About this project
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.
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!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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