is creating Comics

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Thanks to all my current and past patrons for your support! I couldn't have gotten as far as I have without each and every one of your contributions. There's a special note for you at the bottom of this page.


Who are you?
I'm Stephen Michael McDowell, my friends call me Buttercup. I'm a Black and Indigenous-descended content creator who's made everything from literary fiction to music albums, feature films, and Youtube comedy shorts. Right now I'm doing sequential illustration (comics) and graphic design (logos and stuff).

What's Patreon? Patreon is a way to monetarily support people who make things! Exactly like a sliding scale magazine or comic subscription, Patreon lets you pay what you can to help people who make things you like and want more of—especially things that are free-to-view or hard to charge people for—stay alive while continuing to make stuff.

How does it work?
My Patreon campaign is monthly. At the beginning of each month this website charges you the amount you pledge and the money comes directly to me. You can cancel your subscription at any time!

What are you making?
I'm currently in the seventh year of development on a graphic novel titled UM. UM is a Black magical girl comic focused on the adventures and exploits of Eugenée and their team of cosmic midwives. (You can read more about it beneath this Q&A bit).

Why do you need money?
This is all I do! Besides the occasional commission, working on this comic is my full-time job. I treat every page of my comic how I would an illustration. With an estimated 8 hours of work per-page, given my current rates as an illustrator, I should be making $240 each page I complete. If a single chapter consists of 60 pages, thats $14,400 per chapter. I'm asking for a fraction of that (12% to be precise), just to help get things off the ground. I make UM out of love and a desire to see Blackness, queerness, and Afrofuturism represented and thriving in a corner of storytelling where it has been criminally deprived.

What do you spend the money on?
Everything! Food, rent, technology, art supplies, printing, and distribution. (If that made your head spin just imagine what it's like for me doing it all mostly by myself!)

How can I support you financially without committing to a monthly service?
You can send me money directly via paypal.me/btrcp or donate a specific amount to my youcaring campaign, which will ensure you see a return on your investment in this project! But honestly, this is the number one best way to help ensure UM stays updated and on-schedule, so even if you don't become a patron, please tell everyone you know about this!

What does UM mean?
I have a long track record of naming my work after obscure and esoteric ideas. This one is no different. UM could mean "Urban Midwifery", the underlying theme of the comic. It could be thought of as referencing the neuter gender suffix -um from ancient latin. It could just be the linguistic filler "um" English-speakers use when they don't know what to say. It could be thought of as a contracted form of the Hindu/Buddhist/Jain sacred sound and spiritual icon "ॐ".

UM is the consciousness-awakening story of Eugenée, a Black, nonbinary femme, who sees visions of shamans of the ancient past interacting with gods and monsters. One day Eugenée manifests magical powers and comes face to face with The Goddess herself! With the help of their friends and a mysterious witch named Mama Chevron, Eugenée uncovers the embodied source perpetuating Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy, and must face it head-on in order to prevent its ultimate plan of global collapse from being realized.

With a liberal dose of references to African/Diasporic Magical and Prophetic Traditions and nods to their continued lineage and heritage as background information peppered throughout global belief systems, narratives, and modes of thought, UM is bound to awaken its readers to a world possibly concurrent with our own, but washed out by the blinding light of globalism's many concessions made in the hope of maintaining hegemony and erasing the highly creative, artistic traditions that helped lay its groundwork and form the many veins meandering through the matrix of modernity.

By centering a dark-skinned, Black, gender-nonconforming person in a narrative with global and potentially interplanetary consequence, UM gives a marginalized demographic the tools to imagine themselves in the future both on and off our planet.

For many years now I have wanted to put together a project that has the conceptual breadth, depth, and timescale to enable queer, trans (especially Black) people of color, to imagine them-/ourselves and their/our successors in a similar light to how mainstream comics have enabled both the imaginations of cis/hetero-conforming white people, and the cultural deification of such system-reinforcing apparatuses as The Justice League and Avengers. However, I'm only interested in doing this while appealing as-little-as-possible to the tired tropes and narrative concessions that I and so many of my friends are sick of seeing over and over in easily accessible Science-Fantasy media.

I also feel interested in exploring the intersections between science and religion and how they both manifest similarly in terms of establishing social strata. In my mind there's very little difference between a conference of clergy and a review board at a peer-reviewed science journal. The implications of what they discuss and decide are potentially equal in their capacity to influence futures, and both groups, as well as other, similar manifestations of this particular form of oligarchy, are what maintain the systems of inequality and immutable-seeming corruption that inhabit human political systems. Giving marginalized people a conceptual arena within which they can combat this invisible/inaccessible threat to their everyday is essential in resisting its dedication to upheaval of their psychic wellness.

Homo Sapiens' globally-shared interest in mythology and epic storytelling can't be underemphasized. There is a gross lack of representation of stories invoking ancient myths and traditions with an eye on Black femme identity at their core. When doing research for this work I was constantly hitting dead ends or ending up in chaotic regions of the internet because there simply is no academic or definitive extant framework for Black mythology outside the dichotomy of oral folk-tale/religious tradition and Black characters created and/or appropriated by euro-descended authors meant to inhabit a world with primarily white perspectives—the recent, extremely successful Black Panther film is no exception.

Saying "I think we need this", would be a gross understatement. What I hope to provide with UM is a conduit through which we can archetypically establish and normalize Black magic, Black deity, and Black, queer autonomy in narrative form and transition it from fantasy to reality. The only way, thus far, that I have been able to imagine doing this is by taking my community's lived realities and transmuting them into fantasy.

The rewards tiers people previously donated toward will be maintained and delivered upon completion, but a top-down revision of this entire campaign is urgently necessary given the changes I and the project have gone through in the past two years. Thank you again for your support and rest easy, your patience is no in vain!
$111.90 of $1,200 per month
this is how much it will cost to cover my living expenses & maintain a savings account specifically set up to print the comic
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By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 39 exclusive posts
By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 39 exclusive posts

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