Everyone says you should follow your dreams, but when your dream is to be an awesome ninja assassin, you can get in a lot of trouble.
UPDATE: Everyone who backs us for $5 or more will get a complete digital copy of The Unprofessionals #1, whether this campaign succeeds or fails. See Update #7 for details!
The Unprofessionals is a 6-part graphic novel about a pair of college
students who decide they're more suited to a career as awesome ninja
assassins. NYC's underworld teems with cutthroats, club kids, spies,
counter-spies, and dumb cops; Jake & Leo can't count on much, but they
can count on each other. Yes, it's violently heartwarming, and we
think you're going to love it.
"The Unprofessionals - A Graphic Novel of Sociopathic Bromance" © 2011 Colin Rankine, 929 Entertainment. All Rights Reserved. Written by Colin Rankine, Art by Chris Moreno, Developed & Produced by Alexis Cruz & The Mythmaker Group™
The Unprofessionals Cover Art by Chris Moreno
Welcome to our Kickstarter campaign! Here's the basic thing:
WHAT IS THE UNPROFESSIONALS?
- In this section, we'll talk about the book itself. If you're not interested in that right now, skip down.
New York is the city where dreams come true, and there's no better place for a couple of starry-eyed kids to teach themselves the ropes of the murder-for-hire game. Armed with a mail-order covert ops pamphlet, a second-hand Zune, and a dream, Leo and Jake set out to show the pros how to specialize in the absurd and kill for a living...
Leo is a murder-nerd, with an encyclopedic knowledge of criminal lore, techniques and procedures. C'mon, you knew at least one guy like that in college. He lives with his grandfather, Vasili, a former Spetsnatz, who taught Leo everything he knows but is now decrepit and senile.
Jake mostly needs the money. He's putting himself through college in New York City, one of the most expensive cities in the world. But beneath that, Leo's vision speaks to a deep wellspring of rage in Jake, the youngest of four brothers who were constantly pitted against each other by an abusive father.
Now Leo and Jake are looking for their big break as world class assassins. In their world, nothing is impossible, nothing is out of reach and everything conspires to snuff out their potential. Jake & Leo will have to out-wit homicide detectives, out-maneuver shady counter-terrorism operatives, and out-gun a gang of cut-throats who don't appreciate losing jobs to a couple of punk kids. Yeah... it'll probably work out.
WHAT IS THE UNPROFESSIONALS LIKE?
It's a bromance! Like Midnight Run or Some Like It Hot or Stir Crazy. Maybe you want to see the Unprofessionals compared to some other stuff you know about. We can do that! The Unprofessionals combines the carefree, amoral crime sprees of Grand Theft Auto with the procedural intrigue of the Wire and the improvisational goofiness of the A-Team.
WHAT WE WANT THE MONEY FOR
We are raising $30,000 to complete art production and to publish a deluxe Limited Edition run of 6 issues, and a deluxe Hardcover edition collecting the whole series in one volume. Roughly half of that budget goes to our art team, Chris Moreno, Jeff Balke, and Troy Peteri, and to a crack squad of cover artists, including Edwin Vasquez, Erik Reeves, and more. The other half covers high quality papers and printing costs. Alexis and Colin get zero (0) dollars until everyone has been paid, and you have gotten your copies.
The entire run will be paid for by the Kickstarter campaign. Whatever issues we don't distribute directly to you, our Kickstarter supporters, will be sold in person during our worldwide 2011-2012 convention tour, or through a website managed directly by us. The Kickstarter campaign only covers this Limited Edition run. Based on our success here, we'll be publishing a TBP to be launched at next summer's San Diego Comic Con. From there, we'll adapt the story for the Silver Screen.
The Unprofessionals #1 is already funded and in production. We are raising money for #2-6, and the Hardcover. The full series is 196 pages in full color.
Want more detail? Below, in roughly this order, we are going to talk about:
- Our immediate plans for this Kickstarter campaign
- The Unprofessionals
- What we have to offer you, our supporters
- And some fine print that might interest you but isn't very catchy
WHO ARE WE?
- In this section, we're going to talk about who we are and why we're so special. If you're not interested in that right now, skip down to the next section. If you want detailed C.V.s, go to the bottom of the page, where we have stuck the bios, along with FAQs and other fine print.
Alexis Cruz and Colin Rankine grew up together on what used to be the Mean Streets of New York, NY, the city so nice it'll only mug you twice. We went to the same high school, where Alexis studied acting and Colin studied fine arts. We were besties! Even if we sometimes hated each others' guts. To paraphrase Chris Rock, if you've never tried to choke someone out in Math class, you've never had a true friend.
Then Alexis went to Hollywood to be a star and Colin fell in and out of jobs for a while. Alexis got really good at being professionally creative--all the behind-the-scenes stuff of meeting people, winning over skeptics, and communicating vision. Colin got really good at breaking rocks and at reading books. He's read thousands and totally understood them.
So now it's late 2010, and Alexis has got this idea that a number of really smart, creative people he knows can't seem to navigate in creative professions. They're just not that good at self-promotion, or they're suspicious of suits, or bewildered by all the technical and professional obstacles that creative people stumble over. What if those people could pool their resources, contacts, and ideas in a cooperative environment, rather than a vapid and often cutthroat corporate culture? Who wouldn't like to do that?
So Alexis and Colin teamed up again to produce the Unprofessionals, a tale of two misfits who sometimes disagree but always have each others' backs, and who decide to strike out on their own in a perilous industry...
See where this is going?
So, why are we doing a comic? There are a lot of reasons, but the main one is that we both love comics. Most of the time, they are used to tell different kinds of stories about Green Lantern punching someone in the face very hard, but it's a powerful narrative form that's capable of so much more. There are plenty of examples of engaging, unusual, and artistically successful comics that have nothing to do with men in leotards.
And what do you need to make a comic? You need a story (check), someone to write it (check), someone to draw it (check), and a way to raise a little bit of money (check). What's stopping us?
The Unprofessionals - Cover Art by Edwin Vazquez
OUR UNPROFESSIONAL TEAM
So, Colin had the idea and wrote the script while Alexis set about doing all the million things you have to do to produce and self-publish a comic. The first task, obviously, was to find an artist whose talents matched our vision and who wanted to share this journey with us. We did a lot of research and had a pretty good Shortlist going. The first few people we went to got snatched up by big publishers, pretty much 30 seconds after we identified them as a Big Deal.
Then we found Chris Moreno. He had exactly the range, the chops, and the humor we saw in our heads when we talked about our book. We wanted him. But we didn't know him and Alexis dreaded spending another 6 months trying to get to him. Then the Universe answered our passion. Alexis was visiting a friend's studio, to see what he could learn about the behind-the-scenes world of comics, when in walked Chris. Turns out Chris was a partner in that same studio, he & Alexis got along, and he dug the story we wanted to tell.
So, Chris is awesome. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, you should check out his site here. That's his cover for The Unprofessionals #1 up at the top of this page.
Our Colorist is the award-winning Jeff Balke; the celebrated Troy Peteri will be lettering. We've already got alternate covers from Edwin Vasquez and Erik Reeves, and there are more coming. The team we have pulled together for this book blows us away with their talent and humbles us with their commitment to the book. They deserve all the support we can muster for them. That's why we're paying them in dollars, not in points or promises, and that's a big part of why we need your help, Kickstarters.
The Unprofessionals: Cover Art By Erik Reeves
OKAY, SO WHY ARE WE ON KICKSTARTER?
- In this section, we're going to talk about our immediate plans for this Kickstarter campaign. If that doesn't interest you right now, skip down.
We're self-publishing these 6 issues, plus a deluxe hardcover collection. #1 is already completely funded and underway! We are raising $30,000 to cover the art production and publication of the rest.
Thirty grand! Are we nuts?
Well, yeah, we swung for the fences a little bit. Our budget actually comes in a bit higher than that because we are paying our team a living wage, so that they don't have to choose between dinner and beer anymore, and because our materials standards for this Limited Edition run of the Unprofessionals are very, very high. We're going to make this the most sumptuous rag possible!
The Limited Edition run and the Hardcover are not for the general public. The full costs of this run will be completely covered by the Kickstarter campaign, so there will be no costs to recoup. There's no cover price and we won't be selling this run in stores, ever. If we have any left over, we'll be selling them in person at conventions, or through our website. We do plan on mass market editions in the future, but it's really important to us that every time an issue of the Limited Edition run changes hands, it's personal, from us to you. It is primarily for you, our treasured early adopters and Kickstarter supporters, to give you the best reward we can in return for your belief in us.
We will, however, be using our copies of the Limited Edition run to shop the story to publishers and in Hollywood.
SO, WHAT HAPPENS ON DECEMBER 1st?
The money runs out! We are fully funded for #1, which will be going to press in December, and we'll want our team to continue on to #2. If we raise $30k by December 1st, we simply don't have to worry about money ever again!
If we fail to raise $30K, well, we knew it was a long shot. In the meantime, we've learned a lot about Kickstarter campaigns, and we'll move on to Plan B.
WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU?
- In this section, we'll talk about what we have to offer you in return for your contributions to our campaign. The details are on the right, this is more of a commentary. If you're not interested in that right now, skip down to the next section.
First and foremost, charity is its own reward. No? Okay, so then we have some goodies. Read on.
The details are all down the right side of the page there. Our main reward for you is the Limited Edition run of the series itself, and the one-volume Hardcover edition. #1 is already in production and fully funded. #2-6 and the hardcover are going to be funded by the campaign.
We structured the Limited Edition rewards so that you can contribute at different levels. I.E., if you contribute $25, you get #1; if you contribute $45, you get #1 and #2; all the way up to all six issues at $125. We did it that way so people could pitch in even if they couldn't afford $125. However, because this Limited Edition run is not intended for retail sale, you're only guaranteed issues at the level you buy in at. We won't forget about you when the campaign is done, and we want to put the book in your hands, but if you want to be assured of getting the whole thing we really recommend you go for the $125 package.
At a lower entry cost, you can get digital copies of the books before they go to print. You can get mentioned in the book. You can get drawn into the book! You can get advertising in the book. You can get signed prints, signed copies, personalized video appearances, or in person appearances. All very cool stuff.
Also, for Alexis' legion of fans, we are offering one-of-a-kind Stargate memorabilia, including props and scripts from the original Stargate film, signed and certified by Alexis Cruz.
Along with the various kickass incentive rewards listed on the side bar, we created a companion event to this campaign. In September, we decided to show you our passion for the project by signing up for a 24 obstacle, 12 mile race under our team name, The Unprofessionals. It was pretty insane. We recorded the event with various cameras including 2 GoPro sport cams and at the end of each week of this campaign, we'll be posting a new episode of our adventure across high mountains, though cold, cramps, pain, and ultimately finding exactly what this book is about; the bonds of friendship in adversity and the power of the will to push through to personal glory. Our video teaser is a mix of what our story is, and what we've done to bring it this far. Of course, these episodes will only be available to our Backers and as Unlocked Updates so if you like what this book and we are about, the entry tier is set at only $1 and you can run alongside us. http://youtu.be/_XU0lODF-B0
We'll be announcing a few more rewards very soon, including several "deleted scenes", cool pages that we had to cut from the final script but which we really liked, illustrated by the author (that's Colin) and, I dunno, t-shirts? Does that interest you? We can look into that. Let us know if there's something else you'd like to see offered.
Early Concept Art by Colin Rankine
WHAT IS THE BIGGER PICTURE HERE?
The Unprofessionals is a sort of pilot program for us. We have some big ideas about founding a cooperative creative firm, the Mythmaker Group, that will develop entertainment properties from the ground up across a variety of platforms. We chose to start with the Unprofessionals because its scale is manageable, and we can totally see it as a comic, an episodic comedy series (a very dark comedy series!), a video game, or a feature film. We have other stuff in our line-up, across several genres, from sci fi to historical fiction to licensed properties. The road ahead of us is very exciting. This is where we start, and we're glad to have you with us.
BIOS, FAQs, ET CETERA
Colin Rankine grew up in New York City, where his family was so poor they only had one knife, one fork and one spoon. While Colin ate soup, his father ate salad and his mother slashed her wrists. He lives in San Francisco with a lady (lots of straight guys live in San Francisco) and a standard Poodle (lots of straight guys have Poodles).
Chris Moreno is a comics artist and creator whose work has appeared in Disney’s "Toy Story" for BOOM! Studios, and the upcoming "POP! The Darlings of America" from IDW, as well as "The Minions of Ka" from Arcana, and Paul Jenkins’ "Sidekick" from Image Comics.
His creator-owned character, "Sanz Pantz: Ninja Platypus" appears in the "Popgun" anthologies from Image. His other comics credits include "Alien Inventor", "World War Hulk: Frontline", "Dracula vs. King Arthur", "Monkey in a Wagon vs. Lemur on a Big Wheel", "The Last Sin of Mark Grimm", the webcomic "Super Frat", and Zenescope’s "Grimm Fairy Tales". Chris’s work has appeared on sketch cards for Inkworks for "The Spirit", "Shrek the Third", "Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem", "Hellboy: Sword of Storms", "Robots" and "Family Guy". His art has also been seen in role-playing games for companies like Kenzer & Co., on their "Hackmaster" game and "Knights of the Dinner Table" Magazine, and Tony DiGerolamo’s "Complete Mafia for d20" from Living Room Games.
Chris has recently completed his creator-owned book, "Zombie Dickheads" and it's available now. Stop by his FB page and raise up his Likes. :) [https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zombie-Dickheads/218334281547430]
Alexis Cruz is an actor by craft and discipline, an entertainer by profession, a teacher by calling, an auteur by design, and an armchair anthropologist by way of trying to make sense of it all. He's also producer of this project, having co-created what it's become since Colin Rankine first penned this masterpiece.
Besides his career as an actor, he's directed numerous theatre shows, companies, workshops, projects, and other shananigans for probably longer (if you count that thing with the homemade 'choose your own adventure' 2D pamphlet game we hustled in 3rd grade). He's also become somewhat addicted lately to brutal, endurance mud races, having completed two so far (the last one was 24 military style obstacles over 12 miles!) and somehow convincing a bunch of people to do it with him. He plans on doing many more. It challenges him and those around him towards personal revolution and reinvention. If you have to sign a death waiver, it's probably worth doing.
Lately he's been developing intellectual properties with other creators, and besides sponging off their wellsprings of effortless genius. He has an intense passion for encouraging artists of all stripes to find their voices. At times he's helped give sound to intent, movement to sound, and for that privilege he is grateful. At the end of the day, he's a storyteller and his art is communal. [http://www.facebook.com/acstation]
SPREAD THE WORD:
Gather your friends, your allies, tweet this: Plz Visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/alexiscruz/the-unprofessionals-a-graphic-novel-of-sociopathic @alexiscruz929@kickstarter [Nov 1 - Nov 30] Support #alexiscruz #theunprofessionals #kickstarter (Plz RT ty)
Every person, every shout out and every ounce of love will make a difference. And, you know, these rewards are pretty bitchin. Remember, this isn't charity or a donation (though you're certainly welcome to donate at checkout). It's an opportunity to participate in the realization of an awesome creator-owned project and take home the first hot products of our new work. :)
With all that said, I think you're going to be pretty blown away with Colin Rankine's, "The Unprofessionals".
Yep. As we get closer to our goal, we'll be making available new rewards reflecting developments as they happen, including some stuff that Im planning to roll out as limited items become sold out and other incentives Im currently holding in reserve.
Thanks to everyone for all of your support! Feel free to message me with any questions!
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK!
Q. How do I pledge?
A. Enter your pledge amount and select a reward. Then we'll send you to Amazon Payments to complete the checkout process. It's quick and easy. I've done it myself with other projects. :)
Q. When is my credit card charged?
A. If this project is successfully funded, your credit card will be charged on Wednesday Nov 30th, 8:59pm PDT, along with all the other backers of this project.
Q. So I'm only charged if funding succeeds?
A. Yes! That's part of what makes Kickstarter special. If a project isn't successfully funded, no one pays anything.
Q. What if I want to change my pledge?
A. You can change or cancel your pledge anytime before Wednesday Nov 30, 8:59pm PDT.
Q. If this project is funded, how do I get my reward?
A. When your reward is ready, we will send you a survey via email to request any info needed to deliver your reward (mailing address, details etc).
Q. Do higher-priced rewards include all the items listed at lower priced tiers?
A. No - each reward only includes what is listed in the description, although some lower tiers do. If you want multiple rewards, choose the highest priced one and increase your pledge to cover the total amount of all of the rewards you want. So if you want the Ltd Ed. #1 and to be drawn into the book, choose the $300 reward and add $25.
Q. Do rewards include shipping?
A. It does! However If we are shipping you a reward and you live outside the United States, we please ask that you please add another $5 to your pledge. This will really really help us and we will be eternally grateful!!
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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Pledge $1 or moreYou selected
Access to our Backers Only updates where we'll take you behind the scenes of making this project, as it happens and keep you in the loop on exclusive offers. You'll also get a "Thank You" credit on our killer website and we'll even tweet a shout out! All that for a dollar's pledge of support! Help us spread the word, far and wide!Estimated delivery:
Pledge $5 or moreYou selected
Get the 36 page, full color PDF version of The Unprofessionals #1....waaaaaay before it goes to print and just in time for the holidays! It's a great way to be a part of lending a hand and cruise through our spot. This reward includes the lower tier reward too so join us in getting this incredible project Kickstarted!Estimated delivery:
Pledge $10 or moreYou selected
A 10 sec video message by one or more of The Unprofessionals creators, for yourself, your website, or your social network. Also makes an awesome holiday greeting for a loved one, or a byte for your project or business; just let us know what you want us to say (we reserve the right to deny anything undignified or illegal). You'll also get a "Thank You" on the Special Credits page of the actual 196 pg. book in TPB and Hardcover when it's released next summer! This is an unlimited reward so have at! Yep, you get everything from the lower tier rewards too.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $15 or moreYou selected
Personalized autograph photo of Alexis Cruz & The Mythmaker Group. Please specify in your order if you'd like a single shot or group shot. Plus, a Silver Backer Thank You on the Special Credits page of the actual 196 pg. TPB book (its fancier and can't be missed) as well as the $5 reward tier, so you can stay in the loop.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $15 or moreYou selected
Get a numbered & signed print of Erik Reeves' amazing cover for The Unprofessionals! You'll also get a "Thank You" on the Special Credits page of the actual TPB and Hardcover when it's released next summer! This reward includes all of the lower tier rewards, and signed print delivery is estimated by December 2011.Estimated delivery:
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5 backers Limited (245 left of 250)
Get a numbered & signed print by our incredible illustrator, Chris Moreno (Zombie Dickheads) featuring his original cover for The Unprofessionals! You'll also get a "Thank You" on the Special Credits page of the actual TPB and Hardcover when it's released next summer! This reward includes all of the lower tier rewards, and signed print delivery is estimated by December 2011. Oh snap, what a sweet gift!Estimated delivery:
Pledge $25 or moreYou selected
A Full PDF subscription to, The Unprofessionals, graphic novel hot off the editor's desk! You get 6, full color Chapter Issues in PDF format direct to your inbox, as we make 'em and before they go to print. Plus, a Silver Backer Thank You on the Special Credits page of the actual 196 pg. TPB book (its fancier and can't be missed) as well as the $5 Reward Tier. Not a bad deal, eh?Estimated delivery:
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30 backers Limited (220 left of 250)
Limited Edition Issue #1, numbered of 500 and signed by the Creators! However, only 250 of these are being made available during this campaign which features a Kickstarter Exclusive cover. Plus, a Silver Backer Thank You on the Special Credits page of the actual 196 pg. TPB book (its fancier and can't be missed) as well as the $5 Reward Tier.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $45 or moreYou selected
5 backers Limited (245 left of 250)
Limited Edition, signed and numbered Issue #2 with an exclusive cover (TBD) This reward also includes the previous Issue #1 reward as well as all of the $10 tier rewards and below (while supplies last).Estimated delivery:
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6 backers Limited (14 left of 20)
Edwin Vazquez has thrown down these Limited, numbered and signed (by the Edwin and the creators), HAND MADE SILKSCREEN prints for your collectible pleasure. They are simply amazing, and you'll also get the $5 reward tier, so you can stay in the loop.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $60 or moreYou selected
6 backers Limited (6 left of 12)
A 1 minute, personalized video message by Alexis Cruz direct to your email which you can pass along or post wherever you want. Kind of a quick and cool holiday gift for a friend, family member or yourself! It'll be all hooked up and tasteful; no dignity impinging antics will be entertained.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $65 or moreYou selected
1 backer Limited (249 left of 250)
Limited Edition, signed and numbered Issue #3. This reward also includes the previous Issues #1 & #2 rewards!Estimated delivery:
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10 backers All gone!
An original, Stargate SG-1 script, used, signed and certified by Alexis CruzEstimated delivery:
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1 backer Limited (249 left of 250)
Limited Edition, signed and numbered Issue #4. This reward also includes the previous Issues #1, #2 & #3 rewards!Estimated delivery:
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2 backers Limited (248 left of 250)
Limited Edition, signed and numbered Issue #5. This reward also includes the previous Issues #1, #2, #3, & #4 rewards!Estimated delivery:
Pledge $125 or moreYou selected
4 backers Limited (246 left of 250)
If you're really with us and want to get every issue hot off the press, go for this Limited Edition Bundle! You'll get ALL 6 issues, numbered and signed by the creators AND illustrator, including the PDF subscription and all $15 tier rewards and below! That's a free issue!!!Estimated delivery:
Pledge $150 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (4 left of 4)
Get yourself a spiffy 1/4 page, full color ad in our complete book (TPB & HC) for your own project, business or store. We'll even give you a spot on our website!Estimated delivery:
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7 backers Limited (118 left of 125)
Limited Edition, 196 pg, full color, Hardcover with dust jacket, numbered of 250 and signed by the Creators (Colin Rankine & Alexis Cruz) and the Illustrator (Chris Moreno). Not only that, but we'll also include the original covers from all 6 chapter issues AND all 7, full color, Limited Edition covers made especially for this print run!!! This reward also includes the PDF subscription and all $15 tier rewards.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $150 or moreYou selected
1 backer All gone!
The original, Stargate motion picture script used, signed and certified by Alexis CruzEstimated delivery:
Pledge $300 or moreYou selected
5 backers Limited (10 left of 15)
Get drawn into the book! Chris Moreno will actually draw YOU into a paneled scene! Send us a few pics of yourself and presto, you're a star! With this backer tier, you'll also receive a Limited Edition Hardcover, numbered and signed by the creators and illustrator as our most humble thanks for jumping into our handbasket! O.M.G. This reward also includes the PDF subscription and all $15 tier rewards.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $300 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)
Get yourself a spiffy 1/2 page, full color ad in our complete book (TPB & HC) for your own project, business or store. Now, we're talking primo website real estate.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $500 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)
Get yourself a spiffy full page, full color ad in our complete book (TPB & HC) for your own project, business or store. You're pretty much a kingpin on our website.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $3,000 or moreYou selected
1 backer Limited (2 left of 3)
The creators will personally come to your store or signing event, anywhere in the U.S. We'll get there, hang out, sign stuff, sport your swag and hand you all of the lower tier rewards we have available.Estimated delivery:
- (30 days)