People backing a comic book on Indiegogo are not customers. They may like to think of themselves as customers, but they aren’t. They’re backers. What’s the difference? A lot.
When you buy a comic on Amazon or InStockTrades, you are exchanging money for a product. That product is a comic book. This exchange is basic e-commerce. In that sense, you are very much indeed a customer.
A problem arises when people apply this same e-commerce concept to Indiegogo. I’ve been guilty of this myself. The difference is — and it’s a major difference — is that when you back a campaign on IndieGoGo, you’re donating to support a project. You are not buying a comic book.
On IndieGoGo, the goal of any comic book campaign to make a comic book, not for you to get a copy of the comic. An actual copy of the comic is what’s called a perk. On Indiegogo, perks are not guaranteed.
Legally, comic creators on Indiegogo are under no obligation to actually send out comics.
Crowdfunding is not shopping
When you donate to a comic book project on IndieGoGo, you must agree to a contract before any payment is made. Here’s is the contract you must agree to when donating to Iron Sights #2, a comic by controversial YouTuber Richard C. Meyer.
When you agree to this contract, you are agreeing that your donation is not guaranteed to result in you getting a copy of the comic. In this case, a copy of Iron Sights #2. That’s not to say Meyer will not send backers a comic. I’m sure he will. What I’m saying is he is not legally obligated to do so. Read the contract.
Even if he goes on YouTube and says he will make sure his backers have a comic by a certain date, he’s not legally obligated to do that. His statement would fall outside the contract agreed to when the donation was made.
Any statement that contradicts a written contract would need to be memorialized in a written contract. Oral contracts are perfectly legal except when they attempt to amend a written contract. Checking a box on a website is considered the same as a written contract. An oral contract cannot amend a written contract. Furthermore, the contract is between the backer and IndieGoGo, not the backer and Richard C. Meyer.
Again, I’m not saying Richard C. Meyer will stiff his backers because legally he can actually do that. If he failed to send backers a copy of Iron Sights #2, his days of being a professional comic book writer would be over. For him to do something like that would be comic book career suicide. I would put more trust in Meyer fulfilling perks with a crowdfunding project than I would any other comic book creator. In most cases, if a project goes south, and they sometimes do, a creator can leave crowdfunding behind and pursue work in comics in a more traditional way. Because of Meyer’s reputation in the industry, deservedly or not, he doesn’t have that choice.
If Meyer wants to be a professional comic book creator, crowdfunding is just about his only option.
What I am saying is he can take his sweet time sending backers comics.
When you read the contract people must agree to when making a donation to Iron Sights #2, the January 2020 delivery date is only an estimation. Plus, when you read the ToS backers must confirm they understand before making a payment, perks (comics) are not even guaranteed.
Before backing a comic on Indiegogo, consider the risks
Personally, I’m not going to back anything on Indiegogo again. When I buy a comic online, I want to actually buy a comic, not make a donation towards a campaign that may or may not result in me getting a comic.
Although backing a comic on Indiegogo works for a lot of people, the concept doesn’t work for me.