The year is 4419.
Vic Delany is a two-thousand-year-old veteran of interstellar war returning home after a lifetime of battle in the wilds of space, a battered brainship scarred by the atrocities he’s witnessed out among the UNEN colony worlds. Sedna, a cyborg demigoddess and sole administrator of a space habitat orbiting Pluto, is charged with escorting inbound starships back to the Sol system. She also safeguards the gateway to the digital Otherworld: an ancient simulacrum powered by the light of dead and dying suns all across the galaxy, where most of humanity has taken refuge to escape the ravages of war—and achieve immortality.
Asphodel is an independent, creator-owned space opera comic—a one-shot with series potential. Each print copy of the book will be signed and personalized as desired. Preorder the standalone, 22-page first issue, “Newborn,” exclusive to Kickstarter backers until 2016!
Note: There’s no additional cost for shipping physical rewards within the United States, but please add $10.00 USD for international orders. Thank you.
Alex Kane is the managing editor of The Critical Press, a publisher of books on film and culture, as well as an executive producer of the Star Wars documentary The Prequels Strike Back. He also serves as a first reader for Uncanny Magazine and works full-time as a freelance copyeditor. A graduate of the 2013 Clarion West Writers Workshop, his fiction has appeared in more than a dozen venues, including the Exigencies anthology from Curbside Splendor’s Dark House imprint, edited by Richard Thomas. His reviews and criticism have been published in Foundation, The New York Review of Science Fiction, SF Signal, and Omni, among other places. He lives in west-central Illinois.
Gale Galligan is a story artist–slash–cartoony person with a BFA in animation from NYU. Her comics have been published in the Game Boss and Transitions anthologies, and she is excited to be contributing to the forthcoming Horizon 2. Gale has also been credited as a production assistant for the excellent graphic novels Teen Boat!, Astronaut Academy: Re-Entry, and Drama. Gale is currently in the second year of her MFA in Sequential Art at the Savannah College of Art and Design; when she isn’t making comics (such as her mostly-autobiographical webcomic of nearly five years, Patbird & Galesaur), Gale enjoys knitting, reading, and spending time with her cuddly roomie, Garrus the hedgehog.
No doubt about it: Gale and I have pretty cool jobs. We’re incredibly fortunate to be able to make books (and, in Gale’s case, comics) for a living. But the investment involved in getting even a single issue of a new, creator-owned comic book into the world is a considerable barrier to the publication of diverse, challenging stories—especially ones that marry grand, visionary science-fiction storytelling with the work of an independent comics artist.
Since I’m the one writing the copy for our Kickstarter, and not Gale, I can say without reservation that her art and lettering are not only on par with anything being put out by the major publishers today; hers is simply among the finest work I’ve seen in comics, period.
Try to imagine what it’d look like if someone of Bryan Lee O’Malley, Jeff Lemire, or Skottie Young’s caliber were hired to do Star Wars for Marvel, complete with actual, paper-and-ink watercolors and gorgeous hand lettering. It’s a school of thought that goes against the grain of our frantic, digital, all-consuming binge culture, but the result is its own justification. Sheer beauty come to life, right there on the page.
In 2013, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study the craft of writing under two of my heroes, Joe Hill and Neil Gaiman, both of whom not only inspired me to tell richer, better stories, but also to return to one of our culture’s most vital mediums: the comic book.
On a surreal Monday in July, I spent my afternoon playing BurgerTime on a vintage cocktail-style arcade cabinet at the Sureshot Café with Joe, his sons, and my good friends Hugo and Fábio—instead of writing the story that was due for critique two days later—and came away from the experience forever changed.
Somewhere between lamenting the fact I hadn’t yet read my copy of Ernie Cline’s Ready Player One and recommending I get ahold of Eric Powell’s phenomenal comic The Goon, which he insisted must surely be my spirit animal (he wasn’t wrong), Joe related his thoughts on the recent Star Trek Into Darkness. It’s a film whose plot assumes audiences won’t notice the utter, laughable absurdity of depicting a need for so many warp speed–capable starships in a far-future universe where a person can teleport instantaneously, while in motion, from any point in space to . . . literally anywhere else she needs to go.
The worldbuilding was—and still is—ludicrous. And this aspect of it had never occurred to me, or to anyone else I’d discussed the movie with. This from the guy who wrote Locke & Key, mind you, not deGrasse Tyson. I made certain to buy a used copy of Michio Kaku’s The Physics of the Impossible two weeks later, lest I commit such a blunder the next time I attempted to write more of my own science fiction.
What a summer!
I’d met a handful of my literary heroes and, despite the conventional wisdom, come away from the experience thinking they were some of nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. The week before Joe presented his thesis on Star Trek, Neil Gaiman had given me some of the most invaluable wisdom I will ever receive on the craft of storytelling. My head was swimming with possibility, with the hunger for just one great tale—told in perhaps the finest of the American art forms.
As legendary fantasists Elizabeth Hand and Ted Chiang espouse, I yearned to write the kind of story that only I could write. And when I met SFWA Grand Master Samuel R. Delany, my instructor for week five of the creative whirlwind that was my Clarion West education, I produced the first iteration of such a story: “Though We Pray to Nothing,” or, “Unobstructed Views.” A bazillion drafts, two or three viewpoint changes, and several working titles later, I now possess the completed script for the first, standalone installment of a comic book called Asphodel. The issue itself is titled “Newborn.”
It’s the beginning of a story that might one day span six, twelve, or even twenty issues—but none of that will ever happen without your help.
This Kickstarter campaign is a chance for Gale and I to tell the kind of story that so rarely makes it into mainstream comics: the tale of a soldier-turned-brainship-turned-peacekeeper, an ageless and incredibly wise cyborg demigoddess, and the desperate souls wandering our solar system’s ruins in the wake of a mysterious event that granted most of the human race passage to a digital afterlife known as the Otherworld. But those who dwell in any given paradise aren’t always to be trusted—especially in a galaxy grown accustomed to wartime.
A myth about strength in its varied forms, and what happens to humanity when the specter of physical death is little else than a memory, Asphodel is a new kind of space opera for an age when our idea of the capital-f Future is not at all simple, much less guaranteed.
We can’t wait to share it with you.
Our baseline fundraising goal may seem like a lot, but to put things into perspective: these days, most mainstream comics publishers refuse to publish even their average work-for-hire page rates, to say nothing of the harsh realities of creator-owned comics, where paying the artist and letterer, and accounting for printing costs and shipping, etc., generally leaves the writer—the creator—no profit whatsoever. Or, more often, well into the red. That’s where you come in. This book, a true passion project if ever there was one, can exist because of you.
For less than the price of a latte, and just twenty-two pages of your time, you can build an entire universe with us.
Yes, your pledge will fund the creation and distribution of issue one (as a backer, you’ll be the first in the world to read it, months before it hits online retailers!); but, in addition to preordering the book, your continued support through word-of-mouth will enable us to keep making comics and further explore the world of Asphodel. So thank you.
Once you’ve backed the project with your much-appreciated Kickstarter pledge, be sure to also follow our periodic project updates for news about additional perks and rewards as they’re added.
We’ve got some really exciting things planned, including a number of stretch goals, and of course we’ll already be giving out exclusive bookmarks, desktop wallpaper, digital art books compiled and delivered to your inbox while the comic’s still being made, signed scripts and sketches, and even pages of Gale’s original, hand-painted, hand-lettered artwork for Asphodel #1. Every “Like,” reblog, “Share,” Reddit submission, and retweet gets us a little closer to realizing our dream of a full limited series arc, but your pledges toward the first standalone issue will make all the difference.
$12,000: If we reach our first stretch goal of $12,000, we’ll produce a digital Asphodel #2 follow-up issue for delivery to backers at every single pledge level—so even one dollar could go quite a long way, though we hope you’ll consider upgrading to a higher reward tier if we get close to reaching this one. The more money we raise, the closer we’ll be to making the book a limited series with a full graphic novel–sized story arc.
Risks and challenges
Gale and I are both working professionals in our respective corners of the publishing industry. We thrive on deadlines, strong communication skills, and the collaborative process. Issue one has already been written and edited, and the art above demonstrates the level of quality you can expect from the remaining twenty pages: gorgeous inks, luminous watercolors, and the kind of hand lettering that’s so rarely seen in mainstream science fiction and fantasy comics.
While the signed, limited print edition will require some careful planning to produce and deliver, all of the budgeting work and research has already been done. It’s really just a matter of building enough demand and then shipping the refined end product.
As for any other perks or rewards, much of what we’re offering is either digital—and therefore virtually risk-free—or very low in cost. We foresee no reason to expect delays or setbacks, and will make right any erroneous or lost shipments due to post-office gremlins.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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