Two MIT geniuses clash in an escalating war of high-tech pranks and egos in an alpha-nerd fraternity. Inspired by actual events. Read more
This project was successfully funded on June 12, 2014.
About this project
YOU DID IT, BACKERS!
Thanks to all backers for helping us reach our target! All additional funds raised from here on will go toward product improvements (higher quality paper stock, swag upgrade, better T-shirts, etc). Thank you from the bottom of our geeky hearts!
Geeks and Greeks will be a 146-page graphic novel telling a coming-of-age story through the prism of high-tech pranks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
This story – inspired by actual events – shows what sort of mayhem can ensue when a group of super geniuses live together and personalities clash.
MIT is perhaps the most renowned science and engineering university in the world. It has produced:
- 29 astronauts
- 28 Nobel Prize winners
- 0 Heisman Trophy winners
- 0 epic graphic novels
With your support, we can do something about that last one!
Geeks and Greeks will be face-shatteringly awesome for these reasons:
Reason 1: Cool pranks
MIT and pranks go together like Harvard and preppies. Geeks and Greeks will bring to life some of MIT's most notorious pranks (or "hacks" as they're called at MIT). Many are well-known; some will be revealed for the first time! Things like:
- a campus police car inexplicably parked on top of MIT's iconic 150-foot-high dome
- indoor batting practice with ratsicles (cryogenically frozen rats)
- an inflatable Loch Ness Monster disrupting a crew race on the Charles River
- hacking Harvard
- commandeering the Sheraton hotel's giant rooftop sign in downtown Boston
- Rube Goldberg pudding flinging contraptions
- dry ice mischief
- funnelators and highly-pressured watermelons
- and much much more!
These pranks – drawn from real life incidents – must be seen to be believed!
Reason 2: Stellar writing
While pranks form the backbone of the story, Geeks and Greeks is way more than just a prank-fest. The story has heart. But don't take my word for it. The Geeks and Greeks script is getting rave reviews from professional readers in the entertainment community.
Enough! You're making me blush, people.
Reason 3: Redonkulously gorgeous illustrations
Geeks and Greeks lucked out when it landed renowned illustrator Andy Fish as its artist. More about him in a sec.
Reason 4: Geeks as heroes
This is a "brains over brawn" story if ever there was one. Brainiacs are the butt-kicking heroes in Geeks and Greeks. Look, I'm a huge geek myself. And, not to point fingers or anything, but if you're browsing Kickstarter projects, you're probably the sort of person who knows what HTTP stands for. If you're not a card-carrying geek, chances are you're married to or dating one. This story will appeal to anyone who is a geek, lives with a geek, or knows a geek.
Reason 5: Totally accessible
You don't have to be an MIT person to appreciate Geeks and Greeks. Of course, if you are an MIT person... say hello to your new favorite book! Seriously, how many graphic novels can make jokes out of things like Schubert's last symphony, Archimedes Principle, supernovas, cryogenics, kinematic viscosity, Shakespearean characters, and Einstein's theory of relativity and still keep things fully accessible to general public? Bottom line: You don't need to be a genius to understand Geeks and Greeks, but you'll feel like a genius after you read it!
Reason 6: A kick-ass love story
In this graphic novel, chemistry isn't confined to the classroom, if you catch my drift. Geeks and Greeks also features a romantic plotline, with geeks busting out their most hilarious seduction techniques. Or to put it in terms only a geek would understand: This graphic novel was inspired by Eros as well as Athena.*
* Note for non-geeks: Eros was the god of love and Athena was the goddess of wisdom.
Reason 7: Based on actual events
Many of these incidents in Geeks and Greeks actually occurred in some form or another. Naturally, I have taken certain liberties for the sake of the story. Events that took place over a number of years are compressed to a span of a few months. And names have been changed to protect the guilty.
Geeks and Greeks depicts the high-tech battle royale that erupts when two of MIT's smartest students square off in an escalating war of pranks and egos. Jim Walden is a smart, but under-achieving freshman with a knack for pranks and a secret that could end his career before it begins. Luke Bardolf, his rival, is a dangerous and destructive senior fighting to maintain his dominance of his fraternity. When everything comes to a head, it will take all of Jim's creativity and resourcefulness to save his scholarship, his friendships, his relationship with his girlfriend, and his dream of becoming an astronaut.
The insatiably curious can learn more about the project at the Geeks and Greeks website.
Geeks and Greeks is a graphic novel for you if any of these apply to you:
- you enjoy stories about perseverance and creativity
- you are curious about how ingenious MIT students pulled off some of the most infamous college pranks in history
- you are an engineer or any sort of techie
- you have some connection to Cambridge or Boston, the setting of this graphic novel
- you are a member of the MIT community (student, alumni, faculty, staff)
- you appreciate a clever prank
- you were ever in a fraternity or sorority
- you enjoy top-notch illustrations coupled with elevated dialogue
- you like to laugh
Tonally Geeks and Greeks is a dramedy, meaning it's a drama but funny things are being said and done all the time. Its sensibility is in sync with movies like Juno, Rushmore, and The Social Network.
The graphic novel script for Geeks and Greeks is 100% COMPLETE and thumbnail illustration panels have been laid out. Backers will be supporting the illustration of the graphic novel by award-winning artist Andy Fish.
isn't nearly as exciting to look at as THIS!
Your support is final piece of the puzzle that will bring this project to fruition. For 14 years I've been writing and developing Geeks and Greeks. But the genesis of the project goes back even further than that. All the way back to 1980.
1980 - 1986 (living it)
I spent six years at MIT and every time I came home and got together with my home town friends to swap stories, they couldn't believe the crazy, bizarre events that occurred at MIT.
1987 - 1999 (hatching the idea)
I knew the things I'd seen (and been a part of) would make a highly entertaining story. I just didn't realize it would take several decades to bring it to life. Life has a way of intervening – you get married, switch jobs, move a bunch of times, and so it goes. The upside of waiting all those years to write the story is my writing skills definitely improved (on this long and winding road, I've learned to always look for the upside).
2000 - 2002 (writing the screenplay)
By 2000 I couldn't wait any longer. It was time to write Geeks and Greeks. I was clueless about graphic novels at the time, so I wrote it in screenplay format. It took several years to write and polish, but amazingly the script got some traction in Hollywood.
2003 - 2006 (going to Hollywood)
In 2003 a bigshot TV producer took a free option on the script and shopped it around Hollywood. The next thing I knew, I was sipping bottled water with a couple of slick, fast-talking agents at United Talent Agency (UTA) in Beverly Hills. They said casting directors were "doing backflips over the script" and Heyday Films wanted to get involved. Yeah... I'd never heard of them either. Turns out Heyday Films are the cats behind a little something called the Harry Potter movies.
Suddenly I was taking meetings on the Warner Bros lot in Burbank, CA. It looked like the script was going to sell. So, like Jed Clampett, my wife and I climbed into our jalopy and moved from Centreville, Virginia to Burbank to support the project.
Of course, (free) rewrites were called for. Change this. Tighten that. Give this character more of an arc. That's the nature of the game. Dutifully, I made the changes that were requested, but time goes by. Key personnel in the deal changed production companies, the script lost its champion, the option expired, and Hollywood moved on to the next bright shiny object. Happens all the time.
The upside of this phase of the project is the script got better. Much, much better. And not just because I rewrote it countless times. Dozens of really smart story development professionals read the script and offered constructive criticism. I am eternally grateful to every one of those readers whose insight and suggestions helped sharpen the story and make it faster, funnier, and more focused.
2007 - 2011 (starting a family)
From 2007 to 2011 Geeks and Greeks went on hiatus. I considered adapting the screenplay into a traditional novel format, but wasn't sure where I'd find the time since I had just become a father to two rambunctious boys (who definitely inherited their father's pranking gene). Still, every so often I would take the script off the shelf and punch up a joke or two. I couldn't leave it alone.
2012 - 2013 (adapting as a graphic novel)
Light bulb! In 2012 I realized that the absolute best medium for this story is a graphic novel. The outrageous pranks and sight gags in Geeks and Greeks make it a highly visual story that can only be done justice in the graphic novel format. These events need to be seen, not just imagined. Of course, a graphic novel script is a totally different animal than a movie screenplay. It took me a year to adapt the Geeks and Greeks screenplay into the graphic novel format. Props to all you graphic novel writers out there!
2014 (finding the dream team: Kickstarter, Andy Fish, and YOU)
Now, with the advent of Kickstarter, the addition of legendary artist Andy Fish to the creative team, and your generous support, this project – which began in earnest 14 years ago – can finally come to life!
This project will fund the creation of a full-color 146 page paperback graphic novel version of Geeks and Greeks by June 2015.
Kickstarter funding will be completed by June 2014 and it will take Andy Fish 10 months to illustrate the graphic novel. Printing and shipping will take about a month.
This project is a labor of love – a love of geeks and their endearing eccentricities. Only the bare minimum to make it successful is sought. Here's how the $40,000 will be utilized:
This represents a very heavily discounted rate (70% off) from the normal fee for professional full-color illustration, which includes penciling, inking, coloring, and lettering.
Luckily Andy has set aside a year's supply of ramen noodles to help him get by on this razor-thin budget.
Alpha Zeta Omicron (AZO) is the fictional fraternity in Geeks and Greeks where a lot of the action takes place. We are building the reward structure around this fraternity. And women, don't feel weird about joining. How many women can say they've pledged a fictional literary fraternity?
So go ahead, check out the sidebar on the right, find the reward level that's right for you, and make yourself happy as a geek at band camp!
When it comes to pranks at MIT, I know the territory firsthand. As a student there I was involved in all sorts of shenanigans. One prank got me hauled before the Committee on Discipline and nearly expelled.
You know, when that happened, I never thought to myself, "Someday I'll be listing this little incident at the top of my resume." And yet, here I am, doing just that. Life is funny.
It’s also kinda funny that I wound up becoming a writer, because when I graduated from MIT, writing was the last occupation I would have ever imagined for myself. I was more interested in careers that got people rich. And trust me, the answer never came back, "Essays, Steve. Yep, see that dude getting off the Learjet over there, he amassed a huge fortune in essays. He’s that essay tycoon from Texas."
Anyway, my humor essays have been published in 50 magazines and newspapers, including American Rationalist, Boston Phoenix, Capital Style, Christian Science Monitor, Funny Times, Los Angeles Times, National Lampoon, P.O.V., Salon, San Francisco Examiner, Washington Post, Washingtonian, and Woman's Own.
I'm the author of two humor books, The Little Book of Bad Business Advice (St. Martin's, 1997) and If You Jam the Copier, Bolt (Andrews McMeel, 2001). My work also appears in the humor anthologies, May Contain Nuts: A Very Loose Canon of American Humor (HarperCollins, 2004) and Joke Express: Instant Delivery of 1,424 Funny Bits from the Best Comedians, (Andrews McMeel, 2006). I've been a commentator for NPR's "All Things Considered" and a joke writer for Us Weekly magazine's "Fashion Police" (ironic if you knew how I dress).
More details about my tech, writing, and humor credentials can be found at SteveAltes.com.
Celebrated artist Andy Fish will illustrate Geeks and Greeks. This is vital to the project because my drawing skills plateaued at stick figures.
You could say that Andy wrote the book on graphic novels... because he has. Andy is the author and artist of five "how to" illustration books, including the classic text How To Draw Graphic Novel Style.
Andy studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York and the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island. Andy trained under such legendary comic creators as Jack Kirby and Will Eisner. His current client list reads like a who's who of top businesses, as well as work for celebrities like Stan Lee and Adam West.
He's the author and artist of seven graphic novels, including Dracula's Army: The Dead Travel Fast and Werewolves of Wisconsin.
His paintings, which mix his love of all things pop culture have been displayed in art galleries in Seattle, Sam Francisco, New York City, Boston, Worcester and London. He even has a painting in the collection of the National Gallery in Washington, DC. So, um, yeah... I guess you could say he can draw.
In addition, Andy is an adjunct professor of art instruction at the Massachusetts College of Art and at the lead faculty member for the graphic novel illustration program at Emerson College in Boston.
Andy's vibrant, kinetic style is informed by a strong pop sensibility and artfully employs the use of super-saturated colors to make panels vividly come to life. To see more of his talents, visit his portfolio.
Another great thing about Andy is he is Boston-based, meaning he can visit the actual settings of this graphic novel, making his drawings even more realistic. Bonus!
Illustration of Andy, would you like to say a few words?
Encouragement from the MIT community and everyone who has pledged their support already has been amazing. Let's create something awesome together!
Okay, I've gone on long enough.
Now it's YOUR turn.
Show your GEEK PRIDE!
Show your NERD LOVE!
Scroll to the top of this page and click that big green button that says BACK THIS PROJECT.
A worldwide community of geeks thanks you!
P.S. Help spread the word! Post a link to this Kickstarter on your social media pages and we'll reach our goal that much faster.
P.P.S. The T-shirt is still being designed for maximum awesomeness, but here's what that MIT Nerd Pride Pocket Protector looks like:
Risks and challenges
The risks in this project are minimal. The script is fully written. Andy Fish is on board as the illustrator and has committed to the production schedule.
I suppose Andy could get hit by a meteor tomorrow, but if that happens I promise to clone him from scraps of his DNA.
The bulk of our expenses are printing and shipping the finished product. I have been in contact with a high-quality graphic novel printing house and they have provided a guaranteed quote. I've priced shipping supplies. Costs for the other rewards are also understood and accounted for.
My day job is being the creative director for a marketing agency, so I've managed hundreds of creative projects in my life and I know how to bring a project in on time and on budget. Of course, unforeseen events are always possible, but I will do my very best to mitigate these and keep all backers informed of progress toward our goals.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
If you've got Bitcoins, we'll find a way to accept them!
Pledge $1 or more
ALPHA ZETA OMICRON (AZO) MASCOT. Welcome! You’ll accrue some GOOD KARMA and we'll be truly grateful to have you on the team.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $10 or more
AZO PLEDGE. I promise we won't haze you! You'll get our BACKSTAGE PASS (sneak peeks of art, previews of cover designs, video updates, and exclusive early access to other behind the scenes goodies).
YOU'LL ALSO GET good karma.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $20 or more
AZO FRESHMAN. Ones and zeroes flyin' in! You'll be listed as an "AZO Freshman" on the Geeks and Greeks website. Plus you'll get a DIGITAL COPY of the Geeks and Greeks graphic novel. Sweet!
YOU'LL ALSO GET good karma and the backstage pass.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $30 or more
AZO SOPHOMORE. Hola, rockstar! You'll be listed as an "AZO Sophomore" on the Geeks and Greeks website. Plus you'll get a PDF of the Geeks and Greeks SCRIPT.
YOU'LL ALSO GET good karma, the backstage pass, and a digital copy of Geeks and Greeks.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $40 or more
AZO JUNIOR. Dude, you're getting a book! You'll be listed as an "AZO Junior" on the Geeks and Greeks website. Plus you will receive a SIGNED (by the writer and illustrator) PAPERBACK COPY of the Geeks and Greeks graphic novel!
YOU'LL ALSO GET good karma, the backstage pass, a digital copy of Geeks and Greeks, and the script.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $50 or more
AZO SENIOR. The cure for senioritis! You'll be listed as an "AZO Senior" on the Geeks and Greeks website. Plus you'll get a bitchin' MIT NERD PRIDE POCKET PROTECTOR.
YOU'LL ALSO GET good karma, the backstage pass, a digital copy of Geeks and Greeks, the script, and a signed paperback copy of Geeks and Greeks.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $75 or more
AZO VICE PRESIDENT. Wowza! You'll be listed as an "AZO Vice President" on the Geeks and Greeks website. You will also receive a super cool custom-designed Geeks and Greeks T-SHIRT.
YOU'LL ALSO GET good karma, the backstage pass, a digital copy of Geeks and Greeks, the script, a signed paperback copy of Geeks and Greeks, and the pocket protector.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $100 or more
AZO PRESIDENT. All hail the big cheese! You'll be listed as an "AZO President" on the Geeks and Greeks website. Your name will be listed in a BACKERS ACKNOWLEDGMENT section of the Geeks and Greeks graphic novel itself. "You're somebody now! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity – your name in print – that makes people. Things are going to start happening to you now!"
YOU'LL ALSO GET good karma, the backstage pass, a digital copy of Geeks and Greeks, the script, a signed paperback copy of Geeks and Greeks, the pocket protector, and the T-shirt.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $200 or more
28 backers Limited (72 left of 100)
AZO EXULTED LEADER. This is gonna look great on your resume! You'll be listed as an "AZO Exulted Leader" on the Geeks and Greeks website. You will also receive your own unique AZO NICKNAME, based on your specific personality, via a phone consultation with the writer. Plus, you will get an ORIGINAL ART PAGE from the graphic novel (first-come, first-served).
YOU'LL ALSO GET good karma, the backstage pass, a digital copy of Geeks and Greeks, the script, a signed paperback copy of Geeks and Greeks, the pocket protector, the T-shirt, and your name listed in the Backers Acknowledgment section of the Geeks and Greeks graphic novel.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $280 or more
1 backer All gone!
AZO JUNIOR SIX PACK. You and six friends of your choosing will receive the AZO Junior package. You and six of your friends will be listed as an "AZO Junior" on the Geeks and Greeks website. Plus you and six of your friends will receive a SIGNED (by the writer and illustrator) PAPERBACK COPY of the Geeks and Greeks graphic novel!
YOU AND YOUR SIX FRIENDS WILL ALSO GET good karma, the backstage pass, a digital copy of Geeks and Greeks, and the script.Estimated delivery:Only ships to: United States
Pledge $500 or more
12 backers Limited (8 left of 20)
AZO OVERLORD. You're in the inner circle now! You'll be listed as an "AZO Overlord" on the Geeks and Greeks website. You will receive a FULL-COLOR ILLUSTRATION OF YOURSELF by acclaimed Geeks and Greeks illustrator Andy Fish (heroic, comedic, your choice of style).
YOU'LL ALSO GET good karma, the backstage pass, a digital copy of Geeks and Greeks, the script, a signed paperback copy of Geeks and Greeks, the pocket protector, the T-shirt, your name listed in the Backers Acknowledgment section of the Geeks and Greeks graphic novel, your own personalized nickname, and an original art page from the graphic novel.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $1,000 or more
5 backers Limited (5 left of 10)
AZO DEMI-GOD. Your excellence is boundless! You'll be listed as an "AZO Demi-God" on the Geeks and Greeks website. Plus... YOUR NAME will be worked into the story of the Geeks and Greeks graphic novel!
YOU'LL ALSO GET good karma, the backstage pass, a digital copy of Geeks and Greeks, the script, five signed paperback copies of Geeks and Greeks, the pocket protector, the T-shirt, your name listed in the Backers Acknowledgment section of the Geeks and Greeks graphic novel, your own personalized nickname, an original art page from the graphic novel, and an illustration of yourself by Andy Fish.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $2,000 or more
2 backers Limited (3 left of 5)
AZO OMNIPOTENT RULER. A veritable cornucopia of rewards! You'll be listed as an "AZO Omnipotent Ruler" on the Geeks and Greeks website. Plus YOUR NAME AND YOUR FACE will be worked into in the Geeks and Greeks graphic novel itself! I hope you're ready to sign autographs at comic conventions.
YOU'LL ALSO GET good karma, the backstage pass, a digital copy of Geeks and Greeks, the script, five signed paperback copies of Geeks and Greeks, your name listed in the Backers Acknowledgment section of the Geeks and Greeks graphic novel, the pocket protector, the T-shirt, your own personalized nickname, an original art page from the graphic novel, and an illustration of yourself by Andy Fish.Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
Pledge $5,000 or more
0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)
AZO FOUNDING FATHER. You are the ultimate insider! You'll be listed as an "AZO Founding Father" on the Geeks and Greeks website. And, if a movie version of Geeks and Greeks is ever made, we will ensure that you are listed as a "CO-PRODUCER" in the on-screen MOVIE CREDITS. This outcome is not as far-fetched as it may sound given the level of interest Hollywood has already expressed in the project. As a final token of my gratitude, I will retroactively name my firstborn child after you (as long as your name is "Augie").
YOU'LL ALSO GET good karma, the backstage pass, a digital copy of Geeks and Greeks, the script, five signed paperback copies of Geeks and Greeks, your name listed in the Backers Acknowledgment section of the Geeks and Greeks graphic novel, the pocket protector, the T-shirt, your own personalized nickname, an original art page from the graphic novel, an illustration of yourself by Andy Fish, and YOUR NAME and YOUR FACE will be worked into in the Geeks and Greeks graphic novel itself!Estimated delivery:Ships anywhere in the world
- (40 days)