Radio Comix is a small-press comic publisher that was formed in 1997 to publish anthropomorphic, independent and American manga comics. For the last fifteen years, we have continued to publish our mainstay anthologies Furrlough and Genus, as well as dozens of other comics and graphic novels. The company was formed by two people, Elin Winkler (me) and Pat Duke, with assistance from Will Allison and Christina "Smudge" Hanson. Though Pat departed in 2007, Will and Christina stayed on and the company has continued publishing as a threesome. Everything needed to run the business is done by Elin, Will and Christina- editing, book layout, website design and maintenence, mail order, invoicing, promotion, bookkeeping, etc. We all work day jobs and do Radio Comix work in our off time, because we are passionate about the comics and graphic novels we produce. Never an enormous financial success, we've always kept the company running on a shoestring budget, rolling any money made into the next round of published books. The last few years in particular have been increasingly difficult, what with the loss of indie distributors Cold Cut Distribution and Haven Distribution- we moved quite a lot of backstock through both those channels, and now are left with only Diamond Comics to distribute our titles to the wider market. We're making inroads in self-distribution, but it's a slow, incredibly time-consuming process. We have always operated on a razor-thin margin, and that is why we are currently in such a financial bind.
I stated in the previous paragraph that the three people at Radio Comix do everything there- well, everything except the business taxes. Due to a horrible oversight on the part of our (now former) accountant, we now owe a staggering amount of back taxes. The total is truly shocking, and when I first discovered it, I was ill for days. I've been working for three months with a new accountant to get everything that wasn't filed taken care of, but filing does not equal paying and now not only do these freshly filed taxes have to be paid, but there are penalties due to the late filing. I'm a firm believer in filing and paying all my taxes, and finding out I was behind was my worst nightmare come true. I have been working with the IRS to come up with a payment plan, but if we could get a large lump sum together to pay in at one time, it would be an enormous help!
Not only would a lump sum for the IRS help me sleep again at night, it would also go a long way towards helping our company continue operations. I have spent the last fifteen years of my life pouring all my energy, time and yes, even my personal money into Radio Comix, just to keep publishing. When the comic industry had tough times, I went out and got retail day jobs or took on freelance work to keep everything going. I would be devastated if I had to declare bankruptcy over this tax issue, especially since we've weathered so many ups and downs in the industry thus far. Also, our many, many talented artists would lose their publisher- artists like Shon Howell, Joe Rosales, Christina "Smudge" Hanson, Will Allison, Matix, Mark Moore, DAQ, Zel, Terrie Smith, Heather Bruton, Diana Harlan-Stein, Phil "Poinko" Gibson, Steve Gallacci and many more! I have always only published artists whose work I believed in and whose work I personally enjoyed. I firmly believe all our artists, though they aren't mainstream in the slightest, deserve to have the wider exposure professional comic publishing can offer them. It has always been my greatest joy when a new reader discovers one of our artists and falls in love with their work. And, it has always kept me going despite the hard times, knowing that there are readers out there who believe in our crazy dream enough to buy one of our books.
The Difficulty in Asking for Help
I understand that Radio Comix isn't a mainstream comic company. We're not even the traditional sort of high brow indie comic company. We publish anthropomorphics and American manga, which one could argue aren't the coolest things in cool town. But we have incredibly loyal, incredibly supportive fans who recognize that our books are made for the pure love of making them. These are the stories all of us here are compelled to tell, and thanks to Radio Comix, we have a platform to continue telling them whether it be via print or via our webcomics site.
Many other anthropomorphic publishers and artists have gone through the fan community, begging for help whenever they have had the slightest upset. I always swore I would never, ever be that person and thus far, I have never asked our fans for help. However, this is the day that has finally made me crack; the thought of losing this company that I have worked so hard on and that I have poured all my passion for comics into is a fate I can't stomach. So, please, if you can, help. Any little bit is welcome.
What This Money Will Go For
Straight up, 100% of any money raised via this campaign will go directly to the IRS. It's not an exciting or glamorous thing to pay for, but keeping the IRS paid and happy means Radio Comix can keep operating. That means we can keep publishing comics and graphic novels, keep our websites up and running, keep selling at conventions. We're asking for $4000. The actual amount we owe to the IRS is much, much higher than that, but I would not feel comfortable asking for more than the amount I've asked for. Heck, I'm not even really comfortable asking for this amount! If we don't reach our goal, whatever amount we raise will be applied to our tax debt anyway. If we exceed our goal, whatever amount we raise will be applied to the tax debt! None of this money will be used for anything other than paying off the IRS- it's my number one goal in life now to get that debt paid off so I can keep my company going for another fifteen years, or at least until there's no such thing as comic books anymore.
A friend suggested that I reveal the full amount the IRS wants from us (back taxes, penalties and interest), in the interest of transparency. That total is $40K. I would never expect such a huge amount to be crowd-funded, and would never presume to ask for the full amount. But, should we go over our goal, by any amount, we would just be that much closer to paying off this debt.