Ah Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. They’ve become a big part of how creators start and fund projects. Some times it feels like there’s a new project I want to support every day, which is a testament to how much creative goodness there is in the world. Supporting artists on the come-up is a key part of what we do here. But we can’t forget those in-between projects, those that have made it through the first round of funding but are now faced with competing in the marketplace at large, often drowned out by bigger producers with PR budgets and social media interns. If you’re like me, you forget to go back and check out that thing you saw go by in your news feed when your friend pledged months ago. I got you. Here are a few crowdfunded projects that that went by in 2016 that are ready for prime-time. Some are still working out the bumps, but have made excellent progress. Some are ready for you to purchase. These are coming through your news feed a second time — maybe now’s the time to put down your money on some interesting, creative content.
This one may not seem like our usual fare, but if you scratch the surface, you can see that this is 100% Black nerd business. Blackspace Durham is a hub for Afrofuturism and digital media, focusing on building local Black community and supporting young people in their goals and interests. Funded at the end of June 2016, the Blackspace extension in Durham has already hosted Afrobeat/Brazilian concerts, a benefit dance party for Haitians rebuilding after Hurricane Matthew, and Youth Poetry Slam events. Founder Pierce Freelon is certainly keeping busy. This is the Afro-Future in beats, rhymes, and empowering spaces. If you want to keep up, follow the Blackspace Facebook page.
Funded in October and already available for download on Gumroad, this graphic novel collects 15 original stories in 170 pages about queer witches of color created by women, demigirls, and bigender creators of color. Inspired by magical girls, African diasporic magic, and archetypes that center women and girls using their power to achieve their goals, this anthology covers a lot of ground in innovative ways. I met the publisher Joamette Gil at Geek Girl Con and was blown away by her enthusiasm and yes, the magic of creativity she had to share. You can find out more, and be ready for when the print version comes out at the end of the month, by following Power & Magic Press on Twitter.
You know this is our shit right here. We’ve talked a lot about the need for not only Black American heroes, but also heroes of African descent set in diverse homelands and countries across the continent. Roye Okupe, who brought us E.X.O The Legend of Wale Williams parts 1 and 2, is adding more heroes to his lineup with Malika: Warrior Queen. The story is of a 15th century pre-colonial African queen/military commander — yes you read that right, Malika leads her men in battle, sword and shield in hand. The 150-page graphic novel was scheduled to come out in April but Chapter 1 has been picked up for Free Comic Book Day in May, so the full publication date has moved a bit. Still, the pictures and the team behind it mean the project is worth the wait. And you can pick up a freebie taste at your Local Comic Book store on May 6th. Don’t have a Local Comic Bookstore? Find one here.
Produced by The Comic Book Defense Fund and distributed by Image Comics, She Changed Comics is more than a graphic novel. It is a history of the women who championed free expression in comics from the beginning. Profiling 60 women from the Golden Age to the Modern Era, this full-color book includes creators, producers/publishers/editors, and women artists/writers who have been imprisoned for their work. It also features interviews with current American icons of the field like G. Willow Wilson and Gail Simone. Most significantly, this book fights censorship with education and information. Part of the Kickstarter funding was used for the development of teaching tools for middle school, high school, and college classes, so educators can lead students through the creative and civic concerns these women raise in their works. This books has been available since the Fall. Look for it at your comics shop or head to your favorite online book dealer. Our very own contributor Lauren Bullock has a piece published in this anthology!
Visually, this one is my favorite because I’ll be honest, I could cosplay the shit out of this outfit.
But, that’s not what we’re here for. Today.
Tuskegee Heirs builds on the history of the Tuskegee Airmen and fast forwards to a new crew of pilots and mechanics fighting an invading threat. The story blends science fiction with adventure, focused on an all-Black team of young heroes. The blending of history with myth is intentional, looking to educate as well as entertain and inspire. This project funded at seven times the requested level, which is so big that along with the release of Issue #1 (30 pages), there are t-shirts and posters. There is an animated short and an app in the works. Also action figures. Because DON’T YOU WANT THESE characters AS ACTION FIGURES? You can peruse the merch on their website, and follow them for Facebook to keep up on the release of the first four issues as a graphic novel. There’s more to come from this team.