WHAT IS BEYOND THE WESTERN DEEP?
Beyond the Western Deep is a webcomic that we’ve been publishing for free online at www.westerndeep.net, a new page every week, since 2012. Now over 300 pages long with multiple side stories by guest artists, the world of the Western Deep has become a playground for classic fantasy adventure that evokes memories of the Redwall series, Mouse Guard, and dark classically animated films like The Secret of NIMH and Watership Down.
After self-printing a very limited run of Volume One hardcovers for convention sales, we signed with a comics publisher to distribute paperback versions of Beyond the Western Deep throughout the world. However, we quickly came to realize that with the source material being freely available online, any physical collection of the work needed to stand on its own to merit purchasing. After all, if you’re just getting physical versions of the stuff you can already get for free online, what’s the point?
With the publishing rights to Western Deep back in our own hands, we’re finally ready to create the definitive version of Volume One: a hefty, collector-worthy hardcover packed with cool extras and more than ready to assume a prominent location on your graphic novel bookshelf!
At 112 pages in length, Volume One combines both the Prologue and Chapter One of the story, plus a foreword by Redwall artist Sean Rubin, an extras section with concept art and commentary, and a guest art section featuring the work of Mouse Guard creator David Petersen, Runners creator and The Tick artist Sean Wang, and Jerome Jacinto, whose art can be found in games like Armello, Tooth & Tail, and more.
Following a terrible war, the four kingdoms of Dunia came together and signed a peace treaty to ensure such calamity would never happen again. A side effect of this treaty was the exile of a race of people called the ermehn, who had been perceived aggressors in the conflict. Their kind was forced north into a harsh and unforgiving land of ice and snow.
Generations later, the wounds of this conflict have still not healed. As an ermehn warlord consolidates power amongst his people in the frigid north, a second war appears to be brewing.
To prevent hostilities, a peaceful kingdom to the south and a signatory of the treaty prepares to send an emissary to the northern border. This sets off a series of events that threatens to plunge the entire world back into conflict.
The story is told from two very different perspectives:
Quinlan, a newly-promoted and very much out of his depth Captain of the Royal Guard, and Hardin, an ermehn warlord out to save his dying people no matter what the consequences may be for the rest of the world.
In this first volume, the pieces begin to move into place. War looms to the north, and the tenuous peace across the four kingdoms appears to be fraying....
Beyond the Western Deep is a collaborative effort between me (Alex Kain, the writer) and Rachel Bennett (the artist). We also occasionally invite other artists to craft side stories that fit into the greater Western Deep canon, including Jerome Jacinto (Tooth and Tail, Armello) and Leah Briere (Anaria).
I’m actually a video game writer by day, having contributed to games like Dust: An Elysian Tail, Guild Wars 2, Salt and Sanctuary, and even receiving an Independent Games Festival nomination for Excellence in Narrative for my work on Tooth and Tail with Pocketwatch Games.
I also contributed a story to the New York Times Bestselling and Eisner Award winning anthology Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard Volume 1 with artist Sean Rubin. You can check out my full portfolio of work at www.alexkain.net.
Rachel graduated with a BFA from Brigham Young University’s prestigious animation program in 2009, and has since brought her unique style to the comics realm with Beyond the Western Deep, infusing its world with a sense of dynamism and movement familiar to animation aficionados.
For this Kickstarter, we're offering two different hardcover variants of Volume One.
The standard hardcover volume will feature the classic matte cover used in our original super-limited self-published hardcover run.
But for this Kickstarter, we've also put together a limited edition cover that features a few more bells and whistles, along with a brand new design:
We're looking at a few variations of this cover, but the one we're leaning toward is expected to feature gold foil for the book title and the names, as well as a spot gloss on the white areas of the cover. The final design is subject to change, but this image and tone is very close to what we're considering.
The internal pages (all 112 of them!) are identical in each version, so don't worry about missing out on extra story or bonus features in one version versus the other.
In addition to the cover variants, we also have a set of enamel pins that we're including in the bundle tiers, featuring protagonists Quin and Dakkan.
This is the artwork we sent over to the vendor. We're very excited to see these two become physical pins!
You'll notice that there is an original print slated to appear in the bundles as well. While we've done a handful of unique prints for conventions in the past, we decided to try and design an original Kickstarter print for this campaign.
This 5x7" print will ship with all bundle tiers and higher, so if you pledged toward one of those, you'll find this beauty nestled in alongside all the other rewards.
THE ORIGINAL ART TIERS
There are four tiers featuring original artwork by the artists of Beyond the Western Deep. All of them are pledge-limited, and all of them include the Limited Edition Hardcover Bundle in addition to the artwork. For any tier involving collaboration with you, the artist will have the final say on the content of the final image--but will try to accommodate you as much as possible!
Rachel Bennett, main series artist of the comic, has TWO original art tiers available.
Her watercolor card commissions are around 2.5x3.5", and include a hand-painted character of your choosing. The character will need to be from the Western Deep story, or be an original character adapted to the comic's style.
The digital commission tier will be at a larger size, and be rendered in the comic series' official style. As with the watercolor cards, the character will need to be from the Western Deep story, or be an original character adapted into the comic's style. The painting will also feature a flat background. A physical version of the image will be mailed to you following its completion, separate from the Limited Edition Hardcover Bundle rewards.
Leah Briere, artist of the recently published Western Deep story, "The Scholar and the Seawal," is offering a tier with an original piece of watercolor artwork, featuring Janik from Beyond the Western Deep.
The painting measures 8x10", created with pencil and Daniel Smith watercolor paints on Arches hot press cotton paper. It is complete and ready for shipment to you, and will ship separately from the Limited Edition Hardcover Bundle.
UPDATE 1: 9-10
Leah has opened up a brand new tier featuring original artwork! The Leah Briere Character Sketch Bundle!
In addition to everything in the Limited Edition bundle, you'll also receive a one-of-a-kind random character sketch from the "Scholar and the Seawal" artist, featuring a character from the Western Deep canon. Each sketch will be drawn on 4.5x5.5" card stock, and each one is signed by Leah as well.
And lastly, Jerome Jacinto is offering a pair (now trio!) of digital paintings. These will feature a character of your choosing, though the character must be either from the Western Deep canon, or a character that can be adapted into the universe by Jerome. The artwork will be delivered digitally to you, and measure size A4 (8.29x11.69") at a minimum.
This sample piece, created for Ghost of a Tale, is similar in quality to what pledgers can expect.
Update 2: 9-17 -- MUSICAL COMPOSITION! TIER!
We've gone and added a BRAND NEW TIER!
The composer who did the music for our Kickstarter pitch video has decided to throw his hat in the ring! Nolan Markey, professional Hollywood orchestrator and composer, is now offering a single MUSICAL COMMISSION.
Pledge to his tier, and he will work with you to create a 1-3 minute original piece of soundtrack-style music. Check out UPDATE #3 for more info, but here's the music from our pitch video as a standalone, if you're wondering what your pledge can get you:
And what about STRETCH GOALS? (Update 10-1)
In addition to our $18,500 stretch goal for a ribbon bookmark on all published books (standard AND limited editions), we're adding a NEW STRETCH GOAL if we can hit the $20,000 mark before the end of the campaign!
If we can hit $20,000, every pledge that includes a BUNDLE (Standard Hardcover Bundle and higher) will also receive an additional pair of 5x7 prints created exclusively for this campaign by Jerome Jacinto:
These new 5x7" prints will be included in every single bundle for no additional charge if we reach $20,000!
Let's make a GREAT hardcover comic!
Rachel and I, along with the entire extended Western Deep creative team, are incredibly excited to share our comic's world with all of you through this first Kickstarter of ours.
With your help, we hope to create a hardcover graphic novel that earns a spot on your bookshelf, and that we'll be able to create even more high-quality graphic novel hardcovers, pins, prints, and original artwork for you to enjoy!
Risks and challenges
Even though we’ve published this book in the past, we knew that doing something on the scale of this Kickstarter presented all kinds of potential hiccups, especially with the addition of new physical merchandise like enamel pins.
To mitigate this, we’ve partnered with Make That Thing (http://makethatthing.com) to handle all of our reward sourcing and pledge fulfillment. Make That Thing has extensive experience in the realm of comic-focused Kickstarter campaigns, and we’re confident that with our powers combined, we’ll be well-equipped to head off any potential issues.
That said, should any issues arise in production or fulfillment, you can expect timely updates and explanations as to what is going on, and how we plan to rectify the situation. Publishing books, creating physical merchandise, then shipping them both around the world is hard work. Sometimes things can go wrong, but if they do, you’ll hear about it from us along with an action plan for how we intend to make things right.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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