers and artists who were once big names in the mainstream industry before either departing to the world of creator-owned stories, and eventually crowdfunding, or who have found new homes for their old creations that once fell out of popular view.
Case in point, Brian Pulido's Lady Death, a cult-favorite 'Bad Girl' character of the '90s whose recent Lady Death: Cataclysmic Majesty #1 Kickstarter campaign (opens in new tab) raised $426,241 from 3,306 backers through a wide variety of reward tiers.
Lady Death was a staple of '90s comic shelves, with a whole slice of the speculation market all her own for the many variant covers and special gimmick editions put out by her original independent publisher Chaos! Comics.
Now, Pulido's Coffin Comics has revived the character through crowdfunding campaigns, with the most recent drawing enough nostalgic goodwill and modern interest to reach the top ten comic book projects evert funded on Kickstarter.
7. Cmon Comics Vol. 1
Amount Raised: $501,632
Tabletop gaming company Cmon has a hungry audience for their hit games Zombicide, Cthulhu: Death May Die, and Zombicide: Invader, and found a way to expand this year with a graphic novel anthology of stories set in the worlds of their games.
After already having success with Kickstarter for their tabletop games, Cmon brought the Cmon Comics Vol. 1 anthology (opens in new tab) to the crowdfunding platform and hit a nerve, in a good way. Fans of Cmon were already used to buying from them on Kickstarter, and that experience (and the positive track record) made the expansion into comic books an easy purchase for their fanbase.
6. Ava's Demon: Reborn
Amount Raised: $530,310
Ava's Demon: Reborn (opens in new tab) is one of the more recent crowdfunding campaigns on our list, but like many other entries on this list, the success of the comic's Kickstarter campaign builds on a long history and fanbase that's grown for the past eight years.
Ava's Demon is an ongoing sci-fi/fantasy story by Michelle Czajkowski that has been running online as a webcomic since 2012. After early successes with Kickstarters for two print collections, Ava's Demon: Reborn offered a remastered version of those early stories - and the fans responded. This recently-concluded campaign doubled the number of backers from the previous two.
Over the past eight years, Czajkowski has built a sizeable social media following with Ava's Demon - and that built-in fanbase showed up in force for this remastered edition of a comic they were already enjoy.
5. The Tomorrow Girl: Dresden Codak Volume 1
Amount Raised: $534,994
Dresden Codak has been a thriving webcomic since 2005 (notice a trend here?), and when writer/artist Aaron Diaz launched a Kickstarter for a massive collection of its first five years, the campaign was an overnight success.
Dresden Codak is a unique blend of science fiction and fantasy, following Kimiko Ross as she applies her hardline stance about science in a world with magic, ghosts, and more that can't quite be explained.
2013's The Tomorrow Girl: Dresden Codak (opens in new tab) Kickstarter campaign reached its initial $30,000 goal in just 24 hours, and went on to break a half-million dollars by the end of the campaign.
Like many of the other Kickstarters on this list, Dresden Codak had a built-in fanbase who were online savvy. And in this case, they already knew the comics were completed before the Kickstarter began, so had confidence in both the story and creator, as well as Diaz's ability to deliver the promised product.
4. Ctrl+Alt+Del 1.0: The Box Set
Amount Raised: $665,725
Successful webcomic with a long track record and a cult fanbase leads to big success on Kickstarter. See a pattern here?
Tim Buckley launched the video game-centric webcomic Ctrl+Alt+Del back in 2002, and 13 years in decided to give something to those that like to hold a physical comic in their hands. But instead of a small collection, Buckley was bold - his first Kickstarter was for a three-volume hardcover boxed set (opens in new tab) that would take $150,000 to produce.
And in just 16 hours, his fans came through, fully funding the ambitious project.
This slice of life webcomic follows Ethan, an over the top video game fanatic, his sarcastic roommate, Lucas, and his girlfriend (now wife) Lilah with a slew of gaming puns and jokes sprinkled throughout their daily lives.
Buckley continues to publish new Ctrl+Alt+Del webcomics to this day, but as of yet hasn't followed up with a second collection - though he remains active on Kickstarter, backing others' projects.
3. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Complete Comic Book Collection
Amount Raised: $804,018
Boom! Studios has broken ground for itself with Kickstarter not once but twice (we'll get to the first time they pulled it off in a moment), winning over enough of a Kickstarter audience to bring in almost a million bucks - $804,018 to be exact, from 1,584 donors - for a five volume hardcover set of the entire 55-issue run of Boom!'s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comic book title (opens in new tab) to be shipped between April and November 2022.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was a fan-favorite title for its entire run, with the series rebooting as two separate titles after its conclusion. The global Power Rangers fandom took to the title and its more mature (but not dark or off-putting) tone, which both catered to readers who had grown up with the franchise and those who simply sought an exciting comic book experience.
Given the love of collecting shared by many Power Rangers fans and comic book readers alike, it's not particularly mysterious how Boom! managed to entice donors to pledge an average of around $500 each for the oversized deluxe editions, which also include new material.
The practice of larger publishers with an established Direct Market presence taking to Kickstarter is seen as controversial by some, who envision the crowdfunding platform as a place for independent creators seeking money to self-publish. But Boom!'s most recent success shows a model in which collectors, if not Kickstarter regulars, are embracing the platform as a place to directly pre-order specialized publications and ensure they'll be able to get ahold of what could otherwise be exceedingly rare editions.
2. The Order of the Stick Reprint Drive
Amount Raised: $1,254,120
Rich Burlew started making the fantasy/comedy stick figure comic The Order of the Stick (opens in new tab) in 2003 - and it quickly became one of the most popular webcomics of the era.
The Order of the Stick tells the tale of the eponymous band of heroes living in a fantasy roleplaying game world as they struggle to overcome their enemies, their environment, the rules of the game, and their own crippling incompetence (not necessarily in that order).
In 2012, Burlew sought to re-print several print collections he had previously self-published, but wanted to do larger print runs than he alone could afford, turning to Kickstarter to raise the funds.
And boy, did Kickstarter come through.
The Order of the Stick Reprint Drive (opens in new tab) Kickstarter campaign blew through its initial $57,750 goal and ended up with over a million dollars from over 14,000 backers. In the eight years since, only one other comic Kickstarter has managed to break the lofty crowdfunding sum of million dollars - and it took Keanu Reeves to do it (more on that later).
Burlew has returned to Kickstarter since then with other projects, but his crowdfunded success these days is found primarily on his Patreon page (opens in new tab) which has nearly 3,000 supporters paying $2 (or more) monthly.
Amount Raised: 1,447,212
Boom! Studios announced the Keanu Reeves starring/co-written comic book series Brzrkr in July 2021, but it wasn't until that September when people realized how big a hit the high-profile limited series was primed to be.
How did Boom! break the news? Through Kickstarter.
In fall 2020, Boom! launched a controversial Kickstarter campaign for a three-volume collection of the 12-issue series, with the publisher outlining their view of Kickstarter not as a way to gather money to publish the series, but rather as a new kind of storefront to sell comics to readers who may not typically visit a comic shop or use comiXology.
Though some Kickstarter comic creators and crowdfunders took issue with the major publisher's stance, Boom! seems to have tapped their audience - nearly 15,000 of them to be exact - who pledged an average of $99 each for the collections and various rewards.
"[Brzrkr is about] this character who was born 80,000 years ago, half-man, his father's a war god. It's a little fantasy in reality," Reeves explained when the series was announced. "I had this image in my head of a guy fighting through the ages because of his father's compulsion to violence but with the pathos of a man trapped and trying to figure it out."
Brzrkr #1 released on March 3, 2021 to mixed critical reviews, which didn't stop it from being picked up as an anime by Netflix later that month. Kickstarter collections are expected to ship to backers starting in September.