The Patreon Saint

Reading 150I’m a grown-ass rabbit, and I love comics. They’re a fantastic medium to tell a story with! The best of them marry arresting visuals with great dialogue in ways it’s very difficult for anything else to do. You can travel thousands of miles or thousands of years in time from one panel to the next, and if you do it right the reader just accepts it without missing a beat. My favorite comics combine wonderful, likable characters with amazing settings that you just can’t look away from. You guys, they really are the best.

With the rise of the Internet, comic creation has become a much more democratic process. Comic strips like Penny Arcade or PVP or Order of the Stick have gone from side projects to astoundingly enormous enterprises thanks to the steady growth of their fanbase, and the willingness of the audience to help creators maintain and expand their vision in exciting ways. I really dig this direct feedback; audiences can react to comics in real-time, creating a dialogue between artist and reader that’s electrifying for both.

One of the most recent mechanisms for that direct feedback and support is Patreon, a service that artists, essayists and creative types of all sorts can use to ask for monetary support from their audience in exchange for early access or special features surrounding their work. It’s very exciting to me to see a community build up around these artists, willing and able to support them to do more of what they love. So I joined, and immediately found a few projects that I think are well worth sending a few bucks a month. Here they are, as a sort of signal boost. If you aren’t quite sold on supporting them, that’s fine — but I highly encourage you to go to their website and read their work. It’s all great!

Rick Griffin (Housepets!) — I think this guy is the most established of the folks I’ve found so far. He’s been writing Housepets! since 2008, and his artistic style has improved greatly since then. In addition to the webcomic, he writes and draws other comic stories, has self-published a few furry sci-fi novellas and even does personal commissions when he has a break in his busy schedule. I really like Housepets!, but I’m really intrigued by his other projects too. I love that he’s dedicated and productive enough to flex different muscles, creatively.

Kory Bing (Skin Deep) — This is a long-running comic that I’ve only recently discovered. I fell in love with it immediately, though. Skin Deep is about a shadow world of fantastic creatures living among and along-side human beings, and what happens when a college student is suddenly thrust into that world. The kernel of the story is nothing new, but what really stands out are the characters and the richness of the setting. I could spend ages reading about Michelle, Jim and the gang, living their lives in amazing, lived-in places both fantastic and mundane.

Root (The Dawn Chapel) — The art here is just top-notch. SO GOOD you guys. I’m not even playing around. Root has some of the most gorgeous, colorful watercolors I’ve ever seen — just about every panel of his comic is print-worthy. The Dawn Chapel is an anthology of sorts, where he takes you to many different worlds filled with great characters and amazing stories. There have been early viral comics, including Firefox and the Singing Birds, but his longer stories (like his current one, The Way Back) are so enjoyable.

Jen (Thunderpaw) — I’m not sure HOW I discovered this, but Thunderpaw is a great motion comic in the growing genre of “pet apocalypse”. Ollie and Bruno are anthropomorphic dogs whose masters have disappeared and world appears to be in chaos. Divorced from every comfort they’ve ever known, they have to find a way to survive in this strange and dangerous new world. Jen has created a kind of comic that I’ve really never seen before, and it’s GOT to be intensive to make each new page. But she’s taking advantage of the “webcomic” format in a really exciting way!

Louise Wei and Dave Hodgkinson (Panda and Polar Bear) — This comic kind of goes the other way; it’s a really simple, spare slice-of-life comic strip that immortalizes anecdotes between small but feisty Panda and enormous, grumpy Polar Bear. It’s cute, and Louise makes the most of every brush-stroke and word of dialogue. The style is irresistible to me, and I have to admit I’m a big fan of Polar Bear.

There are a LOT more comics, short stories, essays, photo-journals, games, podcasts, craft projects and other things to support on Patreon. I’m really stoked about the ability to help creative folks follow their passions and build this community of supportive and passionate fans. Do any of you guys use Patreon? If so, what are some of your favorite projects there? Feel free to leave a comment to point me in that direction!

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