Crowdfunding Review: “101 Drawings by P. Craig Russell” Art Book

Today we’ll be reviewing the crowdfunded art book 101 Drawings by P. Craig Russell.  I know that art books are not a common topic here at The Splintering, but the art here focuses on Russell’s 45+ year career in the comic book industry.  We thought it’d be a nice change of pace, while still fitting into the broader themes of the website.  For those of you not familiar with my review format, I grade a crowdfunding campaign on four distinct categories:

  • Book Content and Quality
  • Communication and Fulfillment
  • Packaging and Shipping
  • Stretch Goals and Bonuses

With 101 Drawings, I backed the “Signature Edition Hardcover” at $50.  This campaign was launched on Indiegogo in May 2019, and later on Kickstarter as a last chance campaign in March 2020.  I personally backed it on Indiegogo.  If you’re curious about how well this campaign graded in each of our categories, read my personal experience below and draw your own conclusion. 

Cover to the book I received

Book Content and Quality

101 Drawings by P. Craig Russell (PCR) is an oversized 12”x12” 116-page hardcover retrospective of Mr. Russell’s artwork from his time in the comic book industry.  The book reproduces some of PCR’s greatest works in oversized black and white renditions, which really showcases his linework and attention to detail.    

The cover of the book was full-color and glossy.  It added a nice weight and heft to the book.  The interior pages, however, were thin and staticky.  It was difficult to thumb through the book as the pages would stick together.  Trying to rub the pages together to separate them would cause them to dent and crease with ease.

The book came hand numbered, and signed by the artist, and might I add that the signature itself presents as a work of art on its own.  Legendary comic book characters such as Batman, Dr. Strange and the Spectre, along with fan favorite fantasy characters such as Sandman, Death and Elric adorned the pages of the book.  There was no shortage of art, and each page provided details of the images displayed. 

Overall, the book was exactly as advertised.  The art was beautiful as I knew it would be.  The book quality was satisfactory.  The cover and binding were indeed exceptional, but overall, what I received was pretty much exactly what I expected.

This beautiful signature was on the interior of my book

Grade: B

Communication and Fulfillment

I pledged to this campaign in June 2019 and the book was delivered in January 2021. However, the campaign ended its live funding in July 2019, and it is worth noting that the estimated shipping date was always March 2020.  Basing the time-frame on the end of the live campaign to when I received my item (which is how I’ve approached all of my crowdfunding reviews), that’s an 18-month turnaround time, or 10 months overdue.  There were numerous extenuating circumstances that added to this delay, such as COVID-19 and personal matters.  Still, an 18-month turnaround is poor by any standards. 

The creator (who is not PCR) posted updates once the campaign closed to provide backers with current information.  Unfortunately, the creator took the unorthodox step of deleting previous updates on Indiegogo when posting new ones, a practice which I’ve never seen in a campaign before or since.  I have a record of the first update as I saved the email, which was dated March 16, 2020. This message was titled Update on expected shipping dates.  Deleting prior updates doesn’t allow backers to track the progress of the campaign over time.  This was disappointing.   

The biggest disappointment was some of the back and forth between the campaign creator and the backers in the comments on Indiegogo.  Some of the responses the creator made to individual backers were unprofessional.  I am a backer, and will always be an advocate for the backers.  This type of behavior is unacceptable. 

A better look at the interiors on two of the pages in the book

Grade: F

Packaging and Shipping

I received an update that my items were being shipped, as well as an email providing me a tracking number and the method of shipping, so I could track my package.  Due to this book being an oversized hardcover, the package was indeed weighty.  The item was shipped USPS Media Mail, and rightfully so.  I was charged $5 to ship a three-pound package.  This was not only reasonable, but impressive. 

The book was wrapped twice in layers of high-quality bubble wrap, and all corners and sides were protected.  The box that was used for shipping was sturdy and seemed to fit the book perfectly, and my items arrived in mint condition.  Thanks to the secureness of the packaging, the care in which everything was packed, and being provided a tracking number in advance, I was quite pleased with the shipping.    

My book was expertly packaged and arrived in mint condition

Grade: A

Stretch Goals and Bonuses

The 101 Drawings by P. Craig Russell campaign neither contained nor offered any stretch goals.  That being the case, this category is not applicable and will not factor into the overall grade of the review.

Grade: N/A

Every category in these reviews matter, which is why I value each and every category of a campaign equally.  You may personally consider the actual item (in this case, the book) as all that really matters, and fair enough.  For me though, I weight each and every category equally when it comes to the full crowdfunding experience.  Although only one category failed outright (“Communication and Fulfillment”), the removal of the “Stretch Goals and Bonuses” category made the three remaining categories all the more critical. 

It’s hard to recover from a failure in one grade in any circumstance.  Unfortunately for the 101 Drawings by P. Craig Russell campaign, it was compounded.

Overall Grade: C+

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