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A long graphic novel about robots in a religious war with angels; at the center a half-breed girl who must save them all.

Hello, I’m Kevin Kelly and this project is a bit odd. We are raising money for the SECOND book in a series of graphic novels – when the first book is unknown, and in fact has just been released today. The first book is a very long (210 pages) full-color graphic novel that tells the epic story of the clash between angels and robots and humans, and a special half-breed girl who has to decide whose side she is on. It’s called The Silver Cord, and some might classify it as spiritual fiction. I think of it as techno-epic. The story is completely finished, brand new, and as of today you can read it in its entirety either on our website for free, or as a printed book.

But that is not what we are pitching here. We hope that you will read the first 210 pages of our graphic novel, and then want more. To get more, you’ll have to fund this second and concluding book. If we are able to raise the modest, but adequate, goal amount then we’ll proceed to finish the story. It’s all mapped out; the characters are itching to see what happens next, and we are eager to return to the storyboards.

When I speak of “we” I mean the team of artists and authors who worked on this first book. I normally write and edit technical non-fiction, like the magazine that I helped start, Wired. But others on our team have written for Pixar movies, or worked on the visuals, graphics, and concept art at ILM, Lucas, or Electronic Arts. We also include young artists coming from forums like Deviant Art. See the wonderful roster below.

To show you a bit of what we have built so far, below are some examples of the character development sketches we made for the first book. 

This story tackles an environment most artists shun as visually impossible – the angelic realms. Normally, no author or artist wants to try to paint a ghostly, disembodied after-world of intangible beings. So they revert to wings. The main thing about the world we present in these books is that it contains millions of different species of angels. 

Millions of species of angels

And then there are the robots who desperately need the angels. For more surprises you’ll have to read the first book. It’s free on the web, or you can order a hefty, full-color print copy from Amazon’s Createspace.

The book is printed 8.5 x 11, and the free web version also presents large renderings of the artwork. Here is are some examples of its pages.

There is plenty of room for comments about each page on the web and we hope you chime in. As we (authors) have time we’ll also add commentary to each page, particularly if you ask specific questions.

For contributing to our fundraising campaign we offer a selection of rewards tied to the second, soon-to-be-made book. But it is possible you may want to contribute to the second book simply because you enjoyed our first one at no cost. It is odd, if not crazy, that we are offering the first book for free since we spent more than 8 years working on it (part time). But the economics of print don’t favor new un-established comics, and after 8 years of waiting, our story needs an audience.

We hope you enjoy this story of an alternative afterlife, of an unusual convergence of the spiritual and technical, of the coming-of-age of a confused teenager, and the dawn of robots as “children of God.” If you do enjoy it, please tell your friends and followers, and if you would like more, you should fund the concluding book of The Silver Cord.

The Rewards

The reward levels cascade up. For each higher level of contribution, you also receive the rewards from all the previous levels. We'll have a page in the back of the new book with the names of all people who fund the book. (Of course, you can opt to not have your name listed.)

To clarify, here is what we are proposing:

The Silver Cord (Book One), now
Web version, free, at www.silver-cord.net
Paper version, 210 pages, all color, $30, from Createspace

The Silver Cord (Book Two), later
PDF version, $20 contribution to the fund
Paper version, 200+ pages, all color, $35 contribution

The Silver Cord (Book One and Two), later
Paper versions, two volumes, signed, $100 contribution

The Cost

One thing the first book taught us was how much work goes into a graphic novel -- at least one as colorful, long and deep as ours. The $40K we are seeking for the second book is at the cheap end. On the first book some of the creators donated their work. On the second book we will pay (modestly) everyone who works on it (except me, Kevin Kelly, since I am doing this for the joy of it.) Our budget includes paying the script writer, the story-boarder, the artist who draws, the artist who colors, the letterer, and the production person bringing it all together. (Remember too, that almost ten percent of the raised amount goes to Kickstarter and Amazon.) Finally, for those who earn the reward of a printed book ($35 and above) there is the substainial cost of printing and mailing each copy. The $40K will cover it all, but without any fluff.

The Story Synopsis

This is a story about the young half-breed girl who gets caught in a war between newly conscious robots and ancient jealous angels. She has to save the human world.

Since the beginning of time, the world of humans and the world of angels have run parallel but apart, connected only by a single tunnel of light.

Humans know the tunnel as the passageway that lifts their souls after death. Angels know it as the Birthing Ring: the tunnel that delivers souls into the tiny bodies of newborn babies.

But the recent discovery of quantum computing has disrupted this age-old balance. As scientists perfect this technology in tiny "Q-chips," they are inadvertently opening a second passage between the world of humans and the world of angelic species. But unlike the first passageway, this new portal is forming deep in territory controlled by dark sinister angels.

Any day now, scientists will install this new quantum-powered chip into a robot so smart, so life-like, so close to human consciousness, that just like a human baby, it too will require a soul.

Unbeknownst to the scientists, the exact moment the quantum robot is switched on, the new portal will open and allow the darkest of all angels to rush down and become the robot's missing soul. This ensouled robot will be the first of many. An unstable force of possessed robots, until…

A confused teenager discovers that she's the only one who can stop dark souls from penetrating the human realm.

But who will believe her?

Backstory

Now great wars in heaven are being fought over what to do, while in the far reaches of the realm skirmishes break out as angelic tribes prepare their responses to this disturbance by human technology. Chief among their worries is the coming moment when robots on earth will be smart enough to contain a soul. Only a few spirits will gain the eternal prize desired by all angels: full-sensory embodiment.

For 10,000 years the physical realm of humans and the spiritual realm of angels ran parallel but apart, intersected only in rare cases by a few exceptional beings, such as mystics and shamans. For the last two millennium the angelic realms have been warring among themselves in a battle over the growing power of humans. Some races of angels encourage the growing progress of human culture, while other orders of angels grow increasingly agitated as humans acquire technology that can encroach into their dimensions. In the last 50 years technology has advanced to the point where quantum computing, artificial intelligence and genetic engineering are disrupting this age-old gulf between realms, allowing humans to influence the intangible world once ruled exclusively by angelic species.

The question the angels fight over is; who will get to go?

The question for you is: would you like to hear how this all ends? The story's answer may surprise you. Please enjoy the first book with our compliments and consider funding the conclusion. We won't disappoint you.

The Team

Kevin Kelly

Co-founder of Wired magazine, futurist, author of the influential book Out of Control, which was an inspiration for The Matrix trilogy, helped invent the future world featured in The Minority Report. Kevin's website

Steve Masseroni

Entertainment & marketing artist. Clients include EA Games on The Sims franchise; LucasFilms’ Star Tours, concept work for DisneyToon Studios. Debuted in his teens as a comic book artist on Eclipse Monthly’s Steel, Stealth & Magic. Steve's website

Kiel Murray

Development Executive at PIXAR Animation Studios. Screenwriter on Cars. Currently writing on the forthcoming Henry Selick film, due in theaters in 2013. 

Phil Lorin

Screenwriter on PIXAR's Cars, Owner of Stonehouse Pictures, a film development company. Phil's website

Joe Harris

Illustrator and colorist, trained in traditional media but expert on a Wacom tablet. Joe’s website

Louis Sollune

Character artist, indie comic illustrator, graphic designer, storyteller, and student of the martial arts. Louis’s website

Thomas Kraky

Letterer, designer, concept and digital artist working for clothing brands, record labels and currently in the gaming industry. Thomas’s website

Rafael Rivera

Colorist, concept artist, and professional tattooist, also holds five Golden Gloves and two National boxing titles, a.k.a. DARAF. Rafael’s website

Luke Easter

Letterer, lyricist, lead singer, frontman for the award-winner Christian heavy metal rock band, Tourniquet, works with graphic elements, subculture fashions, slang, and street cred. Luke's website

Tim Naylor

3D wizard, veteran creature creator, and technical director at ILM onRango, The Hulk, Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy, Star Wars: Episodes 2 & 3,The Day After Tomorrow and The Transformers.

Alex Jaeger

Virtuoso, designer, concept artist and VFX art director on such films as Star Trek: First Contact, Starship Troopers, Galaxy Quest, The Perfect Storm,Pearl Harbor, The Hulk, Star Wars: Episodes 2 & 3, and The Transformers. Alex's website

Gus Dizon

Concept artist and digital texture artist at ILM. Worked on The Hulk, episodes of Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Mission Impossible, etc. Lead Digital Painter for Tippett Studio on Spiderwick Chronicles, Cloverfield, and theTwilight series. Gus’s website

Rusty Rueff

Valuable guide and advisor in the area of video game development and interactive publishing, former Executive VP at the world’s leading independent developer, innovator and publisher of advanced interactive entertainment software and gaming; EA Games. Rusty's website

Ralph Winter

Feature film producer extraordinaire on such blockbusters as Star Trek III, IV,V & VI, X-Men, X-2, X-Men: The Last Stand, Fantastic Four and 4:Rise of the Silver Surfer, all of which alone have grossed over 1.5 billion dollars worldwide.

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