Funded! This project was successfully funded on April 9, 2012.

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An android soldier fights for love and survival vs. an evil corporation. Show your support for smart action stories with gay heroes!

UPDATE 4/8/12:

OMG! Things are really happening fast! Thanks to your amazing generosity, we just hit $35,000. That means that, in addition to the "Happy Ending" art print, I will be adding yet another Artifice "art print" option that the $100+/$150+/$175+/$250+/$450+ backers can choose from and which will also be sent out to ALL backers as a high-res image file in computer/mobile phone wallpaper form!  WOOT!

PLEASE NOTE: This also means I'm adding another print to the pledge rewards at the $150+, $175+,  $250+ and $450+ levels. Kickstarter won't allow me to edit a reward description after a backer has chosen it, but when I send out the surveys, $250+ backers will now be able to choose FOUR prints out of the five now available and $150+, $175+ & $450+ backers will get ALL FIVE!

UPDATE 4/6/12:

You all ROCK! We just hit our fourth bonus goal at $30,000 so that means 1) there will be an exclusive Artifice Q&A video just for backers and 2) that you've already made Artifice—a story with gay heroes—one of the top 20 most funded comics in Kickstarter history! WOOT!

Thanks to you, I'll also be able to commission an additional 5-10 page Artifice bonus comic that takes place after the events of the webcomic and which will be sent out to ALL backers as a PDF download. WOO HOO! THANK YOU!

We of course already hit both our second bonus goal (a humorous blooper video you can find over at Update #4) and our first bonus goal of a "Happy Ending" pin-up of Jeff and Deacon (which you can read all about in Update #1). That pin-up will now be one of the "art print" options that the $100+/$250+/$450+ backers can choose from and will be sent out to ALL backers as a high-res image file as well as in computer/mobile phone wallpaper form! Oh, and it will be safe for work and family (so long as they are cool with cute, fully-clothed guys kissing, that is!)

And there are still one remaining "bonus goal" with a reward that ALL backers can enjoy if things keep going so well!  Another Artifice bonus comic—this one being a special flashback "romantic scene" with Deacon and Jeff on Da Vinci 4 (that also answers the burning question [which I won't spoil here] about how Jeff got what he needed in the end). This bonus comic will be sent out as a PDF to ALL Kickstarter backers if we hit $40,000! :D

You all are AWESOME! You've stunned me with your generosity. And I am so grateful to you all. THANK YOU! :D

What's Artifice about?

Artifice is about Deacon, a prototype android soldier so advanced he is referred to as an "artificial person." On one of his first missions, Deacon was ordered by his corporate masters to eliminate a team of scientists who knew too much—and he has failed spectacularly. Not only did he let one of the targets live, he attacked the team sent to retrieve him. Now the Corporation wants answers and they bring in the brilliant robopsychologist Dr. Clarice Maven to get them—giving her the power to make sure Deacon never fails the Corporation ever again.

As Deacon tries to keep his secrets and the doctor cuts through his defenses, a cunning game of cat-and-mouse begins. The question is: will Deacon be able to resist Dr. Maven’s power and protect the only thing that has ever truly mattered to him?

With full-color art by Winona Nelson, Artifice deals with the classic sci-fi question: What does it really mean to be a "person"? And what would an Artificial Intelligence designed to be the perfect soldier ultimately choose: love... or honor? 

Artifice has got action, romance and even some moments of comedy. And you can read it for free right now over at artificecomic.com.

Why did you write Artifice?

As a gay kid growing up, I loved sci-fi and action stories. But I never got to see what I really wanted to see and that’s kick-ass genre stories with gay heroes. Not just gay characters who were the comic relief or who committed suicide or got killed in the end so that the straight protagonist could wind up with the girl. But good stories with real, three-dimensional heroes who get a chance to save the day and who also just happens to like other guys. 

With Artifice, I've tried to create the kind of story I’ve always wanted to see.

Is Artifice a comic that's appropriate for children?

No. I wrote Artifice for other grown-ups. While it's not "adult content", it has scenes of violence and romance that are inappropriate for children. Think of it as "R-rated".

Is this comic just for gay people?

Certainly not. :) I write with both straight and gay people in mind (and for one very good straight friend in particular, actually). While I think that those who like guy-on-guy romance will especially enjoy this story, it’s a sci-fi story first and is meant for both women and men to enjoy.

What will the book be like?

Big and beautiful. :) 112 pages and perfect-bound, it's jumbo-sized at 8.5" x 11" and I'm printing it on extra-thick (157 gsm), glossy paper that really shows off the detail of Winona's art.

So, how does this Kickstarter thing work?

If you're not familiar with Kickstarter, here's a brief overview (you can read the official version here). For the next 30 days, you'll be able to make pledges to help support the printing of Artifice, ranging from $1 to whatever you can afford. For your pledge, you get to select one of the rewards—listed on the right—of equal or lesser value to your pledge. You can always pledge more than the minimum to get a reward if you want (and for all the rewards that involve shipping, you'll need to do so if the reward must be shipped internationally—again, please see the sidebar on the right). 

Your credit card or other account will not actually be charged at the time you make your pledge, and you can change your mind or even change the amount of your pledge right up to the final deadline. And payments are handled through good old trusty Amazon, so everything is secure and safe.

If the final deadline comes and the goal is reached, then everyone gets charged the amount they pledged at once and I get busy getting the book ready to print and putting together your rewards. :) But if for some reason the goal isn't reached, then the whole thing is called off. No one gets charged, no fees are applied, everyone just keeps their money. So there's no risk of putting up money and then the printed book never happens. Basically, Kickstarter is set up so no one can lose and if the goal is reached, everyone wins!

What's the timeline for printing and shipping the book?

I'm estimating that it will take two months for Winona to paint the cover and for me to complete the additional special features, final polish and layout of the book which brings us to June. I am printing overseas and the printer has told me it will take 12 weeks for them to ship me the finished books, so that brings us to September. Then I'll fly Winona out here to San Francisco so we can sign books together (and celebrate!), followed by much packing and shipping, which means that everyone should receive their books by the end of October.

I'll keep backers updated throughout the whole process. Expect pictures! :)

What will the "Artifice bookmarks" look like?

Pledges of $100 or more (and one option at the $60+ level) receive three different Artifice bookmarks. The bookmarks will be based off the panels on Page 57 (WARNING: Not Safe For Work). 

You will be sent a survey from Kickstarter when the book is ready to ship. If you don't want the bookmarks (or would like to save me the expense), you can let me know then.

What's the "13" x 18" Artifice Print"?

Pledges of $100 or more get to choose from one (or two) of four Artifice prints. You can see me standing behind two of those prints at BENT-CON 2011 (WARNING: Not Safe For Work)—they're the ones on the right. The third print will be based off what Winona paints for the cover of the book and will be safe for work and family. (Here's a very rough black and white sketch of what the cover art will look like—the final will be much more detailed and in full color.) 

When the books are ready to ship, you'll receive a survey from Kickstarter asking which one(s) you'd like.  (Pledges of $250 or more get to choose up to three art prints. Pledges of $450 or more get all four.) If you don't want one (or would like to save me the expense), there will be an option for that too. :)

What's the "original inked page from Artifice"?

Just what it sound like—an actual production page drawn by Winona when she was creating the art for Artifice! While much of her process was done digitally, she inked each page by hand. (You can read about her process on my NSFW-ish blog here.) Pledges of $250 or more will receive one of these original inked pages (chosen at random), signed by Winona.

What is the "limited edition Artifice print"?

Ah, something very special, just for the truly hard-core fans. :) Winona will be painting a very limited edition print of a glitzy Noneco Corporation release party—the release party for their latest model of androids, in fact. Pledgers of $450 or more will have the opportunity to see themselves painted into this scene receiving their very own Deacon model android!

If the Kickstarter campaign is funded, you'll be asked to send pictures of yourself which Winona will use to paint you and your fellow $450+ pledgers together as special VIP guests at this party. (You'll also be asked to sign a release so that we can actually use your image in this print.) The print itself will be full-color and 13" x 19" in size. (And safe for work and family. ;) )

This will be a very limited edition print. I'm only going to print 20 of them and each one will be numbered and signed by the artist. Once they're gone, they're gone.

So, have you wanted a Deacon of your very own? Now's your chance. :)

And one more thing for the top five donators!

And finally, as a special gift for the top five donators, Winona has graciously offered to give thirty minute art portfolio reviews via Skype. 

Or if you’d prefer, you get to chat with me for an hour. I’d be happy to talk to you about your own writing, your favorite sci-fi TV show or even answer any burning questions you have about the secrets behind Artifice. It'll be fun! :)

What if you get more than $7000?

$7000 is the bare minimum I'd need to afford a small, full-color print run after Kickstarter/Amazon fees, taxes, shipping and everything else is deducted (and would still mean I'm dipping into my personal savings to make it happen). More money would mean I could print more copies of Artifice—which I'd do my best to get into stores and libraries—and thus into the hands of more readers.

Also, I pay all my artists and I do have other comics I'd love to make. So, additional pledges, in addition to being very much appreciated, would have a huge, positive effect on my ability to make more comics like this!

And if we do really well, I'll create some special Kickstarter bonuses which will be sent out to all pledgers.  Pretty groovy ones, actually. Stay tuned. ;)

Whoa! You read all the way down here?

You rock! Thank you so much for your interest in my Kickstarter project!

FAQ

  • Absolutely! When your pledge goes through, Amazon doesn't actually send me your physical mailing address. They just send me your email address so I can ASK you (in a Kickstarter survey) for your mailing address. And I wasn't planning on sending that survey out until just before the books are ready to ship, just for that reason, to make sure all the books got sent to the most current address.

    So! Please make sure you keep your EMAIL ADDRESS on Kickstarter current. But so long as you do that, if you pledge now, the books should get to you just fine in October. :D

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  • I've gotten a few emails from backers about this. I wrote to Kickstarter Support and, while I know this won't work for everyone, this is what they suggested:

    Hi Alex,

    Thanks for writing in. If your backers have a debit card, any debit card with a major credit card company logo on it should also work! If they don't have either, they can purchase prepaid credit card gift cards.

    Please note you need to make sure the gift card has at least $1 more on it than the amount of the pledge. Amazon sometimes does a $1 ping authorization that does not clear in time for the transaction not to fail when they go to collect the full amount.

    Example: You have a $25 gift card and you pledge $25 to a project. Right before collecting the funds, Amazon does a $1 ping. Temporarily, you only have $24 on the card. Then, they try to collect the $25 dollar pledge, but it gets declined because the card only has $24 on it and the $1 does not get released quickly enough.

    _________

    Alex here again. I'll do my best to keep looking into this and if I find out anything more, I'll post it here!

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  • Sure! There are a very limited number of books available signed by BOTH me and Winona so I can't make those "additional books", but I'm happy to make available additional unsigned books and books signed just by me.

    First choose the reward that includes the amount of books signed by BOTH me and Winona that you'd like (if want any of those) and then add $20 for each additional unsigned book you'd like and $25 for each additional book signed by just me you'd like.

    So, let's say you wanted two books signed by both me and Winona and then 3 additional unsigned books to give to friends, etc. You'd pledge $120 ($60 for the Kickstarter "TWO copies of the book signed by both Alex and Winona" reward and then $20 x 3 for the additional books.)

    If you're in the U.S., shipping is free. For international orders, please add $4 to Canada and $8 to other countries for each additional book you're ordering.

    One very important thing: Kickstarter doesn't offer a way to let me know you pledged for additional books when you make your payment, so please send me a message after you make your pledge and I'll make a note of it next to your name. I'll make sure you get them. :D

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  • If I understand correctly, just like Amazon doesn't send me any mailing address information, I don't think they send me anything at all from your payment details, including what name is on your credit card. I think all I get is your Kickstarter name and your email address so I can ask for any other details (like your shipping address) if needed.

    Regardless, I'll actually be asking folks exactly how they want to be credited in a Kickstarter survey I send out before printing. So, at that point, you'll get to decide how you'd like to be credited.

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  • Absolutely. I'll include that as an option in the survey I send out before shipping. $100+ backers get physical art prints sent to them. If you'd like one or more of your art print awards signed by Winona, just let me know when I send you the survey. :)

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    Downloadable PDF copy of Artifice with all the special features.

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    Copy of printed book + PDF (***International backers: Please add $5 to your pledge to cover shipping to Canada; please add $10 for shipping to other countries outside the U.S.***)

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    Copy of the book signed by BOTH Alex and Winona + PDF (International backers: Please add $5 to your pledge to cover shipping to Canada; please add $10 for shipping to other countries outside the U.S.)

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    NEW REWARD: THREE ARTIFICE BOOKMARKS, ONE copy of the book signed by both Alex and Winona, YOUR NAME in the book's "Thank You" section + PDF (International backers: Please add $5 to your pledge to cover shipping to Canada; please add $10 for shipping to other countries outside the U.S.)

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    TWO copies of the book signed by both Alex and Winona, YOUR NAME in the book's "Thank You" section + PDF (International backers: Please add $10 to your pledge to cover shipping to Canada; please add $20 for shipping to other countries outside the U.S.)

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    18 backers

    NEW REWARD: TWO 13" x 18" ARTIFICE PRINTS, THREE ARTIFICE BOOKMARKS, ONE copy of the book signed by Alex & Winona, a SPECIAL THANK YOU in the book + PDF (International backers: Please add $10 to your pledge to cover shipping to Canada; please add $20 for shipping to other countries outside the U.S.)

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    ONE 13" x 18" ARTIFICE PRINT, THREE ARTIFICE BOOKMARKS, 2 copies of the book signed by Alex & Winona, a SPECIAL THANK YOU in the book + PDF (International backers: Please add $10 to your pledge to cover shipping to Canada; please add $20 for shipping to other countries outside the U.S.)

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    NEW REWARD: ALL FOUR 13" x 18" ARTIFICE PRINTS, THREE Artifice bookmarks, ONE copy of the book signed by Alex & Winona, a SPECIAL THANK YOU in the book + PDF (International backers: Please add $10 to your pledge to cover shipping to Canada; please add $20 for shipping to other countries outside the U.S.)

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    NEW REWARD: ALL FOUR 13" x 18" ARTIFICE PRINTS, THREE Artifice bookmarks, TWO copies of the book signed by Alex & Winona, a SPECIAL THANK YOU in the book + PDF (International backers: Please add $10 to your pledge to cover shipping to Canada; please add $20 for shipping to other countries outside the U.S.)

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    An ORIGINAL INKED PAGE FROM ARTIFICE signed by Winona, TWO 13" x 18" Artifice prints, 3 Artifice bookmarks, 2 copies of the book signed by Alex & Winona, a special thank you in the book + PDF (International backers: Please add $10 to your pledge to cover shipping to Canada; please add $20 for shipping to other countries outside the U.S.)

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    12 backers Limited (8 left of 20)

    GET YOURSELF PAINTED INTO A LIMITED EDITION ARTIFICE PRINT! (see details to the left) + receive an original inked page from Artifice signed by Winona, ALL THREE 13" x 18" Artifice prints, 3 Artifice bookmarks, THREE copies of the book signed by Alex & Winona, an EXTRA SPECIAL THANK YOU in the book and PDF (International backers: Please add $12 to your pledge to cover shipping to Canada; please add $25 for shipping to other countries outside the U.S.)

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