Funded! This project was successfully funded on February 16, 2013.

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Prehistoric big cat Ratha gets her own graphic novel, 30 years after she first lifted her torch.

Sample graphic novel page created by Clare Bell and the art team!
Sample graphic novel page created by Clare Bell and the art team!

Update: We made it!

We did it!!! We reached our funding goal, due in no small measure to the enthusiastic support of the fan community. Thank you, thank you, thank you! We raised enough for the ebook and a good start towards enough for a print run. If you wanted to support this project, but missed the deadline, it isn't too late. We are currently taking preorders, and any additional funds we raise between now and the publication date will go towards creating a print edition. For more information and to preorder your ebook or paperback book, please see http://rathakick.imaginatorpress.com 

WE DID IT!!!!! Thanks to our wonderful fans, friends and supporters, we reached 100% funding, and this thing is really happening! There will be a Ratha's Creature graphic novel! Hugs and purrs to all of you for your support.

There are still 37 hours left to go until the deadline, so in the final hours we'll be working towards the stretch goal to create a print edition. If you haven't pledged yet, it's not too late to help out! The initial funding goal allows us to create a digital/ebook version, but doesn't provide enough for a print run. Even if we don't reach the stretch goal, I am committed to trying to find a way to bring this book to print, but the closer we can get to the stretch goal, the better our chances. I think that something this beautiful deserves to be on paper, a real work of art that we can touch, smell, admire, and display, so I'm going to do everything I can to make that happen.

Our Story

Ratha's Creature was first published in 1983, and from the beginning, this young adult story of a young prehistoric wildcat who tames fire has attracted a devoted following. Clare Bell's rich use of sensory language, vivid character development, and intense plot, have inspired many artists to create images of Ratha and her clan.

Ratha's Creature 1983
Ratha's Creature 1983

These same attributes make Ratha's Creature, and the other Named series books, perfect for the graphic novel medium. We aim to tell Ratha's story in a new way, illustrated by the glorious artwork it has always inspired. Imaginator Press, current publisher of the Named series, has been working closely with author Clare Bell to make this project a reality. We have selected an amazing team of artists, all of whom are not only talented artists in their own right, but are also long-time fans, whose passion for the series shines through in their artwork.

Check out this gallery of amazing art created by the fans to support this Kickstarter project!

Edited to Add:

Enjoy this music video featuring everyone's favorite rogue, Bonechewer, with his very own theme song composed by The Bard in Green! The video also gives a peek into the development of the art.

Stretch Goals

Our initial goal is to raise enough to create an ebook. Printing would add significantly to the cost of the project, and we are determined to make this graphic novel a reality, so we are opting to start with digital-only as our initial goal. If we achieve our initial funding, the next stretch goal will be to raise enough for a print edition.

At $9600 we will create a print edition of the graphic novel (6"x9") and new rewards will be added that include the print edition.

At $11,300 we will be able to print the graphic novel in a larger format (7"x10") to better show the artwork.

Rewards

We've worked hard to come up with some really cool rewards that we think you'll like. A full list of reward packages is on the right, but here are some details and pictures. Of course, the biggest reward is the satisfaction of knowing that you helped to bring this graphic novel to life!

Everyone who backs this project with at least $1 will be added to a private, backers-only group for inside information, sneak peaks, and invitations to private online events, such as live-streaming art sessions.

Of course, the most important reward is the graphic novel itself. Every reward level at $10 and up will include an ebook of the graphic novel in all available formats.

The art team and Clare Bell have been working with an amazing synergy, and already have created quite a lot of supplemental material, such as discussions of biology, prehistory, and characters, art technique tests, maps and character reference sheets. We plan to create a "making of" book, which will include the most interesting materials and show the story of how the graphic novel came to be. All backers at the $15 level and up will get a copy of the "making of" ebook.

Mockup of what a clan cat character pin might look like
Mockup of what a clan cat character pin might look like

Of course, the artwork is a key part of the graphic novel, and a number of rewards are available featuring artwork from the graphic novel, or other work from the individual artists. Clan Cat pins will feature artwork from the character reference sheets, in your choice of characters. You can also get high quality Giclee prints of the character reference sheets.

For a few special fans, Lew Lashmit will make a hand-made clan cat plushie.Here's a picture of a clan cat plushie Lew made last year:

Hand made clan cat plushie by Lew Lashmit
Hand made clan cat plushie by Lew Lashmit
Custom Thakur plushie hand made by Lew Lashmit for a commission.
Custom Thakur plushie hand made by Lew Lashmit for a commission.
Another view of a custom designed Thakur plushie by Lashmit.
Another view of a custom designed Thakur plushie by Lashmit.

We have a special rewards package for the super-fans out there (you know who you are!) This package includes an original page of artwork from the graphic novel inked and painted by Tod Wills from drawings by Dani Long. There are obviously a limited number of original pages available, and backers at this level will be able to choose which page they want based on the order in which they backed the project at this level, on a first backed, first choice basis. This package will also include both of the ebooks and a complete set of prints and pins above. If we reach the print stretch goal, an autographed print copy of the graphic novel will be added to this tier.

If you'd like to be a sponsor of the project, we have a package that gives you a sponsor page in the graphic novel for you or your business (subject to approval) and online promotion as a sponsor. Your sponsor page can include an original named-theme illustration created just for you, and you will receive the signed original artwork for the custom illustration. You will also receive all of the rewards in the Master Firekeeper Level.

At the highest rewards level for the truly dedicated fan, we offer a once in a lifetime opportunity: a custom short Named comic/graphic story written by Clare Bell and illustrated by art team, featuring you or your own character as a clan cat, or a character of your choice from the Named universe. The original artwork goes to the backer at this level, and all backers at the $15 and up level will receive an ebook of the comic. 

Meet the Team

Clare Bell

Born in England in 1952, Clare Bell moved to the US in 1957. She worked in oceanography, electrical engineering, test equipment design and mechanical engineering before she wrote her first book, Ratha’s Creature (Atheneum-Argo Margaret K .McElderry 1983) , the story of a prehistoric wildcat who learns to tame fire.

Since then she has continued to write fantasy and science fiction for children and adults. She says, “I am still fascinated by prehistoric animals and big cats, as showcased in the five Ratha series novels. I consider my two little cats, Danny and Athena, to be research assistants as well as companions and have learned a lot from them.”

Her stories show sociological themes as well, exploring the changes that are brought about in culture through technology, even one as crude as fire. She also enjoys creating plausible and workable prehistoric animal and alien characters. The central theme of her fiction is evolution, having been influenced early by the works of C.S. Lewis, Olaf Stapledon , and Arthur C. Clarke.

Bell has degrees in electrical and mechanical engineering, biology and chemistry and works in technical areas in addition to writing fiction. She built and designed electric vehicles and spent a year in Norway working on the Ford Think EV. She raced EVs in the Arizona Public Service Company-sponsored Solar and Electrics competitions, held from 1991 to 1998. Her electric Porsche 914, known by her racing number, #13, was a well-known top-placing competitor in these races.

After moving to a remote site in California’s coastal mountains, Bell and her partner put together their own solar and wind systems and experimented with a power-generating waterwheel. A naturalized citizen of the US, she now lives with her partner-become-husband, Chuck Piper, in the hills west of Patterson, California.

Dani Long

Dani came to our attention when she did the dramatic portrayal of "Ratha and the Three-horn" on Deviant Art. ( http://deathmango.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d3b61gg ). She also did some great Ratha expression sketches, so see the rest of her DA gallery.

She says:
"A little about me: I live near Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, USA, where I've worked for the last 12 years as an archaeologist, firefighter, and lookout. I've been a seasonal worker since 2004, meaning most of my work is done in the summer. I live with my husband, two cats, and too many musical instruments."

What a wonderful and adventurous life, and it also leaves time for art!

She writes:

"I first ran into Clare's books while living in Marin County around 1990. It was a great escape to imagine Ratha and Thakur running along the same trails, millions of years earlier!"

Dani will be the main penciller, using her skill with feline motion and expression to bring life and drama to the initial drawings of Named clan cats. She will be doing characters and foreground.

Tod Wills

Tod writes:

“I saw the CBS Storybreak version of the book back when I was a kid, and found the series on the library shelves a couple years later, when I was in middle school, also early 90's. It had a big influence, and I'm still getting over my rambling gushing about being in on this project. I'm honored to get to help bring the story in a new format to old and new fans."

He adds:

"I work full-time as a freelance illustrator, and am up in northern Washington with my fiancé, two cats, seven geckos, roommate and roommate's dog. My town is full of Eocene fossils, combined with rainforest ferns and whatnot, very fun."

Tod's watercolor technique and page layouts drew our attention. His work as a children's book illustrator gives him a real feel for story flow. Recently he combined his watercolor wash work with colored pencil to intensify colors, which shows how inventive and flexible he is.

Tod will be inking, coloring, and doing backgrounds. See his watercolor technique at http://www.furaffinity.net/gallery/formidonis/

Even though they have defined areas, Dani and Tod have already been working back and forth, exchanging sketches and renderings to define the various characters.

Lew Lashmit

Readers who are familiar with the Imaginator Press Ratha series editions know Lew Lashmit's striking covers. Lew is the third member of the Ratha Graphic Novel Art Dream Team, using the same luminous colors, mastery of animal anatomy, and skill in paleoart.

Ratha's Challenge cover by Lew Lashmit
Ratha's Challenge cover by Lew Lashmit

Lew writes:

"I've been a fan of the Ratha books since I was nine - back in 1983 - so it was pretty darn amazing to get the chance to do the cover art on the new editions and to do paintings for the graphic novel. It's hard to really express how deeply the characters and story impress me."

Lew will be doing the covers and full-page interior paintings to heighten the critical parts of the story. He gets the wonderful chance to see the great African cats in the wild, (envy, envy!) since he is moving to South Africa from his present home in Maryland. He'll also be bringing his four cats, who have modeled for the book covers.

He says, "I've done some freelance artwork in the past of all kinds of different things - tattoo designs, dinosaur murals at a local high school, stuffed animal patterns, storyboards and promo art for a very low budget movie, but I've never really tried to make a steady career of it until recently. The only reason I've been able to do so is because of my absolutely wonderful partner, Piet, who is lucky enough that his hobby (computer programming) is one you can actually make a good living on! He's the calm, thoughtful, warm and accepting Thakur to my often hot-headed stubborn Ratha."

If you go on Deviant Art or Fur Affinity, you'll see his art, including an amazing portrait of Ratha that brought tears to my eyes when I first saw it many years ago.

http://viergacht.deviantart.com/gallery/30350430#/d1u3kir

We chose these three artists not only on the basis of their skills, but also on the ability to match styles and back each other up, if needed. They have already shown how well they work together and with Clare. The team is already madly trading character descriptions and images on a digital whiteboard site.

When someone gets stuck, or has trouble, another jumps in with help and suggestions.There's an amazing creative synergy here that is unrestricted by boundaries

Sheila Ruth

Sheila Ruth founded Imaginator Press in 2004 to publisher her husband's middle-grade fantasy, The Dark Dreamweaver. She met Clare Bell online in 2007, through her website, Wands and Worlds, and began publishing the Named series in 2008, when a fan of the series and mutual friend suggested that Imaginator Press become the publisher. Sheila also blogs about young adult fantasy and science fiction, and is one of the founding organizers of the Cybils Awards for children's and YA literature. She is a former President of the MidAtlantic Book Publishers Association. Sheila will be overseeing all aspects of publishing, coordinating, and marketing the graphic novel.

What we've done so far

Rough storyboard sample by Clare Bell
Rough storyboard sample by Clare Bell
  • Clare Bell has completely mapped out the story into rough storyboards.We put out a call for art submissions, and selected the art team. 
  • The entire team has begun collaborating, with an amazing synergy, using Basecamp as our online collaboration/project management tool.
  • The art team has been discussing big cat biology, prehistoric flora and fauna, California geography, characters, layout of the clan ground, and art techniques. 
  • The team has made significant progress on developing character reference sheets. 
  • Art tests to fine tune the techniques have been successful. 
  • The team has done successful test runs of panel art created using our planned collaboration process, and based on the rough storyboards created by Clare.
Character reference sheet for Thakur
Character reference sheet for Thakur

What needs to be done, and projected timeline

Once the character reference sheets are complete, the next step is production of the artwork. We anticipate that it will take approximately a year to complete all the artwork, putting us into early 2014. Page layout, cover design, and data conversion will take another 3-6 months. We're projecting September, 2014 as an estimated publication date for the graphic novel. If we raise enough to create a print edition, that may add another month to the schedule. We anticipate that all rewards should be fulfilled by November, 2014, although some, such as the pins and prints, may be fulfilled sooner.

What will the funding be used for?

By far, the largest part of the initial funding will be used to compensate the artists. Although the artists have essentially donated their time for the initial stages of preparation, developing the actual artwork to be used in the book will be time consuming, and the artists deserve to be compensated for their time. If we do not achieve our initial funding level, there won't be enough funding to pay the artists, and sadly, the idea of a Ratha's Creature graphic novel will remain an unfulfilled dream. The remainder of the initial funding goal will be used to pay for production expenses, cover design, marketing, and reward fulfillment (ie., shipping).

Video Credits Gallery

View the credits and a gallery of the art and music that was used in the video.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Since we are initially aiming at a digital edition, the artwork is by far the most important part of the project, and the biggest risk is that the artwork won't be completed in a timely way. One or more of the artists might be unable to follow through, or they might have difficulties collaborating. However, in selecting the art team, we tried to select artists who complemented each other, so that they can all back each other up. With a team of three artists, even if one drops out completely, the other two should be able to complete the project. And with an incredibly talented community of fans to draw on, we could select other artists to complete the project if necessary.

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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    Torchbearer level: A clan cat plushie, hand made by Lew Lashmit, one of the artists on this project and the cover artist for the Imaginator Press editions of the Named books. See pictures of Lew's plushies in the main description of this project. This level also includes all rewards in the Master Herder ($250) level above.

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    Master Firekeeper Level: An original page of inked and watercolored artwork from the graphic novel, signed by Clare Bell and all three artists. (First backed, first choice) Since the text is being added digitally, the original pages will not have any text, but the text will be provided as a separate overlay. You will also receive both of the ebooks, and a complete set of prints and pins above. If we reach the print stretch goal, an autographed print copy of the graphic novel will be added to this tier.

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    Firekeeper Leader Level: A sponsor page for you or your business in the final book, and online promotion as a sponsor (sponsorship page is subject to approval). Your sponsor page can include an original Named-theme illustration created just for you, and you will receive the signed original artwork for the custom illustration. You will also receive all of the rewards in the Master Firekeeper Level ($1000) tier above.

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    Clan Leader Level: A short Named comic/graphic story written by Clare Bell and illustrated by art team, featuring you or your own character as a clan cat, or a character of your choice from the Named universe. The original artwork goes to the backer at this level, and backers at all levels will receive an ebook of the comic. You will also receive both of the ebooks, a complete set of prints and pins above, and a set of the limited edition art cards. If we reach the print stretch goal, an autographed print copy of the graphic novel will be added to this tier.

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