If you haven't watched the above video, I encourage you to check it out. Themba Moyo and Buster Moody did a bang-up job on it, and I'm proud to have had their help and support with this project. (If you'd like to see the video in eye-searing, mind-rending 1080p, check it out here.)
Want to immediately see the art? Go here to see the first of the tumblr art updates!
Symbiosis is a Creative Commons licensed, world-building art book by comic and concept artist Steven Sanders. It explores a world where there are no mechanical sources of power. Instead, humanity has learned to utilize biological engines that harness a "bio-ether" present on the planet. They can control and feel what these bio-engines feel via a "Resonance Tooth." Consider it 1940s era bio-punk.
The Creative Commons licensing turns this book into a world-building toolkit that you can use to make your own RPGs, comics, cosplay, novels, or anything you can imagine that is inspired by the world in this book.
It's the first book of its kind.
UPDATE 3/15: WE JUST FUNDED!
Here's a couple stand-in stretch goals until I hear back from the printer:
The major one:
75K If we can bring in pledges hand over fist, I'll bump the page count back up to my original planned count of 200 pages for the book!
60K Free Symbiosis "PRO SPAGYRICO, YLIASTER" stickers with every physical order. 300DPi digital file with every digital order. I'll leave the fun of learning up to the reader to translate the latin.
I've had the pleasure of a number of people I am proud to call my friends and peers lending their support for this book.
Jason Aaron (THOR, WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN, SCALPED ): "This is a whole book of pure, unadulterated Steven Sanders imagination -- for me, that's the part I'm excited about. I will for sure be buying my copy of Symbiosis."
Blair Butler (Host, ATTACK OF THE SHOW, MSN, Writer, Heart ): "The guy is ridiculously talented, the project is ridiculously ambitious -- go ahead and donate! I'm excited to see it. "
Arnie & Cathy Fenner (Directors- Spectrum Fantastic Art LLC) "Steven Sanders has vision—and perhaps more importantly, he has the ability to transform that vision into reality. 'Symbiosis' doesn't conform to expectations but, rather, stretches and breaks boundaries—as all original and unique fictions should. In lesser artistic hands, we'd be skeptical; in Steven's…well, count us in as fellow travelers on this journey."
Matt Fraction (CASANOVA, FANTASTIC FOUR, FIVE FISTS OF SCIENCE, HAWKEYE ): "I found (Steven's work) hypnotic, and evocative, and inspiring, and so incredibly well-realized and designed that I wanted to stare at it for hours and have things like that in my life."
Kieron Gillen (IRON MAN, YOUNG AVENGERS, S.W.O.R.D.): "...you always get the idea that Steve may have these spaceships in his basement." "...I just want to see (Symbiosis). I just want to see what he does when given an entirely blank canvas."
Sam Humphries (UNCANNY X-FORCE, SACRIFICE, OUR LOVE IS REAL): "Steven is the artist without fear. It's a really great project, I'm going to support it, and so should you."
Nikola Tesla (dead genius, inventor of poly-phase alternating current system): "I have come from beyond the grave, through the etheric plane, simply to gaze upon this epic work. My long-dead eyes are filled with anticipation and excitement."
One thing that I have heard repeatedly from writers I've worked with is that my artwork is evocative. It makes them want to tell stories. I've spent a lot of time in the fan-bases of various genres, and feel that inside of every consumer is a creator. The fans are just as much a part of the process of story-building as the creators are. At its core, that is what this book is about: you becoming my co-creator. Symbiosis is a world-building art book that tells the story of a woman's travels through a world where the symbiotic relationship that we have with technology is made much more visceral. All sources of power are generated by bio-etheric engines, with which the operators share a direct mental link. The story-telling is loose and mostly visual. It will be told with art that uses a variety of media and formats: fully painted, colored line art, black-and-white line art, and comic art.
What you do with this story is up to you. Enjoy it on its own merits, or take it and spin it off into any of a million different directions.
The world-building in Symbiosis will encompass ethnic and political groups, ecology, biology, physics, mechanics/power transmission, trade, agriculture, war, religion, medicine...anything and everything I can fit in these 100+ pages. Katherine Aeneas will be your guide through this world. Something like a Virgil to your Dante, albeit on a journey through a much more pleasant world.
The book will be 100+ pages and is being sold in two formats. One is an e-book that is in both PDF and CBR format, in web and HD tablet resolution. The other is an 11x17 high-end hardcover, with a clamshell box, gold foil logo on the box front and spine, a debossed logo on the book cover, and tipped-in vellum sheets for informational overlays in various parts of the book. The binding is Smyth sewn. If you want to know why Smyth sewn binding is so critical to a quality book, click here. The hardcover is an ode to old books that I love and grew up with, and now collect. I researched how they were made, how and why they last, and I am duplicating these books as much as I can while still making it affordable.
For collectors: The limitation page (where the number out of the total print run the book is, and where my signature goes) is sewn into the book along with the rest of the pages. There are no pasted elements to this book, just the tipped-in/edge glued vellum sheets, which is standard procedure for pages of different materials, which due to placement, cannot be sewn into the book. If you are a collector with any other questions, feel free to contact me with questions.
The only hardcovers printed will be the ones made through this Kickstarter. The signed and numbered edition produced here will be it. For those who care about such things, books of this sort tend to increase in value rapidly, frequently doubling or tripling in value in a matter of months.
The e-book is based around how I think digital media should be handled. (Cheaply, without copy-protection, and in as many formats as possible.) In a sense, it will be an experiment to see if these ideas hold any weight in the market.
Symbiosis is about encouraging creativity. The Creative Commons licensing* will allow people to take this world, where I have done the artistic and conceptual heavy lifting, and use it however they'd like. It's about taking this book, being inspired, and HAVING FUN. Play tabletop RPGs? Use your RPG engine of choice (like Fate Core) to make a Symbiosis RPG. Are you a 3D modeler? Use the designs. Make comics? Write? Cosplay? This is your toolkit. Take what I'm making, build on it, play with it, impress us all with what you can do. There's so much talent out there, and I cannot wait to see this world through your eyes.
Handmade prop-artifacts make up another aspect of Symbiosis. While these are rewards/incentives, they are also there to help seed the creation by you of more artifacts from the world of Symbiosis.
All of these props are handmade by the author. They are designed for display.
All giclee prints are 11x17in, on archival matte art paper with archival inks. Signed by the artist.
Hi! I'm Steven Sanders. I share a name with a "Beverly Hills, 90210" character, but we don't seem to have anything else in common. Unless being really cool counts. I'm really cool.
I have over a decade of professional experience in the illustration field. My work has appeared in the distinguished SPECTRUM anthology, and I've drawn a number of comics for Marvel and Image (WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN, WOLVERINE, DEADPOOL TEAM-UP, S.W.O.R.D., FIVE FISTS OF SCIENCE, OUR LOVE IS REAL). I've produced advertising and video game illustration for a number of large companies. In 2007 I made the first comic book in the western hemisphere made for cellphones.
I'm an engineer who realized he wasn't good at math and decided to fall back on art. I read copious amounts of literature on medicine, engineering, biology, neurochemistry, foundry and machine shop work, radio theory, aeronautics and rocketry, philosophy, esoteric magical traditions, world history... anything I can get my hands on. Symbiosis sprang from thinking about our relationship with technology; the way that technology can be seen as a living organism unto itself, and how that shapes the world we live in.
I use all of this to inform my work and make it as real (or real-seeming) as possible. Concept art and world-building lets me be the engineer I never was; it lets me build the impossible (or improbable) without all the "math" and "physical laws of nature" that are so pesky and crucial to actual engineers. It's playing in the pool of the aesthetics of technology, science and other trappings of human civilization.
If you've made it this far, congrats! Thank you so much for looking at and considering this project! I hope I get the chance to produce it for you.
* The Creative Commons license is an "Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported" license, to be specific. Click the below image for full information.
Commercial license will be easily granted with an affordable licensing agreement. If the project is small (i.e. It's not for a corporation or an LLC) I'll likely not ask for any cut or fee at all.
Risks and challenges
As a professional illustrator, one thing that I pride myself on is never leaving a client hanging when they need material from me. There may be production problems with the book or props, but if there are delays, you will be told of them, and I will get these products to you.
Since I have never made props on a large scale before, my estimates may be off regarding delivery time. I don't anticipate any problems, as I've done several dry runs, and have padded the delivery date out a bit, but if there are any delays, they will be promptly communicated.
There is also a possibility for international orders of the First Aid kit that your local customs may think I'm sending you drugs or a bomb or something, (There are no hazardous materials in the kit, but someone overzealous might think I'm sending some kind of crystalline drug) so I'm afraid I cannot be held responsible if the prop shows up rummaged through by your local customs officials. I think, though, that this risk is fairly small.
I may be hit by a car or something and die. If possible I'll see what I can do from beyond the grave.
There will definitely not be any hardcovers beyond what is made for this Kickstarter. If through some happenstance a publisher asks for rights to this book, they will only get softcover rights, and nobody gets a book before the backers do, period. You made this happen; you come first.
- (30 days)