It’s a topic that fits neatly into the sardonic, Dry Bones sense of humor: Cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen, creator of the ironic political comic strip, recently launched a Passover Haggadah project on Kickstarter, the Internet based crowd-funding platform for creative projects. Within two days, he was within his minimum goal of $5,000.
“In the old days, I would have gone to Rothschild,” quipped Kirschen, referring to the English banking family that funded much of pre-state Palestine. “Instead, I sat up through the night watching the numbers jump and in the morning I saw there were 101 backers and I thought, ‘I have 101 Rothschilds, I live in a world where there are 101 Rothschilds.’”
Kirschen said he’s been dreaming about this project for many years, and loved the idea of being able to fund it without selling the Haggadah through a publisher and going through the commercialized publicity process. He wants “to sit down and do the manuscript,” and then plans on self-publishing the haggadah on Amazon, using the money raised on Kickstarter.
“For 40 years I’ve been commenting on what has been happening every day; people enjoy that, but I’m going to be shuffling off this mortal coil and there are generations of Jews that I would love to speak to,” said the 74-year-old Kirschen. “The only way to do that is the one illustrated book that’s in every Jewish home. It’s the closest thing we have to a graphic novel.”
What appealed to him about the Kickstarter method — a tremendously rigorous process, he said, with regard to the Internet company’s demand for full financial transparency — was its relevance to the Jewish community.
“We can act as a community on the Internet, and I think that’s something very important,” he said. “With the Internet, if the public wants to do something, the people can do something.”
In the case of the Dry Bones Haggadah, they have 29 days left to fund his project. With the minimum raised within the first two days — he was up to $6,907 and counting as of Thursday night — the money “continues to pour in,” said Kirschen.
Backers of $10 or more will receive a PDF of the completed Haggadah, while larger donors will receive gifts of original artwork and other aspects of the book, said Kirschen. The Dry Bones Passover Haggadah project on Kickstarter will close on November 16.
With Kickstarter taking 5% of the funds raised, and Amazon siphoning off another 5%, as well as a few other fees down the road, Kirschen isn’t planning on making any real money from the project. But he will be able to work with a graphic artist and make the artwork “super exciting.”
And the Kickstarter aspect of the project has made it that much more interesting, he said, particularly when he considers the reasons why people donate on Kickstarter. ”It’s not that they wanted the project,” said Kirschen. “It’s that I wanted the project done.”
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