The Creative Download: Trends in Comics

A 2023 review of our Comics category on Kickstarter.

The Creative Download: Trends in Comics

Hi! I’m Liz Mowe. For the past decade, I’ve been helping Kickstarter creators launch their projects and connect to a community of supporters and new fans. 

Today, I’m the interim lead for Kickstarter’s Comics category – a role that has allowed me to witness firsthand the passion, creativity, and boundless ambition that define our incredibly dynamic and devoted Comics community.

From groundbreaking graphic novels to innovative series, the diversity of Comics projects has reached new heights, supported by an ever-expanding community of backers eager to see new narratives unfold.

Let’s take a look back at the numbers and trends that defined the category in 2023, including the new record-holder for the highest-funded Comics project on Kickstarter – EVER.

2023 By The Numbers

Reflecting on these 2023 numbers, the surge in both the number of projects and the number of dollars pledged underscores a thriving Comics ecosystem. We want to continue this momentum. Another testament to this momentum is the setting of a new record for the most-funded Comics project on our platform: Good Omens, which raised over £2.4 million. The fact that we’re still seeing creators reach new heights through crowdfunding almost 15 years into our company journey shows the enduring value and new opportunity Kickstarter still offers to creators in the Comics category and beyond.

Elevated Craftsmanship 

In 2023, we saw a wide range of visually stunning Comics projects. What's exciting about these projects is the level of care and craftsmanship that's evident in the final product. 

Creators are going the extra mile to ensure that their work stands out in a crowded market – featuring hand-painted illustrations, commissioning multiple illustrators to work on a single project, and utilizing the latest technology and techniques to produce works of the highest quality. 

Elevated visuals are also helping creators breathe new life into nostalgic comic book franchises. For example, with their project – MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS: THE RETURN New Comic Series – BOOM! Studios brought forth a bold new alternative vision to a multi-generational franchise – not only rewriting the present and future of the characters but also designing stunning retro trading cards, new illustrations, enamel pins enhanced by Augmented Reality, a custom collectible pink metal box that backers could use to store their comic books. 

This extra touch makes comic books feel even more precious and special, which has only added to their appeal. 

See the Trend in Action: GODKILLER: The Banned 'Spiderland' Edition || P. Craig Russell: 50 Years in Full Color || The Marvel Art of David Finch V1 || Out of Style: a gorgeous, all-new winchestermegg artbook!

Inclusive Narratives

From Queer Superheroes to a Utopia of African American warriors, comic book creators are putting the spotlight on communities that haven't always been represented in mainstream storytelling. This is not a brand new trend but it’s definitely growing and definitely worth talking about.

Sometimes when creators pitch these stories to publishers, they can be met with skepticism. Some publishers worry that stories focused on underrepresented communities may be “too narrow” or “too niche” to attract a large audience. Instead of giving up, creators who still want to bring these stories to life will turn to self-publishing – with the support of crowdfunding – to tell the stories they want, on their terms. 

When stories are true not just to the creators’ identity but also allow underrepresented communities to see themselves in the work, it’s a really powerful and authentic way to push fresh perspectives into the industry and to build community.

By embracing stories that may seem "too niche" at first glance, these creators are proving there's a wide audience eager for diversity and representation. Their work is a testament to the idea that focusing on specific experiences can, in fact, resonate universally, building bridges across different walks of life. 

See the Trend in Action: The 99 || Octopus: A Memoir of Flailing || El Chupacabras Rebirth #1 Premium Edition  || Alyria: A Fantasy Comic (Issue #1)

A Home for Creators of All Sizes

More publishers – both mainstream and indie, big and small – are exploring crowdfunding. 

For big names and mid-sized publishers, Kickstarter offers a direct-to-consumer approach. It's not only a way to fund projects directly through consumer support but also a means to engage with fans, collaborate on creative ideas and test the market in a way traditional e-commerce or sales channels can't match. This direct line to the community is invaluable, offering insights and engagement that go beyond simple transactions.

When these larger players enter the crowdfunding scene, they don't come alone. They bring their substantial fan bases with them, creating a "halo effect" that benefits the entire creator community on Kickstarter. Our research shows that when a big project runs on Kickstarter, the amount of money going to other projects increases, too. For example, Good Omens, our new record holder for the highest-funded Comics project ever, attracted almost 10,000 first-time backers. So far, some of those backers have pledged almost 800 other projects on Kickstarter.

On the other end of the spectrum, indie publishers operate on razor-thin margins. For them, the stakes are high; ambitious projects can either soar or sink a small company. Crowdfunding offers a lifeline, allowing these creators to secure funding upfront, gauge interest, and accurately plan their production runs without risking their financial stability. It's a safety net that enables creativity to flourish, even in a landscape where every dollar counts.

In essence, Kickstarter is more than a funding mechanism; it's a community-building tool that fosters collaboration, innovation, and support across the creative spectrum. Whether you're a publishing titan or a small indie team, crowdfunding platforms offer a space to dream big, with the community's backing making those dreams a reality.


The Boomerang Effect

Another long-standing trend that continued in 2023: the remarkable return rate of comics creators. Over half of the comics creators who successfully funded their projects in 2023 circled back to launch another project within just a year of their previous one.

This pattern highlights a significant advantage of crowdfunding: the ability to publish more frequently and maintain a direct, ongoing relationship with your audience. Traditional publishing routes, with their longer timelines and various gatekeepers, can't match this level of interaction or speed to market. Kickstarter not only bridges this gap but also strengthens the creator-audience bond with every new project.

Moreover, we're committed to enhancing this connection. We provide creators with insights into where their backers are coming from and create pathways for continued engagement after a campaign ends. This direct line of communication allows creators to effectively market their next projects, ensuring a loyal following is always ready and waiting for their next launch.

This trend reflects a vibrant ecosystem where creators can build their community from project to project. .

See the trend in action: Slice of Life - Anime Action Adventure #1 by Kat Calamia (Lifeline Comics) | HISMWTC 1-2: And Other Tales Of My Freshman Year by Charlie Stickney | VIXX THE HUNTER #1 - A Thrilling Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy by Pat Shand

Closing Thoughts

The future of Comics on Kickstarter is bright. Later this year, we’ll welcome a new, full-time lead for the category, bringing the promise of a fresh perspective that will inspire continued growth in Comics. 

With a new Comics leader paired with the relentless creativity and support within this community, Kickstarter will continue to be a place where the unique, the bold, and the imaginative can thrive. 

We’re excited about how far we’ve come and are looking forward to what’s next. We hope you will join us as we continue to build this community.

With tens of thousands of creative projects launched on Kickstarter every year, this platform is a thermometer for the trends bubbling up across the creative community. Kickstarter's Creative Download is an editorial series where our category experts share the trends they saw from the previous year and give us a peek at what they think is on the horizon.