Joe Murray’s Kickstarter Success

I wrote last month about the plan of Rocko’s Modern Life creator Joe Murray to raise $16,800 in 45 days to complete his animation project Frog in a Suit. Using the crowd-funding site Kickstarter, Murray reached that goal yesterday, with nine fundraising days to spare.

Murray’s success is significant because he’s the first creator from the established world of TV animation to appeal directly to his fanbase through crowd-funding. The money he raised will be used to produce two three-minute episodes of Frog in a Suit. He then plans to use these shorts to persuade mainstream advertisers to fund a full series on his as yet to be launched online cartoon channel called KaBoingTV.com. In other words, crowd-funding still isn’t a viable solution for funding an entire series if you intend to create the series using a traditional TV production pipeline; it is enough only to make a pilot.

For independent artists who use less traditional and more efficient pipelines, crowd-funding an entire series remains a distinct possibility, especially as more viewers become accustomed to directly supporting the content they want to watch. And there is plenty of room for indies in the crowd-funded marketplace. Even right now, lesser-known artists are reaching their fundraising goals, like Kymia Nawabi who raised $3,000 to make a stop-motion music video for the band Future Islands, and Chris Bishop and Evan Viera who drummed up $11,500 to make their hybrid drawn and CG-short Caldera.

(Thanks, Kelly McNutt)


  • http://www.pitchbibles.blogspot.com Steve Schnier

    Hi Amid,
    First – congrats to Joe Murray. Good for him. Too many animation artists sit on their butts waiting for the phone to ring.
    Second, there are a multitude of ways to fund indy productions, from YouTube Channels to product sponsorships. Every production needs to find a suitable business model to make it happen. I’m glad that Joe found his.

    Build a viable fanbase and the powers-that-be will come looking for you.
    Go Joe Go!

  • http://warburtonlabs.blogspot.com mr. warburton

    GO JOE! mr. murray’s been talking about this for a while and it’s great to see the next phase really happening! can’t wait to see what happens next!

  • http://www.taberanimation.com Taber Dunipace

    ALRIGHT! When I heard about the project, I decided to jump in and donate so it’s great to hear this project is happening!

  • http://www.atomicbearpress.com Brian

    I know of a couple of comic artist who have all made their goals on Kickstarter and now other artist who are wondering how it can work for them.

  • http://mrseanlane.com Sean

    That’s really cool! Unlike another certain former Nicktoons animator with lots of fame behind his name (who also regularly receives donations promising a short or something one day down the line), Joe Murray set himself a deadline and got it done.

    This is great! I would love to see more of this. Maybe it’s pandering to fans, but 16k is a modest amount today for sure and everyone gets something out of it.

  • http://www.mukpuddy.blogspot.com Mukpuddy

    That’s awesome! Best of luck to Joe in getting his series and can’t wait to see the pilot!

  • http://www.kohrtoons.com Robert Kohr

    Hats off to Joe, first off. Raising money is tough, though starting from where he is at makes it a little easier :P

    I don’t know much about Kickstarter, it looks like a good service, I am a little confused as to how interest in something before production can translate into ad dollars. Still, industry wide, video ads don’t pay all that much. I think it has a chance at working but in the end it will require some sort of translation to TV otherwise it may not survive long. The money just isn’t there. That or investment in non-traditional revenue streams.

  • http://bakertoons.blogspot.com/ Charles Brubaker

    Congrats, Joe! I knew you could make it!

  • Anon

    It’s a great way to get projects going! And that amount?? Wow! Kudos!!!

    @Sean …and what are you doing? Probably nothing but posting your opinion on websites. Go make something.

  • lampshade

    Don’t start a fight just ’cause John and Joe have different goals.

  • GhaleonQ

    Heartwarming. I’d rather see him on television, but, well, I’d love to see his work through any medium.

  • ZN

    This is awesome to hear. But I’m sad to see that Nick Cross’ The Pig Farmer is probably not going to be funded. It’s only received one donation in the last month and there’s little over a month left to go. It’s sobering but it goes to show you that this won’t work for everyone, even the really talented. Like Steve says, keep your mind open to different types of revenue streams. There may not be one standardized business model for animation online. Everyone’s path is going to be different.

  • amid

    ZN: IndieGogo works differently than Kickstarter. People who use that site get to keep all the money they’ve raised even if they don’t reach their goal. For that reason, I don’t like IndieGogo’s model as much.

    It’s discussed more on this blog in which the author observers about IndieGogo: “The idea of generating some–but not all–of the needed funds for a project sounds dicey. If only a portion of the money is raised, what does a creator apply that funding towards? Isn’t there an ethical obligation to provide contributors with a finished product? Won’t contributors feel “taken” if their credit cards are charged, but have nothing tangible from the creator in return?”

  • ZN

    Ah, I didn’t know that they keep the money. That does raise an interesting ethical dilemma. My gut feeling is if someone doesn’t think they can reach their target, then they probably won’t, and should consider a different avenue.

    With Kickstarter there doesn’t seem to be any harm or foul if a pitch fails. And the sponsors there really do seem to be savvy enough to reward the projects that truly deserve it, and shun the projects that are obvious cons. It absolutely can work.

  • http://animationinventory.blogspot.com/ Teodor

    why is this wrong:
    People who use that site/Indiegogo/ get to keep all the money they’ve raised even if they don’t reach their goal?

    why should Nick Cross’ The Pig Farmer return $1,611 on Kickstarter because he is not collected $5,000.
    let him to take $1,611 on Indiegogo

  • http://pyatyletka.blogspot.com Nick Cros

    The reason I went with IndieGoGo instead of Kickstarter was that I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get full funding. My film will be completed regardless of whether I reach a somewhat arbitrary funding goal or not. But at least the amount that has been donated so far is a big help and actually finances the production. If I had to wait and see if I reached a goal, all the donations and support people have generously offered would have been for nothing.

  • http://suicidefunnies.blogspot.com Aaron H

    Congrats to Joe Murray. I submitted a project to Kickstarter (I’m an illustrator) but was told they weren’t taking on anymore projects at this time (this was about a month ago). Eager to see what Joe comes up with!

  • ZN

    Nick, good to hear, I look forward to seeing it when it’s finished!

  • http://animationinventory.blogspot.com/ Teodor

    Congrats to Joe Murray and Nick Cross

  • http://mrseanlane.com Sean

    Hey Anon, I am working on my own stuff for free. No one is paying me and I’m not squandering donations.

    I think this business model is much better because if we want to see things by our favorite directors it kind of puts them in an obligation. Why not pay the salary for their work directly?

  • http://www.indiegogo.com/BFandG Chris Savino

    I, too am raising money for a pilot. And like Joe, (congrats, Joe) I was able to reach my goal. I use Indiegogo. They don’t keep the money if you don’t meet your goal. They give you what you raised (minus the %) no matter the amount. That’s why I chose them. Both are really good sites. And ultimately if it gets people makin stuff then awesome! True there is the responsibility of the fund raiser to actually make the project that the people donated to (i know I will), but I guess that’s the one big variable. I can only assume the money I send to charities goes to the proper place. Anyway, i wish Joe luck on his endeavor and certainly hope that it turns into a place where he can hire some of you guys here that love his work so much.

    P.S. I donated to Nick Cross’s project. I love his stuff and I am CERTAIN no matter how much he raises that he will finish his film. If you are looking to support a project, support his! You won’t be let down!

  • http://mrseanlane.com Sean

    Chris Savino, I wish both you and Nick Cross good luck. This seems to be the way to go to me and success with this model should spell out great things in the future.

    I’ve seen this model being used for certain musicians the past year or so, but it appears maybe it might be more suitable for animation? The musicians fund raising seems to drag or get stuck often.

  • Rooniman

    Success!