TOP 5 KICKSTARTERS OF AUGUST 2021

Indie and self-published comics are in a bit of a renaissance right now as the major comics powerhouses are on the decline and tools for independent creators are becoming much more plentiful and accessible. As a result, comic readers can find whatever niche comic they want to read just by going to Kickstarter and pitching in a few bucks to whatever suits their fancy.


But, with over 10,000 projects* running at any given point in time, how does the average reader find the right Kickstarter to support? Hopefully, this article will help narrow things down, starting with...


Side-Kicked, Issue #7 Cover by Portilla & Pirchiner, Self published

#5 SIDE-KICKED, ISSUES #1-7

Writer: Russell Brettholtz

Artists: Andre Portilla & Quepler Pirchiner

Campaign Ends: August 20th

Status: Fully funded, halfway to stretch goal


PITCH:

Sick and tired of being disrespected by the superheroes they work with, taken for granted by the general public, and ignored by the media, the sidekicks of Chicago WENT ON STRIKE...


The strike is over. The sidekicks have teamed up with some of the heroes they formerly worked with creating Chicago's first super-team. An alien threat has proven too much for the new team to handle, but will the arrival of a government-sponsored super-team destroy the new status quo the sidekicks fought so hard for? And all the while, the former sidekicks to Chicago's greatest super-villains are consolidating their own power, filling the vacuum left by the imprisonment of their former bosses.


WHY SHOULD I BACK IT?

It can be difficult to find new things to say in the superhero genre. As old as comics itself, it basically defines the medium in the cultural sense and is made for so many different audiences, standing out is nearly impossible. Side-kicked uses its well known tropes, from its polished art style to its bright, primary colors, to talk about important subjects in a new and interesting way. Similar to Villainous, this comic works to explore power imbalances and the idea of unionization in a way that's flatly more interesting than typical superhero fare. If men in tights saving the day is your thing, give this one a go!


#4 FAIRYFAIR, ISSUE #1

Writer: Nick Bryan

Artist: Rosie Alexander

Campaign Ends: September 3rd

Status: 60% funded


PITCH:

The fairy folk finally join the gig economy with new app FairyFare, hiring an army of workers to grant wishes for a reasonable fee. Sisters Phil and Tash Spaight sign up to help make dreams come true, but Tash starts to wonder - do paid favours really improve the world? And why do these fairies want human money anyway?


FairyFare is a new urban-fantasy comic mini-series about magic and money by Nick Bryan & Rosie Alexander, the team behind 2018's The Little Deaths of Watson Tower one-shot, plus separate Kickstarter successes with Nick's 2020 comic And It Snowed and Rosie's 2021 artbook Eros + Venus.


WHY SHOULD I BACK IT?

With a unique, wonky art style and a truly mesmerizing secondary color palette of purples, yellows, and greens, FairyFare is undeniably eye catching. Add to that it's perspective on the gig economy and its interesting take on urban fantasy and it's a project that's easy to get excited about. There's some experimental paneling and sometimes the flow can be a bit confusing to follow, but if you want something different and you like the look of psychedelic, glowlight artwork, I'd definitely back this cool looking project.


Signals, Interior art by Deandra Tan, Self published

#3 SIGNALS, FULL SERIES

Cartoonist: Deandra "Nika" Tan

Campaign Ends: August 26th

Status: Fully funded, $1000 to first stretch goal


PITCH:

When a new client calls on rookie detective Mel Song to find her missing friend, the case promises to be a simple one. After all, Mel has something most other people don't: the ability to read minds. But there is something sinister brewing within New York City's criminal world, and it poses a threat the likes of which Mel has never encountered before.


SIGNALS blends mystery, comedy, romance, and action into a thrilling comic full of twists and turns that mature readers will enjoy. If you've ever wanted to read a story that combines the camp of a pulp fiction thriller with a slick anime aesthetic, this is the series for you.


WHY SHOULD I BACK IT?

Maybe I just need to accept that I have a bias toward purple and green color palettes because I cannot stop looking at this artwork. Signals is a sleekly drawn mystery comic with cool characters, supernatural elements, and a level of shine and polish you don't normally see in web comics. It also gives a significant bang for your buck with an estimated 450 pages, so if you're looking for a comic to get lost in, you might have found it here!


#2 RISE OF THE KUNG FU DRAGON MASTER, VOL. 2

Writer: Chris Mancini

Artist: Fernando Pinto

Campaign Ends: September 5th

Status: 55% funded


PITCH:

When we left Rick, a small time crook in Los Angeles, in Vol 1 he was on his way to becoming an unlikely hero in the mystical battle between good and evil which has been fought since the days of Ancient China. And Rick is an angry, unfocused fight club member who is barely equipped to deal with…well…anything. And that becomes very clear as he begins his journey of "enlightenment" only to see how it may benefit him personally.


Inspired by action, martial arts, comedy and buddy movies I grew up with in the 80's this book is a culmination of all those things and more, like our human connections and the damage violence and anger can bring, wrapped up together in one story. But there are still plenty of epic fights, magic, monsters, dragons, and jokes about entitlement.


WHY SHOULD I BACK IT?

Again, maybe it's just personal bias, but I've been growing more and more excited about comics that celebrate the fun. Rise of the Kung Fu Dragon Master is nothing if not a glorious embrace of the fun, with a gorgeous cartoonish look, solid humor, and a ton of over the top action. It's hard not to get swept up in the shamelssness of it all, and I couldn't ask for anything more.

Final Gamble, Cover by Jorge Santiago, Jr., Band of Bards

#1 FINAL GAMBLE, ISSUE #1

Writer: Bobby Singer

Artist: Jorge Santiago, Jr.

Campaign Ends: September 1st

Status: 90% funded


PITCH:

[The creative team] present a dark social commentary about the grip of predatory society with... FINAL GAMBLE; The Inaugural Project from independent publisher Band of Bards. Blending horror, psychological thrillers, and table top gaming genres FINAL GAMBLE explores the corruption of wealth, the horrors of humanity, and the strength of solidarity.


This 24 page issue follows the misfortunes of gambling addict Danny Lin, and disgraced MMA fighter Jasmeet Khanna who have both fallen on hard times. Owing an enormous amount of money to a loan shark named Mandy, they are offered the chance to save themselves by winning the money they need in a game of poker against her. Unable to work together, the two men are easily defeated.


WHY SHOULD I BACK IT?

Final Gamble is equally interesting in its premise and in the circumstances of its creation. Using surreal visuals, intense angles, and big, figurative lettering, the comic aims to capture the roller coaster of emotions and stakes associated with it's gambling protagonist. This also serves as the debut for Band of Bards, a new publisher that's quickly capturing the attention of the indie comics community with an incredible mission statement and a slate of interesting new properties. Back the project for the amazing quality of the project itself, but be aware that this might be the start of something truly important for indie comics as we know it.


HONORABLE MENTION: PYRE, VOL. 1

Writer: Rob McDonald

Artist: Annie Andrade

Campaign Ends: August 24th

Status: 20% funded


PITCH:

PYRE is a psychological horror in a superhero costume: a character-driven story about abuse, identity, and the family we choose. The first volume (of a projected three to tell the entire story) consists of 40 pages that plunge us into the world of our hero, NORAH KENDRICK.


Hereditary meets Daredevil in this deep dive into the darkest parts of a hero’s journey. But instead of all the women being fridged, they are the heroes of their own stories.


WHY SHOULD I BACK IT?

Rob McDonald's debut comic is sleek, psychological, and dark. The foreboding atmosphere is palpable and the mystery gets its hooks in you in the best possible way. Given that Rob is a contributor for this site, it wouldn't be fair to place Pyre on the list proper, but you should still check it out for yourself. Rob is a talented writer and this campaign needs a lot of love if it's going to get where it needs to go.


FIRST DISCLAIMER: The author of this article has professional relationships with several members of the creative teams of these comics. While he did not feel that those relationships impacted the selection of the campaigns for the purposes of this list, he did feel it necessary to disclose that fact.


*NORMAL DISCLAIMER: Comics are selected from a very large pool of projects, some sent to us for review, some come across on the site itself. We tend to favor first-issue comics by indie creators that haven't already hit their campaign goals 5 times over, so keep that in mind. While we feel this list is representative of projects most worth the time and money of a comic reader, it is by no means exhaustive and there are many, MANY more projects that you can and should explore on Kickstarter.


-Wells Thompson, Content Editor

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