The recent announcement of a Kickstarter Campaign for Boom! Studios and actor Keanu Reeves’ new comic series BRZRKR has sparked an outcry among some comic book professionals.
They believe the use of the crowdfunding platform is both detrimental to the health of the industry and insulting to creators.
Described as “a brutally violent new series about one immortal warrior’s fight through the ages,” Boom! Studios and Reeves announced the Kickstarter for BRZRKR, “the first comic book and graphic novel series from the iconic Keanu Reeves”, on September 1st,
“The man known only as Berzerker is half-mortal and half-God, cursed and compelled to violence…even at the sacrifice of his sanity,” reads the series’ Kickstarter page. “But after wandering the world for centuries, Berzerker may have finally found a refuge – working for the U.S. government to fight the battles too violent and too dangerous for anyone else. In exchange, Berzerker will be granted the one thing he desires – the truth about his endless blood-soaked existence…and how to end it.”
Alongside Reeves, the series production team will include writer Matt Kindt (Ninjak (2015), X-O Manowar (2017)), artist Ron Garney (The Amazing Spider-Man, Uncanny X-Force), colorist Bill Crabtree (BRPD), and letter Clem Robins (Y: The Last Man).
As of writing, the Kickstarter campaign has raised $373,007, greatly surpassing its original $50,000 goal.
However, in light of the book’s crowdfunding successes, some members of the comic book industry have taken issue with Boom! Studios’ decision to use the Kickstarter platform for the series, particularly due to the studio’s alleged history of underpaying its employees.
Gale Galligan, best known for her graphic novel adaptations of The Baby-Sitters Club books, found herself “absolutely cackling at the idea of a major comic book pub, which has deals with netflix and universal, hopping onto kickstarter to fund their keanu reeves-written comic book.”:
Giant Days inker Liz Fleming stated she “was so furious” about the campaign, as she claimed Boom! Studios paid her a rate of $20 per inked page during her run on the series “and now they dont even wanna pay for their OWN publications”:
Former She-Ra and The Princesses of Power animator Kate Farina asked “How is using a platform meant for people to KICK START projects they can’t afford okay for a company who admits they don’t need the money?”:
She would further go on to say that “350k in ONE DAY for a project they knew would succeed and didn’t need the money for” was “despicable”:
Rian Sygh, the artist of the James Tynion IV-written and Boom! Studios published series The Backstagers, stated that he was “so heartbroken by my experience in the Comics Industry, and that is 100% because of B/oom [sic]”, as Sygh was allegedly “cranking out 22 pages in two weeks for maybe $1000 bucks”:
Surprisingly, in an interview with Comicbook.com, Boom! Studios founder and CEO Ross Richie claimed that the point of the Kickstarter was not to raise funds, as the publisher has “got the money for it”, but rather to take advantage of the untapped audience it can reach.
“And the thing that Kickstarter has is a one-click. People have heard of it, so I don’t have to teach you what it is. And it’s one-click,” explained Richie, who sees the Kickstarting of “the three volumes as a complete story” as a way to prevent reader drop off.
“And why you want to do that with a newbie is, people, sell a movie to you, and it’s the whole thing. You don’t get halfway through and they stop it and go home or go back to the box office and pay another ticket to get the rest,” said Richie.
With the use of Kickstarter, Richie noted that readers would be given the ability to “click once on it and I can set it and forget it, and then it just comes to my door.”
Fans can back BRZRKR until September 1st. The series will also be available through the direct market and retail comic book shops at a later date.
What do you make of the BRZRKR Kickstarter? Should Boom! Studios have used the crowd-funding platform just to market the series? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!