A Kickstarter Staff Pick
SYNOPSIS: As the debut story in the Bloodthirsty saga, "One Nation Under Water" follows Virgil LaFleur, a Cajun/Creole Coast Guard veteran discharged with post-traumatic stress after the flood. Having saved dozens of lives – but losing his parents – in the wake of the storm, Virgil has grown bitter and depressed. He is planning to leave New Orleans forever when the story begins. His younger brother’s mysterious murder, however, sucks Virgil back into a vortex of intrigue, corruption, and revenge as he becomes obsessed with bringing the killers to justice.
Along the way, Virgil uncovers a ring of corrupt disaster capitalists led by local biotech mogul Simon Wolfinger. He and his followers share a common trait – extreme longevity – provided by a very expensive injection. The one nasty side effect of this “treatment” is a perpetual dependence on the consumption of human blood.
Virgil discovers that these “hemovores” have been feeding off of the blood of New Orleans’ poor and homeless citizens. Now with a new storm coming - Hurricane Rose - Virgil must choose to either evacuate New Orleans forever, or stay and become the hero that the city so desperately needs.
THIS MACHINE KILLS PLUTOCRATS: That phrase is a steal from the famous slogan on Woody Guthrie's guitar, "This machine kills fascists," except in the case of Bloodthirsty, we are dealing specifically with villains determined to rule on the basis of wealth. And not just good old-fashioned American sweat-earned greenbacks; our villains are trafficking in human blood. They harvest it and sell it for consumption.
I wanted to tell a story that articulated the rage that many of us have felt in the wake of the financial crisis, which - to me - has its roots...no...its DNA in the exact brand of cronyism, greed, and classism that has plagued our country for generations. Having grown up in Louisiana, I have witnessed how incredibly difficult corruption, cronyism, and greed can make life for countless hard-working, law-abiding citizens. And as a writer, it is my one and only job to speak up by crafting a story that is both entertaining and meaningful. I believe I've done that, and I hope you agree (or at least give it a chance). The human problems that created the disasters of the financial crisis and the bungled mess of Katrina still exist, and if we as a nation don't come together and solve them, history will repeat itself.
Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor. ― Thomas Jefferson
SATIRE: The driving force behind this story - as with any satire - is to explore (and in our case, to condemn) human greed, excesses, and corruption. While the story isn't necessarily true in its facts (people aren't actually living off the blood of the poor), it's "the lie that tells the truth," which is to say that the message of refusing to allow a small number of predatory elites to parasitically horde wealth and control, is one that is worthy of telling.
In the following clip, Georges and I elaborate a bit more about our feelings on storytelling, and on being inspired - by the negative sides of human nature - to respond artistically.
FALLING, AND GETTING BACK UP: I wanted Virgil to start out as a fallen hero. He's a man who did miraculous things to save so many people after the storm (as did so many brave men and women of the Coast Guard), but he himself - in his own way - became a victim of the storm. He was traumatized to the point of becoming deathly afraid of water, so he can no longer do what he believes he was born to do - rescue people. He has horrible, debilitating nightmares and flashbacks that threaten his ability to get through the day.
But tragedy has a way of showing us our purpose, and the tragic loss of Virgil's brother shows him his. If even one person is inspired by Virgil and his journey to regain hope, then the story will have been successful.
WHO DAT?: Meet the people responsible for bringing this story life.
WRITER: I'm Mark Landry, the creator of Bloodthirsty, and writer of "One Nation Under Water." I grew up in Louisiana, graduated from LSU, and moved to Los Angeles to study storytelling at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. I've had the humbling honor of working for Lucasfilm, Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel, and others. Teen Beach Movie, which I co-wrote, premieres this July on The Disney Channel.
ARTIST: When my fiancé discovered Ashley Marie Witter’s stunning and unique style in Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire: Claudia’s Story graphic novel, I was blown away. I contacted Ashley, told her about Bloodthirsty, and she immediately responded to the story and its themes. Without hesitation, she signed on to illustrate all eight issues and their covers.
Ashley is a true professional artist/illustrator. She is currently working with Yen Press (for which she illustrated Interview with the Vampire: Claudia's Story). She has a degree in Animation and Conceptual Development, and has worked on the webcomics Reign of Adeodatus and Scorch, and contributed to a comics anthology called Gothology: The Eternal Sad by DAPshow. She grew up in Madison, Wisconsin and currently lives in the north-west suburbs of Chicagoland.
Here is what Georges had to say about her work:
You can see some examples of Ashley's character design work on Bloodthirsty below. The first group features: Dr. Andrea Yoshimi, who becomes Virgil's ally (and potential romantic interest) in their fight against the evils infecting the city; Simon Wolfinger, the power-hungry disaster profiteer determined to harvest the blood of the city's poor; and Mary, the lab assistant who unwittingly contributes to the death of Virgil's brother Trey.
The next set features a group of hemovore prostitutes called the "Hell's Belles," who lure victims to their beds, and then drain them of their blood. Their pimp - Mother Taneesha - rules her brothel with ruthless authority; she answers only to her off-the-books boss, Simon Wolfinger.
Below is Dante, a street artist who paints fleur de lis on the side of buildings downtown. His parents went missing a couple of years ago, and Virgil - in his quest - discovers how they met their grisly demise.
MENTOR: To mentor the project, I sought the expertise of Eisner-winning comics veteran Georges Jeanty, who draws Joss Whedon’s hit Buffy: The Vampire Slayer comics. I had been a fan of his miniseries, The American Way, which dealt with issues of racism in a 1960s government-run superhero team. When I found out that Georges lived nearby, I reached out to him and pitched him the story for "One Nation Under Water." Luckily, he totally dug it. He has been an invaluable resource and an endless font of knowledge and encouragement ever since. This book would not be the same without him guiding me to stay true to the heart this story.
I read tons of comics, and this is the kind of comic book story I really want to read. - Georges Jeanty
Georges discusses "The American Way" and the emotional potential of the comics medium in the following clip:
WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP: "One Nation Under Water" is an 8-issue/chapter miniseries (or graphic novel). I have set this Kickstarter goal to cover the costs of art and printing for the first 4 issues, which I am calling Volume 1. Ashley is a talented up-and-coming artist, and (as one who has struggled to make his living in the arts) I can't ask her to toil and create her amazing work for free - it would be impossible. Much of the funds raised by this campaign will go toward paying her a decent wage as she pencils, inks, and colors every page with care. The rest will go toward printing the book.
As the writer/producer of this project, I receive zero dollars from the budget. Every cent of this campaign's budget goal (and stretch goals) is allocated to art, to printing, and to supporter rewards.
WHAT YOU GET IN RETURN: By supporting this project, you of course will receive the rewards on the right side of the screen. But more importantly, you will be contributing to the idea that we need to do better in this country, and that each and every one of us - in some way - can be a hero to our communities.
- THE BOOK - VOLUME 1 (Issues 1-4), 88 pages:
- SWAG: Fleur de Lis Stickers, Stencils, and Bloodthirsty Bookmarks:
- ORIGINAL ART: Some pledge levels include pieces of original artwork by me, Mark Landry (that's right, the writer). ;) I'll let everyone know when/if artwork by other artists gets added.
- 50% of goal BONUS: Once we reach the halfway point, I'll schedule a conference call, in which you can ask questions, get advice on your own book, on writing, on assembling a Kickstarter project etc. Due to bandwidth constraints, this bonus is limited to the first 50 supporters at the $20 level and above.
- 100% of goal BONUS: Once we reach our goal, I'll release an AWESOME POSTER by Ashley Marie Witter (For all supporters at $20 and up).
UNLOCK THE SECOND HALF OF THE STORY: As I said, this campaign only pays for the first half (Issues 1-4, or Volume 1) of the story. To raise the rest, I have illustrated stretch goals below, each one unlocking another chapter until all 8 issues are funded. If all 8 get funded, then all rewards that include Volume 1 will automatically be upgraded to include the entire story arc (Volumes 1 and 2). That's 176 gorgeous pages worth! Please SPREAD THE WORD to your family, friends, and co-workers so that we can tell the entire tale in one glorious book.
The more you share this project, the more people will support it. As the issues are unlocked, the padlocks in the graphic below will disappear to reflect our progress.
WANT TO SUPPORT US, BUT CAN'T DONATE RIGHT NOW?: I know times are tough. There are dozens of great projects on Kickstarter that I would love to support, if only I had unlimited funds. If you like what we're doing, and our message, but just can't support it with a donation, no worries. Spreading the word is invaluable. Just for sharing on Facebook or Twitter, I'm offering this cover image for mobile phones. If you would like to use it, just right click, save the image, send it to your phone, and set it as your phone's background/wallpaper (in your choice of black or white):
QUESTIONS, COMMENTS?: I have tried to craft a Kickstarter campaign that makes sense, and that offers the best rewards I could come up with (within financial reason). Again, none of the budgeted funds are allocated to me; they all go to art, printing, and reward fulfillment. But just as nobody is perfect, I imagine there will be components of the rewards or the campaign that are bound to confuse someone out there. Please feel free to use the "contact me" feature that Kickstarter provides to pose a question. I will do my best to answer, or even take your suggestion on how to improve the campaign. Thank you again for taking the time to see what this book is all about. Best of luck in your own creative endeavors.
CREDITS: Written by Mark Landry; Art by Ashley Marie Witter; Title Design by Steve Lawrence; Video Shot by Vance Kotrla; Video Edited by Peter Samet; Music by Vance Kotrla; free sound effects sourced on SoundBible by Mike Koenig.
SPECIAL THANKS: Some kind individuals have already backed the project with their generous time and attention, going far beyond any commitment I could ever expect of them. This project would not have reached this phase without them. My deepest gratitude goes to Robin Potts, Georges Jeanty, Chris Fortier, Vance Kotrla, Peter Samet, Jeff Roedel, Kyle Crane, Steve Lawrence, and Ashlie Maczko. To others who have read drafts and provided feedback, I thank you. Your names, along with those who contribute to this campaign, will be listed on the website and in the book.
Also, there's a cool ZOMBIE project that is linking to us. You can check it out by clicking HERE.
All content: Copyright 2011 LandryImages, LLC.
Risks and challenges
Every project has its risks and challenges, and every effective project manager employs mitigation strategies. As a former project management consultant, I know what it takes to bring a project across the finish line on time and on budget. As a professional screenwriter, I always deliver the right story on time.
In terms of physical production, I have signed Ashley Marie Witter on for all eight issues. This ensures consistency in the look and feel of the stunning images that this story will deliver to you, its readers. Printing for this Kickstarter campaign has been budgeted into the goals, after careful research and number crunching from several vendor quotes.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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