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The story of the Coast Guard's coolest boats, told with humor, history and pictures of ships wearing hats! This will be my second book.
The story of the Coast Guard's coolest boats, told with humor, history and pictures of ships wearing hats! This will be my second book.
The story of the Coast Guard's coolest boats, told with humor, history and pictures of ships wearing hats! This will be my second book.
242 backers pledged $26,071 to help bring this project to life.

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Best Cutters of the Best Coast Guard!

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It's more important than ever to tell Coast Guard stories.

It's easy for politicians to cut the Coast Guard's budget because they don't know what we do. They think we're lifeguards or mailmen or some offshoot of the Navy. And far too often, even we Coasties don't know enough of our own amazing history explain why we've been so crucial to U.S. history. This means that whenever someone suggests cutting the service's budget, we have nothing in hand to defend ourselves with. And even if we've stopped it for now, every few years, we find ourselves back in the same place: on the brink of elimination, because no one knows what we do.

I don't want that. You don't want that. So let's make another book!

WE DID IT! WE'RE OVER 100% FUNDED!!!

Now it's time to add some cool new upgrades! When we hit each funding tier below, I'll add the listed item to the project!

**UPDATE** We hit our first stretch goal! The cover will now have foil stamping!

 

Best Cutters of the Best Coast Guard!

Best Cutters of the Best Coast Guard tells the stories of 13 of the best ships that the Coast Guard ever owned. These boats not only helped shape America as we know it, but fought in every war, went to every continent, and saved thousands upon thousands of lives. They played critical roles in our nation's history and have protected us since the days of George Washington, but no one - not even Coasties - recalls all their names or deeds.

So, I hope to change that - with humor, history, and pictures of ships wearing hats.

In this book, the cutters are the characters. They talk, go on adventures, and - like any good sailor will tell you - they have personality. If you want a better idea of what I mean, check out my recent post on the Bear. Bear is easily the greatest cutter the Coast Guard ever owned, and if any cutter deserves a spot in the book, it's her.

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Two years ago, I raised over $15,000 from some truly great people here on Kickstarter to make a book called 25 Awesome Facts About The Coast Guard. The first time I ever handed that book to a fellow Coastie after it was printed (and no, I didn't know him well) he glanced through it and immediately asked to buy 10 copies. Why? Because it's hard to describe what we do, and a book that tells the coolest parts of our history using a little humor helps with that. In my opinion, you can't just list off what the Coast Guard does and expect someone to understand it - you have to tell them stories. Otherwise they think we literally just stand there and guard the coast all day.

Which cutters made the cut?

The Coast Guard has had over 1,000 cutters since 1790, so I had to hold myself to a pretty strict criteria in order to narrow it down, and I had to make some pretty heartbreaking choices. My criteria went like this: to be considered 1) it had to be a named cutter, 2) that was particularly well-engineered, 3) whose actions had a lasting national or international impact, and 4) said impact has to have hinged on the cutter itself being exceptional, not just the crew. Because, after all, it's a book called "Best Cutters," not "Best Crews," which is a whole different question.

As you might have guessed from the pictures above, Bear (1876) and Eagle (1936) will be on the list. Over the next few weeks, I'll be slowly revealing some of the other cutters I plan to include. However, if you're a savvy enough Coastie/military history PhD, you might pick out a few boats from the silhouettes below.

UPDATE: I've unveiled 7 of the 13 cutters! Bear, Eagle, Northland, Storis, Hudson, Campbell, and Point Welcome!

Even after a year of researching, though, I'm still finding great untold stories about cutters no one's ever heard of, or unearthing new dimensions to cutters I had dismissed in the past. I'm also working to make sure I cover as much of the Coast Guard's history and mission sets as possible, to give everyone a sense of what our service has done over the years. So I'm reserving the right to change things up later depending on what else I find. But for now, these are the cutters I think are worthy of the title "Best Cutter."

What will the book look like?

This book will be a little larger than my last one. Because of the different format, it'll be roughly 8"x10" - so, a nice-sized coffee table book. Currently, I'm expecting it to be around 120 pages. My goal is to give it the appearance of a nice, academic book, when it's really full of funny pictures of boats.

When will the book be ready?

This book will take longer than my last, particularly because of the depth of research I have to do. A lot of Coast Guard records have yet to be digitized, so I plan to pull old logbooks and reports from the National Archives in Washington, D.C., as well as visit some of the regional Coast Guard Museums. I want this book to have stories in it we, as Coasties, have never even heard of.

The art is also going to be a lot more challenging. Not only do I have to draw each of these cutters at various stages of their careers (and some of them underwent drastic modifications that I'm still nailing down), I also have to draw the dozens of other ships that appear in their stories, as well as the other cutters I plan to give Honorable Mentions to. And drawing just one ship can take me days.

All in all, that means it'll probably be a year before the book actually gets to you. But don't despair! I'll keep you in the loop and share some of the stories I'm putting together and artwork I'm making, so you don't have to wait forever.

What are the Rewards?

I've got a lot of different rewards planned out. The most obvious is a copy of Best Cutters once it's finished! At different tiers, you can also get copies of my first book - 25 Awesome Facts About The Coast Guard - and one of my coveted Challenge Coins! My coins are only ever available during Kickstarters or if you ever happen to meet me in person, so don't miss out!

Great News! I'm using BackerKit!

BackerKit provides Kickstarter creators with a set of tools to help them manage their projects. This will make it easier for me to get you your rewards once the Kickstarter ends!

Disclaimers and other info:

I based my cutter drawings on a variety of sources, including public-domain plans and images from the Coast Guard Historian's website, original blueprints from the Library of Congress, and other photographs and historical documents. While I re-drew each cutter myself, I must thank Dr. John A. Tilley for his excellent series of plans produced for the U.S. Coast Guard, which often provided me with a baseline to work from. You can see those drawings here.

I'm doing this as a private citizen and a former Coastie, and everything in the book is based solely on my own opinion, as a way of sharing my impression of what the Coast Guard is. Neither the United States Coast Guard nor any other component of the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Defense has approved, endorsed, or authorized this project. The views expressed here and in the forthcoming book are those of the author and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the views of the Commandant or of the U.S. Coast Guard. So that settles that.

The text, images, and video on this page created by Brian Runion are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Risks and challenges

This is my second Kickstarter, so I've already got a good idea of how this works. I learned a lot after my first project: mainly that packing and shipping a few hundred books to backers is a huge job, and that it may be too big for someone like me, who works full-time in addition to making comics, to do in a satisfactory amount of time. So this time around, I'm looking into hiring services that will pack and ship books and other rewards for me, so that I can just focus on creating excellent content and you can get your books with 2-3 day shipping and without my repeated apologies.

Second, after last time, I learned to keep my rewards simple. It was difficult managing the various custom rewards and extra books that people wanted. Taking orders through multiple channels also made it harder to manage contact info, addresses, and payments. So this time, I'm offering multiple reward tiers that allow people to purchase more than one book upfront rather than placing side orders. Hopefully, that'll make this a little easier, but I made make some different tiers mid-campaign depending on what people want.

Finally, I've extended the time period to finish the book. Last time, I set the time frame within three months months, only to unexpectedly get a new job offer two week into my Kickstarter. That meant it took me more than twice as long as predicted to finish the book, and even longer to begin shipping. I don't want to leave people hanging again, so I'm putting the time frame at one year.

I will have to give the Coast Guard the opportunity to review the book before I publish it. Last time, they were very pleasant to work with, and the process went smoothly. I'm expecting the same again, but it's something I'll be keeping in mind as I move forward.

That's all I can think of at the moment. I really want to make this a good experience for all of you, so please feel free to reach out if you have a thought!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Flotation Device

    Thanks for keeping me afloat! Comes with a set of desktop backgrounds featuring artwork from the book!

    Includes:
    • Desktop Backgrounds
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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    Small Boat

    You're officially cox'n qualified! This level will get you the Desktop Backgrounds, plus a PDF of my first book, 25 Awesome Facts About The Coast Guard!

    Includes:
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    • 25 Awesome Facts PDF
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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Go-Fast!

    Because who doesn't secretly want to drive the bad guy's boat? Includes all of the above rewards, plus a PDF of the new book once it's finished!

    Includes:
    • Desktop Backgrounds
    • 25 Awesome Facts PDF
    • Best Cutters PDF
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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Tugboat

    Small, but packs a lot of power! Includes all of the above, along with a copy of my first book, 25 Awesome Facts About the Coast Guard!

    (Ships to APO/FPO addresses as well)

    Includes:
    • Desktop Backgrounds
    • Best Cutters PDF
    • 25 Awesome Facts PDF
    • 25 Awesome Facts BOOK
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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    Revenue Cutter

    As hip as Alexander Hamilton! You get the PDFs and the Desktop Backgrounds, plus a copy of Best Cutters of the Best Coast Guard once it's finished!

    (Ships to APO/FPO addresses as well)

    Includes:
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    • Best Cutters PDF
    • 25 Awesome Facts PDF
    • Best Cutters BOOK
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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    Pirate Brig!

    Become infamous! All of the above, plus your name mentioned in the thank you section of the book!

    Includes:
    • Desktop Backgrounds
    • Best Cutters PDF
    • 25 Awesome Facts PDF
    • Best Cutters BOOK
    • Name in Thanks You's
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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    Buoy Tender

    65' is officially cutter-length! You get the PDFs, the Desktop Backgrounds, your name in the thank you's, and a copy of the book signed by me!

    Includes:
    • Desktop Backgrounds
    • 25 Awesome Facts PDF
    • Best Cutters PDF
    • Name in Thanks You's
    • SIGNED Copy of Best Cutters
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    Pledge $82 or more About $82

    Point-Class Patrol Boat

    The plucky patrol boats that served in the rivers of Vietnam! Includes all of Buoy Tender rewards, plus one of my coveted challenge coins!

    Includes:
    • Desktop Backgrounds
    • 25 Awesome Facts PDF
    • Best Cutters PDF
    • Name in Thanks You's
    • SIGNED Copy of Best Cutters
    • Challenge Coin
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    Pledge $110 or more About $110

    Island-Class Patrol Boat

    The reliable cutters that serve in Iraq, Alaska, and everywhere else! This tier gets you everything in the previous category, plus an exclusive high-quality print!

    Includes:
    • Desktop Backgrounds
    • 25 Awesome Facts PDF
    • Best Cutters PDF
    • Name in Thanks You's
    • SIGNED Copy of Best Cutters
    • Challenge Coin
    • Exclusive Print
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    Pledge $123 or more About $123

    123-foot Patrol Boat

    Exactly the same as the Island-Class, just with an extra $13 added on

    Includes:
    • Desktop Backgrounds
    • 25 Awesome Facts PDF
    • Best Cutters PDF
    • Name in Thanks You's
    • SIGNED Copy of Best Cutters
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    • Exclusive Print
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    Pledge $198 or more About $198

    The Mighty Mighty BEAR!

    The greatest cutter of them all! This tier gets you signed copies of BOTH books, plus a challenge coin and all previous rewards! You also get an exclusive look into what cutters I'm considering for the final cut, and a peek at some of the research I'm doing along the way!

    Includes:
    • Desktop Backgrounds
    • 25 Awesome Facts PDF
    • Best Cutters PDF
    • Name in Thanks You's
    • SIGNED Copy of Best Cutters
    • Challenge Coin
    • Exclusive Print
    • SIGNED Copy of 25 Awesome Facts
    • Sneak Peek at My Cutter Choices
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    Pledge $269 or more About $269

    Wind-Class Icebreaker

    The Coast Guard's beastly World War II icebreakers! Same as the BEAR, but with 2 copies of Best Cutters and 2 challenge coins!

    Includes:
    • Desktop Backgrounds
    • 25 Awesome Facts PDF
    • Best Cutters PDF
    • Name in Thanks You's
    • SIGNED Copy of Best Cutters
    • Challenge Coin
    • Exclusive Print
    • SIGNED Copy of 25 Awesome Facts
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    Pledge $295 or more About $295

    The Barque EAGLE

    The ship we stole from the Nazis and now force cadets to sail! One copy of all the previous rewards, plus an exclusive poster showing all of the Best Cutters featured in the book!

    Includes:
    • Desktop Backgrounds
    • 25 Awesome Facts PDF
    • Best Cutters PDF
    • Name in Thanks You's
    • SIGNED Copy of Best Cutters
    • Challenge Coin
    • Exclusive Print
    • SIGNED Copy of 25 Awesome Facts
    • Best Cutters Poster
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    Pledge $327 or more About $327

    Treasury-Class Cutter

    The Coast Guard's most durable class of ships! Same as the EAGLE level, but with an extra copy of Best Cutters and an extra coin!

    Includes:
    • Desktop Backgrounds
    • 25 Awesome Facts PDF
    • Best Cutters PDF
    • Name in Thanks You's
    • SIGNED Copy of Best Cutters
    • Challenge Coin
    • Exclusive Print
    • SIGNED Copy of 25 Awesome Facts
    • Best Cutters Poster
    • Sneak Peek at My Cutter Choices
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    Pledge $399 or more About $399

    Polar Roller

    The big red ships we send to the literal ends of the earth to break ice! Since they can haul a lot of gear, it comes with extra copies of Best Cutters and extra coins! Coolest of all, I will draw cutter of your choice, sign a print of it for you, and hide that cutter somewhere in the book!

    Includes:
    • Desktop Backgrounds
    • 25 Awesome Facts PDF
    • Best Cutters PDF
    • Name in Thanks You's
    • SIGNED Copy of Best Cutters
    • Challenge Coin
    • Exclusive Print
    • SIGNED Copy of 25 Awesome Facts
    • Signed 8x10 Print
    • Best Cutters Poster
    • Sneak Peek at My Cutter Choices
    • Print of a Cutter You Choose
    • Cutter you choose hidden somewhere in the book
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    Pledge $618 or more About $618

    Warship 618

    618 - the hull number of my first cutter, the ACTIVE! Since this level is a tribute to my favorite ship, you get a tribute to YOUR favorite ship! If you choose this, I'll make a special tribute page in the book featuring a Coast Guard cutter you choose. This will include a drawing of your cutter and some interesting tidbits about her history! A great way to get the word out about her exploits! You'll also get a 13x17 poster based on the page.

    Also includes the other rewards.

    Includes:
    • Desktop Backgrounds
    • 25 Awesome Facts PDF
    • Best Cutters PDF
    • Name in Thanks You's
    • SIGNED Copy of Best Cutters
    • Challenge Coin
    • Exclusive Print
    • SIGNED Copy of 25 Awesome Facts
    • Special Cutter Tribute Page
    • Special Cutter Tribute Poster
    • Best Cutters Poster
    • Sneak Peek at My Cutter Choices
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    Reward no longer available 9 backers
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Funding period

- (30 days)