It is 1929 in New York, and an unlikely friendship is about to be formed between a young American journalist and an old and wary Tasmanian Tiger. Tim O'Neil's editor is sending him to the zoo to get the scoop on a Tasmanian Tiger named Kaii. Times are desperate, for Kaii's people and his kind are vanishing from the earth rapidly. Hunted to near extinction by the spiteful ignorance of mankind. In one last attempt to make the Tiger's voices heard, Kaii takes O'Neill on a journey through his past, and tells his stories of great triumphs and even greater losses. They fought the most important battle one can fight: the true meaning of life itself. They fought to survive!
(From Chapter Six)
(From Chapter Ten)
Though animals can't talk, and there was no attack on the human settlers of Tasmania lead by a thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger); the other elements of this story are very real. The thylacine was a very real animal that was last seen on September 7th, 1936 when the last known member of the species died in a Hobart zoo from illness. The species itself most likely died out some time after the second World War. They were officially declared extinct about a decade later.
Thousands of years ago, when Tasmania was still connected to the main land of Australia, there was a huge amount of mega fauna in Australia that disappeared due to a combination of human introduction by the aboriginals and climate change. This pushed most of the large marsupial carnivores to extinction, except for the thylacine, and eventually the thylacine was pushed to the southern tip. About ten thousand years ago, the Bass Plains flooded, and Tasmania became isolated providing a sanctuary for the thylacine until Europeans came in 1642.
The species was unfairly accused of destroying live stock in the mid 1800's, and a government bounty scheme was put in to place to destroy the thylacine. Our story takes place in the early 1900's when the thylacine was quickly dissapearing from the face of the earth. Our story follows the story of one thylacine named Kaii, who would sacrifice much to try and save his race from the terrors of human progress.
Inspired by a trip to East Africa and a crippling virus that made him a prisoner in his Nairobi hotel room; Kevin Smelt got his inspirations for a graphic novel idea then titled “Kaii”. In the winter of 2010 (After recovering from his typhoid) Kevin joined up with James Dillon and Jonathan Rafael, and started outlining and producing some early art work.
The project was on ice for awhile, until Kevin got the idea in 2011 to change the species of the hero into the thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger) and the setting to the island of Tasmania and started on a manuscript then titled “Three Teeth of the Devil”. After about 6 months of outlining and writing the manuscript, it was complete with a new name...”A Tiger's Last Song”. After a 2 month research trip to Tasmania, and after many frustrating endeavors, Kevin finally settled on two artists: An Environmental artist named Stephen Kaplan, and a character illustrated named Jack Malametz. Now the team works hard to figure out just how to do this project. The future of this project is now in the hands of you...no pressure!
Each team member has a specific trait: There is a writer, an environmental artist and a character artist. Generally it is more common to have one to two artist, but this method of three artists will provide a more unique and detailed look to the story. With one artist putting all their focus on the characters and their actions and another putting all his efforts in making the environments near to life like, you will get a graphic novel unlike any other! “We want the readers to almost be able to smell the scenes that are unfolding right before their eyes...” says writer and creator Kevin Smelt. “It's a fairly basic but complicated process” he adds.
Creating A Tiger's Last song will be no walk in the zoological park. First the environments have to be created from all angles before the character artist can make the scene come to life with his creations. “To do a comic like this, we'll need a very long pre-production process, but the payoff will be amazing...if it's done correctly of course.”
Kevin Smelt Creator, Writer, Creative Director
Kevin Smelt was born in the Dutch city of Geldrop on September 24th, 1988. when he was six years old he moved to the United States of America with his family. He was given a new beginning in Grand County, Colorado. It is a high elevated town full of bears, wolves, elk and all sorts of beautiful animals...perfect for Kevin. Kevin has had a life long passion for animals and story telling, so it's no surprise A Tiger's Last Song came into existence. Throughout high school, Kevin wrote short stories for his journalism class while working at an exotic animal sanctuary, where he got hands on training in biology and zoology. Kevin now lives in Port Orchard, Washington. His short stories he wrote are called “Heresy” and “The Addiction of Fear”.
Jack Malametz Character Concept Artist, Illustrator
Jack Malametz was born in Ventura, California on March 10th, 1987. Jack has been passionate about drawing for most of his natural life. His earliest memory of his craft was running out of room on the bottom of his family coffee table...so he resorted to drawing on the top and that is when his parents discovered his love for drawing. Jack was able to make a profit off his work as early as high school when he would design characters based on requests from an online forum. Jack continues to doodle and sketch to this day, not on furniture...well not as much, anyway.
Stephen Kaplan Environmental Designer, Background Artist
Stephen Kaplan was born in Tacoma, Washington on March 8th, 1988. Steve always like doing art and making his own stories, but his introduction to movies and video games only made him want to do it more. Funny enough, Stephen and Kevin went to high school together and would some times meet up in an attempt to do some sort of story or comic with no avail...but it planted the seeds. After high school, Stephen went to DigiPen Institute of Technology to master his craft. His schooling gave him the skills that now allows him to do art for A Tiger's Last Song. Stephen also has a love for music and plays the piano. He sometimes plays at The Three Lions Pub in Redmond, Washington
Risks and challenges
“If we raise our funds from Kickstarter there will be no risks because part of the funds will go to keeping us alive so we can make this graphic novel our full time job for the better part of 6 months. I suppose the only risk (as with anyone) is releasing this to the world when it is done. I have spent two years of my life on this wonderful project. I've written it, researched for it, found artist for it and traveled to Tasmania for it. This project is my child and I will do anything for her and never give up on her! With your help, you can provide me with a production where I have 100% creative control, something I could lose were I to get funded by a publisher.
The thylacine has stolen my heart both as a creature but also as a symbol that fuels an engine of belief I have been using my whole life, and I would be a foll to not try and share it with the world. I thank all who give their support from the bottom of my heart! We will work hard to deliver something unlike you have ever see in a graphic novel but also make something that will hopefully stick in the human Psyche for years to come. My main goal is just to entertain people with a good tale, but if I can move them and make them see the world in a different ways... well, that would be an awesome bonus!”
Creator, Writer and Creative Director of “A Tiger's Last Song”.
Publishing is not the problem, its the production itself. Making a graphic novel like this is a lot of work that requires a good deal of resources to achieve what we are going a for. A lot that is not common in other graphic novels. We need to pay for the equipment, facilities, and pay two artist full time for half a year. This is also a long book, with over 2,000 panels that will all be in full color.
Unfotunatly we can only start previewing the final artwork when production starts, since all of us have our own lives and jobs, and keeping this kickstarter page going is like running a presidential campaign. However, I can assure you those same scenes are in the actual story, but paneling them the way we did was just practice. Though I am proud of the preview work we produced, the final work will have a more realistic and gritty look, and the environments will be more true to the real Tasmania.
You will be able to download the digital version of “A Tiger's Last Song” that includes an extra chapter (The Sixteenth Chapter: Phasma Phasmatis), a digital Art Book and all the Production Diaries compiled into one file. Previous rewards included.
You will get a very nice engraved Beer Set with 2 Beer Mugs and 2 Shot Glasses in a Pine Box and/or Wall Scrolls (”A Tiger’s Last Song” cover or “Phasma Phasmatis cover design). Previous rewards included (except Paperback version.)
For this very generous reward, you will get a bust of our hero (Kaii) regally posed in his battle helmet. We will also throw in a replica of the bow that the character Kelly uses in the story (Not designed for archery use). Previous rewards included (except Paperback version.)
If you are kind enough to pledge this amount, we (the "A Tiger's Last Song" team) will take you an an adventure you'll never forget! You will be invited to come along with us as we promote the book in Tasmania, and will take you to see many of Tasmania's sights! Previous rewards included (except Paperback version.)