Kickstarter is a site where those with a dream, a work ethic, and a plan can find funding from those with anything from 1$ to 1,000,000,000$ to spare. From funny to touching to inspiring, the projects on Kickstarter represent the great American Dream gone viral. By offering “perks” to those who donate and regular updates, project creators build relationships with their investors. On the other side of the equation, making a donation feels good. Contributors watch as the countdown to the due date for funding approaches and cheer on the projects, while creators feel a growing sense of connection and gratitude toward those who have helped them out.
The most recent Kickstarter Project to get our attention was not one we had to stumble across by chance. Menachem Luchins sent an e-mail asking if we would be willing to contribute to and/or publicize his campaign for Escape Pod Comics in New York City. While skeptical of whether a comic shop in a city far, far away could offer something unique enough to pique our interest, we went to the link he provided and began to read his manifesto. We were sold on Mr. Luchins and his crazy dream before we even finished reading the project homepage, even before watching the video that puts a face to the unusual name. We encourage you to read through the painstakingly written description, updates and perk descriptions for yourself, but here are the three things that ultimately pushed us to not only donate, but to promote this project.
1. The Mission Statement:
Far from just a store, Escape Pod is a place for the people of New York and all the denizens of the web to come together for signings, workshops and other events. A place to learn about current and classic comic books, as well as the history of the medium and the complex process involved in creating graphic stories.
The proposed schedule of classes include bi-weekly drawing classes (both Life Drawing and comic creation) and monthly comic history classes, many of which will be all-ages.
Bex and I both love this mission statement. For me, during my 11 years teaching high school, my colleagues and I would often talk about what we would do if we could open a school of our own, building a curriculum from scratch. One of the common themes we were all excited by is “authentic learning,” which is just a needlessly fancy way of saying, “getting kids to learn through exploration, practice, teaching, and producing products rather than memorization for a test.” Mr. Luchins’ description of Escape Pod Comics, both in the mission statement and throughout his Kickstarter page, sounds like authentic learning of the best kind – the kind where no one gets graded at the end; the kind that comes from being a part of a community of learners doing it for fun.
2. The Perks – While the perks provided on Kickstarer projects are intended as small tokens of appreciation for donations, Luchins has come up with some really great stuff for those who support his project…and he had some help from none other than Neil Gaiman and Mr. Gaiman’s Twitter followers. Having asked what perks folks would like to see on a project for a new comic book store, he got more than he had bargained for after a re-tweet from NeilHimself, as Twitter users know him. You can read the whole story in the update linked to below. It’s a fun one!
Most of the perks are one of a kind, often signed, artwork, giving contributors the feeling of getting something truly special in return for their donation. (For those of you who have been with us a while, you will remember that our first big break in the online world also came from Neil Gaiman, when he tweeted about our Sandman Re-Read last Spring. For this reason, we feel a particularly strong connection to this part of his story).
3. Menachem Luchins – Mr. Luchins has backed 23 Kickstarter projects in the last 15 months or so. We like this about him. Clearly he is someone who is as willing to help others as he is willing to ask for help from them. In short, he is a true believer. If you don’t believe us, take his words for it.
If you are unfamiliar with how Kickstarter works, click here to read all about the process of donating. We understand many of our readers would likely never get to shop at Escape Pod Comics in New York City, but who knows how far the idea could spread if it’s a hit? As one commenter says about this project, “I want this store to exist.” So do we.
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