What is Last Res0rt?
Last Res0rt is an ongoing, full-color, cyberpunk / science-fiction graphic novel that started in 2006 and has been updating online on a weekly basis since April 1, 2007.
I'm Rachel Keslensky, and I've been working on Last Res0rt since 2007, posting pages out of my dorm room while working on my studies. I've been posting plenty of things since, but Last Res0rt is my longest-running ongoing project.
If you haven't seen Last Res0rt yet, you can read the whole thing to date online at lastres0rt.com! New updates come every Sunday (Midnight Sunday EST), and I've never missed an update!
EDIT: You don't even have to take my word for it! Here's a video review done by another great fan (and backer!) talking about the comic and the kickstarter:
Yes, I've Done This Before
Last Res0rt Volume 1: First Against the Wall is the first volume in the series, published in 2010. If you want to just buy a copy of Volume One without contributing to the Kickstarter proper, you can do so here, or just read the available online parts starting here.
When Volume One was being put together, I did a simplified, outside-of-Kickstarter fundraiser known as the Last Res0rt Cameo Drive in 2009 in order to fund the book's initial print run without having to depend on meeting a minimum value, in part because Kickstarter was still pretty new at the time, and I was pretty nervous about being able to meet the minimums.
Of course, plenty's changed in the three years it's taken to finish Volume Two -- the comic's become bigger, the art's gotten better, and Kickstarter's not the unknown quantity it used to be. As a result, I feel much more confident in both using Kickstarter and how much I can raise to cover my printing costs.
So Why Kickstarter Now?
Up to this point, I've been using a (now defunct) on-demand printer to handle my needs, re-ordering books as I go. Said printer recently went out of business, so I'm having to hunt down a different printer.
Printing books is still pretty expensive -- especially color printing! -- and when Volume One clocked in at over 172 pages of color, that meant I had to make some hard choices about what to do and what price to sell it at. And even at the smallest number of books I could order with an offset printer without losing my shirt -- i.e. at parity with on-demand printing -- I still had to raise a minimum of $1000 for printing costs.
Offset printing looks better, but there's still a couple trade-offs -- I have to order a minimum number of books to make it, and more the more I order, the cheaper the books are to print (on a per-book basis, anyway), but without a real good idea of how much I should order, I could just as easily risk wasting a lot of money on a bunch of books sitting in someone's basement.
And that's just for ordering ONE set of books -- Since my old printer's defunct, I'm going to run out of Volume One books if I don't at least print enough to make sure there's enough for everyone. So my costs automatically double.
This is where Kickstarter (and you!) come in, because if I can raise enough to afford an initial offset run of both volumes plus the added costs involved with preorders (i.e. shipping) -- about $4,000 to start -- the more likely I am to have a decent estimate of how many books I ought to order.
Without giving out the exact numbers (especially as it changes based on how much of everything is ordered!), it breaks down into something like this:
- FEES: 8-10% -- goes to Kickstarter and Amazon
- PRINTING: 25%-50% -- depending on the number of books ordered. The fewer books end up ordered, the higher this percentage is.
- SHIPPING: 20% -- assuming our standard costs haven't changed, based on all the books I've sold previously.
- PROMOTION: ~5%* -- A nonzero value, but the more we raise (and the less the kickstarter has to be advertised!), the smaller this value gets. You can reduce these costs by sharing the project on various social media sites and encouraging your friends to kick in.
- CONTINGENCIES: Whatever's left -- This is technically 'profit' (or in the case of cameos, will just about cover whatever work I have to do to get those taken care of), but in reality it's just me making sure I don't go broke working on this thing in case my estimates on any of the above are way off.
The less I spend on printing and advertising, the bigger that "Contingencies" chunk gets and starts turning into actual profit instead of just theoretical profit.
Where are you going with this once you hit your main funding goal?
When I put together Volume One, it was my first time putting together a book, so I included only a few special things, like the cover, the bonus story (which has still remained a closely-guarded secret!), and I didn't worry about a whole lot else.
But… times have changed.
If I had to do Volume Two the way I did Volume One, it wouldn't turn out much different than Volume One did. I want to make Volume Two AWESOME, and I want to make the new Volume One at least as good as Volume Two.
So, here's what the plans are:
If you've been reading the comic all along, you're here for Volume Two, and that's what we're putting the energy on first. There's some smaller bonus items I'm working on along the way, but the big focus is on getting additional bonus stories for Volume Two. It'll add a little more to the delivery date, but it'll make for a better book. (If you're looking at the dates on the side, don't worry -- I've already included the extra time into the calculations just to be sure!)
Beyond that? I've got plans for much bigger things, like adding in some ancillary materials that I've been hinting at for a while -- stuff like the Year of Fear, and other stories and material I've been interested in working on, but can't justify the time and effort it'd take to work on them if I continue to treat this comic with the same effort I did while in school.
What's in it for me?
Here's how the sidebar breaks down:
- Pay a little, get some digital rewards.
- Pay more, get some physical rewards.
- Pay more than that, you get treated right.
A Thank You Wallpaper: $5 or more secures you one of these.
All the Digital Things: You get the PDF version of Volume One, PLUS the PDF version of Volume Two, PLUS anything else digital that gets unlocked in the course of this kickstarter. As long as I don't have to pay for shipping, what's a few extra megabytes between friends?
Volume Two: One copy of the softcover volume, with at least one bonus story not found online. This (and all physical rewards past this point) Includes US shipping.
Volume Two, Artist's Edition: Same as the $25 tier, but Artist-ified! I haven't decided Volume One's Artist Edition included some sweet autographed prints, if that gives you an idea of what Volume Two might contain...
Volume One + Volume Two: What it sounds like. You get both books for a kickin' price!
Volume One + Volume Two, Artist's Editions: You get both books in their Artist's Editon form, which means you get extra awesome sauce on top of awesome books.
Of course, you're here for more than books, aren't you?
For Volume One, I offered those who helped me fund the print run with something truly special -- I drew their characters (and in the case of one special backer, his real-life portrait!) into the comic as minions of the Star Org, in walk-on roles known in comics lingo as a cameo.
Cameos are a special honor not found often in comics, and this ability to have this kind of intimate connection to the comic -- to point out to friends and family that you were drawn into this amazing story -- is part of what makes webcomics like Last Res0rt a lot more fun. Even better, because of the way Last Res0rt's scripted (with lots of characters in lots of different positions of power), there's a good chance your role will include a speaking part as well!
Instead of auctioning off a single cameo and watching it go for a ridiculous sum of money (while everyone else is left in the dust), I offered them for a fair price last time to as many people as were willing to pay for the things, and that's what I'm doing again.
Each cameo includes a personal badge (so I can make sure I'm capturing your likeness correctly before including it in the comic!), as well as an appearance within the comic. The quality of the badge and the number of appearances depends on which tier you're comfortable with.
Cameos can be of you, your OC, your fursona, your pet, or any other character you can imagine, as long as that character isn't a fan-character whose copyright might make things difficult for me in the future (i.e. the "No Electric Hedgehog Pokemon" rule). If it becomes an issue, I'll ask you to submit a new character or suggest changes to make your current ideas more acceptable.
Want to get the books as well as a cameo? Just add the price of the book bundle you have in mind with the Cameo Tiers below, look for the corresponding tier on the sidebar, and you'll secure more than just a little piece of Last Res0rt history!
BASIC CAMEO TIER: $75+
You want in? You get in!
This version includes a black and white badge (like the one pictured here -- I pick the color, so trust the artist on this one), and at least one single panel appearance in the comic.
STANDARD CAMEO TIER: $150 +
A little better bonus, a little better cameo.
This version includes a full-color badge, colored digitally, and at least two appearances in the comic. (Note that each panel counts as an appearance, so if you're in two panels on the same page -- that counts!)
DELUXE CAMEO TIER: $250+
Good, better, best.
Get BOTH types of badges, a guaranteed three panel minimum, and ALL THE DIGITAL THINGS, regardless of whether or not the other stretch goals regarding letting everyone else have them too is hit.
Minimum Goal / "Let's Fund This Thing!": $4000 (UNLOCKED!)
This covers enough funds to print the books with an offset/short-run printer, as well as one bonus, print-exclusive story to be added to the book, same as Volume One.
If we meet this goal, great! I'll start working on things right away!
By the way, I hope we meet this goal in a hurry, because here's some of the bonus stuff you could unlock...
Church of the Endless Propaganda Pamphlets: $5000 (UNLOCKED!)
If you've ever read a Chick Tract (ironically or otherwise), you know what you're in for.
These pamphlets are carefully shielded from outsiders with master copies kept on hard drives stored in Church vaults -- high grade propaganda (un)authorized by the Church of the Endless and distributed by soldiers of the Star Organization. Of course, everyone's got their price -- so unlock this level to get your hands on 9 Lies the Dead Inside Like to Tell, the Church's guide to Dead Inside.
While the Endless have been featured in the comic as the main enemy of the Dead Inside, much of their systems and beliefs still haven't been explored in the comic, so unlocking this will include some never-before-seen insight that's not to be missed!
All the Cameos, All The Digital Things: $6000
Hey, you're paying enough for the privilege -- you should be rewarded!
Wallpaper Cache + PDF copy of Endless Propaganda: $7000
... "All the Digital Things" is about to include a whole lot more digital things.
I'll be throwing in team wallpapers (that's Andromeda, Corvus, Gemini, and Equuleus), AND a PDF printable version of 9 Lies the Dead Inside Like to Tell.
SECOND BONUS STORY: $8000
Hey, we're here for Volume TWO, right?
This stretch goal will add a second four-page (minimum) print-exclusive bonus story to Volume Two.
More story, more content, more awesome.
Hey, there's always room for more...
Thanks for your support!
Even now, I get a lot of surprised looks from people who are surprised to see me handing out cards and saying I work on Last Res0rt, and even more who're surprised that it's a full solo venture -- I write it, draw it, color it, work on the website… I have help in a few places, though, including J.P., who's been working with me at conventions even before he started his own comic, as well as others like the good folks at Connected Concepts who've helped with inventory and fulfillment since I had books that needed it!
There's a lot of you I haven't had a chance to see in person yet -- readers from around the world, just like you, who take time to come back and keep reading more and more, doing what you can to help out! I've done what I can to keep things going, making sure readers have a new update each and every week, and delivering a galaxy worthy of your support.
Chip in at whatever tier you feel comfortable with, and pay that momentum forward -- any support, even a nice post on Facebook, means a lot!
-- Rachel Keslensky
Risks and challenges
Most of Volume Two has already been completed and is free to read online at http://www.lastres0rt.com, so the only real question is whether or not I can find a printer that's ready and willing to print the books -- something which has been done several times before by several other webcomic artists, and should be easy enough to do again.
The other question is whether or not all the fun extras included -- cameos, badges, bonus material, etc. -- can be done, and quite simply, IT WILL GET DONE. I've been drawings comics and various other variations of furries, humans, and other such creatures for a while, so -- have a little faith in my abilities, would you?
The only thing that might happen is things take a little longer than expected, and if that happens, I'll let you know.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (43 days)