Czap Books takes a big step: my thoughts and a short interview with the publisher

Kickstarter is becoming more and more a part of
alternative and independent publishing for comics. Anthologies and collections
of webcomics have been running successful Kickstarter projects for some time
now, and Iron Circus Comics in particular does a majority of its fundraising
through Kickstarter.

There is a recent trend, likely generated by the
folks at 2dcloud, to crowdfund not just single books, but entire collections of
books. We’ve seen this with Pow Pow Press, Paper Rocket Comics, and Peow! Press,
to name a few. Kevin Czap of Czap Books is the latest publisher to throw their
hat into this specific ring
, with a new Kickstarter project to fund the
publication of three new projects, the collected and completed Witchlight
from Jessi Zabarsky, a new comic from Kelly Kwang called don’t tell me not
to worry (i’ll worry all i want)
, and the continuation of Liz Suburbia’s
award-winning Sacred Heart via a new personal anthology series Egg
Creme #1

I love the idea of publishing collections of books. They do a lot of things simultaneously. Even if a buyer/supporter isn’t into everything the publisher is doing, they are more likely to find something they like and want to support. Collections give publishers a way to deliver on a specific aesthetic choice or unifying theme while publishing a larger body of work.

I think all of the work in the 2017 Collection is worth your attention; the creators involved in this project have done amazing work in the past. Kelly Kwang’s issue of Frontier is a real treat, Liz Suburbia’s work is consistently amazing (Sacred Heart was one of my favorite books last year), and Jessi Zabarsky’s Witchlight has been a not so secret favorite of mine over the past two years – it’s one of my first purchases at any convention where Jessi and I are both in attendance.

I ran a few questions by Kevin about the
project, which went live on Kickstarter this morning.

AH: One
of the benefits of publishing multiple authors together is to collect
like-minded work in one place. I’m thinking of 2dcloud’s latest collection
which was mostly autobio from women of color. Does this collection have a
unifying theme?

KC: I wouldn’t say the 2017
Collection has any specific theme aside from my overall intentions for Czap
Books as a publisher. Namely, to publish comics that pull from a variety of
influences (particularly comics traditions around the world, i.e., manga), and
work that I think pushes comics in some way. That can be in more obvious,
formalist ways, or more subtle like starting in a particular genre and taking
it to another place. I guess the final criteria is a level of heart (I think
you were the first to notice that quality?). This is work that speaks to me
honestly, and without cynicism (which isn’t a useful defense anymore for me).

(Also, I want to give props
to @2dcloud for the work they’ve been putting out. They’re working with some
really really exciting people, a lot of favorites among their ranks these days)  

You’ve worked with Jessi and Liz extensively in the past, but Kelly Kwang is a
new face at Czap Books. What made you decide to add
don’t tell me not to worry (i’ll worry all
i want) to this collection?

KC: I’m really slow and
steady when it comes to putting together a schedule, largely because I take an
artist’s trust very seriously. Part of that is it takes some time to get to
know a cartoonist, and I want them to feel comfortable working with me and for
them to think it’s a good fit (especially since it’s a small operation, you
know?) I’ve followed Kelly’s work online for several years at this point, and I
actually asked if she wanted to do something for Czap Books at TCAF in 2015
(after privately plotting for how long before that). So it’s been in the works!
Haha. Basically, everything I’ve seen from Kelly has made me trust her talent
100%, so it was essentially an open invitation for whatever she wanted to work
on. Similarly, I’ve known Liz and Jessi for a long time, and have been slowly
working up to doing a big project with them both.

AH: Do
you think that publishing in collections like this one through Kickstarter is
going to be a part of your publishing strategy moving forward?

KC: I don’t have any plans of
doing that at the moment, no. In relation to the previous answer, I’ve been
building up to this Kickstarter for quite a while. There’s so much I want to be
able to do with Czap Books, and I’m pretty pleased with the rate at which we’ve
been able to grow in just the past year and a half. I felt like it was worth
taking the chance of taking this to the people, and making the case for our
future on Kickstarter. The books in the 2017 Collection were already in the
works, and it just seemed like the perfect goal for a campaign.

The Czap Books 2017 Collection Kickstarter Page is at this link, if you are interested in learning more.

Sequential State has the following conflicts of
interest to report: Czap Books is run by Kevin Czap, a person I consider to be
a good friend, and whose illustration graces the header of Sequential State. I
am a backer of this Kickstarter project because I have faith in Kevin’s taste
as a publisher and because I think the work they are doing is essential for the
growth of the medium.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

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