Friday, July 6, 2018

John Klossner's Whale-to-Whale Resuscitation

I never support Kickstarter projects. Don't hate me. I have this old-fashioned idea that if you give money to help launch a venture of some sort then you should own a share in that venture. The vast majority of arts projects on Kickstarter don't ever generate significant revenue, of course, and that's fine, but I can't see giving money to someone else's project and having them maintain full ownership. That would never pass muster on "Shark Tank" and it doesn't work with me.

Instead of a share in the business, what Kickstarter offers supporters is a gift, sometimes just a trinket, a reward of some sort that can be scaled into something more desirable the more money you pledge. Some of these rewards are very tempting, but overall I've observed that the rewards are pegged to pledges roughly double what their market value should be. The idea is that the remaining money goes to support the project. Well and good, if that's okay with you.

The Kickstarter campaign for the book Lobster Therapy & Moose Pick-Up Lines: Cartoons from Maine (2018) launched by Mike Lynch was very specific about where the money would be used. The campaign reads, "A book of Maine cartoons by magazine gag cartoonists who live in Maine. The campaign will help with paying them." That's rather blunt. Maybe this explains why there are so few cartoon books being published these days: cartoonists who put out collections aren't being paid much for all of their efforts. That's a real shame.

Unmoved as I am by Kickstarter, I was impressed nonetheless by the inclusion of an original New Yorker cartoon in the campaign. It is by John Klossner, one of the five artists involved in the book project, and it is not reproduced in the book. Offered for the top pledge of "$600 or more," it's a delightful rendition of an idea which many a reasonable person would not consider drawable. I am intrigued—as only I can be—to report that the hyphens in Whale-to-Whale Resuscitation were added late in the editorial process (they do not appear on the original), just as the hyphen in the book's title was added at the last minute. What is it about Maine cartoonists and hyphens?

The upshot is that no one pledged the $600 for the New Yorker cartoon and the Kickstarter campaign made it only a third of the way to its $5,000 goal. That renders all the campaign pledges null and void. I've made it clear that I'm no fan of Kickstarter, but I am a fan of cartoons, and it saddens me just a bit that five talented cartoonists couldn't pick up an extra grand each for all their inspired efforts.

John Klossner
Whale to Whale Resuscitation
Published as Whale-to-Whale Resuscitation

Original art
The New Yorker, April 27, 2017, page 65
"Lobster Therapy" Maine Cartoon Book by Maine Cartoonists
Campaign ended May 19, 2018


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