Friday, April 20, 2012

Kickstarting the Image Revolution

Earlier tonight -- though I guess it would be earlier this morning by the time this is posted -- I put out a call for donations for Patrick Meaney's upcoming "Comics in Focus: The Image Revolution" documentary. I said I would match whatever donations were made within the hour, up to $500.

I was happy to do it. (As I write this now, and the clock is running down on the hour, it looks like I will end up matching $245 in donations.) Even though I have old ties with Sequart, the gang behind the documentary, and got my start in comics punditry writing for a now-defunct version of their website, I heard about the documentary the same time everyone else did when it was announced on Kickstarter (though maybe I guessed it a little earlier than most, with Mike Phillips's Andre Agassi references on Twitter, and my ability to plumb the depths of Professor Phillips's subtle mind.)

Because I know Patrick, and I was a talking head in the Grant Morrison documentary, I will likely get a chance to provide some historical context on camera for the Image doc. But that's not why I donated money to help fund the project.

I also find myself increasingly fascinated with Image Comics, and early Image comic books specifically. My interest in that era predates the current retro-enthusiasm generated by the excellent work guys like Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell and Brandon Graham and Friends are doing on the relaunched Extreme titles. Basically, as corporate comics become more obviously manufactured products pumped out into the marketplace, it's fun to go back and look at the early Image books and see a bunch of young guys making marks on paper and churning out things to entertain themselves and their fans.

Many of the early Image comics aren't good by what I used to call my objective standards of comics criticism. But I'm less and less interested in that -- pulling myself away from doing traditional reviews has been healthy in that regard -- and more and more interested in seeing weird images and offbeat narrative choices that may not even be in the best interest of the stories being told. The imperfections, writ large, are endearing. I genuinely love them. And the fact that the Image founders shook up the industry, that's a monumental event. But that's not why I donated money to help fund the project.

I donated money to help fund the project because I know how Patrick and the guys at Sequart operate. I know Julian Darius and Mike Phillips (and friends) have constantly invested their own money into projects, before even asking for a penny from anyone else. I know for a fact that I was paid royalties on my books before those guys even made any kind of reasonable profit from the sales. They reinvested whatever money came out of those early book projects to fund other books, and, later, movies, that had no real shot of making any kind of money. They did it to get more people involved. To grow the brand, not to become rich, but because they wanted more people to say and write and direct cool, interesting things about comic books.

So, know this, if you're ever faced with donating to help a Sequart or a Patrick Meaney project: the money goes right into helping make the project happen, along with whatever personal money everyone involved can scrape together. And they will do right by you, because that's just how those guys are.

And with your help, with all of our help, they can keep producing interesting books and films and websites and whatever else they think we might like to see. And they will do it because they love it.

The Image Comics documentary Kickstarter ends in a few days. Donate if you have the chance. If not, keep your eyes peeled for whatever they have coming up next. It will be worth your time, for sure.