Funded! This project was successfully funded on February 9, 2013.

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Lightly satirical. Deeply sentimental. Mind blowing action. A caped hero and his polar bear, fighting for a perfect world.

Thanks to everyone so far! Here's looking at stretch goals!
Thanks to everyone so far! Here's looking at stretch goals!

STRETCH GOAL #2 UNLOCKED
$5,000 - 5 Page Story: "Game Theory." When Solenoid is called before congress, Vivian and Virgil deal with Coin Op, the demented Crown Prince of Amusement.

STRETCH GOAL #1: UNLOCKED
$4,000 – 5 Page Story: "Mister Solenoid, The Enigma Unfolded!" See how milquetoast Onto-Physicist Joseph Danner became the Prince of Polarity! This increases the page count of all editions sent to backers by 5 pages! Art by Eryck Webb!

Everyone's book just got 5 pages bigger. The next stretch goal unlocks at $5000 and is another 5 pages. Tell your friends!

UPDATE! Lettered Pages from Larime:

UPDATE! The First 4 Pages:

The First 4 Pages!
The First 4 Pages!

What is UNGROUNDED?

UNGROUNDED is a profoundly weird but still all ages appropriate comic book I created, originally with my friend Jim Ritchey III (THE GREEN LLAMA) in mind as the artist, adapted from the pieces of a pitch I hired Lou Manna (THE PHANTOM) to do sample pages for back in 2006. Finding the right artist was a process that took time, energy, and timing and it was only through a stroke of luck that I discovered the kinetic and vibrant work of Eryck Webb.

UNGROUNDED follows onto-physicist Joseph Danner, who sought to unravel the mysteries of creation with a mechanism designed to fold him across the tenth dimension and beyond. Returning from his journey, he discovered he had gained mastery of electricity and magnetism. However, while his powers made him invulnerable to anything shy of the impact of a planetary collision, he cannot fly. Fortunately, he gets by with the aid of his flying polar bear companion Ulysses, who he met in his travels. As the C-list costumed hero known as Mister Solenoid, he scours the corners of the cosmos in an effort to guide his world's evolution to become the perfect world.

Mister Solenoid and Ulysses are joined in their travels by Solenoid's girlfriend, private sector astronaut Vivian Von Valiant. Vivian is a two-fisted adventurer with a heart of gold (literally!) and her half-brother, Virgil Von Valiant, has a Popular Culture studies degree which makes him a surprisingly valuable asset in their adventures.

One Big Happy Family
One Big Happy Family

The lead story in this volume focuses on the master plan of one Doktor Bleak, a super-villain who cannot tolerate the absurdity and optimism that Mister Solenoid stands for. Bleak has vowed to destroy Solenoid, no matter the cost.

Doktor Bleak really doesn't like Mister Solenoid.
Doktor Bleak really doesn't like Mister Solenoid.

If it helps to think of it this way, I'd say the tone of the book is somewhere between EDISON REX, NEXTWAVE, and ALL-STAR SUPERMAN.

Who is the UNGROUNDED team?

Patrick Gerard (that's me) is a writer, academic, sometimes philosopher, and prizewinning performance storyteller. Rather than sing his (my) praises, I'll let one of his (my) heroes do the talking. Veteran comics scribe and author Marty Pasko once described Patrick as "the smartest, most talented aspiring comics writer I know." Patrick's writing has been compared to to the work of Terry Gilliam and Douglas Adams and he has also been described as "the lovechild of Grant Morrison and Steve Ditko." He (still me) is often concerned with approaching relevance irreverently and has been labeled "thoroughly post-modern" and "post-modern as #%^&." (I dispute this!)

Eryck Webb is a professional graphic artist. His prior comic book work includes LAKE MICHIGAN BLUES and CARTEL. He is the creator behind the online web series JUMPING BOY and BUMP ON A LOG. He was also the artist behind the web series POSSESSED. He has a rich background in both comic books and advertising. Eryck has been running his own professional studio and turning out top notch work for a variety of clients for over five years. 

Larime Taylor has been kind enough to provide assistance with lettering. He is currently writing, drawing, and producing his own Kickstarter-financed comic book ALONE IN THE DARK.

ALSO: "Special Thanks" to all our hardworking supporting villains...!
ALSO: "Special Thanks" to all our hardworking supporting villains...!

Why back UNGROUNDED?

UNGROUNDED is a unique book with a unique worldview, the kind that doesn't find a home at a traditional publisher easily. In particular, I think many in comics are uncomfortable with humor and super-heroes mixing and this is a book that doesn't take itself exceedingly seriously, while also striving to be philosophically clever. If I wasn't crushed under the weight of student loan debt, I would probably finance the book myself. In any event, this book is probably a bit too off-kilter for many traditional publishers. However, it can come to life if YOU help out and decide to back it. Because YOU, dear reader, have a quirky sense of humor and like things that at least strive for cleverness. I hope.

Backing UNGROUNDED allows me to pay the artist for his work and print copies of the comic. It also helps support the cost of the Kickstarter rewards.

What might be considered somewhat novel is that I'm prepared to expand the page count dramatically in a way that benefits all backers. While the goal is set for a single full length comic book, through achieving stretch goals, we can increase the page count and amount of content sent out to all backers. I hope this encourages you to donate generously and to urge your friends to back the project as well. If any of the requested donation levels seem steep, consider that the more people back this project, the bigger the comic you receive will be.

The Stretch Goals (Revised and Updated)

These guys want to get in on the action too!
These guys want to get in on the action too!

$4,000 – 5 Page Story: "Mister Solenoid, The Enigma Unfolded!" See how milquetoast Onto-Physicist Joseph Danner became the Prince of Polarity! This increases the page count of all editions sent to backers by 5 pages! Art by Eryck Webb!

$5,000 - 5 Page Story: "Game Theory." When Solenoid is called before congress, Vivian and Virgil deal with Coin Op, the demented Crown Prince of Amusement.

$6,000 - 5 Page Story: "The Bear Facts." The Enigma of Ulysses the Polar Bear is revealed! Witness the fall of his frozen kingdom and the tale of what propelled him into the wild world of UNGROUNDED! This increases the page count of all editions sent to backers by 5 pages! Art by Eryck Webb!

$7,000 – 5 Page Story: "Behold… Sister Solenoid!" In a gender-swapped universe, it’s time for adventure! Tau Mu the Alien All-Seer is our guide into this alternate reality. This increases the page count of all editions sent to backers by 5 pages! Art by Eryck Webb!

$8,000 - 10 Page Story. "The Form of a Question..." Master Rheomode, Mister Solenoid’s distorted, faceless echo, is a hard-boiled detective on the underbelly of creation. But what happens if he cracks the ultimate case? Will he find answers? This increases the page count of all editions sent to backers by 10 pages! Art by Eryck Webb!

$10,000 - 20 Page Story. "Enter... The Moon Marshall!" Mister Solenoid teams up with the cowboy who guards the moon against a Martian invasion. Just how DID a 19th century cowboy wind up patrolling the lunar Sea of Tranquility on hoseback? This increases the page count of all editions sent to backers by 20 pages! Art by Eryck Webb!

$11,000 - 10 Page Story. "Bleak Romance." Doktor Bleak gets the spotlight in a 1950s Romance comic inspired tale that highlights his path to villainy! This increases the page count of all editions sent to backers by 10 pages! Art by Eryck Webb!

$12,000 - 20 Pages of Content. To be announced as we get closer!

$15,000 - 5 Page Parody Back-Up Feature! We supply the pages, unlettered and Mr. Ian Boothby will supply dialogue however he sees fit. Ian Boothby is an Eisner Award winning comic book writer, best known for SIMPSONS COMICS and FUTURAMA COMICS. Some may know him from DC Comics' INFINITE HOLIDAY SPECIAL. Others may know him as the husband of comic book artist Pia Guerra. He's also an amazing improv comedian and a good friend. If he can dish it out, we can take it!

...

$117,661– 20 Pages. "We Broke The Record!" Bonus Swimsuit Spectacular! The cast hits the beach! With bonus gorillas on every page! This increases the page count of all editions sent to backers by 20 pages! Artist TBA.

The Covers

The Standard Cover
The Standard Cover
The Variant Cover (Limited Run: 200)
The Variant Cover (Limited Run: 200)

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

I've yet to make a living from comics. I'm fortunate enough to have been solicited to pitch at a few publishers before (DC, CrossGen, Mirage) and I've worked on putting together 5 page sample books before but developing and promoting a full length book like this is a new challenge. I've received moral support, practical advice, and encouragement over the years from luminaries such as Jeph Loeb, Grant Morrison, Ron Marz, Marty Pasko, Gail Simone, and countless others. I like to think the faith that's been extended to me is well placed, and I regret that it's taken so long to get to this point. This is a challenge I'm eager for and I feel as though I've had the world's best coaches and advisers.

On a practical level, I'm hiring the artist, Eryck Webb, for this. He's a talented creator who I feel has brought his A-game to the project but he remains a sought after commercial artist. There has been concern that he could fall behind because he tries to balance a range of projects. To deal with this, I've been working with him on setting realistic and reasonable deadlines for production. We've discussed the idea of fill-in artwork in the event of a catastrophic emergency but I'm genuinely committed to maintaining and supporting Eryck in realizing the fair and reasonable deadlines we have in place, based on discussions of his workload and speed. I am committed to seeing this through with Eryck as my collaborator. The production timeline we've set with a September release is partly to be absolutely sure that we honor our commitments if we get funding and succeed in creating printed and digital products of the highest quality.

I believe that all of us, together, can make this comic book a reality.

FAQ

  • The canned answer every writer gives to this is that they love the medium. I'll refrain from giving that answer. Do swimmers say that they swim because they love water? Do speakers say that they speak because they love air?

    I do love comics and I do love American comics in particular but the medium isn't what motivates me to want to make them. The ongoing dialogue about culture and values, good and evil, virtue and vice, exploration and discovery. It's a dialogue, an ongoing discussion in western culture that I want to contribute to.

    I've had this bug in my system since I was a small child. I had difficulties in mastering my alphabet. One day when I was five, I closed myself off in the guest bedroom at my grandparents' house and swore I'd never learn to read; it was a tiny two story Sears home overlooking North Second Avenue, which was the main strip in town. My uncle came in, produced a pen and paper, and started drawing. I started drawing with him and found myself wanting to tell stories. He drew a dialogue balloon on a character and asked me to fill it in. I couldn't... but it motivated me. While it's quite probable I could have learned to read for any number of other reasons, the reason that motivated me was the desire to fill text in those little balloons. It COULD have been anything else that changed my life that day or the next but it happened to be comics. I think it would be grand if I could make comics and inspire someone else to feel the same way.

    I believe that fiction can make us better people. Every form of fiction has its limitations but also its unique benefits, from the shaman around the campfire to the gag writer working with an artist on the funny pages. I want to participate in them all but comics speaks to me, sentimentally, as I think it does for many people. Perhaps storytellers of all stripes are just iterations of the campfire shaman but I think comics speaks to a particular kind of audience. They may be drawn to the pictures; I've known quite a few people of all ages who had reading difficulties but who found something special in the imagery, not that you have to have reading difficulties to appreciate a picture. I also think comics have, for decades, spoken to an audience of very clever people, from G.I.'s in World War II to college students fighting very different cultural struggles in the sixties. A young Ray Bradbury liked comic books. The Greatest Generation liked comic books. The Beatles liked comic books. Today, comic books have inspired and entertained Pulitzer winners like Michael Chabon and celebrated authors like Stephen King. They have inspired and entertained actors such as Patrick Stewart, musicians like Gerard Way, comedians such as Patton Oswalt and John Hodgman, even heads of state. If you're reading this, you're a part of that audience. It's genuinely a great audience for any writer to have and an audience I feel kinship with as a fellow reader.

    So, for me, it isn't the medium. It's the audience and the hope that I can give you a story that challenges you with a puzzle I'm working through, while brightening your day and inspiring you. As I said, I believe fiction can make us better people and I think it's all the better when you have an audience that is clever, passionate, and hungry for innovation while still being able to appreciate and treasure absurdity.

    Last updated:
  • The initial story is 20 pages of actual comics, with with one page of supplemental text and a page of acknowledgements. I followed DC Comics lead on the 20 page format to keep the cover price down when it goes retail.

    The stretch goals will expand out the book to a total of over 100 pages if I hit all of the listed ones, with the potential for more. Part of the reason things are structured the way they are is so that I have the potential to go from comic book "pilot issue" to trade paperback... and I'd rather do that than have a jumbo sized second issue, because second issues are notoriously bad sellers.

    Second issues often sell worse than third issues and I want as much of the content to be in a place where people will see it.

    If the low donation levels seem steep, it's because I wanted to account for shipping and design this so that all early adopters would receive all added pages from stretch goals. I've seen Kickstarter projects before which promised bonus content for SOME backers. I think it's a better stretch reward all around when all added content is delivered to ALL backers, because it creates an incentive to tell your friends about the project. And even if your friends just opt for the $4 PDF, hitting a stretch goal means more comic book for YOU and for THEM. It's win-win.

    Now, the question arises what happens if we don't hit ANY stretch goals? Well, in the event that we get funded and don't hit any stretch goals, I'll look at the expenses of the Kickstarter and any remaining profits. And in that event, my first priority would probably be to cut the artist, Eryck Webb, a bonus payment for his hard work and possibly commission an additional sketch as a thank you both to him and the book's backers.

    Keep in mind there are a lot of variables and that it's possible we could be funded but that most of the money could still be tied up in Kickstarter rewards, depending on which rewards are the most popular. But if there's a surplus of any kind, I want to reinvest in the book in some way.

    Last updated:
  • Part of the standard process when a Kickstarter ends is that surveys go out to backers.

    For all physical copy backers, I will supply an option for you to ALSO receive a digital copy for nothing extra. You may choose not to take this option if you want your first reading of the book to be in physical form, as digital delivery will probably be a few days faster than delivery of physical copies. (Autographed copies may take a few days longer than that as well since I will be fulfilling non-autographed copies as directly from the printer as possible.)

    There will be no surcharge for the bonus digital copy although I'd urge anyone to become a backer for their own rather than split these with friends. If you feel the urge to contribute more because of this added bonus for physical copy backers, please do! It helps us hit our stretch goals!

    Future projects may adjust this policy. But for backers on this project, I'm happy to provide a bonus digital copy to anyone receiving a physical copy. Consider it an added perk!

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    DELUXE VARIANT HUNTER! You receive the physical book with a variant cover by interior artist Eryck Webb (from a limited run of 200), a signed copy of the script, and your name on the Thank You page(s). You will also receive a trading card and an 11x17” art print of the cover. This book is signed and numbered by the writer!

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    STORYTELLER TIER 3! You receivea DRM-free PDF copy of the book and your name on the Thank You page(s). Additionally, you’ll receive digital releases of the sketches, script, and a desktop wallpaper. Additionally, I will craft AND PERFORM an oral traditional folklore-inspired story, a spoken word performance about you from a mythology of your choice and post it on Youtube! At least 30 minutes in length!

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    WALK ON! You receive a very small cameo in the story! You receive the physical book with a variant cover by interior artist Eryck Webb (from a limited run of 200), your name on the Thank You page(s) and an 11x17” art print of the cover, signed and numbered by the series creator. Additionally, you receive 10 copies of the book in its standard edition (autographs optional) and a signed copy of the script. This book is signed and numbered by the writer!

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    WORDS, WORDS, WORDS SPECIAL! You receive 10 copies of the book in its standard edition (autographs optional) and a signed copy of the script. Your name on the Thank You page(s) and an 11x17” art print of the cover, signed and numbered by the series creator. However, the real treat here is that I will hand letter ONE very special edition with blanked out text boxes and will write a personalized message TO YOU OR YOUR LOVED ONE IN THE BOOK! Additionally, I will record a Youtube video up to 15 minutes in length at your request!

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    THE TENTH DIMENSION IS LOVE! You receive 10 copies of the book in its standard edition (autographs optional) and a signed copy of the script. Your name on the Thank You page(s) and an 11x17” art print of the cover, signed and numbered by the series creator. What makes this special? I will include one ADDITIONAL copy doctored up to serve as your personal marriage proposal (or anniversary, retirement, birthday, or bar mitzvah wish) to the special person in your life. (You’ll be able to keep this one separate thanks to a subtle heart design hidden on the cover.) What better way to say “I love you” than with a comic book and who better to say it to than someone else who loves comic books?

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    CROSSOVER! Your original character will be realized by series artist Eryck Webb in a pin-up in EVERYONE’S copy of the book, in combat with characters from the book, along with my own full page story treatment for a story involving your character. That’s two pages devoted to YOUR character! (Note: Selecting this option means granting non-exclusive rights to us to use your character in this one issue. You retain all other rights and have full rights to reprint the pin-up as well as full rights to develop my story treatment for your character. Obviously, this must be an ORIGINAL character that you own.) Includes a standard edition, physical copy of the book.

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    1 PAGE *STORY* CROSSOVER! YOUR CHARACTER! Your original character will be realized by series artist Eryck Webb and writer Patrick Gerard in a 1 page story in EVERYONE’S copy of the book. Limited to 7 panels and you will be credited on the page as well as in the "Special Thanks" pages. That’s a page of story devoted to YOUR character! (Note: Selecting this option means granting non-exclusive rights to us to use your character in this one issue. Obviously, this must be an ORIGINAL character that you own. You retain all other rights to the character and have full rights to reprint the one page story of character.) Includes a standard edition, physical copy of the book.

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    THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL! You receive a cameo in the story as a high powered and amoral executive! This is a non-speaking role! You receive the physical book with a variant cover by interior artist Eryck Webb (from a limited run of 200) and additional pages detailing the story process, your name on the Thank You page and an 11x17” art print of the cover, signed and numbered by the series creator. Additionally, you receive 10 copies of the book in its standard edition (autographs optional) and a signed copy of the script. Plus…! A signed certificate conferring upon you an honorary MBA in Villainy!

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    ADVERTISER SPECIAL! Receive your own custom full page advertisement on the interior, facing the back cover! Don’t have one? I’ll make ONE retro comic book style advertisement for you! Just supply the copy, photography, and logos you want used! (No profanity or trademark infringement, please!) You’re free to use the design anywhere you choose!

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    EDITOR IN CHIEF! One lucky backer at this tier will be credited as the editor in chief of UNGROUNDED. This means YOUR NAME will be in the credits of the book as Editor in Chief. You will get a page of the book dedicated to YOUR TEXT SOAP BOX (with a picture of you, if you like). You will get to see all art as it is completed and included in on all discussions regarding the book's preparation. We'll also provide you with 10 copies of the book to commemorate your generous underwriting of this publishing effort.

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    POWER HUNGRY? You receive a cameo in the story as a high powered and amoral executive! This is a speaking role! You receive the physical book with a variant cover by interior artist Eryck Webb (from a limited run of 200), your name on the Thank You page(s) and an 11x17” art print of the cover, signed and numbered by the series creator. All this plus a one of a kind T-shirt of the page on which you cameo! Plus…! A signed certificate conferring upon you an honorary MBA in Villainy!

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  • Pledge $650 or more
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    1 backer All gone!

    UNIVERSAL DOMINATION! You receive a cameo in the story as the Warlord of the United States in an alternate universe! This is a speaking role! You receive the physical book with a variant cover by interior artist Eryck Webb (from a limited run of 200), your name on the Thank You page(s) and an 11x17” art print of the cover, signed and numbered by the series creator. Additionally, you receive 10 copies of the book in its standard edition (autographs optional) and a signed copy of the script. All this plus a one of a kind T-shirt of the page on which you cameo! Plus…! A signed certificate with a logo identifying you as Warlord of the United States!

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  • Pledge $1,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    CO-WRITE A BACK-UP FEATURE! One lucky backer at this tier will be able to co-write a back up feature for UNGROUNDED, which may include your own original characters. (Just keep it all-ages, please.) Your back-up will appear in all copies of the book. This 5 page back-up will be co-written by Patrick Gerard and drawn by Eryck Webb and you will be free to use or reproduce it elsewhere in your own projects. Additionally, you will receive 10 copies of the UNGROUNDED standard edition and a silver pen to autograph them for your friends and family.

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    Add $5 USD to ship outside the US
  • Pledge $1,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    HONORARY PUBLISHER! YOUR LOGO OR IMPRINT will appear on the cover of the book. Don't have one? I'll help you make one. We'll also credit you in the book as "Publisher Emeritus." You will get a page of the book dedicated to YOUR TEXT SOAP BOX (with a picture of you, if you like). You will get to see all art as it is completed and included in on all discussions regarding the book's preparation. We'll also provide you with 10 copies of the book to commemorate your generous underwriting of this publishing effort.

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    Add $5 USD to ship outside the US
  • Pledge $1,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (4 left of 4)

    PUBLIC SIGNING! Own a bookstore, comics shop or pop culture hub? The writer will personally travel to your store or business and supply 10 copies of the book and 3 T-shirts for a day of storytelling, gabbing, and signing.

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    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $1,500 or more
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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    THE SAN DIEGO VIP EXPERIENCE! The writer will meet you and a guest at Comic-Con 2014 with 10 copies of the book with an exclusive variant cover, 1 signed and personalized script, 3 T-shirts, an 11x17 art print, and an array of sharpies for signing. There he'll treat you to dinner at one of his favorite local restaurants and talk comics and storytelling with you as well as consult on your own stories, screenplays, projects or comics in development, utilizing his graduate school refined constructive critical insights. It's comics, food, and coaching, all at one of the greatest comics destinations on earth. Who knows who else we could bump into there? Backers are responsible for their own travel and lodging.

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Funding period

- (30 days)