Homunculus Assembly Line is an experimental RPG art zine. Six artists will collaborate to create six unique illustrations, each of which will serve as the inspiration for written roleplaying game content.
What’s experimental about this?
While this project is John’s idea, he’s not going to act as a traditional Art Director for this zine. Each artist will work in their own style, collaborating with two other artists on their way to making a full-zine-page illustration in grayscale or black and white. Here’s how this will work:
- Each artist will write up several prompts based on their own experiences and interests in tabletop roleplaying.
- Each artist will make a few sketches or thumbnails based on prompts passed to them from one of the others.
- Each artist will create a final illustration based on one or more of the thumbnails passed to them from yet another artist.
When the illustrations are complete, Beau Sheldon and John W. Sheldon will use them as inspiration to write brand new content for tabletop roleplaying games. Since the roleplaying game content will be based on the art, and we don’t yet know what the illustrations will be, we have no idea what kind of content we’ll be writing! It could be mini-adventures, example characters, new classes or playbooks, or any one of a hundred different things for any of the dozens of games we’re familiar with.
What will this look like?
Homunculus Assembly Line will be a home-printed zine with half-letter sized pages in black and white. There will be 28 interior pages: 6 full-page illustrations, a process page for each illustration (6 total), and 2 pages of RPG content for each illustration (12 total), general front matter including table of contents and credits (2 pages), a dedication from John (1 page), and space for other stuff (1 page). The cover will be printed on cardstock, and the whole thing will be staple-bound and folded.
Beyond the six full-page illustrations, expect impeccable, accessible typography, additional spot illustrations by John W. Sheldon, and layout customized to the content.
Who’s On the Project?
John recruited a diverse group of friends and strangers with very different styles to make sure the zine gets filled with a strange variety of illustrations.
Evlyn Moreau - Evlyn draws illustrations and craft zines. Her work mix illustrations and gaming materials in a whimsical and personal way. She love strange creatures and often posts on her blog "Le Chaudron Chromatic". See even more at evlynmoreau.blogspot.com.
Alex Mayo - Alex is an artist, book designer, and game designer and producer. Raised on a steady diet of horror comics, punk rock, and bad movies he is chiefly inspired by Warren publications (Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella) and classic black and white RPG illustrations.
Alex is currently employed full-time as the Production Manager for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and continues to work as a freelancer producing book design, illustrations, and written material for various game publishers (mostly for the Old School Renaissance scene). He resides in the Seattle, Washington area.
Juan Ochoa - Juan is an illustrator from Colombia, who supports his cats in part by filling roleplaying games with art. You can find his work in Worlds Without Master, Urban Shadows, the Fate Horror Toolkit, and many more. See examples at juanochoa.co.
Thomas Novosel - Thomas (he/him) is a queer fantasy/horror artist, game designer, layout designer, and more. Thomas has done layout work for White Star Galaxy Edition, Singularity from Ginger Goat Press, and has done a number of illustrations in the Old School Essentials game line published by Necrotic Gnome. To RPG people, Thomas is best known for his self published game Runaway Hirelings. However, most artists who know him know Thomas for his detailed pen drawings of castles and haunted houses. Thomas has been called a member of the Sleepless Cult – the team will be sure to ask him if he ever wakes up.
John W. Sheldon - John (he/him) is a multi-disciplinary designer, illustrator, photographer, video-maker, and more. You can see some of his layout and illustration work in the RPG Turn, Of the Woods, and the upcoming Into the Dark, and see more work of every sort at jw-sheldon.com. John definitely isn’t a wizard, and you should ignore the talking frogs trying to convince you he is.
John will be the manager and editor for this project, in addition to doing illustration, layout, and production work for it.
Sandy Jacobs-Tolle - Sandy got into video gaming with an Atari 2600, tabletop gaming with AD&D 2nd Edition, and art since she ate a blue crayon in the first grade. She’s done illustrations for the Uncaged Anthology, Choice of Games, Threadbare, Motobushido, Circle of Hands… too many indie games to count. She’ll also knit you a pair of socks if she likes you well enough. Check out her Portfolio, and follow on twitter: @racerxmachina.
Beau Sheldon - Beau (they/he) is a queer game designer, journalist, and editor and is the genderfluid nonbinary-masculine creator of Script Change, Let Me Take a Selfie, Turn, and other small products. They have worked projects like Firefly Smuggler’s Guide to the Rim and Bubblegumshoe. They manage the Thoughty Blog including game theory, interviews, and free games released through their Patreon. They also created Leading with Class, a show teaching leadership through games. It’s been said before that they’re a warlock, but not by the same person more than once.
What do you get?
Your pledge level determines which rewards you get. Pledge at least $1, and you get the satisfaction of helping us make a fun art project a reality, and get access to backer-only progress updates after the campaign ends and the art begins.
Observation Room - Backers at $1 get access to backer-only progress updates about the process and production, but won’t receive the final product.
Quality Control - Every backer at $5 or more gets a high resolution PDF copy of the zine delivered electronically.
Assembler - Backers at the $10 level receive a print copy of the zine delivered by the postal service, in addition to the high resolution PDF. Shipping will be collected through BackerKit when copies are ready to go out!
Supervisor - Backers at the $25 level get three (3) print copies of the zine delivered to one address, plus the high resolution PDF copy. Shipping will be collected through BackerKit when copies are ready to go out!
Homunculus (Limit 10) - Backers at the $40 level get a print copy with a twist--a unique illustration hand-drawn by John on one of the inside covers using pen or markers. They’ll also receive a high resolution PDF of the standard zine. Shipping will be collected through BackerKit when copies are ready to go out!
What are we doing with the budget?
The largest single budget item is paying the artists involved. Making sure every member of the creative team is generously compensated is a top priority for us. The budget also accounts for the writing, layout, and cover and spot illustrations John and Beau will be adding.
The next largest chunk of our budget is taxes and fees, including Kickstarter and BackerKit fees. We're printing and assembling the zine ourselves to keep costs down, and to produce the rough, handmade quality we're looking for. The budget also has a little bit of overhead to pad against emergencies and unforeseen expenses.
Risks and challenges
Between the members of the team, we have a number of successful projects that fulfilled in a timely manner under our belt. A zine project is a lower budget effort which leaves a lot of flexibility and our budget is created with space for risk in case of printing issues or shipping issues. We're collecting shipping costs through BackerKit when we're ready to deliver so that we can accommodate volatile shipping costs using lessons learned from past projects.
This is a collaborative effort between John and five other illustrators, and one other writer. Many of these individuals have other full-time obligations like work or school that may have to come first. We've created what we hope is a generous production schedule to give them time to complete the work around these other obligations, but delays may happen. There is always the possibility in a team project that one or more team members may have to drop out. John is already in touch with other artists who can step in if needed.
One thing to note is that John prioritizes the wellbeing of the team above all else, which means if there is a health crisis, the project will come second to the people. This is a caring-focused ethics model and we hope that anyone backing a project like the Homunculus Assembly Line will understand and respect that. We promise to put forth our best effort, but there can’t be a best effort if the people aren’t in a good state. Thank you for understanding!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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