About this project
BIRDLAND STRETCH GOALS
$7000 – BIRDLAND IN TECHNICOLOR!
Production begins on a FULL COLOR special edition of BIRDLAND #1, colored by Sarah R. Straub (cover, bookmark), for future availability wherever BIRDLAND #1 is sold! This is an idea I’ve wanted to see materialize since I began seeing Sarah's progress on the colored cover of the comic late last year. Something I had not anticipated while I was creating these pages, though perhaps I should have considering the highly chromatic nature of birds, was just how vividly the addition of color would bring these characters to life. It made me look at the project from an entirely different perspective, while also having the added perk of allowing me to enjoy my own pages again and in a brand new way. The standard edition of BIRDLAND will always be in black and white. It was conceived in black and white, and will continue to be produced in that way. However, I truly believe that what Sarah will bring to this full color special edition of the comic will make for a lush, vibrant and unique way of experiencing this aviary world.
When this goal is met, all backers over $10 will receive a colored “The Birds of Birdland” bookmark set, and a JAMES O'BARR VARIANT COVER 11"x17" PRINT!
$8000 - FULL COLOR 24 PAGE DIGITAL PDF
ALL backers will receive the FULL COLOR 24 PAGE DIGITAL PDF of BIRDLAND #1, colored by Sarah Rene Straub.
$9,000 - FULL COLOR 24 PAGE PHYSICAL BOOK
All backers over $10 will receive the FULL COLOR 24 PAGE PHYSICAL BIRDLAND #1, colored by Sarah Rene Straub.
Please keep in mind that Sarah has not yet begun the process of coloring the finished pages and because of other obligations will probably not be able to do so for another month. It is of paramount importance to me that we deliver the best version of this book that we can, and for this reason there is no delivery date for receiving the full color version of the book. Working at this level of detail is a very time consuming process and the last thing I want to do is rush Sarah in any way. We think a reasonable estimate is 8-12 months from the start date, but we promise to keep you all updated on the progress as it is happening. :)
BIRDLAND THE STORY
Thanks for checking out my first comic book, Birdland! Here's a little background...
Birdland is a 24 page issue, black and white comic book series set amidst the final moments of that decade of opulence referred to by F. Scott Fitzgerald as the "Jazz Age", and the emerging terror and misery of the Great Depression. The story itself is an exploration of personal failure, contrition and redemption played out against a backdrop of economic collapse and the struggle to restore stability to a nation crippled by fear. While specifically written as a crime noir, Birdland is also heavily rooted in music, art and religious history, with a back story spanning three centuries to the Baroque period, the Counter-Reformation, and the origins of Opera.
BIRDLAND #1 begins in 1930, New York City. Hollywood's first color 'talkies' are gracing cinema screens, AM broadcast radio dramas along with "Victrola" phonographs are the primary sources of home entertainment, and, a decade into prohibition, the city's speakeasies and blind tigers number in the thousands. The book opens with one of the aforementioned establishments' more frequent visitors arriving hungover at a Manhattan church for yet another in a string of curious deaths that appear to be connected by a mysterious piece of music. Here we meet Rezno Piano, our lead detective in the classic noir tradition, as he begins to clumsily trace these strange musical clues to their origin.
I knew early on I wanted to write a story focused on music, and set in or around New York City's "Jazz Age". I hoped to use my passion for this music to create a unique story that would hold my own interest through the long creative process, and I had become increasingly interested in the history of Jazz and Classical music, as well as their respective composers. To say there is an abundance of history associated with these genres is an understatement. Each is teeming with stories of struggle, success, failure, redemption, love and loss. Not to mention simply some of the greatest music ever composed. All of the themes that I would come to explore in my story were there. Around this time, in what would be the first of many 'happy accidents' on this project, I stumbled upon Gregorio Allegri's 17th century choral composition, Miserere. Aside from being a haunting masterpiece, Miserere had a fascinating history. It was the push that got the ball rolling on what would eventually become my little libretto.
Music is arguably the main character of Birdland, a murder mystery wherein the only tangible clues our feathered friend has to go on are a set of seemingly random musical symbols he 'recovers' from each crime scene. From the first chapter on, music plays a crucial role in almost every element of the story. BIRDLAND #1 sets the action in motion with the introduction of Benny, Rezno's trumpet wielding friend and confidant. Loosely based on such early Jazz greats as Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, and Duke Ellington, Benny acts as Rezno's musical sounding board and will grow to become an important player in his investigation. Everything from "Jelly Roll" Morton to Jacopo Peri will make it's way onto these pages. The 1930 New York setting allows for a plethora of musical history to draw from and Tin Pan Alley, Harlem, The Cotton Club, The Roseland Ballroom, etc... will all feature in future chapters, becoming vital resources in Rezno's search for the musical answers he seeks.
Why birds? Birds are cool. They're intelligent animals with a huge variety of species to choose from (roughly 10,000), each incredibly diverse in their physicality and personality. I thought it would be a challenge to draw them and to imbue them with character enough to 'impersonate' a wide range of human emotions and behaviors, or at least appear to. For this and other reasons, birds seemed a very natural fit. For example, vagrant characters are 'played' by scavenger birds like Vultures which when clothed and placed in an urban setting seemed to epitomize that personality. I chose a Green Heron for Rezno's detective character because of their stalking, searching, but also calm demeanor. Another major character is played by the Grey Crowned Crane because of its regal, almost imperious quality. Nuns are played by Doves. Pimps are played by Peacocks. Even the Roman Catholic Cardinals are played by Cardinals (a pun I could not resist).
Aside from these reasons, I simply enjoyed the imagery of a city full of flightless birds smoking, drinking, playing musical instruments and driving cars. It was a fun world for me to play in.
Birdland is black and white for a number of reasons. My favorite comic books were printed in black and white, such as James O'Barr's The Crow, Eastman & Laird's TMNT, R. Crumb's work, Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira or Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaa. These certainly played a part in shaping the style of Birdland. I think that black and white naturally evokes a certain mood which seemed to compliment the story I was telling. It is after all, a story set in a genre primarily associated with black and white imagery. Also, many of the films that inspired Birdland are black and white classics, such as Fritz Lang's M, 1933 King Kong, The Big Sleep, Maltese Falcon, Public Enemy, etc... These films are still powerful to look at today and in my opinion have an almost magical quality to them that is hard to describe. With Birdland I've attempted to recreate what little I could of that classic film experience on paper.
Because the story takes place in an another time period, I also kind of wanted the pages to feel like they could have been created in that time period. For this reason every line and every panel of Birdland is hand drawn using a crosshatching technique not unlike etching which requires quite a bit of time and patience. There is no digital manipulation aside from panel arrangement and the adjustment of levels required after the scanning process. The exception to this being the cover (beautifully colored by the very talented Sarah R. Straub), and the lettering, which is accomplished digitally in order to spare everyone my atrocious handwriting. :)
The choice to draw Birdland traditionally without the use of digital shortcuts means that the creation of each page can be a laborious process. However, I believe that it is the right decision for the material and it is my hope that the amount of love and detail put into these first 24 pages is appreciated to whomever may stumble across them.
As you have probably guessed by now, the 24 pages of sequential artwork for BIRDLAND #1 are completely finished. I need only finish lettering the scanned pages and they will be ready to print. This leaves me looking at printing and publishing options. I have prior experience in printing small runs with positive results, and I am currently researching larger printing options. I am also educating myself on the submission guidelines for various publishing companies, and what going that route might involve.
In the meantime, I will begin the work of self publishing Birdland. This means promoting myself and the book at conventions, through an official website, and to anyone else who will listen.
The hardest part is complete. I have a finished issue. I only lack the funds required to print and promote the first book.
With a successful Kickstarter I will be able to order a decent print run of BIRDLAND #1 along with various prints and other fun stuff for promoting in as many conventions as I can afford to secure a table at. These include:
Sac Con in Sacramento, CA
Sac Anime in Sacramento, CA
Alternate Press Expo in San Francisco, CA
Emerald City in Seatlle, WA
Wonder Con in Anaheim, CA
As you may already know, it is not uncommon for tables at the larger conventions to price in the hundreds of dollars. This does not include gas, airfare, food, or lodgings. :P Your contributions will give me the opportunity to attend at least one of these conventions, where I can sell the physical comic, prints, and generally get the book into more hands than I would be able to do in any reasonable amount of time based on my current budget.
Along with physically promoting Birdland, I will be able to afford a web space which I can use to create the official home of everything Birdland. This will give me an online presence I don't currently have, a place to sell the Birdland comic, prints, etc... as well as post regular Birdland updates (and reward related artwork).
To recap, your contributions will make possible:
The first print run of BIRDLAND #1.
Promotional prints and other media.
Creation of the official Birdland website.
The chance to promote BIRDLAND #1 in at least one major convention.
$5 Thank You and Bookmark
An official 2" x 6" full color, double-sided "BENNY" character bookmark.
$8 Digital Copy
The 24 page black and white BIRDLAND #1 digital comic book (CBZ/R or PDF) and bookmark.
$10 Physical Copy
The 24 page black and white BIRDLAND #1 physical comic book and bookmark.
$25 Two Birds With One Stone
A signed copy of BIRDLAND #1 physical comic book. Includes bookmark, the digital copy, your choice of 9"x12" or 6"x12" print (see print options below), acknowledgement of your patronage on the official website, plus a special URL for access to exclusive online content related to BIRDLAND #2 conceptual art and updates.
$35 A Birds Eye View
A behind the scenes mini-comic detailing the process of creating BIRDLAND #1, featuring never before seen images, character studies and alternate pages. Includes a signed copy of BIRDLAND #1 physical comic book and bookmark, the digital copy, your choice of 9"x12" or 6"x12" print (see print options below), acknowledgement of your patronage on the official website, plus a special URL for access to exclusive online content related to BIRDLAND #2 conceptual art and updates.
$40 Limited Edition
1 of 100 Kickstarter exclusive signed and numbered BIRDLAND #1 physical comic book with alternate cover, the acknowledgment of your patronage with your name printed in every BIRDLAND #1. Includes bookmark, the digital copy, your choice of 9"x12" or 6"x12" print (see print options below), an original 6"x6" personalized sketch thanking you for your pledge (hand colored or painted "noir" version), plus a special URL for access to exclusive online content related to BIRDLAND #2 conceptual art and updates.
$50 James O'Barr Variant Cover/Print Combo
James O'Barr, artist and creator of The Crow (a graphic novel which has sold more than 750,000 copies worldwide), will create a variant cover for BIRDLAND #1 in his unforgettable style, as well as a SIGNED and numbered 11"x17" print of his variant cover. Includes bookmark, the digital copy, your choice of 9"x12" or 6"x12" print (see print options below), plus a special URL for access to exclusive online content related to BIRDLAND #2 conceptual art and updates.
$60 The Birds of Birdland
One of a kind 8" x 10" original rendering of any character appearing in BIRDLAND #1 as they appear in our world. Drawn in a 19th century naturalist illustration style on 'aged' paper, with brief description of the comic character as well as their real life counterpart. Includes LIMITED EDITION COMIC BOOK and bookmark, the digital copy, your choice of print, plus a special URL for access to exclusive online content related to BIRDLAND #2 conceptual art and updates.
$75 A Bird In The Hand
From Fritz Lang's M to Martin Scorcese's Taxi Driver, film has played a huge part in influencing the look and tone of Birdland. The following reward includes a one of a kind 6"x6" original rendering of any classic film scene as seen in the BIRDLAND universe. You simply pick your favorite film or film scene, I will run it through the BIRDLAND projector, sign the original and send it to you. Includes LIMITED EDITION COMIC BOOK and bookmark, the digital copy, your choice of 9"x12" or 6"x12" print (see print options below), plus a special URL for access to exclusive online content related to BIRDLAND #2 conceptual art and updates.
$150 Birds of a Feather
Collaborate with me to create your own character of yourself as you would exist in the BIRDLAND universe and a guarantee that you will appear as a background character in a future issue of the comic! Receive the signed pencil and ink 9" x 12" original, a featured page on the official website, LIMITED EDITION COMIC BOOK and bookmark, the digital copy, your choice of 9"x12" or 6"x12" print (see print options below), plus a special URL for access to exclusive online content related to BIRDLAND #2 conceptual art and updates.
$200 Tin Pan Alley "Song Plugger"
This famous Manhattan neighborhood was home to many a performer, songwriter and musician in the early 20th century and will come to be a frequent location in future issues of the comic. Collaborate with me to create and become one of the larger than life personalities of this famous city block, guaranteed to appear as a RECURRING background character whenever Tin Pan Alley is visited in the story! Receive the signed pencil and ink 9" x 12" original, a featured page on the official website, LIMITED EDITION COMIC BOOK and bookmark, the digital copy, your choice of print, plus a special URL for access to exclusive online content related to BIRDLAND #2 conceptual art and updates.
$300 Join Benny's Band
Play your part in this major characters jazz quintet and become a PERMANENT member of the BIRDLAND universe, guaranteed to appear in any number of future issues! Collaborate with me to choose your character name, bio, bird species, instrument of choice, etc... and we will bring your creation to life and write you into the story. Receive the signed pencil and ink 9" x 12" original, a feature on the official website, LIMITED EDITION COMIC BOOK and bookmark, the digital copy, your choice of 9"x12" or 6"x12" print (see print options below), plus a special URL for access to exclusive online content related to BIRDLAND #2 conceptual art and updates.
$750 Golden Egg
Own one of the ORIGINAL 24 inked 9" x 14" pages of BIRDLAND #1 as well as ALL other rewards. Includes LIMITED EDITION COMIC BOOK and bookmark, the PHYSICAL COPY, the DIGITAL COPY, ALL five print options, one of a kind 6" x 6" FILM SCENE rendering, your own BACKGROUND CHARACTER with signed pencil and ink 9"x12" original, your PERMANENT place in BENNY'S JAZZ QUINTET with signed pencil and ink 9"x12" original, plus a special URL for access to exclusive online content related to BIRDLAND #2 conceptual art and updates.
Included in rewards of $25 and up ($750 will receive all five options) is your choice of one of the following photo quality prints (9"x12" BW Cover, 9"x12" Color Cover, 9"x12" Page A, 9"x12" Page B, 6"x12" Character Combo):
Increase your backer amount by the price listed below and add any one of the following items to your existing reward! Applies to all backers $5 and up.
$5 Official BIRDLAND Button Set
$8 Individual 8"x10" Print
$8 Individual 8"x10" Print
$15 Print / Button Set Combo
Increase your backer amount by the price listed below and add any one of the following items to your existing reward! Applies to all backers $10 and up.
$10 James'O'Barr Variant Cover
$15 James O'Barr Variant Cover/Print Combo
Birdland has been a labor of love since coming up with the concept roughly four years ago. I've devoted far too many hours to researching, designing, and creating this little world. It has been a difficult but ultimately rewarding experience, one that I am sure will continue to rob me of any free time whatsoever in the years to come. Thanks again for taking the time to read about it. I hope it wasn't a total waste!
Finally, to everyone whose efforts made this project possible, your time and advice has helped me more than you probably know.
Thank you so much!
Risks and challenges
I've spent the last two years completing the hardest part of the project. I honestly do not foresee any major risks or challenges from this point forward. However, should anything occur, I will do my best to resolve the issue as efficiently as possible and to remain in constant communication so that you are confident that everything is being done.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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