Crowdfunding Review: “Absolute” by Jason Bascom

Today we’ll be reviewing the crowdfunded comic book campaign Absolute Book 2 by Jason Bascom.  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 Absolute, I backed the Absolute 1+2 tier on Indiegogo, where the book is currently still in-demand.  This was probably the most talked about campaign that I did not back when the first issue came out, and I backed it the second time around to find out what all the buzz was about.    

Book Content and Quality

Absolute was created, written and illustrated by Jason Bascom, and edited by Shae. There is no letterer credited, and the book is black and white so no colorist credit.  I like starting off this section with both the credits and a bit of a summation of the story, without giving away spoilers. Unfortunately, I know very little about this story, even after reading both issues. I have no idea of either the time or place in which this story occurs. Is this a fictional time on Earth, or a planet in another galaxy?  Is this the future, or the past?  I seriously have no idea. There is a large number of names, and slang words used throughout both issues, to the point that I have no idea what is the proper name and what is simply a colloquialism.  I believe the main character (the one with the goggles) is “The Old Man” who is most often referred to as “Pop”. Don’t confuse the “Old Man” with the old looking man, (the monk looking guy) who isn’t named until the second issue and is referred to as “Mister”, “Sue”, and “Ryujin”.

The writing on this comic book is rather poor. I would have to say that if the dialogue was improved and if more detail was provided to the reader, then perhaps the story could’ve been salvaged. Numerous tiny changes would’ve been a massive help to this series. A simple introduction on the inside cover giving readers a basic setting would’ve been a huge help. Showing the names of the characters in a simple text box once each character was introduced. Also, in issue #2, providing a summary of what happened in issue #1 could’ve cleared things up for both new readers, and those that read issue #1 when it came out previously. 

The art is definitely unique, and the strong point of the book.  I really enjoyed the abstract style, and the black and white suited the art style on this book.  When you have a black and white book, there better be a good way to differentiate characters, and the artist was able to do that visually. Goggles, hairlines, cloaks, and very unique looking villains helped the eyes differentiate the characters in the panels. Still, the panels didn’t tell a clear story on their own, and relying on the dialogue was not helpful.

The lettering was adequate. There were moments where the letters outgrew the word balloons, and I believe that was an artistic choice. Still there were other times where the lettering pushed the very edge of the balloons and made it hard to read. There were also a few spelling errors but nothing too outrageous. Still, they were there, and mistakes like that take away from the experience. 

Unfortunately, even with all of these critiques, the most disappointing part of this book was the quality, namely the paper quality and binding. Oddly enough, most people complain when pages are too thin, but in this instance, I found the opposite to be the case.  It seems like the paper stock used was so thick that the book doesn’t lay flat. By the time I finished reading issue #2, half of the book was at a 90-degree angle. In one his updates, the campaign owner did state that he couldn’t get the cover stock he wanted for issue #2 and had to change it, but I think this is more than just that.  Book one, which does lay flat was 48 pages. Book two is 56 pages.  When you use heavy interior paper stock, the page count must come into consideration. This book’s binding needed to be altered to account for the added pages. Staple binding was a poor choice. I was really disappointed with this book.

Grade: D

Communication and Fulfillment

I pledged to this campaign in March 2021 and had it delivered in March 2022, but I do want to point out that the campaign ended its live funding in May 2021. Basing the time-frame on the end of the live campaign, a 10 month turn-around time is about average in normal circumstances. I’ve seen some books come as quickly as two months and others take years. Factoring in the campaign took place during a pandemic that was riddled with supply-chain issues, this turnaround time was quite reasonable.

The campaign creator posted regular updates to the campaign, and increased the frequency of those updates once the book went past its expected due date. On average, there seemed to be roughly two updates per month throughout the campaign. I always felt well informed and in touch with the campaign and its creator.

Grade: B

Packaging and Shipping

The campaign owner let his backers know that books would be shipping soon in an update to the campaign. I was provided a tracking number when my items shipped, which I really appreciated. I paid $10 for shipping, and my books were sent via USPS Priority Mail in a Gemini mailer. 

Each book was placed in its own bag and board, and the stretch goals were placed in a separate sealed bag. Then all of the items were wrapped in a plastic bag. Then the items were wrapped in bubble wrap. Then the items were secured in a Gemini mailer. My items arrived in mint condition!

Between being informed of my tracking number, the use of Gemini mailer, the upgrade to Priority mail, and the beautiful packing material used to protect my books, I have not seen finer shipping.  There was even a hand written “Thank You” and a “Doodle” on the packaging!  This is the Cadillac of “Packaging and Shipping” campaigns!

Grade: A+

Stretch Goals and Bonuses

This campaign unlocked three stretch goals:

  • The Old Man D&D trading card by Jason Bascom
  • Stickers
  • The Onvi window cling

Remember though, this category is called “Stretch Goals” and “Bonuses” for a reason, as this campaign came with a slew of bonus items.  I also received:

  • The Barr coaster
  • Three mini-prints
  • Nine additional trading cards, for a total of ten

There was a nice assortment of items that came along with this campaign, and the quality of the items were excellent.  What was really fun was all of the guest artists used to make these bonus items. It was great to see different artists interpretations of Jason’s creations. It was a clever idea that I’ve never seen executed so well. I was quite pleased with these stretch goals and bonuses. 

Grade: A

Overall Grade: B

This is a unique situation where I loved everything about the Absolute campaign, except for the book itself.  I have had numerous people tell me that they don’t like the way I weigh each category.  I take each category and count it as 25% of the overall grade. People tell me that the “Book Quality and Content” should take precedence.  If you believe that to be the case then look no further than that category’s grade. 

Remember though, this review isn’t grading the book, it’s reviewing the entire campaign, which is why I weigh each category evenly. What good is a book that I consider an A+ in Content and Quality if it’s shipped poorly or comes out years late? That’s up to each backer to decide.

These are my grades. What are yours? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Let’s discuss!

Thanks for reading!

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