So. I don't really know how to write something like this. If I do a poor job, apologies in advance.
As I'm writing this I haven't checked messages or comments on Kickstarter in a while. Between work, holidays, someone I'm close to being in the terminal stage of colon cancer, and what this update is about, I'm doing rather poorly (but not "I'd like to stop living" poorly) and haven't had the bandwidth.
I've been encouraged to stop beating myself up, and to be candid about things in updates. Pretty mixed results on the first part, but doing my best on the latter. I don't know if it's part of getting older, or the feeling of pressure to maintain a professional persona that is upbeat and excited all the time, but, man. Letting people down is something I don't handle well, I feel like a complete failure and an awful person. I'm working on getting better at dealing with the self-esteem wood-chipper it can be, but letting down 1700 people is... something else.
When I was getting things together to retool/relaunch the project, I contacted the printer, with whom I had put down 15K as a partial payment, so I could see where things were at and what I had to work with. They were surprised to hear from me; I guess completely ghosting on printers and backers is pretty common, and heard a number of horror stories about people burning through hundreds of thousands of Kickstarter funds in a couple months. So I could have done worse by everyone. Regardless, the 15K paid for most of the materials, and those materials went stale/were no longer suited for being printed on during the time of my breakdown. (I don't fully understand why it went stale either, in case you're wondering, but I'm not well versed in the technical aspects of commerical printing.) It also puts me in technical breach of contract. I remember the expiration of materials being mentioned near the time my brain's fuse popped, but between the breakdown and trying to get better, I completely forgot until it was brought up again by the printer.
But my cruddy memory aside, what this all means is that I cannot make the print version of the book happen. Even if I sold my house and got loans with whatever credit I may have left I wouldn't be able to. If this project can't be called star-crossed at this point, I don't know what would be. I read a while back that saying "sorry" to people often makes them feel like they owe you forgiveness or something similar. So I won't say that. But I do regret what happened, even if it wasn't something where I could point at a choice or two and lay the blame on it, it's still on me. If you're feeling angry, frustrated, etc., it may provide some satisfaction in knowing that trying to get this project back up and rolling for years now without success has been a near-omnipresent source of shame and stress. Or maybe it won't. I don't know.
My only option at this point is to finish the book as I can, and hope to find a publisher with whom I can work something out to get the book into backers hands. That's what I'll be doing, but it's not fair to the backers at the print tiers to just leave it at that. I cannot refund you via the method you used to pay, but I can send money via paypal or I can mail a check through my bank. If you're in one of the print tiers, and wish for a refund, please send your name(or kickstarter ID) along with your Paypal or mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll get that rolling.
If your tier includes things like props, or custom character designs, I'll still be making those if you want them. I'm also going to put in Google Drive all of the currently completed artwork and text for the book. People like the folks at Khepera Publishing and Daniel Solis have be using the material already, and their work is a definite bright spot in this.
Since my anxiety over this is off the charts, and I'd like to get my life moving in some way again, I won't be checking back here for a bit, but if you need to contact me for anything non-refund related, feel free to contact me at email@example.com
All of you who backed this project have my sincere thanks. Your patience and kindness has been extraordinary, and I wish with my whole heart that you were holding the book in your hands now rather than reading this. I want to do right by you, as much as I am capable, and while my skills at un-derailing Kickstarters seems pretty poor, I am still a good illustrator/art instructor/tutor. If that can be of assistance to you, I'm happy to help in that manner as well.
Take care, everyone.