Last week on Kickstarter, a project to fund a fully-colored complete hardcover printing of Danielle Corsetto’s ten year long Reuben Award winning webcomic, “Girls With Slingshots.” Released through the Chicago-based indie comic publisher Iron Circus Comics, the project debuted with a goal of $50,000, and has already passed $162,000 in funds raised. We reached out to Ms. Corsetto about the Kickstarter success, bringing the entirety of her decade long comic to print, and working with Iron Circus Comics.
For those not in the know, could you explain the concept of “Girls With Slingshots?”
“Girls With Slingshots,” is a webcomic I created in 2004 and ended in 2015. It’s mostly focused on BFFs Hazel and Jamie – living through that time in your twenties between college and career, when you’re broke and a little lost. They’re an unlikely pair, Hazel generally being a sarcastic grump, and Jamie being the bubbly/friendly type. But they’re inseparable, and guide one another as they pick through years of self-exploration. The themes range from booze to friendship to sexual subcultures, love and lust, dream jobs and nightmare jobs, family, and forgiveness. And a lot of cats.
Did you expect your comic would run for ten years?
I definitely didn’t expect the strip to run for as long as it did, or to become my full-time job. I’d been writing and drawing comics strips since I was eight, it was my first love. So when I got out of college I decided to start a webcomic with regular update days so that I’d “have,” to keep making comics. I saw it as good practice and cheap advertising for my writing, artwork, and (really bad) HTML and CSS skills. I wanted to eventually make my living as a freelancer in any of those areas. I didn’t think the comic would take off as well as it did, and three years after I started it, I put out my first collection of GWS and devoted myself to the comic, updating five times a week.
DL: Why did you decide to bring your webcomic to print?
A couple of years ago, thanks to profits from my first successful Kickstarter actually, I hired my former intern (colorist and artist, Laeluu) to color the first thousand strips of GWS, which were originally in black-and-white. She spent over a year bringing the strips to life, finishing them sometime last year. I planned to re-release the strips in a big color book, to show off her work.
As a fellow completionist, I can relate to the frustration of GWS fans who have holes in their GWS soft covers. All of the strips have already been released in ten softcover books, but several of them are out of print or hard to find. I decided I’d rather make the entire GWS story easy to buy all at once (which was Spike [Trotman, publisher of Iron Circus]’s idea, actually) than to continue making people buy the complete series piecemeal.
Your Kickstarter just surpassed $152,000 in funds. What are your thoughts?
Y’know, I’m thrilled by the campaign’s fast success, but I have to admit, after running a couple of these campaigns myself, I only let myself get cautiously excited! There are all these constantly-varying factors throughout a Kickstarter campaign, so a lot of it is spent planning things like, “how many books should we have printed in total,” and “how many days will it take for me to sign all of these?” instead of congratulatory back-patting. I never let myself get too excited until the dust has settled!
My main reaction has been relief, knowing that the hard work of the several people involved in this project – our designer and my publisher – will be paid off. Usually, I’m doing these projects on my own, so if I make a bad call, or we don’t get many orders after all; I’m the only one who’s affected by it. I’m so glad my readers want these books to be made just as badly as I do; they’re helping prove my worth to everyone else on the project!
What is it like working with Iron Circus Comics and its publisher, Spike Trotman?
Spike and I have known each other for probably a decade now – we both got our start in early webcomics together. I’ve watched her progress from a name in webcomics to a bigger name as a publisher (all the while becoming even better at writing and drawing too, which is completely unfair). When I was strapping in to hunt for a traditional publisher – because I want these books to have proper distribution, which I can’t do alone – Spike and I happened to both be guests and table neighbors at the same convention, and I asked her off-the-cuff if she’d be interested in publishing them for me.
And it’s proving to be the best move. In addition to mutual excitement over the GWS books, Spike’s contracts with her creators are the most fair and considerate I’ve seen. I think our only problem so far is forgetting how competent we both are in this business! Last week, I emailed Spike in a controlled panic, saying “Okay, I know we’re not ready to launch on Monday, we need to push back the campaign, we’re gonna push it back, right?” And her response was, “Nope, it’s still on for Monday, we’ve got everything under control.” I’m used to doing everything myself, so I’d forgotten that Spike has way more experience with Kickstarter campaigns than I do. And I think Spike forgot that I’m used to being in charge, so I need to be looped into their progress so I could sleep at night!
Do you have any future projects in the works?
Since GWS ended, I’ve missed making comics, so I started a little autobio webcomic called Stuck at 32. I’m 90 percent sure I’ll start a collaboration with a close friend of mine in the form of another webcomic (I’ll just be writing it) next year. And I’ve been slowly plucking away at a graphic novel that takes place in my small town of Sheperdstown, WV, though it’ll be years before that’s done. It feels so good to be creating again.
Thanks Danielle for taking the time to speak with Third Coast Review, and best of luck with publishing the “Girls With Slingshots,” Complete Set!