PopCultivator wants to guide comic book creators in the right direction

As the pandemic disrupted the comic book industry in April 2020, Devil’s Due Comics founder Josh Blaylock could see changes on the horizon. Creators who were previously reluctant to experiment with technology or crowdfunding sites suddenly needed the income because the editors called for “pencils down”.

“COVID forced a lot of creators to start using platforms like Kickstarter and Patreon, and they found they could be successful,” Blaylock said. “It was a big tear in the veil of any model or gatekeeper barrier that existed before.”

From this destruction, Blaylock proclaimed himself a “hybrid agency / studio” PopCultivator was born. To be clear, PopCultivator is not a comic book editor. Instead, it exists as a crowdfunding funded management entity that gives fans a partial stake in the business while also connecting comic book creators to publishers.

“We are not indebted to any publisher and we are not trying to create our own universe. We are artists, ”says Blaylock. “We take each comic on a case-by-case basis and decide the best way forward for that title. ”

For the modern comic book creator, the number of these routes alone can be overwhelming. One way is to create an independent webcomic. Another sends three completed issues to a publisher like Image Comics. PopCultivator’s potential strength lies in its ability to approach comics that create a win-win situation for comic book creators and publishers.

“On the creative side, PopCultivator can fund the artist who can produce the rest of the book without any stress. We bring a whole team with expertise in different areas to help develop the property, ”said Blaylock. “On the publishing side, PopCultivator is bringing a book ready for publication, with an approved creator who is already funded and marketed.”

In this new venture, Blaylock acts as CEO. His surrounding team, which he describes as “Avengers of the comic / pop culture world,” includes business development director Michael Horn, COO Stuart Bernstein, content director for all ages Jose Garibaldi, Director of Talent Management / Collaborative Editor Kit Caoagas, Director of Events Alma Silva, Director of Entertainment Development / Editor Shawn DePasquale, VP Accounting Debbie Davis and Editor – Council Mark Powers.

Each person brings a range of experience with them. Garibaldi worked in animation on Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Dav Pilkey’s The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants. Powers is a former editor of Marvel Comics. Horn has previously licensed goods with properties such as South Park and GI Joe.

Like the rest of the PopCultivator team, Horn says he’s “been in and out of the comic book business my entire career.” When approached by his longtime friend Blaylock, Horn was intrigued by the crowdfunded model.

“We rewrite the rules and say, ‘We can do whatever we want with this,’ says Horn. “At the end of the day, it’s about creating great content. What you do with this content is unlimited.

To date, PopCultivator has raised nearly $ 100,000 through its WeFunder website. This money will be spent on four pounds, including Blaylock’s Ark World and The code, as well as Garibaldi’s kid-friendly Gabby GEARS and The story written by Victor.

For Garibaldi, the freedom of creation piqued his interests. Throughout his career, the creator-artist has worked for brands and companies linked to changing trends, budgets and creative pipelines. For example, while working as a character designer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, he couldn’t create elaborate creatures. Instead, executives, editors and producers would take notes on designs, keeping an eye on budgets and whether the content would follow well with certain age groups. When working with PopCultivator, he has certain standards that he will follow due to the nature of his books available to all ages. Apart from these guidelines, Garibaldi has carte blanche.

“PopCultivator gives me more freedom and more space to work on my characters,” Garibaldi says. “Working on a project belonging to a creator and having it crowdfunded, it’s nice to be able to see how far I can go with certain ideas. ”

The next six months will be spent “getting attached and doing comics,” Blaylock says. Fans who have donated will receive updates through the WeFunder page. If PopCultivator doesn’t deliver on what was promised, Blaylock is hoping fans keep everyone in check.

“At the end of the day, if we don’t do good business with these creators or monitor the situation, we will hear from our investors,” said Blaylock. “They are not random shareholders. Everyone involved in the business is real comic book fans, which makes it a real system of checks and balances. ”

How far PopCultivator can go will be a matter of time. Horn, the optimistic entrepreneur, already imagines a world full of corporate brands.

“I’d love to see it become an IP powerhouse where the company builds brand after brand after brand, and the comics are just the launching point,” Horn said. “I would love to go sit in a movie theater and see the PopCultivator logo on the screen, or go into Target and see action figures for sale. . . That’s the point. v

Lisa M. Horner