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A Beautifully creepy illustrated Poker Deck with a narrative edge featuring the Monster family of Thornclaw Manor by Steve Ellis.
A Beautifully creepy illustrated Poker Deck with a narrative edge featuring the Monster family of Thornclaw Manor by Steve Ellis.
285 backers pledged $9,413 to help bring this project to life.

About

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The ThornClaw Manor Playing Card Deck
The ThornClaw Manor Playing Card Deck

 The Story

Why did the wind sound like a whispered voice? Why did your dog whine when you try to go down that other path in the woods? Why did you startle awake in the night, to find nothing?

These questions will be answered as you visit a sprawling mansion at the crossroads between our world and the world of myths and legends. The creatures who live there, The Thornclaw Family of monsters, is a very old and venerable extended family of Fairies, Demons, Lovecraftian horrors, Cryptids, and things from beyond. Don't ask me how an elf and a Medusa-like creature are supposed to be related, otherworldly genetics are a mystery to me.

They find our world and our modern trappings intriguing, compelling them to cross over and check us out, often with eerie effect.  They leave no witnesses, only legends, stories, strange dreams, and myths.

I was asked by the Dowager, the matriarch of the clan who holds the purse strings, to create portraits of the family.

By sharing their pictures and writing down their stories, she wishes to create an understanding between our world and theirs. She claims they mean no harm, truly.

The first manifestations of this project are the poker decks and artwork you see here. As time goes on I will share with you more images and family members as well as their stories.

The Background:

The Thornclaw Monster Family Playing Card Deck is a passion project that has been filling my sketchbook in between my comics and illustration work. It was born a few years ago while watching Downton Abbey with my wife, Mila. I sketched a period Cthulhu-like character - no reason, no client, just sketching. Then I made him a brother, and a mother, and then more and more family members....and the world of Thornclaw Manor was born.

It comes out of my love of myth, creepy fantasy, and the period of Spiritualism in the early 20th and late 19th centuries, books like Pride and Prejudice, the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, Poe, and Arthur Machen, real life characters like Harry Houdini, The Fox sisters, my fascination with the occult, and the creepy dark woods of my upstate NY home.

The first three members of the Thornclaw Family: The Dowager, the Lord Thornclaw and the Playboy (Mr. Cthulhu).
The first three members of the Thornclaw Family: The Dowager, the Lord Thornclaw and the Playboy (Mr. Cthulhu).

 Eventually, I had well over a dozen family members. I made a short print run and took them to Gen Con where they quickly sold out. For other cons I made more decks and prints, and sold those out too. 

Lots of people asked for them so I decided that it’s Kickstarter time.

The Project!

This Kickstarter consists of beautifully illustrated playing card decks, prints, and original art.  The cards will be official poker deck size on 300g grey core card paper, glossy finish, spot foil, and packaged in a lovingly illustrated deck box with each facecard, ace, and joker a lavishly illustrated work of art. The prints will be 5x7 on archival paper matted to fit an 8x10 frame.  Original art is as described below. The funds from this Kickstarter will go to printing enough decks and prints to fulfill my printers' minimums and for adding silver foil to the cards. If you purchased one of the decks from my test print run at Gen Con, expect to find some additions and upgrades.  

The Future

Each character has a story. If this Kickstarter does well it will provide seed money to create more characters, begin to develop a Thornclaw Family Album, an art book collecting all the Thronclaw portraits as well as the stories behind them, and a cutthroat card-based tabletop game in which family members jockey for the Dowager's favor (and eventually the inheritance!). 

The Thornclaw family enjoying the Midsummer Ball
The Thornclaw family enjoying the Midsummer Ball

Want to help make this project a reality? Click "back this project" on the right, and select a reward tier.

The Deck

The cards are official poker deck size on 300g grey core card paper, glossy finish, spot foil, and packaged in a lovingly illustrated deck box with each facecard, ace, and joker a lavishly illustrated work of art.

Each face card, ace and joker is a work of art.
Each face card, ace and joker is a work of art.

The "Classic" Prints

I've created 5 prints of the most loved of the Thornclaw Family Monsters. Choose from: The Lady Lenore (the demon child), The Playboy (Mr. Cthulhu), The Lady (the young fairie), The General (the old crow), or the strangely alluring Bachelor (the David Bowie-esque smoking dragon). Each print comes bagged and boarded with archival mats.

 THE REWARDS!

$100: Random Creature 5 x 7"

You will receive a piece of original monster art from the mind of Steve Ellis. The medium will be pencil, ink, wash, prismacolor, acrylic and whatever else the madman wants to use. 

No telling what kind of creature, but it will be one worthy of the name Thornclaw and come signed and sealed in a mat! 

You will also receive two lovely Thornclaw decks!Limited to 20 people!

$200: Random Creature 8 x 10"

You will receive a piece of original monster art from the mind of Steve Ellis. The medium will be pencil, ink, wash, prismacolor, acrylic and whatever else the madman wants to use. No telling what kind of creature, but it will be one worthy of the name Thornclaw and come signed and sealed in a mat! 
You will also receive two lovely Thornclaw decks! Limited to 20 people!

$500: Join the Family, full illustration Join the Family (Finished Illustration) You will become a member of the Thornclaw household and be anointed with a name and title.

As a new member of Clan Thornclaw you will become the proud owner of a fully realized toned Thornclaw illustration inspired by you. The artwork will be 8"x10." The medium will be pencil, ink, wash, prismacolor, acrylic and whatever else the madman wants to use.

You will also receive four Thornclaw playing card decks! limit 10 people!

New Prints!
New Prints!

Thank you so much for reading this far and considering supporting my Kickstarter. this is a passion project of mine and I would love to see the world of Thornclaw Manor cross over into our world. 

Risks and challenges

There should be little risk when it comes to this Kickstarter. The artwork, except for an easter egg or two, is complete and I've already made a test run of 30 decks. My printer has a 90 day turn-around time.

Likewise, the Prints are all laid out and ready to be printed with a relatively short turnaround time.

The only real place for delay on the cards or would be if we have so many backers (what a wonderful problem to have!) that envelope stuffing becomes difficult. If so, I will use a local fulfillment house to hep with that.

Completing original art is a slower process. I've limited the custom rewards to make sure I am not overwhelmed, but all supporters who purchase custom art should expect a slower delivery time than someone who is ordering cards or prints only. And of course, those rewards will be contingent on the appropriate photos being received by me. If that runs smoothly I predict we can have all fulfillment done in 6 months.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Digital PDF of Card Deck

    My heartfelt appreciation! Thank you so much!

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    Thornclaw Poker Deck!

    Receive the Thornclaw Monster Family Card Deck, lavishly illustrated and with silver foil detail! Thanks for backing!

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    1 Thornclaw Family Portrait Art Print

    Receive one matted Thornclaw Family Portrait Art Print (5x7 print in 8x10 mat). Pick one of our 5 classic prints (The Lady, The Bachelor, The General, Lady Lenore, or The Playboy).

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    Pledge $28 or more About $28

    Two Thornclaw Poker Card Decks

    Receive two Thornclaw Monster Family Card Decks, lavishly illustrated and with silver foil detail! Happy playing!

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    *EARLY BIRD* 1x1: 1 Deck & 1 Print

    Receive the Thornclaw Monster Family Card Deck, lavishly illustrated and with silver foil detail AND one matted Thornclaw Family Portrait Art Print (5x7 print in 8x10 mat). Pick from one of our 5 classic prints (The Lady, The Bachelor, The General, Lady Lenore, or The Playboy). All at the special Early Bird rate!

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    Pledge $32 or more About $32

    1x1: 1 Deck & 1 Print

    Receive the Thornclaw Monster Family Card Deck, lavishly illustrated and with silver foil detail AND one matted Thornclaw Family Portrait Art Print (5x7 print in 8x10 mat). Pick from one of our 5 classic prints (The Lady, The Bachelor, The General, Lady Lenore, or The Playboy).

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    Pledge $42 or more About $42

    3 Thornclaw Poker Card Decks

    Receive 3 Thornclaw Monster Family Card Decks, lavishly illustrated and with silver foil detail! Welcome to the Family!

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    Pledge $55 or more About $55

    *EARLY BIRD* 2x2: 2 Decks & 2 Prints

    Receive two Thornclaw Monster Family Card Deck, lavishly illustrated and with silver foil detail AND two matted Thornclaw Family Portrait Art Prints (5x7 print in 8x10 mat). Pick from one of our 5 classic prints (The Lady, The Bachelor, The General, Lady Lenore, or The Playboy). All at a special Early Bird rate!

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    Pledge $62 or more About $62

    2x2: 2 Decks & 2 Prints

    Receive two Thornclaw Monster Family Card Deck, lavishly illustrated and with silver foil detail AND two matted Thornclaw Family Portrait Art Prints (5x7 print in 8x10 mat). Pick from one of our 5 classic prints (The Lady, The Bachelor, The General, Lady Lenore, or The Playboy).

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    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    The "Family Pack" Six Decks (SAVE $10)

    Receive 6 Thornclaw Monster Family Card Decks for your friends and family and get $10 off! Enjoy!

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    Pledge $90 or more About $90

    3x3: 3 Decks & 3 Prints

    Receive three Thornclaw Monster Family Card decks, lavishly illustrated and with silver foil detail AND three matted Thornclaw Family Portrait Art Prints (5x7 print in 8x10 mat). Pick from one of our 5 classic prints (The Lady, The Bachelor, The General, Lady Lenore, or The Playboy).

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    * EARLY BIRD SPECIAL* The Full House

    Receive two Thornclaw Monster Family Card Decks, lavishly illustrated and with silver foil detail AND all 5 of the classic matted Thornclaw Family Portrait Art Prints (5x7 prints in 8x10 mat)!

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Random Original Monster 5x7"

    Receive a random, unique Thornclaw monster created for you by Steve! This will be an 5x7 piece of art in a mat.

    You'll also receive 2 Thornclaw card decks!

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    Pledge $110 or more About $110

    The Full House (SAVE $20)

    Receive two Thornclaw Monster Family Card Decks, lavishly illustrated and with silver foil detail AND all 5 of the classic matted Thornclaw Family Portrait Art Prints (5x7 prints in 8x10 mat)!

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    The Dirty Dozen (SAVE $20)

    So you have a giant family just like the Thornclaws? Or lots of friends? Receive 12 Thornclaw Monster Family Card Decks, lavishly illustrated and with silver foil detail, and get $20 off!

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    Random Original Monster Art

    Receive a random, unique Thornclaw monster created for you by Steve! This will be an 8x10 drawing!

    You'll also receive 2 Thornclaw card decks!

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Join the Family, Full Illustration

    You will be the inspiration for a new Thornclaw monster! This will be a 8x10 fully realized toned illustration inspired by your photo. You will become part of the Thornclaw clan and be anointed with a name and title.

    You'll also receive FOUR Thornclaw card decks!

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    "The Dowager" Original Art

    The original ink, prismacolor, and gouache illustration on toned Strathmore paper of "The Dowager" of the Thornclaw Clan. The artwork measures approximately 7.5"x9.5" (in a black 11"x14" mat).

    You'll also receive the Thornclaw card deck!

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    "The Lady" Original Art

    The original ink, prismacolor, and gouache illustration on toned Strathmore paper of "The Lady" of the Thornclaw Clan. The artwork measures approximately 7.5"x9.5" (in a black 11"x14" mat).

    You'll also receive the Thornclaw card deck!

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    "The Professor" Original Art

    The original ink, prismacolor, and gouache illustration on toned Strathmore paper of "The Professor" of the Thornclaw Clan. The artwork measures approximately 7.5"x9.5" (in a black 11"x14" mat).

    You'll also receive the Thornclaw card deck!

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    "The Countess" Original Art

    The original ink, prismacolor, and gouache illustration on toned Strathmore paper of "The Countess" of the Thornclaw Clan. The artwork measures approximately 7.5"x9.5" (in a black 11"x14" mat).

    You'll also receive the Thornclaw card deck!

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    "The Architect" Original Art

    The original ink, prismacolor, and gouache illustration on toned Strathmore paper of "The Architect" of the Thornclaw Clan. The artwork measures approximately 7.5"x9.5" (in a black 11"x14" mat).

    You'll also receive the Thornclaw card deck!

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    "The Butler" Original Art

    The original ink, prismacolor, and gouache illustration on toned Strathmore paper of "The Butler" of the Thornclaw Clan. The artwork measures approximately 7.5"x9.5" (in a black 11"x14" mat).

    You'll also receive the Thornclaw card deck!

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    "The Bachelor" Original Art

    The original ink, prismacolor, and gouache illustration on toned Strathmore paper of "The Bachelor" of the Thornclaw Clan. The artwork measures approximately 7.5"x9.5" (in a black 11"x14" mat).

    You'll also receive the Thornclaw card deck!

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    "The General" Original Art

    The original ink, prismacolor, and gouache illustration on toned Strathmore paper of "The General" of the Thornclaw Clan. The artwork measures approximately 7.5"x9.5" (in a black 11"x14" mat).

    You'll also receive the Thornclaw card deck!

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    "The Cardinal" Original Art

    The original ink, prismacolor, and gouache illustration on toned Strathmore paper of "The Cardinal" of the Thornclaw Clan. The artwork measures approximately 7.5"x9.5" (in a black 11"x14" mat).

    You'll also receive the Thornclaw card deck!

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    "Lady of the Manor" Original Art

    The original ink, prismacolor, and gouache illustration on toned Strathmore paper of the "Lady of the Manor" of the Thornclaw Clan. The artwork measures approximately 7.5"x9.5" (in a black 11"x14" mat).

    You'll also receive the Thornclaw card deck!

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    "The Nanny" Original Art

    The original ink, prismacolor, and gouache illustration on toned Strathmore paper of "The Nanny" of the Thornclaw Clan. The artwork measures approximately 7.5"x9.5" (in a black 11"x14" mat).

    You'll also receive the Thornclaw card deck!

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    "Lady Lenore" Original Art

    The original ink, prismacolor, and gouache illustration on toned Strathmore paper of the "Lady Lenore" of the Thornclaw Clan. The artwork measures approximately 7.5"x9.5" (in a black 11"x14" mat).

    You'll also receive the Thornclaw card deck!

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    "The Ingenue" Original Art

    The original ink and acrylic illustration on toned Strathmore paper of "The Ingenue" of the Thornclaw Clan. The artwork measures approximately 8.5 x11.5".

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    "The Seer" Original Art

    The original ink and acrylic illustration on toned Strathmore paper of "The Seer" of the Thornclaw Clan. The artwork measures approximately 8.5 x11.5".

    You'll also receive the Thornclaw card deck!

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    "The Magician" Original Art

    The original ink and acrylic illustration on toned Strathmore paper of "The Magician" of the Thornclaw Clan. The artwork measures approximately 8.5 x11.5".

    You'll also receive the Thornclaw card deck!

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    The Witch Ace of Clubs Original Art

    The original ink and acrylic illustration on toned Strathmore paper of "The Magician" of the Thornclaw Clan. The artwork measures approximately 8.5 x11.5".

    You'll also receive the Thornclaw card deck!

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    "The Playboy" Original Art

    The original ink, prismacolor, and gouache illustration on toned Strathmore paper of "The Playboy" of the Thornclaw Clan. The artwork measures approximately 7.5"x9.5" (in a black 11"x14" mat). Since this piece is the King of Diamonds and also the front cover it's considered more valuable.

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Funding period

- (30 days)