Columbus cartoonist Jeff Smith launches new “Tuki” graphic novels
Jeff Smith, Columbus designer used to post a column for fan letters at the end of his popular Rasl comic book series, but as he explored other genres (including a children’s book), this type of interaction with the fans declined. “I don’t do comics anymore, so I don’t have columns of letters,” he says. “I don’t have this feedback.”
In early May, however, Smith put his latest draft directly into the hands of supporters. To offset the cost of two new graphic novels, he launched a campaign to raise $ 20,000 on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, a natural fit for the self-published artist. He quickly realized he had had a stroke.
“The person in charge of publishing at Kickstarter sent us a meme in the 10th minute [of the campaign] with a space shuttle taking off, ”says Smith. He eventually raised over $ 250,000 to support the publication of the novels, which are set in the same prehistoric universe as his 2013 web comic Tuki.
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Smith moved away from the original Tuki a few years later, but during the pandemic he revived the idea for good. “Tuki: Fight for Fire” will be released this summer, along with “Tuki: Fight for Family” in the fall. Like the web comic, the books take place at a time when several human species coexisted. He was first drawn to Kickstarter to assess the value of the renewed project and discovered a rabid fan base. Funders could pledge their support by pre-purchasing anything from a digital book ($ 10) to an entire collection produced by Smith ($ 5,000).
Beyond the financial boost, he appreciates the good feedback from old-fashioned fans. “You communicate directly with your readers. “