Funded! This project was successfully funded on March 21, 2013.

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SYMBIOSIS: An art book exploring a world where all technology is powered by biological engines that are deeply linked to humans

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!

Closest one:

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."

THE BOOK

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 creatorThe 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 visualIt 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.

Mock-up of foil-stamped Symbiosis clamshell box.
Mock-up of foil-stamped Symbiosis clamshell box.
Mock-up of Symbiosis book with debossed logo, in clamshell box.
Mock-up of Symbiosis book with debossed logo, in clamshell box.
Symbiosis frontispiece - Click for more detail.
Symbiosis frontispiece - Click for more detail.

Sample pages:

(See more artwork on the Facebook page!)

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.

CREATIVE COMMONS

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.

REWARDS


PROP-ARTIFACTS

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.

BEZRODNYM FIRST AID/SURVIVAL KIT from decommissioned Bezrodnym hardened carrier-frigate. Contains emergency bio-etheric beacon, emergency food and medicines, and first aid guide. (click for more detail)
BEZRODNYM FIRST AID/SURVIVAL KIT from decommissioned Bezrodnym hardened carrier-frigate. Contains emergency bio-etheric beacon, emergency food and medicines, and first aid guide. (click for more detail)
BEZRODNYM RESONANCE TOOTH W/ ACTIVATOR CONTAINER (click for more detail)
BEZRODNYM RESONANCE TOOTH W/ ACTIVATOR CONTAINER (click for more detail)

All of these props are handmade by the author. They are designed for display.

PRINTS

All giclee prints are 11x17in, on archival matte art paper with archival inks.  Signed by the artist.

"Bio-walker" - The image that started the Symbiosis project. Appeared in SPECTRUM 19.
"Bio-walker" - The image that started the Symbiosis project. Appeared in SPECTRUM 19.
"Falling"
"Falling"
"Bezrodnym Cer-Fiara cities"
"Bezrodnym Cer-Fiara cities"
"Expedition"
"Expedition"

MY STORY

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.

FIN

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 Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Risks:

Delivery delays:
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.

Prop-artifacts:
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.

Keeping promises:
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.

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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    26 backers

    PERSON OF GOOD CHARACTER LEVEL: You receive 1920x1080 wallpaper of the "Falling" Symbiosis image, a sense of contributing to a fun project, and if we have the pleasure of meeting in person I will shake your hand and give you my warmest thanks. All rewards above this level include this as well.

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    466 backers

    TECHNOCRAT LEVEL: Symbiosis e-book. 175 and 300 DPI for high-res tablets (iPad with Retina display) PDF and CBR formats. No copy-protection, just honor system.

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    105 backers

    APPRENTICE LEVEL I: Symbiosis e-book plus fortnightly production emails showing how the paintings, sequentials, concept art, and prop-artifacts are being produced. If you wish for the email updates to be added to another reward you purchase, please add $10 to your pledge, and you can request this addition when I contact you after the drive is over. (e-book will be delivered when the others ship. Delivery date is for the start of the emails.)

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    57 backers Limited (143 left of 200)

    PERSON WITH DISCERNING TASTES LEVEL: Symbiosis e-book plus one (1) signed 11x17 archival fine art paper giclee print of the "Bio-walker," "Falling," "Bezrodnym Cer-Fiara cities," or "Expedition" image. Add $30 for each additional print beyond the first one. I'll contact you regarding your choice of print(s). (e-book will be delivered March 2014. Delivery date is for the print.)

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    APPRENTICE LEVEL II: Symbiosis e-book plus 1/2 hour Skype portfolio review. We will pore over your work, be it concept, sequential, or cover work, for a 1/2 hour. I'll teach you every concept design trick I can in this time-frame. If you are already really good, spare time can be spent chatting if you are so inclined.

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    FICTION IS REALITY/REALITY IS FICTION LEVEL 1: Symbiosis e-book plus prop-artifact Porolite Resonance Tooth ("Гэzoиanг") preserved in Stasis Oil, with Activator Cap. Weather-proofed/insulated with rock tar. Guaranteed to work on worlds with a Bio-etheric level above 5.0 on the Lovelock Scale. (All props made by the author. They are made for display, and are not recommended for children.) (e-book will be delivered March 2014.)

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    BIBLIOPHILE LEVEL- ENSIGN: Symbiosis hardcover book -- 11x17, limited edition, signed/numbered. The book will be 100+ pages, with clamshell box, foil-embossed box logo, debossed book logo, and tipped-in overlay vellum sheets. This is a very fancy-pants book, made for people who collect and appreciate books. I collect pre-1940s books, and the hardcover reflects that design aesthetic. This will be the only hardcover version of this book, ever. Also comes with Symbiosis e-book.

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    BIBLIOPHILE LEVEL - LIEUTENANT: Same as Ensign level with a quick custom Symbiosis-related sketch on the inside front cover! WHO KNOWS WHAT IT WILL BE? MYSTERY AND INTRIGUE AWAIT YOU!

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    BIBLIOPHILE LEVEL - LIEUTENANT: Same as Ensign level with a quick custom Symbiosis-related sketch on the inside front cover! WHO KNOWS WHAT IT WILL BE? MYSTERY AND INTRIGUE AWAIT YOU! (Due to the popularity of the previous version, I added an extra month of padding to make this available to people who want it, while giving me some time to actually do another 60 cover sketches. :) )

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    THIS LEVEL BUILDS CHARACTER: Going from your description, I'll design a character for you based on the Symbiosis universe. Front/back pose, B/W line art with color. You'll be sent a print-resolution digital file to use how you see fit. You can request to have the character designed prior to Symbiosis being released, or after. Also comes with Symbiosis e-book.

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    3 backers Limited (7 left of 10)

    BIO-MECHANIC LEVEL: Going from your description, I'll design a vehicle for you to use based on the Symbiosis universe. Front/back view, B/W line art with color. You'll be sent a print-resolution digital file to use how you see fit. You can request to have the vehicle designed prior to Symbiosis being released, or after. Also comes with Symbiosis e-book.

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    FICTION IS REALITY/REALITY IS FICTION LEVEL 2: Symbiosis e-book plus prop-artifiact Bezrodynm First-aid/Survival Kit. Includes emergency foods, medicines, and bio-etheric beacon. Guaranteed to work on worlds with a Bio-etheric level above 5.0 on the Lovelock Scale. (All props made by the author. They are made for display, and are not recommended for children.) (e-book will be delivered March 2014.)

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    BIBLIOPHILE LEVEL- CAPTAIN: Symbiosis hardcover book, e-book, and print (or prints) of your choice from the "DISCERNING TASTES" level. Add $30 for each additional print beyond the first one. I'll contact you regarding your choice of print(s). (Hardcover and e-book delivery in March 2014.)

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    BIBLIOPHILE LEVEL - COMMODORE: Symbiosis hardcover book, e-book, and prop-artifact Porolite Resonance Tooth ("Гэzoиanг"). Add $50 to get the First-Aid kit instead. Add $95 to get both prop-artifacts (the tooth and First-Aid kit). I'll contact you regarding your choice of prop-artifacts. (Hardcover and e-book delivery in March 2014.)

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    RETAILER LEVEL: Five copies of the Symbiosis hardcover.

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    BIBLIOPHILE LEVEL- ADMIRAL OF THE FLEET: You'll get everything in the other BIBLIOPHILE levels (e-book, hardcover, all four prints, both prop-artifacts), your name in a "My Sincere Thanks to:" section of the book, and I will probably pass out.

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    0 backers Limited (10 left of 10)

    GENERIC PINUP LEVEL: I'll draw a pinup of whatever you wish based on your description* for your comic, project of choice, or just personal enjoyment. The pinup can only have one person/character in it. (No team/group pinups.) Black & white line art with color. You'll be sent a print-resolution digital file to use as you see fit. Also comes with Symbiosis e-book. (e-book delivery in March 2014.) *(Within reason. No extreme violence or sex, please.)

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    FICTION IS REALITY/REALITY IS FICTION LEVEL 3: Your likeness and/or name will appear as a character in the book, your name will also be in the "My Sincere Thanks to:" section of the book. Also comes with Symbiosis hardcover, e-book and a high chance of my passing out. I get the vapors a lot.

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    SPECIAL RETAILER LEVEL: Five copies of the hardcover of Symbiosis and 3 prints of your choosing.

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    PAINTED COVER LEVEL: I'll make a fully painted cover of whatever you wish, based on your description*, for your comic, project of choice, or just personal enjoyment. You'll be sent a print-resolution digital file to use as you see fit. Also comes with Symbiosis e-book. (e-book delivery in March 2014.) * (Within reason. No extreme violence or sex, please.)

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    LEARNED MASTER LEVEL- Are you an expert (self-taught or with diploma) in physics, linguistics, esoteric religions, economics, or some other field that you think would be relevant to Symbiosis? Do you want to make a direct contribution to the content of the book? This level makes you a scientific consultant to the project, with your name on the frontispiece along with mine. Your input in the relevant field will be used to shape applicable areas of Symbiosis. As a cherry on top, you also get everything in the "ADMIRAL OF THE FLEET" level, and, if you so desire, you are invited to spend an afternoon with me in my Kansas City studio working together on the areas relevant to you. (You'll need to cover your own travel expenses and room & board. I'll gladly take you out to lunch and/or dinner, though!)

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Funding period

- (30 days)