Grassfunder exists to fill the widening gap left by Kickstarter when they failed to make the ethical choice to support their employees. We hope to be a temporary solution for creators who do not wish to support an anti-union company, but need to move forward with their projects without a crisis of conscience.
The writing and creative arts industry demands a crowdfunding site which fits their needs and values. Ethical conduct matters as much as content. Grassfunder can fulfill those needs and give you the funding power you need.
Crowdfunding has revolutionized the creative arts industries, raising millions of dollars per year for creators and their works while providing thousands of books for readers and a much needed source of income for creators, as well as helping to shepherd many award-winning books (including our own “Mine!”). Crowdfunding has become a major part of the comics, gaming, and publishing industry.
However, there are now serious problems with the leading crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter.
We at ComicMix have noted their unfriendly stance towards employee unions previously, and had hoped that they would change their ways. So far our hopes have been in vain, as Kickstarter does not intend to live up to their values as a public benefit corporation with regards to their own employees. As a result, a tremendous backlash has started against Kickstarter, with numerous project creators, project backers, cheerleaders and evangelists for the service boycotting the platform or abandoning it entirely. This will turn into a vicious downward spiral, reducing the number of projects as well as the audience, which in turn means fewer projects will be backed to completion.
While we respect that the unofficial Kickstarter union has not called for a boycott, we can no longer tie our own business plans to Kickstarter’s dwindling platform. And we aren’t the only ones. Many creators rely on crowdfunding to get their work to the public.
We have started GrassFunder as an alternative to Kickstarter in the hope that that company will do the right thing by its people in the near future. Unless and until that happens, we at Grassfunder will continue to give the creative community the crowdfunding ability it needs and deserves.
We give creators the honorable choice they need.
Crowdfunding accessibility that lets creators do their thing.
Its all or nothing.
ComicMix became a hub for both comics and pop culture news, think pieces from industry vets including Denny O’Neil and John Ostrander, and a publishing house known for both reprinting seminal works including Jon Sable, Freelance and the Amazon Studios optioned GrimJack as well as giving them new life with new stories by the original creators.
In 2012, ComicMix created ComicMix Pro Services, designed to take care of all the issues comic book creators didn’t want to deal with or know how to do themselves—which means we do everything from finishing comics to sourcing translators to marketing to building websites to finding printers to licensing film rights, and just about everything in between.
Since crowdfunding began taking off in the comics community, ComicMix has run a dozen campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. In 2018, ComicMix was nominated for an Eisner for Best Short Story “Ethel Byrne” and won the Ringo Award for Best Anthology with Mine! to benefit Planned Parenthood… a project which had been initially funded through Kickstarter. ComicMix has also been involved with the landmark Seuss v. ComicMix case in the Ninth Circuit, where we won the right for free expression and fair use for mashups… a project which also had its beginnings on Kickstarter.
In March of 2019, unionized efforts at Kickstarter became public. The efforts have been met with resistance from senior management that culminated in the firing of two employees spearheading unionizing efforts in September of 2019. Those workers, and the union they have been working with, filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board accusing the crowdfunding company of wrongfully terminating them.
As a result, many in the comics crowdfunding community and the greater crowdfunding community at large have been wary of continuing a professional relationship with Kickstarter.
Now Kickstarter has been helpful to the comics and publishing ecosystem, helping thousands of projects find both funding and an audience, raising over $15 million for comics last year alone. There are many good people working at Kickstarter, and there are people inside (and now outside) the company that are trying to make things better.
We’d hoped that the senior leadership at Kickstarter would have come to their senses in that time and lived up to their stated ideals as a public benefit corporation by applying those values to their own employees, and recognize their employees’ union.
They haven’t. In the meantime, they’ve lost over a decade’s worth of goodwill with high-visibility disappointment from Neil Gaiman, Matt Bors, David Cross, and creators who have raised millions of dollars on Kickstarter, and backers who have said they won’t back another project on until the problem is resolved.
As such, Kickstarter has done damage to their brand and market. Many creators won’t post new projects, and the ones that do are less likely to be funded because there are fewer backers to be had. That means more projects will fail to reach their goals and fail, and so on.
This is no longer tenable.
While we respect that the unofficial Kickstarter union has not called for a boycott, we can no longer be held hostage while Kickstarter dithers over whether or not to do the right thing. Neither can the myriad other creators and industries that depend on crowdfunding.
And so, we’ve started Grassfunder.
Grassfunder looks to continue ComicMix Pro Services’ mission of helping bring comics projects from the drawing board to the printed page by providing an ethical, pro-union alternative to creators who rely on crowdfunding projects for their livelihood for as long as it is necessary.
We look forward to being able to close Grassfunder when Kickstarter’s senior management gets their act together. Until then, we hope we’re able to help creators who need to crowdfund.
We realize we don’t have all the bells and whistles of other sites in place yet— we wanted to get to market as soon as possible. We’ll keep improving the longer we have to stay up.