she_changed_comics_kickstarterToday I felt like a change of pace. So instead of drinking tea, I’m going to talk about some interesting book- and tea-themed Kickstarter campaigns that have recently caught my eye.

She Changed Comics

Women are still underrepresented in the comics industry, but that’s changing thanks in large part to the women who came before—the women who changed free expression in comics. These women ventured into unexplored creative territories, opened doors for their contemporaries and those who followed, broadened the scope of comics, and faced down those who would silence them. She Changed Comics tells their story!

In She Changed Comics, we’ll profile more than 60 women whose work changed the landscape of free expression, from the turn of the 20th century to present day, and include new interviews from the women whose work is defining the future of comics.

What do I think of it? This sounds super interesting, and considering the recent news regarding the departure (aka: unceremonious firing that’s got people in an uproar ) of Vertigo editor Shelley Bond, I think it’s worthwhile to support a project like this. Plus, at this point the project has already met its funding target, so there’s no need to worry about it falling through. The only thing that’s keeping me from contributing is that this campaign is in US currency, and if I bought a print edition, I’d have to pay an extra $10 in shipping. The Canadian dollar is in the toilet right now, so it would be pretty expensive to do so.

When does it end? It ends in only 5 days! If you’re considering backing this campaign, do it soon.

Learn more about the campaign for She Changed Comics here.

Tea Journey Magazine

Half the world drank tea today. We intend to double that count.

Kickstarter gives us the opportunity to not only share our tea knowledge but to introduce you to a remarkable artisan tea, the first step in your Tea Journey. These teas come from many different lands to meet every level of interest. There are green and white and exotic selections, each described in detail. Tea, as you will discover, is more than a beverage. It is a cultural experience. Tea Journey establishes a bridge from those who craft handmade teas in 35 countries to the growing number of consumers in the West. It gives an identity to millions of tea workers and an opportunity for them to benefit financially from your purchase of specialty tea.

Tea Journey is a collaborative venture, self-financed by editors, writers, tea consultants, tea educators and tea experts globally. The team is led by Dan Bolton, a veteran magazine editor and publisher who has managed six publishing ventures from multi-nationals to startups (see About Us). Dan travels widely in the tea lands, frequently addresses tea professionals at conferences and writes and commissions hundreds of articles each year for the weekly World Tea News, STiR Tea & Coffee and the Tea Biz blog.

What do I think of it? I’m not impressed. When I look at the description of the campaign above along with the reward levels, I feel utterly confused.

Here’s why: Tea Journey Magazine is a magazine. But how is it described? As a way to “share our tea knowledge [and] to introduce you to a remarkable artisan tea, the first step in your Tea Journey.” This makes it sound like a tea subscription of some sort, rather than a publication.

It’s only until we get five paragraphs in to the description that we understand what the tangible purpose behind this campaign is: “Tea Journey identifies the best tea articles found in Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Hindi and Japanese publications. The staff then translates and ‘retells’ these stories in nuanced English.” (By the way: putting “retells” in quotation marks like that? That sounds super sketchy, like you’re searching for a polite way to say you’re embellishing the truth. When you’re translating something, it’s already assumed that you’ll be doing the work to make the story intelligible and interesting to readers of a different language — there’s no need to do any additional “retelling”.

Even worse, when I look at the backer rewards, I’m utterly mystified. I can pledge $15 and get a “charter subscription” to the magazine plus a canister of tea. But you have to scroll down to the $30 reward level to learn that the phrase “charter subscription” actually means a year-long subscription that contains 3 issues. Oh, and the $30 reward level only gets you a charter subscription plus an acknowledgement in the inaugural issue — what’s the point of that when I can pay half that amount and get the same subscription in addition to a package of tea? Is having your name included in the acknowledgements really worth that much extra?

It’s incomprehensible. Seriously.

Finally, I don’t understand how this company is going to use their funds. They’re asking for $125,000 for three issues of a magazine per year? What plans do they have to sustain the subscriber base to make subsequent years a reality? Plus, that dollar amount sounds like an awful lot to repurpose pre-existing content. It’s only when you scroll further down into the description that you see any mention of there being “custom apps for Apple iOS and Android tablets and phones.” (Mobile apps cost quite a bit of money to make. I should know; I do work with a major telecom company.) But then in the same breath, they say that the people involved in bringing Tea Journeys to life (“writers and photographers, museum curators, scientists, tea retailers and tea masters”) are already financing the project’s web design and custom apps.

So where exactly is the money going? Isn’t it a bit much to expect people who are new to the magazine to pony up over $100,000? Besides, where are the stretch goals? Stretch goals are a great way to drum up enthusiasm for a project, but they make absolutely no appearance here.

When does it end? It’s got 38 days to go. Considering it’s not even 15% funded, I’m not sure if this campaign will meet its goal. My guess is that several other would-be backers have the same reservations as I do.

Learn more about Tea Journey Magazine’s Kickstarter campaign here.

No Sh!t, There I Was – An Anthology of Improbable Tales

Is there a better phrase to start a story than “No Shit, There I Was…”? If you hear someone start with that phrase, you know it’s going to be worth listening carefully. That’s how all the craziest – and most interesting – stories start.

And then we turned a bunch of speculative fiction authors loose on that phrase.

I mean, these stories – whew.  Science fiction. Fantasy. Humor. Even horror. What they came up with is kind of hard to believe.

But no shit, there we were.

What do I think of it? I think this idea sounds fun! However, I must admit I’m biased, as my long-time friend Andrew Barton is a contributor to this anthology, and he’s also offering a short story critique as a backer reward. Even better, the pricing on this is really reasonable — you need to pledge only $5 to get an eBook. So go, go! Give my friend your money!

When does it end? This campaign has 23 days to go, and considering it’s already over 50% funded, this seems like it has a good chance of succeeding. (Good news for Andrew!)

Learn more about the campaign for “No Sh!t, There I Was” here.

So, do any of these Kickstarters strike your fancy? Let me know (or tell me about others!) in the comments.