Crowdfunding Review: “CyberFrog Warts and All” (ALL CAPS Comics)
Today we’ll be reviewing the crowdfunded comic book campaign CyberFrog: Warts and All by Ethan Van Sciver and published by ALL CAPS Comics. For those of you not familiar with our review format, we grade a crowdfunding campaign on four distinct categories:
- Book Content and Quality
- Communication and Fulfillment
- Packaging and Shipping
- Stretch Goals and Bonuses
With CyberFrog: Warts and All, I backed the “Basic Hardcover” tier, and added on Unfrogettable Tales #3 prior to checkout. This campaign was available exclusively on Indiegogo. I actually reviewed the Unfrogettable Tales #1 & 2 campaign back in August of 2020. Now precisely one year later, we finally get a chance to look at Warts and All with Unfrogettable Tales #3 in tow.
Book Content and Quality
CyberFrog: Warts and All is a hardcover omnibus reprinting all of the original CyberFrog comics that were originally published by both Hall of Heroes and Harris Comics in the 1990s. The book is over 400 pages and filled with comic books, artwork, house ads, variant covers, and numerous anecdotes from CyberFrog’s creator, Ethan Van Sciver.
The hardcover book itself is beautiful. The pages are sturdy, and the binding is tight. The cover has a fun textured feel to it, reminiscent of its amphibian namesake. There’s a wrap-around dust jacket on the book as well, a mash-up recreation of covers originally done by Walt Simonson and Erik Larsen.
What’s fun about this book is that the issues are reprinted as they originally were printed, without any updated coloring or lettering. That means issues that were originally printed in black and white are indeed still black and white. Other color issues have retained their original color.
I’m not going to try and summarize all there is in the main CyberFrog: Warts and All book as there is a lot to cover. You see the beginnings of CyberFrog, Heather Swain and Salamandroid. Their early incarnations were very different than the origins you see in their modern tales.
I do want to take a moment to spotlight something I truly appreciated, and that’s Ethan Van Sciver’s personal thoughts on each issue reprinted in this book. Before each issue begins, Van Sciver takes a full page to summarize his thoughts and recollections of the work you’re about to read. If you ask a lot of comic book creators to give you details on a particular story they worked on several years ago, many times they have little to say as it was just another job to them. Not with this work. To Ethan, each of these issues were extremely personal. Even 25+ years later, Van Sciver is able to provide clear details on what his thoughts were on each story. This work is very personal to him, and that’s what makes it special.
Comic books oftentimes get the worst rap of any media. For my money though, comics are the most personal. When it comes to movies, television, sports or music, those are all things you can enjoy together with family, friends or a crowd. When you read a comic book, it’s just you and the book. It’s a personal experience. It’s nice to see a creator who takes his work personally, and has the ability to convey his thoughts on its creation after all these years.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the quality of Unfrogettable Tales #3. Although the foil cover style was retained from the previous issues, gone was the overly thick near card stock type interior pages, and in their place were traditional page interiors. I much preferred this new paper stock to the original two issues. As an added bonus, my issue of Unfrogettable Tales #3 came signed. That wasn’t the case with the tier I backed for issues #1 and #2, and I am not sure I ever saw mention of issue 3 getting signed. It was a nice bonus to a very nicely put together book.
Communication and Fulfillment
I pledged to the CyberFrog: Warts and All campaign in October 2020, but the campaign didn’t close its active funding until November 2020. The original estimated delivery was set for September 2021, but I received my book in August 2021, a month earlier than advertised! Basing the timeframe from the end of the campaign to receipt of my book, that’s a nine-month turnaround. I would say that’s the average wait time considering the current state of publishing, printing and shipping.
The campaign creator provided occasional updates to the campaign, but when they did, the updates provided the necessary details as to the progress of the campaign. Overall, I’d say this was sincerely as average as you could get with communication and fulfillment.
Packaging and Shipping
The campaign owner let his backers know when the books had arrived and that his fulfillment team would be shipping soon. I was provided a tracking number when my items shipped. I paid $12 for shipping, and even though this book had a fair amount of weight to it, my package was shipped Priority Mail, which is the premium shipping option in the US. Everything arrived in a custom CyberFrog: Warts and All box.
The box was loaded to the brim with packaging peanuts, and the main CyberFrog: Warts and All book was wrapped in bubble wrap. My copy arrived in mint condition. Unfortunately, the add-on Unfrogettable Tales #3 book I ordered wasn’t packed as carefully as the main book. It was placed in a bag and board, and then inside the binder that was unlocked as part of the stretch goals in the campaign (more on that in the next section). The Unfrogettable Tales #3 book I received did sustain minor damage in transit. The bottom corner of the book was dinged badly enough that it dented not only the cover, but numerous pages within the book as well.
However, what was more unsightly was the major scuffing on the back cover of the book. I can tell the corner ding happened in transit because it was not only on the book, but on the bag and board as well. The scuffing however (and this is strictly my opinion) was mostly likely there before the book was even packaged. I don’t see how damage like that could occur in transit. It runs up and down the entire edge of the back cover. I could have added this critique to the Book Quality and Content section but chose to add it here as the process of placing the book within a binder with metal rings did not sit well with me.
There were things I liked about the packaging and things I didn’t. The custom box seems like a great idea, but the main point of the box is to protect the contents. This box did not seem ideal. The tracking and upgrade to Priority Mail was much appreciated, but I’d rather have received my items in mint condition. Overall, I think minor changes to how the floppy comics are packaged would have made major changes to the grade in this category.
Stretch Goals and Bonuses
This campaign unlocked 10 trading cards and a custom three-ring binder as part of the campaign. I’ve purchased custom trading card binders in the past. They usually cost $20-25 and come with one free trading card. This campaign provided you with the custom binder and 10 trading cards at no additional cost. That’s extreme value. I was very pleased with the stretch goals unlocked as part of this campaign.
I need to point out that I did not reach out to the campaign owner (EVS) to inform them of the damage to the book I received. I am confident if I did, he’d have sent a replacement.
Overall, I was very pleased with the CyberFrog: Warts and All campaign. Value is not a word you hear very often in crowdfunding. Campaigns are very expensive to back, and then having to pay to have each campaign shipped can add up quickly. I found the value in this campaign to be extremely gratifying. I received a hardcover 400+ page book for $30 + $12 shipping, I added a signed comic book for an additional $10, and received a very nice trading card binder along with 10 high quality trading cards with my order. That is a value I’ve yet to see topped.
Overall Grade: B+
Thanks for reading!
Please consider following The Splintering on social media or bookmarking the site for more independent entertainment news, views, and commentary!