Why does Kickstarter like Potato Salad so much? Or how Potato Salad trumped our Tarzan comic book and the potato state.
By Albert Frank Asker
A slap in the face!
That’s what it felt like when I read that the Idaho Potato Commission was going to fly Zack “Danger” Brown, the man who raised over $55,000 on Kickstarter to make a POTATO SALAD, out to my home state to harvest potatoes for his now famous side dish.
Why would the IPC do this when the only connection the largest city in Ohio has to the Gem State is the Kellen Moore Award which is given out each year by the Touchdown Club of Columbus to the nation’s top collegiate quarterback? Moreover, why would I take such offense to this happening?
Perhaps we should start at the beginning. Little is known of Zack “Danger” Brown of Columbus, Ohio other than the fact that he likes to rip off jokes from Mike Meyer’s 1997 film classic Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. What we do know is this: on July 3rd, 2014 Brown started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10 to make a potato salad. That’s it. Just $10. Brown reached his goal easily, but the crowd-sourcing campaign was supposed to last 30 days and for some reason, people continued to give him money. So, now he had to come up with some stretch goals. If he reached $35, he would make 4 times as much potato salad as he was originally going to make. If he reached $75, he was going to have a pizza party. If he reached $100, he was going to try to make two different types of potato salad out of two different potato salad recipes.
That’s when the media got a hold of the story.
His Kickstarter campaign really started to take off after that. He kept coming up with more and more stretch goals. He finally ended with a stretch goal of $3,000. If he reached that goal, he wrote that he would “rent out a party hall and invite the whole internet to the potato salad party.” “But Al,” I hear you say (my, you’re getting awfully familiar all of a sudden even though we’ve never been formally introduced), “Why would you feel so threatened by some random guy from all the way out in the Midwest who just wants to eat some potato salad? Someone from Ohio eating potato salad can only be a boon to our local economy!”
I didn’t first hear about Brown’s potato salad Kickstarter campaign until his crowd-sourcing project had already reached over $42,000 with a little over two weeks to go. His story was of particular interest to me as I had just recently started a little crowd-sourcing project of my own at the same time. My goal was to raise $800 on another crowd-sourcing website, called IndieGoGo, to publish a comic book anthology that would feature writers and artists from the state of Idaho. I had to use IndieGoGo instead of Kickstarter because I was planning to donate the proceeds of the comic book to the Boise Public Library and Kickstarter did not allow crowd-sourcing for charities.
My comic book anthology, I thought, had a LOT going to for it. We had licensed the Tarzan character from Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. to be the our headliner because Edgar Rice Burroughs used to live in Idaho for a time. We had amazingly arranged to have Charles Soule, who had just hit the big time by writing Superman/Wonder Woman, The Swamp Thing, and Red Lanterns for DC Comics and She-Hulk and The Death Of Wolverine for Marvel Comics to contribute a story even though he is not from Idaho. We had contributions from nationally syndicated comic strip cartoonists Todd Clark (Lola) and Steve Moore (In The Bleachers). We had contributions from award-winning creators like Dennis P. Eichhorn (Real Stuff, Weirdo, Will Eisner’s The Spirit: The New Adventures) and Dame Darcy (Meat Cake, Comic Book Tattoo). We had a bunch of great locals in tow like Randall Kirby, Adam Rosenlund, Jim Sumii, Julia Green, Jon Keithley, Shanae LaVelle, Steve Wilhite, Scott Pentzer, Allen Gladfelter, Gaz Asker, and
yours truly. Our publishing imprint, Idaho Comics Group, had a snappy name. We had an attention-grabbing title for our book: Tarzan and the Comics of Idaho. We had a hit! We couldn’t miss! I was already making plans on what to do with all of the extra cash we were going to raise above the $800 that we needed. Surely, we were going to have people beating down our door to give us their money with a line-up like this.
Well, our campaign started…slow. For a while there I was worried that we weren’t even going to break triple digits. Each day I would check our numbers on IndieGoGo and they remained stagnant. I would also check out Mr. Good-Time Charlie’s Kickstarter potato salad campaign and he rang up totals of thousands of dollars each day. What was he doing that I wasn’t? Was I coming on too strong? Was I not coming on strong enough? Why wasn’t I getting more contributions? Maybe everyone I knew secretly hated me and I was simply in denial. No, I thought to myself, I absolutely refuse to believe that I’m in denial.
Brown was the Mozart to my Salieri. Each dollar we raised seemed like such a struggle while it seemed as though crowds of people were tripping over themselves to throw bags of money at Brown. In the end, our story had a happy ending. I was able to raise $672 through IndieGoGo. We fell short of our $800 goal, but I had overestimated some of the costs of producing our comic book so that money was able to cover everything. Now that part of our ordeal was over, I would no longer envy the man who was able to raise $55,492 to make a bowl of potato salad.
That was until the day I read about the Idaho Potato Commission flying Brown out on an all-expense paid trip to Idaho to harvest potatoes for his famous salad. I thought that I was rid of Brown forever and now he is back again, in my home state no less, to mock me and my lack of fund-raising prowess. It galled me to no end that the IPC was courting “Danger.”
Brown’s story ended well too. He had raised so much money that he had planned on donating a lot of it to charity. However, that was forbidden by Kickstarter so he had to keep the cash. (Aw, poor baby!) To remedy that, the Idaho Potato Commission is donating $10,000 to the homeless shelter and food bank in Columbus, Ohio in exchange for Brown doing this promotion with them.
Despite the story’s feel-good ending, I will forever be tormented by Brown and his fund-raising genius. Let me assure you that it will be a cold day in Hell before you see me extend my hand to Brown in a display of friendliness and good sportsmanship and say, “Good show, Brown. You ran a hell of a campaign.” Unless I can get a taste of that potato salad.
Albert Frank Asker is the editor-in-cheif at Idaho Comics Group which publishes the officially licensed “Tarzan and the Comics of Idaho” anthology and “Idaho Comics” which features mostly his own work. Asker is the unofficial comic book historian of the Gem State and has given many presentations around the state on the history of comic books in Idaho. He also wrote a story for Mystery House Comics’ “6×6” comic book anthology. You can find out more about Idaho Comics Group by checking out their Tumblr and Facebook pages.