The comic cover contest imbroligio

First of all let me apologize, and take responsibility, for the ill-will being felt here.  I was the one who set up the contest and I was the one who screwed up.

I need to make a mea culpa as we had two posts on our site that said opposite things.  As several of you have pointed out in the original post we did say the comic cover contest would be “decided by the vote of the fans”.

In the post that accompanied the announcement of the five finalists (BEFORE VOTING OPENED) the language was changed to: “and we want you, the fan, to HELP us choose who gets the coveted win.”

I get why you guys and gals are pissed – if you vote for something and feel your vote doesn’t matter then “why on earth did these a$$wipes hold a vote?”

It didn’t occur to me (and I wish it had) to set up a SEPARATE POST to make sure people saw the contest rules had changed BEFORE VOTING OPENED. At least then you could have chosen not to vote if you felt the voting system was unfair.

So again, I made a mistake, and I want to apologize.

Now I want to explain WHY the change was made – it was for two reasons:

1) Because our social marketing advisor told us that, sadly, FB and Twitter contests are often “gamed”. Instead of the contest being decided by a group of critical feedback it becomes about spamming, bots or other tactics.

This held a lot of weight with us because we feel we LOST a contest like this (to get tens of thousands in financing from a Canadian entrepreneurship foundation) after a rival’s vote totals soared by a couple of thousand in just a minute or so. Clearly bots were involved and while the award was given, the organizers had told us they were going to be scrapping the format.

Now, I’m not saying that is what happened here, I think we had a fair contest, I don’t think we saw any bots being used or anything like that — but we were worried we might.

2) The SECOND reason was more business concerned. Our publisher wanted a say in what went on the front of the cover. They didn’t make the final decision, but they wanted to have their input.

I realize had I made sure this was explained earlier none of this would have happened. So, again, my apologies.

We did make sure that the vote was weighted towards the votes (and in fact the two covers that had the most support finished 1-2). As I mentioned on FB once I saw this huge gap between two of the covers and the remaining three I asked IDW if we could perhaps do TWO alternate covers and declare the contest a tie. But, because retailers had already made their orders on a two-cover issue IDW said no.

I do want to remind everyone that ALL the work will be published in issue #11. I have also contacted our runner-up, Allyssa Pirone, about a future cover or pin-up when the second series is launched.

Again, I want to apologize if this contest left fans of Kill Shakespeare and Allyssa feeling disempowered and/or lied to.


(And just to show that this wasn’t a “What the creators say, went” decision – I organized the contest and the cover I voted for finished a distant third.)

  1. Anya Anya
    Anya replied on April 26, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I get why people are pissed, but the one you chose was a better cover anyway. The other image was great, but it didn’t feel like a cover to me. Anyone who is dropping the book because of this is a total derp sandwich.

  2. Alex Szeliga Alex Szeliga
    Alex Szeliga replied on April 26, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    This still stinks to me. I must say that the idea of the contest, especially because it was on Facebook, is blatantly twofold:

    1. Your hardcore early adopter fans get a chance to voice their opinions and make a difference. They feel they have some influence over the product they will be paying money for. These people are going to buy the book whoever wins.

    2. To get more people, who more than likely would never have been exposed to the book, to your Facebook page.

    Lets be honest, the individual artists were all appealing to their friends and fans to vote for them. Full disclosure, I read about it on Allyssa’s wall, and am one of those ‘never would have heard of it, not for this contest’ folks, but I didn’t vote blindly. I may be biased to her work, but that’s one of the reason why I’m friends with her; her work is aesthetically pleasing to me. I had all intentions of buying the book. I am no longer planning on doing so, on moral grounds…unless…

    I understand nothing can be done now, but as an artist in a different capacity, I find this whole situation to be pretty annoying. I understand that an independent comic book probably doesn’t have a legal team to scour contest rules. You don’t have a PR firm that makes sure that you have a unified message. What you do have is what makes indie comic books, indie record labels, indie film producers, indie video game programmers, and indie everything else special: real people.

    At some point, you need to make a decision as to what is more important to you; your fan-base, be it current or potential, or your industry contacts.

    Choose one, and you’ll probably never be distributing around the world. There will probably never hold gala events surrounding your releases. You will bust your ass every day to create content that your fans will buy, regardless of the lack of the above hype.

    Choose the other, and you’ll probably have a good shot at all those sexy things that you can’t have above, but they come at a cost. Take it from a musician who’s been through the ringer. The cost is creative sanity. When you let your distributor, your publisher, or your social media adviser start making the decisions for you, that’s when you have to start portioning out your soul in bite-sized pieces.

    You want to make it right for those of us who are disenfranchised? Well I’m a realist, I don’t expect to see my friend’s cover published. When the people get pissed off at the government for being shady, what are they always asking for? Transparency. Show us your notes. Publish the emails with the publisher who’s thumbprint edged out the fan favorite. Show us what happened so we don’t have to sit here and just take it as wrote that you’ve taken the path to sellout city. You say it was a tough decision, and that it was close up to the very end? I mean, I starting grumbling as soon as the end of the contest kept getting ‘extended’. It’s really shady, if you ask me, but if you can show me that you stuck with the original concept from the beginning, that it really was fair and really is all just a misunderstanding, then I’m not mad. People make mistakes. That’s forgivable. Elsewise, consider this my second and last interaction with your product.

  3. food for though food for though
    Food For Though replied on April 26, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Anya, ‘the cover was better’ this is not a fact. It is opinion. Art is very very diverse. Maybe you mean it was more real or more towards your likes and tastes, but some people don’t share your opinions. People also have a moral fiber that tells them don’t buy when they feel lied to. IE ‘the cover you chose’ that wasn’t the original rules. The original rules said that it would be the cover the fans chose. And the winner seems to be from their area or local shop. All the work was great, original, and inspired. Unfortunetly the print cover (while beautiful) comes off as vauge, and has nothing distingishing this was for a specific book. In other words, artists tell a story, and the story the winner’s told was “random man in the forest that looks like a horseman approching the sword in the stone” telling a story was also part of the contest. the other cover utilized metaphores to make the onlooker think without being vauge. But because people don’t like to think, its inevitable the vauge one would win because it is familiar and realistic.

  4. Lee Lee
    Lee replied on April 26, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    I am pretty annoyed you call the winner of the voting contest the ‘runner up.’

    Correct me if I am wrong, but the backroom agreements are not part of a ‘contest’ are they?

  5. Anya Anya
    Anya replied on April 26, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Yep, that’s my opinion. And you obviously have an opinion, too, “Food for Though”. But I think Conor has already explained how this happened, so if you’re still not satisfied, don’t buy the book! They’ve got plenty of fans whose righteous indignation won’t keep them from buying something awesome.

    Also, you spelled “vague” wrong.

  6. Anya Anya
    Anya replied on April 26, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Also, “Food for Though”, I assume that Allyssa is a friend of yours. Her image was great, but the creators didn’t like it as much, so NOT EVERYONE AGREES that it is the best one. I totally voted for the winner because I am only comfortable with things that are familiar and realistic, like swords sticking out of the ground in the woods while mysterious riders approach. Happens to me every day.

  7. food for though food for though
    Food For Though replied on April 26, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    My comment has nothing to do with a dissagreement towards the contest so much as a problem with you and people like you implying that one was better than another and those who voted for the winner seem to have not read the rules and disregard them since their vote transcended said rules. That my friend is a horrible way to be an inflated and sore winner. You seem to like looking between the lines and stuffing peoples mouths. Also please don’t speak for the creators, since they said their piece up there. I never said you were not allowed to like or support the one you did, but point out that not all art is equal, and reflecting on the comments made by the people who didn’t choose to vote for the published winner. The issue was the rules being messed up, not which one was better.
    and while we are at it, no, I don’t know this alyssa, I voted for hamlet in the woods, insulting someone on an open forum and picking out grammatical errors is a real great way to get ahead in the debate. Misspelling Vague and a missing ‘t’ oh my god I should be ashamed.
    Your vote won, and your still posting trite comments on an apology post the creators were generous enough to post? Get over yourself!

  8. Anya Anya
    Anya replied on April 26, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    I didn’t vote, actually! I heard about all this after the fact. I just think you guys are all being silly. Get over it; the one you like lost!

  9. Anya Anya
    Anya replied on April 26, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Also, I think Hamlet in the Woods was the best, too. I kind of wish I had voted.

    And I’m not trying to be insulting. I get why you guys are upset, but I think it’s time to drop it. The guy who won probably feels like crap because of all this ruckus.

    I’m sure the next contest will be much more clearly laid out, but they can’t change their decision now. You should just stop buying the book if you’re upset.

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