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The Kickstarter Dilemma: One Creator’s Perspective in Light of the Controversy

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Kickstarter Logo BlackThroughout the past week, crowdfunding website Kickstarter has faced an onslaught of criticism due to its initial decision not to pull the controversial Above the Game campaign that was running on its website.  Above the Game‘s creators sought to produce a “seduction guide” that was offensive to women; you can read about the project in detail here.  Despite Kickstarter’s mission to prohibit campaigns that would promote or glorify violence against women and other individuals, the offending project was not immediately pulled, causing readers to demand a remedy from the crowdfunding giant.  As of Friday morning, Kickstarter released an official apology for their inaction, stating that they “were wrong,” that they had removed the project’s campaign page from the site, and that similar “seduction guides” would, moving forward, be banned from the website.  Kickstarter also made a $25,000 donation to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network.

Although Kickstarter publicly admitted that their initial inaction was the “wrong” decision in light of immense backlash, have the website’s creators done enough to rectify the issue and prevent future instances of similarly offensive campaigns?  While the anger of many readers was abated by the public apology, many individuals – including creators who were considering the use of the crowdfunding website – are now wondering whether the website should be boycotted until Kickstarter can guarantee that it will not provide a platform for projects that promote hate and violence. 

One such creator who is heavily weighing the pros and cons of Kickstarter is Rachel Pandich, comic book writer and creator of Skin Crawling Comics, a new horror-themed comic book anthology to be released in October 2013.  While Pandich’s anthology is an independent, creator-owned project that would greatly benefit from acquiring its printing costs from a crowdfunding site like Kickstarter, Pandich has made it clear from the get-go that her horror project will stand apart from the genre.   In a previous interview with Fanboy Comics, Pandich stated, “I love the horror stories that creep me out, but, in the last decade or so, it seems that “splatter porn” was the popular thing. The only rules [for Skin Crawling Comics] were no ‘splatter porn’ and no rape as plot fodder. Every panel needs to be pertinent to the storytelling. No boobs and blood, because ‘yay boobies and gore.’ If that’s your thing, that’s fine, but not on this book. The point of Skin Crawling is to creep the reader out, not make them want to vomit.” 

Skin Crawling Comics Logo UpdatedIn light of the controversy with Kickstarter earlier this week, Pandich took to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to voice her distaste with the company’s decision to let the Above the Game project remain.  “You saw my reactions on Twitter and my reasoning in the group for possibly not using KS. But, let’s look on the positive side of things; a loophole in Kickstarter’s TOS has been exposed and hopefully now other crowdfunding sites will get some more attention,” said the Skin Crawling Comics creator.  When Kickstarter released its official apology on Friday, Pandich noted, “I’m going to wait before making a final decision on to use or not to use KS. I read their apology and think it is wonderful; however, they have to close the loophole of funding hate/violent projects as long as they don’t have the hate/violence on the KS page.”

A lot of questions remain for creators and fundraising backers alike regarding the future of Kickstarter and crowdfunding, as a whole.  Did Kickstarter make the “wrong” decision?  Where do you draw the line in crowdfunding between free speech and hate speech?  Did Kickstarter’s apology go far enough?  Will fundraising backers boycott the website, even if it means hurting other projects that are well intentioned? Where will creators go to raise funds for their projects if not Kickstarter?

I welcome your thoughts, Fanboy Comics readers.  You are the individuals who have made crowdfunding what it is today, and you have the power to change its course.  What will you do?


Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief




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