Three American high schoolers journey back in time to save Chinese history with the help of magical calligraphy brushes.
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Journey to the Middle Kingdom
Ancient China is in peril. The heroes of Chinese legends and myth are missing, and without them, the entirety of Chinese history could go terribly wrong. Three American High School students are pulled out of their ordinary lives and thrust into China’s mythic past. The powerful and mysterious Jade Emperor has used his powers to call our heroes from the modern world, back in time to right a great wrong. Journey to the Middle Kingdom is a series of graphic novel action-adventures meant for everyone from young adults, to adults who remain young at heart. We are raising funds for the production costs of the first graphic novel in what will hopefully be a series.
Each novel is a modern retelling of an ancient Chinese fairytale, set to the stunning visual art of artist Gabriel Santiago. Across the series, three young American teenagers go from one fairy tale to another, setting things right and searching for clues to the evil that is causing chaos in ancient China and preventing them from returning home. Along the way they, and the reader, learn new Chinese words and more about China’s culture and history than they ever expected.
We are fundraising for the first in what we hope will be an ongoing series of graphic novels. This Kickstarter will fund the production costs of our first novel in the series. If successful we hope to use the profits from our wider sales of novel #1 to fund many more books in the ongoing series. The whole series has potential for an open-ended run due to the practically limitless source material it draws inspiration from.
Jason, Sabrina, and Michelle are the three children who journey back in time to fight the mysterious evil threatening ancient China, and they are guided by a young phoenix, and aided by three magical brushes. The brushes write Chinese words, and whatever you write, becomes real. With each new adventure in the series they will get closer to the heart of the mysterious evil at work, learn new Chinese words as their powers grow, and journey across stories of legend in order to get back to present day America.
Jason Xia 杰森夏– Jason's Chinese character is LI, “power.” Jason is half American, half Chinese. His grandfather immigrated to Oregon and Jason's family has lived their ever since. Jason is head strong and self assured, but gets into situations where gets in over his head. His grades aren't exactly the best, and his worst subject is Math, but he would rather spend most of his time sparring at the dojo. He has known Michelle since they were small children and lives in the same neighborhood. He and Sabrina haven't been friends as long, but still have a strong bond, despite starting off as enemies. Jason prefers to solve problems through direct action rather than waiting. He's also the leader of the group.
Sabrina Kennedy 萨布丽娜 肯尼迪– Sabrina's Chinese character is ZHI, “knowledge.” Sabrina wants to be the best at everything she does. Usually, she gets her way. She's class president, head of the school debate team, volunteers on the weekends, and is an all A student. She knows that all problems have a solution, you just need to figure it out. At times though, Sabrina puts a lot of pressure on herself to succeed. She admires Michelle for her artistic abilities, and is good friends with Jason, despite their opposite personalities. She is the clear brains of the operation.
Michelle Jones 米歇尔 琼斯 – Michelle's Chinese character is XIN, “heart.” Michelle is an artist. She is never very far from her own makeshift art studio she set up in the back of the school art supplies closet. Michelle is sensitive and tries to avoid being the center of attention. Her artwork, though, shows a young woman with perception and depth. She has known Jason since childhood and she used to be rivals with Sabrina, until they learned to appreciate the talents of the other. While Michelle has few friends, she treasures the ones she has more than anything.
In order to return home, Michelle, Jason, and Sabrina have to use their new found powers to trek across ancient China and right whatever wrongs they may come across. They will help all kinds of people and discover the rich tapestry of Chinese fairy tales and history. Eventually, they will find who, or what, is trying to ruin ancient China, and put a stop to it.
The Jade Emperor sends Xiao Fenghuang, or "Little Phoenix," to act as a guide and help our three heroes save ancient China. Xiao Fenghuang grants Jason, Michelle, and Sabrina three magical calligraphy brushes to aid them on their journey. Whenever you write a Chinese character in the air, whatever you write becomes reality. Let's see them in action!
As time goes on, our characters will have to learn some Chinese to be able to defend themselves against some pretty vicious foes. I have a lot of long term plans for this series, but to begin, our first story arc will be based on a very famous Chinese fairy tale known as...
“The Legend of the White Snake Maiden” is a popular Chinese fairy tale that's been around since even before the Ming Dynasty. So we're talking in the late 14th century, or earlier. The story has many variations, but at its heart, it's a story of everlasting love. It goes something like this.
A white snake demon, with over 1,000 years of enlightenment and training, wants to ascend to Chinese heaven and become an immortal, but falls in love with a human named Xu Xian. Love between demons and humans is forbidden by the laws of nature. Yet, heaven remains silent as the two get married. A Buddhist monk, Fa Hai, confused by heaven's silence, intervenes himself and traps the White Snake Maiden in Leifeng Pagoda, overlooking West Lake, sealing her away. Xu Xian eventually enlists the help of the White Snake Maiden's best friend, a green snake demon known as Qing Long, to free his wife from captivity and defeat Fa Hai.
Our three heroes will have to take on Fa Hai and reunite two lovers separated by fate, while searching for clues to the larger mystery which is keeping them from returning home. Why is the White Snake Maiden still trapped in the Leifeng Pagoda? Who is the strange apparition who appears in Michelle's dream? What was the Jade Emperor's plan in sending them back through time?
There are a lot of great perks in store for all of my wonderful backers, as well as add-ons. For just $5 you can get a full color PDF copy of Journey to the Middle Kingdom. The first 50 backers can get the print version for $5 off the original price! We offer great perks. If you like the style of the graphic novel, then we Kickstarter-Only artwork that you will only be able to get through the Kickstarter campaign. We also givea front row seat to the graphic novel's creation with weekly updates,and even sculpted calligraphy brushes just like in the comic!
- Paperback copy of Journey to the Middle Kingdom - Need another copy for family or a friend? Just add $25 to any pledge level over $20!
- How about a T-Shirt? Add on $15 to get one for any pledge level over $20! Look stylish!
- Want a Kickstarter-only 9x12 art print? Add on $15 for one!
Journey to the Middle Kingdom is going to be a series, where each book will cover 1-3 Chinese fairy tales. I can write as many stories as there are Chinese fairy tales, and let me tell you, there are a LOT of them. All of Chinese history is essentially my playground. The first story arc will have Legend of the White Snake Maiden as the main focus, but the heroes will have to take part in other Chinese fairy tales along the way, such as:
- Butterfly Lovers
- Ye Xian (Chinese Cinderella)
- Lady Meng Jiang and the Great Wall
- Killing Three Warriors with Two Peaches
- The Jade Emperor and the Animals of the Zodiac
- Many more!
This graphic novel is a wonderful way to get Americans acquainted with a rich world of Chinese fairy tales and stories they may have never heard of before. I've written the script for the first book and have already started on the second. I've outlined it so that the first story arc will encompass 8 books of about 100 pages each.
If the series turns out to be popular, I'd like the second story arc to be focused on Journey to the West, where the characters will help the Monkey King and his motley band of adventurers bring back Buddhist sutras from India, and get into all sorts of mishaps with the deities of Chinese heaven. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it though.
I'm writing the series to celebrate Chinese culture through Chinese myths and fables for an American audience, and to craft a wonderful story people will want to read and enjoy. The story will be fun for children to read, but I think most adults will appreciate it just the same. Along the way, I might even teach my readers a little Chinese. Or a lot, if they want.
My name is Jonathan Hop and I am a Math and Science middle school teacher by day and a writer by night. I have authored and self published five books, and am best known for the "So You Want to Play Go?" series where I teach people how to play the Oriental game of "Go." I have a Masters in Japanese Studies and a B.A. in Asian Studies, and also speak Japanese, Chinese, and some Korean (I speak a total of seven languages with varying levels of fluency.) I even lived in Korea for awhile, teaching ESL. This project brings out two aspects of myself: the part that loves other cultures and the part that loves to teach.
I'm teamed up with a great artist. Gabriel Santiago has been a professional freelance comic book artist, fine artist, and sculptor for many years and has been drawing since his early childhood in Hoboken NJ. Attending college in '04 and receiving many accolades for his work over the years, Gabriel still considers himself a student at the highest level. He now resides in Tampa, FL where he continues to master his craft and fulfill his dream of becoming one of the best comic book artists of the new generation.
Also, in the interest of helping out other Kickstarter campaigns, we are joining: http://kickingitforward.org!
So, where does the money go?
Besides the 10% Kickstarter/Amazon fees and taxes, I'm using the money from Kickstarter to pay for the artist, get a print run of books, and pay for shipping and packaging everything and delivering it to the doorstep of all my wonderful backers. Profit is not my main motive, and for those of you in the comic book business, you know how incredibly expensive of an endeavor it is. For transparency, here is a breakdown of where the project money will go.
I'm a writer, not an artist. I have to pay for one if I want to see this project come alive. I wish I could draw well, but my greatest artistic masterpiece was a stick figure I drew in second grade. I've found a talented artist, Gabriel Santiago, who will do my entire graphic novel: 100 pages, full color. If we reach our goal, Gabriel has agreed to do the full comic completely digitally. He's drawn all the artwork you see here on this page. He's done a bang up job and we're truly in sync when it comes to breathing life into the story. I'll be paying him to draw, letter, and color the graphic novel.
The rest of the money will go to actually print the books, pay for shipping, and of course rewards! I'll be able to use economies of scale to get a good per-book price. I may be new to the world of graphic novels, but I am not new to the world of publishing and printing. I have selected a local printer who does graphic novels, and by local, I mean close enough for me to drive to if there are any problems. The rest of the money will also cover the expenses of getting all the perks to my wonderful backers! I have stretch goals in mind already, but I'll wait to see what the response is!
It should take Santiago about 7-9 months to draw everything and get everything in order barring any major changes to the script. He'll focus just on this project. It will also take some time to get everything printed and shipped out to all of my wonderful backers. However, mishaps do occur, so I am planning to release the first book of the Journey to the Middle Kingdom series one year after the campaign is successfully funded. If all goes well, expect it sooner.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
I have written books before, but this is my first foray into graphic novels. It may take 7-9 months for Santiago to complete the project. He said he could focus full time on this one project, and his main job is being an artist, so it can be completed within a reasonable time frame. I already know who is going to print the book, but I also have a backup, because you know, unforeseen things happen. I work full time as an elementary and middle school teacher, though, so fulfillment will take some time as my free time is limited. You know what? Who needs weekends and sleep?
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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SPECIAL THANKS - The Jade Emperor will inscribe your name as a contributor on our "Thank You" page!Estimated delivery:
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PDF COPY - Chinese deities will deliver you a full color PDF version of "Journey to the Middle Kingdom: The White Snake Maiden" to your email box!Estimated delivery:
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SNEAK PEEKS! - You will receive a full color digital copy of "Journey to the Middle Kingdom," special thanks in the back of the book, and you will get exclusive monthly updates on the making of the graphic novel, straight from Gabriel's studio!Estimated delivery:
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EARLY BIRD PRE-ORDER SPECIAL - The first 50 to pledge will save $5 on the physical, paperback version of "Journey to the Middle Kingdom" as well as get the full color PDF version! Of course, your name will be on our "Thank You" page among other honored deities and receive sneak peeks!Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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PAPERBACK -Get the paperback version of "Journey to the Middle Kingdom," with a special thank you to our Kickstarter backers, the full color PDF version, your name in the book, and updates on the making of the graphic novel!Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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PENCIL SKETCHES - Get the paperback version of "Journey to the Middle Kingdom," the full color PDF version, your name in the book, and a randomly selected 11x14 size page of ORIGINAL PENCIL ARTWORK straight from Gabriel's Sketchbook. Signed by the artist himself.(finished in pencil and sprayed with lacquer for maximum protection) as well as updates on the novel!Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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SIGNED COPY&T-SHIRT - In addition to the other extras, you will receive a limited edition, signed copy of "Journey to the Middle Kingdom," numbered of course, and a snazzy T-shirt to impress your friends!Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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EXCLUSIVE ARTWORK - In addition to the other extras, the Immortal Masters of the Dao will give you an exclusive 9 x 12 print that is only available to Kickstarter backers.Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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BOOK CLUB - Includes 10 copies of the paperback graphic novel at a reduced price! Great for a library or children's book club! The kids will become masters of the Dao. The name of your organization or group will appear on our Thank You page!Estimated delivery:Ships within the US only
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CALLIGRAPHY BRUSH - The Jade Emperor considers you a true follower! In addition to all the stuff from the previous perks, you will receive a sculpted calligraphy brush that looks just like in the comic book, from the character of your choice! They'll look just like they do in the novel! Of course you'll receive a paperback copy and digital PDF of "Journey to the Middle Kingdom."Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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CAMEO APPEARANCE- In addition to the goodies in the other perks, you'll travel back in time to join Jason, Sabrina, and Michelle and make a cameo appearance in the first graphic novel! We'll fit you in, don't worry!Estimated delivery:
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MINI COMIC - At this level, you have ascended to join the immortals in heaven. In addition to all of the other goodies for the previous tiers, you will receive an exclusive mini comic that no one in the seven heavens or the seven earthly realms has ever seen before.Estimated delivery:
- (30 days)