CreepyPasta Comic Kickstarter: What Went Wrong?

Alright, alright… before I say anything, I need to confess something for the sake of remaining honest in all of this. I am responsible for the audio and video production for the animated portion of this project mentioned down below, and all the short promo animations used at the ends of the other promo videos.

I placed the music and sounds, edited the audio, and assembled the animation using the comic art and voice lines Vincent and Mr. CreepyPasta (MCP) provided me with. To be clear: I didn’t have complete directorial control over this project, but I did lend my thoughts, and they provided direction where it was needed.

I was only on board to work on the videos, and was completely unaware of the situation I’m about to detail until a few days ago.

There is a price to pay for these following words. I am met with the decision of speaking up or remaining silent, and I’ve realized that remaining silent in this situation will make things far worse. This needs to be out there, because I believe it’s the truth—and it’s for the better of everyone who can learn from this.

In May of 2016, a Kickstarter project was launched for a CreepyPasta Comic Book featuring full-color artwork by Chris “Oz” Fulton, Bleeding Heartworks, and Teo Gonzales. The project was created and written by author Vincent V. Cava and voice talent Mr. Creepypasta, and in my personal opinion, looked totally kickass with the teaser art they showed on there.

creepypasta_original.jpg

This comic promised two original horror stories in one forty-eight page issue—one of which based on the popular “Rake” creature spread from forum to forum across the internet.

Their original goal to fund the comic was $6,666, and by the end of the campaign they managed to raise over triple that—totaling $22,842 (before you remove taxes and Kickstarter fees I assume.) For those who pledged, they offered some neat rewards in the form of merchandise, bonus material, limited run items, books, and even more. One of the stretch goals they passed at $15,000 was for an animated motion comic. We’ll get back in a little bit.

The “Risks and challenges” section at the bottom of the Kickstarter page says this:

Of course life can sometimes cause delays, but we have taken precautions to ensure that the comic comes out on time. The book has already been written and pencils have been completed. Over half of it has been inked and we’ve already begun on getting it colored. We have partnered with Backerkit to make sure the shipping and orders run as smoothly as possible. We’re leaving nothing to chance!

The month listed for the backer rewards being shipped was October 2016. Time passes. October surveys are given for backers to fill out. November arrives, and no more updates are to be found. Then on the 3rd of the month, this announcement surfaces:

Sorry about the delay everyone!  Big apologies for not getting the rewards out by October.  We were given a BIG last minute job to work with Starz and the cast of Ash VS The Evil Dead that we couldn’t pass up.

We know you guys are absolutely rabid to read the comic though and the GOOD NEWS is that you’ll get your hands on it very soon.  We’re aiming to get the digital rewards out this week.  That means you’ll be receiving a PDF of the comic that you can read on your, phone, desktop, or tablet; exclusive wallpaper; and original creepy music.  You early birds will also be getting your behind the scenes digital exclusives as well.

As for the rest of the rewards.  Rest assured, we will be working to get it out this month.  The comic is finished.  All we need to do is print and ship!  We thank you for your patience.  We’re sorry about missing Oct, but we don’t plan on letting you wait much longer.

That seems to be a fair enough response. Projects happen, life happens, I’m sure all of us can relate to that. They promised they’d have everything ready in November, and things would be smooth sailing. On November 5th, they updated again announcing the release of the digital rewards, ending with:

Expect another update from us next week about the rest of the rewards!

From here the project creators enter silence on the Kickstarter page all the way until March 1st 2017—nearly five whole months of silence. They apologize and announce that they’re shipping rewards the following Monday. It’s too bad if you weren’t following MrCreepypasta on Twitter, because in December you would have seen this:

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 11.10.47 PM

The comments that Kim is referring to above, are all the backers left in the dark wondering where their rewards are. These complaints and questions span all the way from November, to as late as June or July 2017 on the project comments page.

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 11.16.13 PM.png

By the look of it, it was only until a few other backers started linking to MCP’s tweets that people got an update of what was going on.

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There’s no way to see if MCP or Vincent directly messaged any of these supporters and addressed their questions, but by all appearances, it looks like a lot of people have been ignored. This could’ve easily been avoided. No matter what the circumstances surrounding the delays was, all of this anger and mystery could’ve been relieved by improving communication. Instead they allowed trust to be lost and anger to build in the silence and mismanagement—even though the backers did receive their rewards.

But that’s not where this ends.

As I write this, it’s currently April 11th 2018—four days after the comic has been officially released as ebook and hardcover editions on Amazon. Leading up to this release (and on the day of,) MCP and Vincent promoted the comic with new videos. If you’ve seen the original Kickstarter pitch video from May 2016, this video from Vincent’s twitter page may shock you.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good funny skit. I appreciate and respect someone who can laugh at themselves and not take things too seriously all the time. In fact, I got a good laugh out of seeing this. You can tell they were having fun. There’s another promo video on MCP’s youtube channel that’s a little more focused, but is ultimately just for laughs with some promotion glued on.

rakememe.jpg
Comic art meme from Vincent’s Twitter page.

The problem with this is that it doesn’t look like they’re taking the project very seriously. Even looking at their latest tweets, they’ve memed their own comic art for the project (either in the hopes of making it a viral meme that will spread, or trying to just make the whole thing look like a joke, it’s hard to tell,) but it really doesn’t help with them looking like they’re not serious. Granted, I added a little meme of my own all in good fun, but since then the memes have gotten out of hand. Again, it’s a good laugh, but what does that really communicate to readers?

The original Kickstarter video was great because it was professional and still showed personality—and most important of all—capability to produce the project. These latest videos clearly didn’t have as much effort or thought put into them. In the original video they state that this is a “dream come true” for them to be making a comic—being comic fans themselves.

Personally I wished they had made mention of the journey. I wish they had talked about everything it took to create the book and publish it, and mentioned the feelings of accomplishment having made their dream a reality. That was a critical part of their crowdfunding campaign, and now here we are with this lack of resolution in the air.

This was their chance to follow up and show donors the impact they made (other than just giving them their merchandise.) For everyone excited for this project, this could have felt like a huge HUZZAH! moment. But other than the frustration of fans left in the dark, it doesn’t feel like much of a journey was had—even though I know for a fact there was. Any project like this is a journey.

The last video created for the comic came out April 7th, and featured the aforementioned motion comic that was promised for Kickstarter backers. It was in the mix of rewards given to certain tiers of backers. Did they personally receive a copy of the video? I’m not sure. The impression I got reading about it on the Kickstarter page was that this was supposed to be exclusive to backers, but it’s vague enough to where I can’t say for sure. In any case, you can watch the video in its entirety on YouTube.

Something you’ll notice right away is the acting. Everyone featured in this production does a good job, but Raven Lavina’s performance as Jill (our heroine for this story,) is stilted and in contrast to the rest of the cast. It’s a performance that shows much less experience and learned instinct that actors develop over time. Let me be clear: I’m not hating on Raven, and I don’t mean to discourage or scold in what I say. In fact I can relate to her. Voice acting is hard and takes a lot of practice; in my experience as a voice talent, I’ve experienced plenty of disappointment in my own capabilities, and a desire to do better. This was her first time playing a character for a project like this, so I don’t blame her for the results being what they were.

Scrolling down into the comments of the video, there’s a unanimous opinion stated over and over.

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 1.17.11 AM.png

Digging deeper, you see even more comments where viewers state their dissatisfaction with the acting—almost to the point where it seems that’s the only thing the viewers are taking away from this. Raven has since responded to many of these comments, and she’s handled them with tact and self-awareness. Dare I say it, she’s looked better coming out of this whole thing than anyone else. She addressed the response with grace and good humor—something other creatives can take notes from.

The team was well aware of the video they were posting, and they were fine posting the final version as-is. There was time for further changes to be made if they wanted them.

Another question that has come up is in regards to the stretch goal for the motion comic. If I’m doing my math correctly, they had to raise an extra $8,000 to fund the video. That isn’t to say they explicitly said “to make the video will cost an extra $8,000,” but that begs the question “If the video doesn’t cost $8,000 to make… where’s all that money going?” The whole point of the stretch goal was to raise money to do more things with the comic. I can assure the fans that I was compensated with an amount that I agreed to, but it wasn’t $8,000—not even close to that amount.

comic01.pngcomic02.png

As for everyone else involved with the animation, were the voice actors paid for their lines, no matter how short? Even so, would all of that commission work total out to $8,000? Having worked with voice actors and working as one myself, I highly doubt this—not for a video this short anyway. I wish freelance voice acting paid that well.

The point of mentioning this is that it’s unclear where the money is specifically going. All the Kickstarter page really says is:

Our artist fees alone for this project will cost us a minimum of $5,000.

That’s in reference for the actual artwork used in the comic book, and not anything else. Beyond that, it’s ambiguous. From the outside looking in, there is no way to see what amount of money has gone where, and I would be concerned if I was backing this project with my own wallet. I’ve seen other Kickstarter campaigns use pie charts and percentages to create a picture of how funds are separated out. This would have meant avoiding any possible confusion.

After talking in private with close friends, some have pointed out issues with the comic art as well. That’s not to say it’s bad all the way through, but there are points where the final product has blatant issues that the creators didn’t bother addressing. These two panels here are the the best example of this:

blood-textures.png

Does something look off to you? Maybe not at a quick glance. The blood in the top panel is stylistic, but effective. Clearly it was inked into the panel with the rest of the line work. Then you look down and see quite a difference; the blood in the bottom panel appears to be applied to the artwork with a spatter-textured brush, and looks far too detailed and inconsistent with all the rest of the art.

There are other problems with continuity you’ll be able to spot. Earlier in this same scene, the Rake gives Andy a scratch on his face before escaping out a bedroom window. In all the other panels that follow, the scratch seems to have disappeared from his cheek—even in the above panels (although that’s a little more forgivable since the angle of the camera wouldn’t reveal much of it.)

Correcting these errors wouldn’t have taken long. Since this artwork was created digitally, it’s as easy as ditching the brushed blood layers and drawing in what’s needed along with a color fill. Leaving this as is just looks lazy—and I’m not blaming the artists here. It was MCP and Vincent’s responsibility to make sure everything was in order. I can already hear the words “good enough” playing out in my forethought, and that’s just sad. Seeing this gives the impression that there were things more important than the quality of the product.

Really, at the heart of all these problems is a lack of communication—and an apparent “whatever” mentality that accepts second-rate work. The communication that has happened has been poorly managed as far as anyone looking into this can tell, and it looks bad. Really bad. The fans are justified in being disappointed. All this extra delay and there’s still glaring issues in the final project? Ultimately it was MCP and Vincent’s decisions that lead this to where it is.

What I’m about to say is addressed to Vincent and MCP directly.

Both of you can do better. I’m not saying these things because I want to drum up bad blood, because I want to fight you, or because I’ve lost my mind and want to burn down all bridges. I’m saying this from one creative to another, man to man, that I respect you enough to tell you where things have gone wrong. If you continue down the path you are going now, the future isn’t going to look very good. You can treat your fans better. These people were kind enough to hand you their money because they believed in your project, and they deserve better than to be left in the dark and given material with cut corners. People aren’t going to want to work with you if they get the impression that you don’t care. And that’s the signal you’re sending.

Right now you have a choice to make a change and do what’s better for yourself and others. I challenge both of you to really look at things and determine what your ambitions are. Remind yourselves why you started creating things in the first place. You can make this the most important learning experience in your career if you seek it out. I don’t believe that to be so unreasonable. What has happened has already happened, but things don’t have to get worse from here. You can shoot for the stars or say “eh, whatever.” The choice is yours.

For everyone else this is a cautionary tale. It’s what to avoid when running a crowdfunding project. This is a warning for those who wish to support their favorite creators—a warning to exercise caution. Most important of all, it’s about being honest. Creators who want to move forward need to be radically honest with their audience. They need to challenge themselves and try for those crazy ideas that may seem impossible.

For those who may feel inclined to send hate towards anyone involved in this project, I plead for you not to. You have a choice to bring people up or take them down with your words, and I don’t need to explain which one is better. But if there’s something to demand, it’s for what’s right, and for answers. Demand the best out of people.

The way forward is up to you.

UPDATE – 04/15/2018:

Since looking this problem straight in the eye, it has become clear the only way things will get better is if people speak out. If you are upset with what has happened relating to this project or others, I can’t stress how important it is to speak your mind and plead for change. Ask for transparency about the numbers, and demand answers to the questions still hanging in the air.

From the response I have received personally, it doesn’t look like things will improve on their own. To be clear, all of what has happened above was enough for me to decide I will no longer be working with MCP or Cava in any form. This has been a detestable situation in my eyes, and I would not encourage anyone to associate with or accept this behavior on the creator’s parts.

You saying what you feel is right is so important—even if it puts you at risk for backlash and controversy. Silence is dangerous because it lets problems go on, and gives the people responsible more power to do so. Stand up for what’s right, and whatever you do, don’t give up.

One thought on “CreepyPasta Comic Kickstarter: What Went Wrong?

  1. Abysmii

    I’m not surprised at all. MCP built his channel and income on reading other people’s words set to other people’s music under other people’s artwork. He doesn’t create anything himself besides amalgamations of existing content. It’s no shock to me that he was satisfied with whatever first draft he got.

    I’m a little surprised at Cava, you would think he would double check this stuff. I know I would.

    I really appreciate you coming forward with this information.

    Like

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