I just want to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who has signed up for my little experiment in direct audience support. The original explanation for the List can be read here, but in a nutshell: I am trying to keep my cartoon alive and healthy as the ecosystem for which it developed withers away. To survive as an artist in the digital age requires adaptability, and one of the things I’m attempting to do here is, essentially, crowdsource a significant income stream.
There were naysayers, as there always are online, but I’m happy to report that so far it’s been an extraordinary success. Not enough to live on, or anywhere near it, but subscribers to Sparky’s List have become, in aggregate, my second largest client. Which is very, very cool.
The price is $9.99 for six months — a mere pittance compared to literally anything that costs you more than $1.67 a month! What you get in return is a sneak peek of each week’s cartoon, a few days before it appears anywhere else. You also get some rambling thoughts from me on that week’s creative process, including links to source material or other things I might have been reading or thinking about, or maybe explanations of obscure thematic influences. If there’s an early draft of the cartoon that ended up being substantially altered, sometimes I’ll include that.
In the next few months, my friends at Topatoco will be publishing my new book, including a hardbound, signed and numbered collector’s edition of 100. There’s also a plush Sparky doll in the works. When these things are available, I will be giving some of them away at random to Sparky’s List subscribers. The paperback and plush Sparky will also be available at a pre-order discount to members of the List, and I believe the plan is to make the hardbound edition available first to List subscribers, before it’s offered for sale publicly. Which means, depending on the level of interest among List subscribers, it may never be available for sale publicly.
Most of all, what Sparky’s List provides is the very strong likelihood that my cartoon will survive the travails of the print-to-digital transition. It is effectively a Kickstarter for my ongoing work, an NPR pledge drive without the tote bags. And I am, in all honesty, humbled and grateful every single time I get an email informing me that somebody new has signed up.
I don’t have a salaried job, or a think tank sinecure, and I’m not counting on winning a MacArthur. What I’ve got is you guys.
You can join SPARKY’S LIST here.
(…adding: related thoughts from subscriber @Medley, here.)