The Story of the Gamer Pride Stickers & Pins Kickstarter

As of today, The Fourth Place’s first Kickstarter (and my first in almost a decade) is 90% funded. It felt like the right time to tell the story of this project, and what led to it.

Black Label Comics anthology #1, design by Ian Struckhoff, art by Jonathan Wyke

Crowdfunding and Comics (circa 2009)

When I was in my late 20s, feeling my 30s looming on the horizon, I set out too accomplish some things I had always wanted to— from improving my career, to paying off all of my credit card debt, and maybe most importantly, to finally live my dream of writing comic books.

In just a couple of years, I had written— and lettered, designed, edited, and self-published— four comic books. All of that was thanks to my little pre-30s crisis, and thanks to the new emerging world of crowdfunding. Thanks to Kickstarter, I was able to self-publish and pitch issues of The Deathlings, my Black Label Comics anthology (before DC used the name), The Dark Age, and Failsafe.

That time taught me a lot about the magic of collaboration— from the artists that I worked with, to the fans who supported my work, to the comics pros who taught me so much about their world and became great friends. In an indirect way, it even led to the creation of The Fourth Place. Spending so much time at conventions taught me a lot about the importance of spaces where geeks like me could feel at home, and led me on this quest.

That time is also when I learned a lot about doing my design— as an unknown comics writer, I needed to do my own lettering, logo design, and virtually everything aside from the comics art. That included the logos for Black Label Comics, the Deathlings, and The Dark Age.

The Fourth Place’s Mission and Designs (2018)

The Deathlings: Anne’s Story #1, design by Ian Struckhoff, artwork by Reuben Negron

Flash forward almost a decade, to my 40th birthday, and I had the Eureka moment that made me realize how I could make something out of the idea for The Fourth Place, which had been with me for almost as long as the ideas for those comics. I found myself working on another one of my big dreams. Again, I found myself doing virtually everything for The Fourth Place, including the logos and other graphic design.

The mission of The Fourth Place is to create spaces where geeks feel at home and everyone is welcome to play with our cool toys. Without hundreds of thousands of dollars to found an actual space, I have focused on ways to create temporary and transient spaces— Especially by helping players and businesses host the best board game nights.

To do that meant launching a social media presence, a website, and some branding to help people notice my work. Once I had a logo I was happy with, I even put together a little The Fourth Place merchandise, in case anyone wanted some to support the fledgeling company.

Again, I had something good, but a sense that something was missing. Again, the answer hit me in a Eureka moment.

Eureka! (2019)

Gamer Pride Sticker Designs by Ian Struckhoff

Gamer Pride Sticker Designs by Ian Struckhoff

I was lying in bed starting to doze off, and saw the The Fourth Place logo on a sticker on my smartphone case, and imagined a d20 instead of the name of the company or that big bold numeral “4”. I realized that the logo I created could work for more than just advertising the company.

It may be a while before The Fourth Place has enough fans that many of them (besides big supporters like my Dad and a few close friends) want to wear the name of the company on a t-shirt, or have it on their phone— but I’m almost literally the poster boy for having a wardrobe that shows all of the things I love.

Square-Banner-GIF-Full.gif

I have a frankly impressive collection of t-shirts featuring superheroes, Doctor Who, wizards, games, and other stuff I love, and it’s wonderful how often that can start a conversation! My enamel pin problem is growing too, butI swear I can stop any time. Wearing my love on my (short) sleeves, or a pin on my laptop bag, has helped me connect with people I never would have known shared those loves!

All of that brings us here. This Kickstarter is another way for me to help people create and find spaces where they feel at home, because the best spaces are so much about the people we share them with, that all we really need is those people who share our passions!

It’s my hope that, wearing an enamel pin that helps you identify yourself as a wizard (and an RPG player), or a sticker that shows you’re a Friend of the Meeple (and a boardgamer), will help you make new friends as well as my t-shirt collection has for me. All you have to do to make that work is check out the Kickstarter, and remember to compliment the people you see wearing cool nerdy stuff.