When the creators of a webcomic can’t come into terms with several networks for a possible TV show, they ditched the whole idea of having a network-run cartoon and decided to crowdsource. Crazy right? No one in their right minds would turn down a TV deal worth hundreds of thousands and just solicit support from the public. No one would ever pass up the chance to turn their comedic genius into money, just because they don’t want to sacrifice their brand of comedy. Call it selling out, but getting a lot of money for your creativity is just fair game for many.
But not for the guys at Cyanide & Happiness: with a long-running web comic, they simply can’t see their pride and joy get watered down on TV. Their daily six-panel strips are golden, and the occasional short story animation makes their website worth the regular visit. With an avid following, it didn’t take long for TV networks to set their eyes on their work. They were getting offers left and right, but while it is really tempting to take the deal and run to the bank, it’s hard to give up their creative freedom on the project that they really love.
So with animation as their next logical move, they took their cause to Kickstarter, a place where independent artists, startups, and other creative minds can get financial support for the public. Backers can pledge a certain amount for a project, in return for something exclusive; say for example, a limited edition copy of a game or gadget, or a chance to appear in one of the episodes of a show. Cyanide & Happiness’ Kickstarter for example, offered limited merchandise, artwork, and even "bar crawls" with the creators. So aside from the actual support for a product, backers also consider the benefits of parting with their money on a Kickstarter project.
So, did it work?
When the Cyanide & Happiness Show’s Kickstarter was launched, a $250,000 goal was set by the creators as the minimum amount that they can work on to create an eight-episode season. In less than a day after launching the Kickstarter page, more than half of the goal was already reached. It only took two days for them to reach 250k, and by the third day, they’re already talking about their stretch goals, of the additional stuff they’ll give away once the pledged money reaches certain amounts. As of this writing, they have $427,969 from 8,497 backers. They’re now giving away a plushy and an animated flip book for some of their backers.
Suffice to say, their Kickstarter project was a big success, and turning to crowdsourced support was the right step for the Cyanide & Happiness team. Not only will they be able to take their web comic to another level, they’ll also have enough money to support more of their creative plans in the future. The backers don’t leave empty handed: those who donated at least $15 gets a season pass, an account that lets them download each video DRM-free, as well as other contents that they can enjoy from the new show.
With the success of the Cyanide & Happiness Kickstarter, it is easy to see how the Internet really changed the way we see things. It proved that they don’t need support from big TV networks for them to take their ideas to a new level. Mobile banking, online transactions, VoIP phone service, and independent project funding are just some of the ways that the Internet changed the way we see things. It gave us the alternative to do something differently, or even more effectively.