Liberty is a comic book series that focuses on character interaction, social morality, & gritty realistic fights.
What is Liberty?
Liberty is a comic book series about a revolution taking place in the colony of Atrius. The story focuses on the life of Tertulius "TJ" Justus, the lead actor on a government propaganda broadcast that everyone believes is real. For reasons beyond his control, TJ is fired and while an episode depicting his fictitious death is aired to the public the government kidnaps him and schedules a secret execution (to further maintain that the show is real). Through a series of fortunate events, TJ is able to escape prison with an idealist who convinces TJ that their leader, an eccentric tyrant known as "Mayor" Grimm, needs to be stopped. With no friends and nowhere else to go, TJ uses the only talent he has, his ability to stretch the truth, to put together a makeshift brigade of gun-runners, ex-cons, and gangers to overthrow Grimm. The series will focus on character interaction, social morality, realistic fight sequences, and the gritty city of Atrius.
Atrius is a large colony on a planet cut off from the rest of the universe. A few months after the first wave of construction workers lost contact with humanity they began to fight for control and split Atrius apart in a series of riots. Vastly outnumbered by anarchists and looters, the police were able to wrestle control over a small yet defensible position later known as the "Inner City". Too afraid of unifying the anarchist factions through action, the Citizens of the inner city simply waited & watched as those beyond lost their humanity. As decades became centuries, the people forgot their true history and the technology surrounding them became foreign. The Inner City is still in control of most of the colony's resources thanks to a complex web of military organizations run by Mayor Grimm. These benefits come at the cost of basic freedoms, but the Inner City citizens believe it to be a better fate than that of the savage cannibals that occupy what are known as "The Fringes". While countless gangs and warlords have come and gone in The Fringes, the Inner City has only ever had one leader... The ever-present Mayor Grimm.
"Where Does The Money Go?"
Every penny we receive from this Kickstarter will go directly into creative & production costs to create the entire 15 issue sereis. What are those costs exactly? Well, let's start by assuming that you want to consistently put 20+ hours a week into a project, say... sketching a comic book for the next few years and want to make the equivalent of minimum wage so you can avoid getting a second job (already having a primary job) that would take your free time away. Next let's estimate that it takes 20 hours to sketch 5 pages and that each issue is 24 pages.
For simplicity, let's say it's roughly 5 weeks for 1 issue to be sketched because you need to take into account conceptual work, framing, and initial revisions. Even putting in 20 hours a week it will take you a full 19 months to finish sketching a 15 issue series! So if you work 20 hours at $8 an hour, creating 5 pages a week, for 5 weeks per issue, and create 15 issues that means that you would be looking at $12,000 for over a year and a half of work for the sketches alone! That makes us the quintessential 'starving artists' you've been hearing about. As our sketching process is fairly detailed there is less work to be done on the inking side. We still expect to take 3.5 weeks per issue to successfully ink, add text/lettering, and revise everything (est. $560 per issue or $8400 for just shy of another year of work). Add the cost of inks and sketches together and that's why we're looking at a $20,400 goal to create the series. For examples of other projects we've produced please check out our Biography.
Unlock: $30,000 - Faster Coloring and A Pen & Paper System: So what would we do with $30,000? We'd invest part of the money into a solid color artist who would work simultaneously with the inking process, greatly speeding up production. This would make us insanely happy and we'd like to make it worth your while in the following ways:
1. An earlier release date for the series by roughly a year. (Est. Monthly releases starting Nov. 2013)
2. I'll personally strive to finish a fully fleshed out D20 pen and paper system for the Atrius world (The rules system is a sort of Pathfinder meets Mouse Guard) complete with lots of colorful back story and a built-in campaign. The Game Book Beta would be available early in a Digital form (pdf) to anyone who donates at the COLLECTOR level or above. More information on the system I'm creating can be found at the bottom of this page.
Unlock: $40,000 - Basic Self-Publishing: With $40,000 we could pay for a limited print run of the first few issues in the series and could self publish! This would be the spark we need to get the series started as independent artists without the need for a publisher. If we hit this goal every person who donated at the FRINGER level or above will receive issues 2 & 3 in a signed physical form as well, AND every person who donated at the COLLECTOR level and above will receive the first 5 issues in a signed physical form!
Unlock: $50,000 - Fully Self Published: With $50,000 we could afford a limited print run of the entire series and put together a serious national marketing campaign. This means we'd be on shelves across the nation and in select countries abroad (France, Japan, etc)! In addition, we'll put together a VERY SPECIAL DIGITAL RELEASE of the series, complete with a fully voiced cast, sound effects, background music, and some basic animation! If we hit this goal and are able to self-publish, every person who donated at the FRINGER level or above will receive the first 5 issues in a signed physical form, AND every person who donated at the COLLECTOR level and above will receive the first 10 issues in a signed physical form!
"Why create all 15 issues at the same time?"
Consistency and necessity. If we worked on the series episodically, completing each individual issue from start to finish, it would take roughly 3 months to complete each issue and in the comic book industry a quarterly release (once every 3 months) is pretty much suicide for an unknown writer/artist wishing to gain a following. Because we don't wish to hire on additional sketch/ink artists and can't afford to take on a color artist at this time, this is the best time frame we can hope to consistently achieve for the duration of the series. Therefore it's logical for us to look at creating the entire series at once. Our process reflects the notion that if we sketch, revise, ink, revise, and color the entire series in order everything will be uniform, cuts & bruises will carry over, language, posture, and clothing will remain consistent throughout the series, and the characters will be that much more real. As the same characters are drawn for 20 hours a week our artwork will also dramatically improve by the time we reach the ink phase. That can only benefit the finished product.
"Just how much detail has gone into creating this series?"
September marks the 8th year developing the world, characters, and story that makes up Liberty. Because the city of Atrius is supposed to be located on a distant planet in the far future it can't have too much of a resemblance to anything modern. We spent roughly a year developing the city's layout, technological specifications (for being self-sufficient), designed various building structures, an automated highway transportation system, various methods of mass public transportation, flying vehicles, lighting sources, elevators, built in safety precautions, and SMART objects to make up a realistic city that's ultimately in ruin after centuries of war and neglect. For instance, one of the biggest creative decisions was to distance the series visually from the modern era by incorporating the hexagon as the primary "comfort" shape for citizens as opposed to the circles or squares that dominate modern culture.
Now that there was a city to re-purpose we needed to develop the people who lived there and designed a variety of world views, religions, clothing styles, lifestyles, a simplistic food-based currency system, and a detailed government organizational structure. We also quickly realized that the spoken language needed to phase out a lot of modern terms like "Don't have a cow" because they are irrelevant to a world without a traditional 24 hour day, plants, animals, or large bodies of water. One day while trying to work on designing an enlistment poster Adam had the idea make the jump from written English to Atrian, a fairly straight forward phonetic language. Once this was complete an entirely separate culture was needed for the people on the other side of the wall, the underprivileged but "free" people known as Fringers.
We designed a number of occupation/trade-based slang-heavy dialects of extremely limited vocabulary based on a character's access to education and place in within The Fringes. We also made some big cultural decisions based on the extreme scarcity and violence prevalent in The Fringes like making cannibalism (not enough food to go around) & slavery (protection for servitude) socially acceptable. One big outcome was that altruism would be utterly alien to most Fringers so the story had to adapt to keep a number of the characters involved. One last detail worth mentioning is that we put together a professional three-day photo shoot for the sole purpose of taking reference photos and making the quality of the comic better.
"Are you glorifying violence / drugs / gangs / slavery / cannibalism / totalitarianism?"
No. Our aim is to realistically depict how a world without morals or law might function. For instance, when people band together to form a group/clan/gang for mutual protection (in lieu of family) it's a logical action. We've also gone very far out of our way to make every call to violence as real as possible, with significant risk to those involved. Every fight is significant for those involved and every fight could be the last. As for form/mechanical accuracy we had a day of tactical & professional weapons training from a notable western sword instructor, a state champion sharpshooter, and a marine. Guns jam, people trip up, and we're not afraid to kill off lead characters with nothing more than a stray bullet.
Additional Character Concepts
Pen & Paper Game (D20) Notes
As previously mentioned, I've been working on a pen & paper game that emphasizes resource scarcity & character specialization. In Atrius -- unless you are affiliated with a government branch from the inner city or one of the major gangs in the Fringes -- you will have a hard time finding and reloading ammunition. Players will also have a difficult time maintaining a steady supply of the food/currency known as Meal. Atrius is a very poor place where you have to either find or take what you need to survive and will likely start off with a significant debt.
During character creation you can expect to pick a Race (human, mutant, vampire, augmented human), Body Type (tough/agile/smart/persuasive), and occupation (scavenger, Civil Defense Force recruit, etc) each of which will give you bonus feats, skills, and attribute points for a strong yet very unique starting character. Mechanically the game plays very similarly to Pathfinder, with a lot less hit points. There's also a randomized 'location' chart for ranged attacks and a very detailed Random Encounter chart.
Players don't have a "level" in this system, only set values based on a traditional D&D 3.0/3.5 character. In order to improve a skill or statistic players must use them. The idea is for characters that improve based on the actual experiences they have in the game.
In addition to fun things like mutation charts, expanded rules for surgery/misfires, body specific injuries in combat, and a LOT of background on the the world of Atrius it also includes a fully detailed story-quest.
Should this Kickstarter successfully launch at $30,000 the Pen & Paper system will be added to, tweaked, edited, and revised as quickly as possible and those who donated over $75 will receive a digital copy of the beta as soon as it's ready. (Est. March 2013)
Thank you very much for taking the time to check out the project. We hope you like what you see and will help us spread the word! -Travis & Adam
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.