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Two black and white cartoon women cook together on the cover of The Poorcraft Cookbook. Image: Nero Villagallos O’Reilly, C. Spike Trotman/Iron Circus Comics

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Kickstarter pioneer Iron Circus Comics breaks from crowdfunder giant to mount first indie campaign

The Poorcraft Cookbook is a reaffirmation of the publisher’s humble beginnings

After 12 years of success on the platform, Iron Circus Comics is conducting its first crowdfunding campaign without Kickstarter. The effort will raise publishing funds for The Poorcraft Cookbook, a comic guide to eating frugally and healthily without skimping on flavor.

In the alt-comics world, Iron Circus, founded by cartoonist and publisher Spike Trotman, is synonymous with massively successful Kickstarter campaigns that often use the platform’s characteristic “stretch goals” for larger paydays for creators, rather than extra goodies for backers. The publisher has raised a total of over two million dollars through the crowdfunding service, for graphic novels like As the Crow Flies, anthologies like FTL, Y’all!, and print editions of webcomics like The Complete Girls with Slingshots — not to mention the Smut Peddler series of anthologized erotica and one-of-Polygon’s-best-comics-of-2017 Yes, Roya!.

Now, after more than a decade of blowout successes on Kickstarter, Trotman will oversee Iron Circus’ first independently run crowdfunding campaign, hosted on IronCircus.com.

“The last two years have been eye-opening for me as a publisher,” Trotman says in an official news release. “And, after a dozen years of corporate crowdfunding, it was time to bring Iron Circus’s DIY attitude to all aspects of our crowdfunding campaigns. The bottom line is there’s never been a better time to launch the first ever independently run Iron Circus Comics’ campaign. I don’t have to worry about being surprised by an announcement or a corporate initiative and we can be directly in touch with backers.”

Trotman has been open about her opposition to Kickstarter’s commitment to a blockchain protocol, which the company announced in December of 2021 to considerable backlash. But, she tells Polygon via email, the move is also very much in line with Iron Circus’ philosophy.

“Folks who have known me for a while know one of my favorite phrases about navigating your career path, whatever it may be, is ‘Own your cool.’ That means always do your best to be the one in control of your own image, your own destiny, your own means to succeed and prosper, and while I feel my hand was forced in the matter, moving our crowdfunding to ironcircus.com feels like the natural endpoint of that philosophy.”

Two black and white cartoon women cook together on the cover of The Poorcraft Cookbook. Image: Nero Villagallos O’Reilly, C. Spike Trotman/Iron Circus Comics

If a self-managed crowdfunding campaign is the endpoint, The Poorcraft Cookbook hearkens back to Iron Circus’ beginnings. It’s the third installment of the Poorcraft series, which began with Poorcraft: The Comic Book Guide to Practical Urban and Suburban Frugality, the very first Iron Circus book to be funded through a Kickstarter campaign. And it sounds like exactly the kind of thing for anyone (this writer) whose school district nixed home economics classes before they were out of elementary school.

“The Poorcraft books are books I wish I’d been given when I turned 18,” Trotman tells Polygon. “And they’re more important and applicable than ever, with so many people, more people than ever, anticipating futures where they have to struggle much longer and harder, financially, than their parents ever did. Starting this series was my attempt to share what I know, things that can make that easier, and Nero’s done an amazing job expanding on that with The Poorcraft Cookbook.”

Cartoonist Nero Villagallos O’Reilly wrote and drew the more than 200 pages in The Poorcraft Cookbook. Those pages are packed, he says in Iron Circus’ news release, with “cheap and delicious recipes including sancocho, one pot spaghetti, bean burgers, empanadas and ginger snap cookies.”

But if he had to pick a favorite, he tells Polygon via email, “it’d probably be the roasted veggies recipe — it’s easily customizable, versatile, and very forgiving. The bulk of the recipe text focuses on the sheet pan method, but usually I do the cast iron method mentioned at the end instead. It’s a great way to clear out old and wrinkly veggies from your fridge, and it goes well with a lot of things — rice, pasta, you name it. I haven’t tried it in sandwich form, but it’s probably only a matter of time.”

You can check out five exclusive pages of The Poorcraft Cookbook below. Iron Circus’ crowdfunding campaign begins today at noon EST.

Image: Nero Villagallos O’Reilly, C. Spike Trotman/Iron Circus Comics
Image: Nero Villagallos O’Reilly, C. Spike Trotman/Iron Circus Comics
Image: Nero Villagallos O’Reilly, C. Spike Trotman/Iron Circus Comics
Image: Nero Villagallos O’Reilly, C. Spike Trotman/Iron Circus Comics
Image: Nero Villagallos O’Reilly, C. Spike Trotman/Iron Circus Comics

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