John Campbell ‘Kickstarter Fail’: Web Artist Raises $51,000 on Kickstarter, Burns Books Instead

Well … shit …

Anybody else got anything better to say in the wake of what people are terming the “Kickstarter Fail”?

The project began innocently enough — webcomic artist John Campbell set up a Kickstarter to turn his series, “Sad Pictures for Children,” into a fully realized book. He set out to raise $8,000, but promised that the more money he raised, the nicer the book would be.

Ultimately, the funding part of the Kickstarter was a huge success. Campbell raised more than $50,000 — more than 600 percent his asking price. The success proved to be his undoing though. Deciding for “elaborate to the point of insanity,” the artist made over 1000 books, all hardcover, and spent $30,000 doing it. He then spent thousands more on back taxes he didn’t pay and — get this — inserting a dead wasp into the back cover of each book. John then sent out roughly 750-800 copies of his books successfully, but allegedly 150 of them were returned to sender because of “old addresses.”

Screen shot 2014-03-06 at 8.56.17 PMOnce John realized he could no longer afford to send out the books, he decided to do the next best thing: burn ‘em, burn ‘em all. Setting fire to 127 of the books in an alley behind his house, John posted the video he filmed to his Kickstarter page along with a rambling missive about how his online persona “committed suicide.” With that, he yanked all the webcomics for “Sad Pictures for Children” offline and left an empty husk of a site behind.

The video can be found here, with the missive — for now. Why 127 books and not the full 150, you ask? Because 127 is the number of emails he’s received about the book from the backers who each spent $35 to receive a copy. Amongst the rambling was this message:

“I shipped about 75% of kickstarter rewards to backers. I will not be shipping any more. I will not be issuing any refunds. For every message I receive about this book through e-mail, social media or any other means, I will burn another book.”

So what’s to be done? According to Kickstarter, uh, something. They demand refunds for this sort of scenario (well, not exactly this sort of scenario), but they don’t seem like the ones who take legal action — that appears to be up to the wronged parties themselves. Here’s the fine print from Kickstarter’s legal page:

Screen shot 2014-03-06 at 8.23.01 PM

So, yeah. Good luck suing this guy. Five-to-one odds says that if a process server goes near him, Campbell will light the guy up with a flamethrower and then go to a theme park with a shit-ton of grenades. All the same, you gotta love his style.

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