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Experimental internet novel, in ink & watercolor: a memoir, a failed sailor, a genderqueer nancy drew, giant robots.
Experimental internet novel, in ink & watercolor: a memoir, a failed sailor, a genderqueer nancy drew, giant robots.
Experimental internet novel, in ink & watercolor: a memoir, a failed sailor, a genderqueer nancy drew, giant robots.
185 backers pledged $8,815 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Failing Sky is a web-based indie graphic novel, written and illustrated by me, Dax Tran-Caffee.

** UPDATES **

GOOOAAAAALLLLLL!!!!

Failing Sky has cleared the $7000 goal. This means I can roll out an initial 6 chapters. Thank you thank you thank you everybody for pushing this little story so far. Failing Sky has a total of 30 chapters, however, which I will only be able to publish if I can build enough readership with those initial chapters to create a stable base for future support.  For each $1200 raised above that goal through Kickstarter, I will be able to outright publish an additional chapter.  This will lengthen the grace period before the novel has to become self-sustaining, ensuring that the story gets to be completed with the least amount of hiccups.

$8200 - Chapter 7
$9400 - Chapter 8
$10600 - Chapter 9

LINOLEUM SUPERSIZE - UNLOCKED

You have met my challenge of 40 total backers at the $30 Linoleum Cut reward, and so I am increasing the size of that linocut from a 5"x7" print to 8"x10." That's 228% huger! So glad to be able to make the larger print :D

STORY

Failing Sky begins on a marina where a diesel yacht is sinking.  A young woman climbs on deck to try to save the old man who lives on board, but he is not home; instead she rushes around the boat collecting seemingly ordinary objects (a coffee mug, a crescent wrench, an electric fan) trying to save them, but the untimely arrival of a boy who cannot swim forces her to abandon ship without any of her treasures.  Among these abandoned objects sinking to the bottom of the marina is a pair of hand-forged garden pruners.  Clicking on the image of these pruners, the reader is introduced to another story of another young woman, decades earlier, who acquired those same pruners as a parting gift from a violinist, and would thereafter be haunted by the possibility of pursuing music as her own career.  In other stories, in similar ways, objects crop up here and there, enticing the reader to detour from their current story and get wrapped up in another.  Readers will meet a dozen characters, from a transgender teen detective to a ghost who is walking from New York to San Francisco in order to attend a birthday party, and somewhere in there, depending on how many stories a reader cares to read, is hidden the conclusion of an old man who disappeared from a diesel yacht in a marina.  And, perhaps, if the reader reads even more of the stories, they may even find the woman who sunk that boat.

ETHIC

I wanted to make a piece of art that would be the change I wanted to see in the world - which means not just making art that addressed 21st century feminism, transgender issues, economically viable art careers, etc., but instead I would make something that would intrinsically represent these themes within the real world. In other words, I could have made a series of esoteric oil paintings about how awful rape-culture is, but perhaps it would be better to write a story in a popular medium about how human relationships work in the absence of rape-culture. To this end, I have been drafting test scripts and plot outlines and character sketches and, now, 22 months into it, I am ready to start Chapter 1 of a web-based graphic novel, entitled Failing Sky.  If you are interested in these themes, interested in graphic novels as a rich popular art form, or just interested by this story, please chip in (or even just pass it around!); this story will only reach its conclusion with the help of your interest.

NARRATIVE

I'm going to be playing with narrative as much as possible.  I think there are just too many possibilities in interent-based storytelling not to.  I'm going to include as many concepts from Scott McCloud's TED talk as I can: presenting large canvases to be explored, changing the direction of frame advancement, playing with page size for emphasis, and everything else that you can't do when you're composing for a spine-bound paper publication.  I'm also letting the characters escape the web page (I'm publishing on the internet, so why not use the whole internet?), so that readers might have to track down information on other web sites, or in real life, in order to uncover more stories.  Finally (and we'll just have to see if I can pull it off), I'm going to arrange these chapters hierarchically as opposed to sequentially, to be read in any order, and even such that one doesn't need to finish reading an entire chapter to feel satisfied.  In this way, perhaps a reader's experience will be more like research or wikidiving, where you are driven to read further solely by your own interest, no longer having to suffer through the boring bits, and where you can stop reading when you feel your own sense of completion, not just because the author has given you the final page.

INK & WATERCOLOR

Though an entirely internet publication, Failing Sky will be made with pencils and brushes on paper.  I'm hoping the tactility of a scanned drawing instead of a computer-generated illustration will set this novel apart.  The majority of Failing Sky will be brush-inked, with select panels done in meticulous watercolor.  All of this paper and paint will, of course, generate a large amount of physical material, which is what I will be giving out as rewards!

My plan is to upload individual pages as they are completed, instead of entire chapters.  For thematic reasons, I'll even be tacking on layout sketches to the trailing end of any in-progress chapter so readers can see the ghosts of things to come.  I like the way the internet allows you to be closer to the artists you follow, and I intend to make it feel like readers are right there at my drawing table, watching each panel materialize.  This will mean that there is fresh artwork up every few days, as opposed to once a month.

DELIVERY

I've outlined about 30 chapters so far, which I imagine will take me about 3 years to complete.  This Kickstarter is to produce an initial 6 chapters (to be published at failingsky.com, free-to-read!) over the next 6 months.  Here are those six chapter titles:

  • The Sinking Ship
  • No More Questions
  • The Maiden Voyage
  • The Opening
  • Light in the Attic
  • The End

The initial funding goal to get this all off the ground is $7000.  For each $1200 raised above that goal I will be able to outright publish an additional chapter (and I will post those new chapter titles as we reach those goals!).  As for the rest of the chapters?  Well, that is contingent on whether the initial chapters generate enough readership.  With enough readers, I will be able to keep publishing chapters under the project's own momentum, using traditional means of support.  So please tell everyone you know about the novel!  Especially if you don't have anything to donate right now, forwarding failingsky.com to your friends & family will be just as important as raising funds. 

[So, yes, in theory if we can raise $35,800 in this single kickstarter campaign, I can guarantee that the entire novel will be produced and released in a timely fashion with minimal hiccups!]

REWARDS NOTES

This is the sketch of the upcoming linoleum cut:

and to give you an idea of what a linoprint looks like in the end, here's the 5x7 print from my 2010 Kickstarter puppet project:

Q: Can we see an example of a $15 reward postcard?

A: The postcard reward scheme is still TBD, kinda dependent on how many of them I will end up doing.  In the past I've done some pretty involved watercolor postcard projects, but that will be entirely impossible for the volume of rewards for Failing Sky. To stay with the rewards ethic for this project (see below), it will likely be a CMYK print of a watercolor, similar to these old Corpus Callosum flyers, with a hand-written thank-you on the back:

But if by some miracle I only get a couple dozen requests, I'll try to make the $15 postcards akin to the Full Service Postcard Stand series from 2004:

Risks and challenges

I'm doing a lot of new-to-me things with this project - for instance self-publishing an interactive website. I anticipate a number of hiccups pertaining to coding and publishing, but have some good people to help me through it in the case that I go bonkers trying figure it out myself. Hopefully I'll be learning fantastic things along the way, and will be posting all about it on http://villainest.tumblr.com/

***

I know those of you who have backed Kickstarter projects in the past have experienced the notorious delays in getting your rewards. This is the fourth campaign I have managed, and want to make this the most seamless reward system in history. Therefore all your rewards are selected to be consequential to the production of the project itself, so no t-shirts, no buttons, no personalized song dedications. Since you're getting pieces of the novel production, I will be mailing these to you as soon as the paint is dry and the artwork is scanned.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    a POSTCARD thank-you from the author/artist/publisher (a.k.a. me) - and I'm awesome with postcards, so pledge with confidence that these postcards will satisfy all your starry-eyed dreams of being a Kickstarter backer

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    I will be cutting a Failing Sky hand-printed 5x7" promotional LINOCUT, and you will be the first to get it. Unlimited edition. For examples of linoleum work: http://bit.ly/12n8hS7

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    a SKETCH, in the pencil-and-paper flesh, torn right out of the Failing Sky development sketchbook and mailed to you

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    a FAILED PAGE of Failing Sky that I would rather have hit the waste basket, but am stuffing in an envelope instead; likely just a sketch of a page layout that I decided needed redesigning, but maybe a fairly complete page that just didn't cut it - may come crumpled, folded, smudgy, but "totally authentic!"

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    a pencil DRAWING from the Failing Sky development process, like a page of character ideas or a study drawing for a scene or object

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    Pledge $120 or more About $120

    a piece of CONCEPT ART from the development process, like a full-page character study or a scene color-study; this is an original one-of-a-kind piece of art

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    I will draw your ADVERTISEMENT ON A BILLBOARD in the background of a Failing Sky scene, prominently featured, to be part of the graphic novel forever after, and link the image to your URL. I will work with you to adapt your ad design to pencil & perspective.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    an INKED PAGE of Failing Sky; not some stinking giclée print, this is the actual paper that was drawn on and erased and drawn on and erased and eventually inked - absolutely singular in the universe

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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    an original WATERCOLOR PANEL of the novel (or, more likely, an entire page that includes at least one color panel) to hang on your wall - I'm guessing 8x10 to 11x14 paper size; this is the actual page, with the actual paint, hella one-of-a-kind

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Do you have a business with a physical location/storefront? I will stage an entire SCENE IN YOUR BUSINESS. This is a permanent addition to the novel, existing ad infinitum, with multiple logo placements which will click-thru to your URL. I will work with you on portraying your business in graphic form.

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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $850 or more About $850

    a WATERCOLOR PAGE of the novel to make all the art collectors in New York jealous; a full page of Failing Sky is maybe 16"x20" or huger; this is the actual page, with the actual paint, one-of-a-kind and may even be worth lots and lots after we're all dead (page will be mostly color, but might not be 100% color)

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Funding period

- (28 days)