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Kickstarter Gold: the greatest works OF English literature, in the greatest format FOR English literature: a chooseable-path adventure!
Kickstarter Gold: the greatest works OF English literature, in the greatest format FOR English literature: a chooseable-path adventure!
2,032 backers pledged $52,837 to help bring this project to life.

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SHAKESPEARE PUNCHES A FRIGGIN' SHARK... and/or other stories project video thumbnail
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$52,837

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Shakespeare's plays weren't meant to be read. They were meant... to be played.

Hi! I'm Ryan and I'm the author of To Be or Not To Be and Romeo and/or Juliet, my two choose-your-own-path books based on Shakespeare's plays. These are like the fun books you remember reading when you were a kid - where YOU control the main characters and YOU decide what happens next - but modernized, updated, and written for a very savvy and CLEARLY very attractive non-juvenile audience.

Look at this pretty book Kickstarter made happen.  LOOK AT IT
Look at this pretty book Kickstarter made happen. LOOK AT IT

If you watched the video, you saw how the To Be or Not To Be became Kickstarter's #1 most funded publishing project OF ALL TIME (when it ran, it's since been supplanted by other projects, BUT STILL). You also saw how the sequel, Romeo and/or Juliet, became an instant New York Times bestseller when it came out. And if you didn't but my name still sounds familiar, you might know me from my work on Marvel's The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Adventure Time, Dinosaur Comics, Machine of Death, or that time I got stuck in a hole, a.k.a. The Time I Messed Up Walking My Dog So Badly It Made The News.

I mention all this to say "I am a guy who has at least a baseline competency when it comes to both writing AND Kickstarter, so you should feel confident in supporting this crazy project." Which crazy project? I'm glad you asked. As part of Kickstarter Gold, I'm here to talk about the capstone on my choose-your-own-path Shakespeare books, a book so crazy I could only call it...

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE PUNCHES A FRIGGIN' SHARK... and/or other stories.

William Shakespeare Punches A Friggin' Shark and/or Other Stories is a chooseable path adventure that brings together three distinct plotlines with multiple playable characters.  This of course includes the one in which you, playing as William Shakespeare, will absolutely get to punch a shark. You will have your choice of shark. You will have your choice of punch (from gentle love tap to the mind-shattering widowmaker). You will have some really justified reasons to punch the shark, and you will also have the option to hug the shark instead and then live happily ever after with that shark.

It is my belief that no other publishing project in the world can make this claim.

Joining Shakespeare on his allegedly innocent shark-punching adventures contained in this book are two other storylines starring two other arguably-classic Shakespeare supporting characters:

The first is called Poor Yorick, an adventure in which you play as Yorick, Court Jester to the king decades before Hamlet ever even thinks of murdering his stepfather because a ghost told him to.  The twist here is that unlike most adventures, in this one you HAVE to die... otherwise the entire space-time continuum will be disrupted and Hamlet will never be able to dig up your skull and contemplate his own mortality!

The second adventure stars Sampson, a.k.a. "Samuel Ampson", a.k.a. that guy who was always biting his thumb in Romeo and Juliet. Here the two worlds of fair Verona and Denmark are bridged, and you as Sam can run off to explore a larger version of Shakespeare's world, biting your thumb at all sorts of things, including shipwrecks, angry mobs, big ol' horses, and Ophelia.  She murders you if you do that though.  This should not come as a surprise.

Poor Yorick was printed in a Kickstarter-exclusive pamphlet that was available only once to backers of the original To Be Kickstarter. Samuel Ampson's adventure has never been printed, and was only available as a surprise PDF, again exclusively to my beloved Kickstarter backers a few years after the original project ended (I like to take care of my beloved Kickstarter backers).  This book will bring these two stories together in print for the first time, newly enhanced and revised, along with the all-new eponymous adventure starring William Shakespeare, in which - and I cannot stress this enough - you can make him punch a shark. 

If you've never backed my Kickstarter before, this is a great chance to explore choosable-path books and get a taste of what these books are like.  If you've backed before, this will be the definitive version of Yorick and Sam - and, of course, you'll get to control Shakespeare for the first time in that all-new story too.

I want to illustrate this book like crazy.

If you like pictures, oh gosh, my friend, are you ever in luck.  As with my other books, these stories will be illustrated by some of the GREATEST ARTISTS WORKING TODAY. Poor Yorick already has every single ending illustrated by Tyson Hesse, and while the others will have pictures too, we're hoping we'll raise enough funding here to commission art from our stable of Rad Artists Who Like To Draw Shakespeare Stuff to get every single ending in Sam and Shakespeare's storylines illustrated. Here are some of our illustrations from previous books, just to show we're not messing around:

Illustration by Tyson Hesse!
Illustration by Tyson Hesse!

 

Illustration by Braden Lamb!
Illustration by Braden Lamb!

 

Illustration by Mike Rooth!
Illustration by Mike Rooth!

Our base goal will be enough to afford getting 10 of the endings illustrated, and others will be added as stretch goals.  On board from the world of comics and illustration we already have:

The cover for the book will be by Chip "Sex Criminals, That's The Title Of The Time Magazine 'Comic Of The Year' Comic, It's Not Meant To Describe Chip Himself" Zdarsky, who you know can bring the goods. He painted that Shakespeare punching a shark in our logo!  THAT WAS HIM!

Stretch goals?!  LET'S DO THIS

We've met our goal (AHHH THIS BOOK IS GONNA BE SO GREAT) so here are some STRETCH GOALS to make it EVEN BETTER:

  • $25,000 - THIS BOOK IS HAPPENING, and also Meredith Gran (Octopus Pie) will be illustrating an ending! - REACHED
  • $26,000 - Marguerite Sauvage (DC's Bombshells, Wonder Woman, and Valiant's Faith!) illustrates an ending!  - REACHED
  • $27,000 - Jon Klassen (I Want My Hat Back) illustrates an ending! - REACHED
  • $28,000 - an ending illustrated by Jamie McKelvie - REACHED
  • $29,000 - an ending illustrated by Rahzzah! - REACHED
  • $30,000 - the entire book, and all illustrations, will be done in FULL COLOUR.  AHHH - REACHED
  • $31,000 - an ending illustrated by Hannah Blumenreich - REACHED
  • $32,000 - an ending illustrated by Ngozi Ukazu - REACHED
  • $33,000 - an ending illustrated by Derek Charm - REACHED
  • $34,000 - an ending illustrated by Erica Henderson - REACHED
  • $35,000 - an ending illustrated by Shen - REACHED

How big will this book be?

The Kickstarter-produced To Be or Not To Be ended up being 90k words of adventure spread across 740 pages, and it weighed like five pounds! The Romeo and/or Juliet sequel was even longer with 110k words. This is not those books. This is a shorter and slimmer volume, closer to the chooseable-path adventure books you remember from when you were a kid. This is a book you'll be able to carry in your purse or satchel without saying "man this book is heavy!  What does it weigh, like five pounds?"  We're aiming for 128 pages of story, picture, and adventure. 

And you can get more than just the book!

We're producing this book in partnership with Make That Thing, who have run many other successful Kickstarters in the past. Since they also keep my Dinosaur Comics merchandise in stock, this makes this book an IDEAL OPPORTUNITY to throw in some cheaper-than-retail extras if you're interested in pledging at higher levels, including:

  • TOTALLY SWEET: get a sheet of exclusive Shakespeare and adventure themed stickers, and another sheet of exclusive Shakespeare and dinosaur themed temporary tattoos!
  • TOTALLY SWEET + GIMMIE CLOTHES: the stickers plus a unisex shirt of your choice (we'll ask before we ship) from my TopatoCo store, including, if I may be so bold, this Shakespeare design:
The actual shirts go all the way down; they're not belly shirts I promise
The actual shirts go all the way down; they're not belly shirts I promise

 

 

  • TOTALLY SWEET + GIMMIE A NEW FRIEND: the stickers, shirt, and a new friend in the form of a gosh-darned furry Utahraptor.  He'll be in the book too.  Did we forget to mention?  Shakespeare also punches a dinosaur.
Toto CD sadly not included
Toto CD sadly not included

 

 Thank you <3 <3 <3

I'm very excited to do a Shakespeare chooseable-path adventure where you finally get to take control of the Bard himself.  I think this'll be a fun and hilarious book you can read on the go, or give to someone else and say "I'm extremely busy; tell me what the best story in it is and then I'll read that one."

-Ryan

pictured below when I got a kiss from my dog, Noam Chompsky, on the ferry to PEI

Chompsky is the one on the left.
Chompsky is the one on the left.

Thanks to Revolution Void for the music in this video, used under a CC-A license!

 

Risks and challenges

If we get funded, we're very confident this book is going to happen: two of the three stories are already written and edited, and the last is going through that process now. If you combine the books I've printed with the books Make That Thing has, together we've published over 20 books, so we're confident we can see this project through to conclusion. The only major uncertainty is in the illustration: artists take time to draw, but we've received assurances from our artists that, should the need arise, they are ready to draw SUPER AWESOMELY and also REASONABLY RELIABLY.

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    The physical and digital edition of the book, plus temporary tattoos and stickers, PLUS any one the Ryan-designed shirts in your choice of size. It's the perfect option for those of you who like reading and also DESPISE NUDITY.

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    THREE COPIES PLEASE

    THREE copies of the book, plus the stickers and tattoos. Give one to an old friend! Give one to a new friend! Or, you know, sell 'em in your store for $$$

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    TOTALLY SWEET + ANOTHER NEW BOOK TOO

    The physical and digital edition of the book, PLUS temporary tattoos and stickers, PLUS a copy of Romeo and/or Juliet: a ginormous illustrated choose-your-own-path Shakespeare adventure I also wrote! IT'S RAD

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    TOTALLY SWEET + GIMMIE A NEW FRIEND

    The physical and digital edition of the book, plus temporary tattoos and stickers, PLUS your choice of Ryan-designed shirts in your size, PLUS AN ADORABLE UTAHRAPTOR SQUISHABLE. You'll get a giant stuffed dinosaur that's largely unrelated to Shakespeare, except for the fact that the he appears in the book, and also technically the planet Shakespeare lived on had even more dinosaur fossils in the ground than our Earth does now!!

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Funding period

- (30 days)