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Interactive motion comic of 12 episodes about a group of superhero-inspired youngsters in an enslaved post-apocalyptic  society.
Interactive motion comic about a group of superhero-inspired young rebels in a post-apocalyptic  future society.
Interactive motion comic about a group of superhero-inspired young rebels in a post-apocalyptic future society.
121 backers pledged €12,004 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Motion comic by a Digital Emmy-award winning studio about a group of young rebels who accidentally discover the true nature of the dark world into which they’ve been born… 

View of the city of Akeron. Our motion comic features animation and visual effects. Feel free to share this GIF (please include a link to the Kickstarter!)
View of the city of Akeron. Our motion comic features animation and visual effects. Feel free to share this GIF (please include a link to the Kickstarter!)


Ascent from Akeron is a post-apocalyptic thriller set in the distant future that imagines a world without superheroes. The motion comic is 12 episodes and includes animation, visual effects, a custom soundtrack, and audio effects. We’ve been working on Akeron for the past 18 months, designing and "world building" the Akeron storyworld. And now we're in the process of making the first three episodes as a pilot. It's going to be a really cool project and we can't wait to show it to you!

What's the status of the production?

The prologue and episode one are done and can be viewed on ascentfromakeron.com. Episode 2 and 3 will launch later this fall. The trailer below features art and screen captures from episode 1, to give you an idea what Ascent from Akeron will look like:

Ascent from Akeron is a pure indie production. We have assembled an amazing team of international creators, who are working hard to finish the first three episodes, made possible by an initial grant from the European Union program for the creative sector. And we have self-funded the remaining part. We are happy to do so, because Akeron is a story we have wanted to make for a long time.

There's an amazing creative synergy in our team, and we all want to keep going and make an amazing innovative digital comic for you to enjoy. Motion comics are still very new, not to mention expensive to make. But exploring new territories is what we do! We love it, and there's so much left to explore...

About the goal

With your help we can keep this amazing team going while we look for smart ways to fund the remaining episodes. The funding goal is the cost of one episode and includes Kickstarter fees and the cost of making the rewards.

We hope you like what you see here, and if you decide to support this project, you'll be part of an amazing journey into the future of comics.

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The video above is a short preview (a screen capture) of the opening scene from episode 1. But it's much more fun to experience the episode yourself. Watch the Prologue and Episode 1 now on ascentfromakeron.com/episodes.

What's it like to live in a world where it's dark always and everywhere? Production art from episode 1.
What's it like to live in a world where it's dark always and everywhere? Production art from episode 1.

William Maher is an Irishman who has worked in Hollywood for many years. He directed his first feature Sleepwalking starring Nick Stahl and Charlize Theron in 2008. Previously, Maher worked as a VFX supervisor. His VFX career has included many comic book adaptations, including Mars Attacks!, X-Men, X-Men 2 and Batman & Robin. Here's his story:

So there I was working on yet another superhero movie and I’m looking at the box office numbers from the previous film I’d worked on, which were probably huge, and I’m wondering to myself: how did all this all happen? How could so many people go to watch movies about superheroes?

What kind of spirit do comics awaken in you?

I started to wonder about the impact comics have had on people – all over the planet. What do they find in there? So I spent the next 10 years thinking about this, drawn by the certainty that there’s a story to be told about what story means.

What difference would it make if comics wouldn't exist at all? 

What if there was no such enlightenment? For that matter… What if there was no history? No heroes. No hope. No dreams. No future. No past. What if there was only work and obedience. What if kids grew up in that lifeless, controlled world? And what then? What if they discovered comics? Superheroes. Resistance. Fight. Passion. Light. Love. What would happen then? What would they become?

"The Pale" Production art from episode 1.
"The Pale" Production art from episode 1.


What are motion comics?

They are a special breed of digital comics - freaky hybrids that merge comics (reading) with cinema (watching) and new media (interacting). This is our third motion comic. 

Motion comics come in all shapes and sizes. Here's s what defines ours:

  • Animation is used sparingly but effectively, enhancing the overall eerie atmosphere of the story. 
  •  The parallax effect creates a subtle illusion of depth. 
  •  The amazing musical score by veteran film composer Mark Tschanz adds yet another dimension. 
  • Combined with sound effects, this makes for a more visceral and immersive comic reading experience. 
  •  The page layouts are dynamic, so the way you read this comic is new, too, yet it feels natural. 
  • The project is made with Panoply, a new digital storytelling tool for Unity3D that will be out soon.
Ascent from Akeron on Kickstarter
Ascent from Akeron on Kickstarter

This is Akeron - a ramshackle city festering at the foot of a monolithic tower that rises from the middle of a remote island. The people of Akeron live in perpetual darkness. They survive on scraps - their meager reward for mining coal. There's a mysterious race of Elders on the island who spy on the people of Akeron and warn them to abide by strict rules. Deviating from these rules is deadly. Yet a 17 year-old-boy, Machai, befriends a group of rebellious teenagers. They decide to take fate into their own hands and make plans to upset the status quo.

Akeron is a sci-fi story world created by William Maher, who's been developing this world and the stories that take place there for over a decade. Set on this post-apocalyptic stage, the extreme future scenario mapped out here is desperate, unique, threatening and terrifyingly possible. We go way beyond the post-megawar state and reach far into the evolution of humans, both in their physical forms and their cerebral development.

Ultimately, Ascent From Akeron is about the power of the human spirit and its ability to overcome oppression. The creators embrace the notion that storytelling and imagination can be enough to motivate people to act to improve their world.

Map of Akeron
Map of Akeron
The Elders
The Elders
Our ultimate goal is to release all 12 episodes as an (iOS) app with special interactive features, background stories and bonus art. We will make the app once we’ve funded all 12 episodes.
Our ultimate goal is to release all 12 episodes as an (iOS) app with special interactive features, background stories and bonus art. We will make the app once we’ve funded all 12 episodes.
MACHAI is the central figure of our motion comic Ascent from Akeron . Machai’s view of his world, his unique sensitivity, emotion, and courage will make him a great leader. The bond with his father is tormented by his obedience to the rules of Akeron.
MACHAI is the central figure of our motion comic Ascent from Akeron . Machai’s view of his world, his unique sensitivity, emotion, and courage will make him a great leader. The bond with his father is tormented by his obedience to the rules of Akeron.
LAIKA is an only child of a broken home. Raised by a rigid father, she is a survivor. She has physical strength greater than other girls her age. She is practical, pragmatic and independent. Most of her friends are boys.
LAIKA is an only child of a broken home. Raised by a rigid father, she is a survivor. She has physical strength greater than other girls her age. She is practical, pragmatic and independent. Most of her friends are boys.
CHAOS is a voice of reason. He’s active and pragmatic loyal and decisive. When something needs to be done, Chaos will do it. If he can’t, it’s likely nobody can.
CHAOS is a voice of reason. He’s active and pragmatic loyal and decisive. When something needs to be done, Chaos will do it. If he can’t, it’s likely nobody can.
The gang on a small raft they built. Production art from episode 2
The gang on a small raft they built. Production art from episode 2
STUDICUS is the guardian of hope. No-one in Acheon has thought more about the state of man than him. He has seen things no-one else has seen. He has thought about things no-one else has thought about.
STUDICUS is the guardian of hope. No-one in Acheon has thought more about the state of man than him. He has seen things no-one else has seen. He has thought about things no-one else has thought about.

Akeron Wallpaper: a view of the city and the tower
(3 versions: for your Desktop, iPad and iPhone)


Set of 5 Akeron Postcards


Akeron logo T-shirt (in your preferred size and color)

The black symbol represents the tower that shoots up through the ever-present thick black clouds. The red streaks painted on top represent resistance, fight, passion, an uprising, change...

There's a girl and a boy model. And there's green and blue.


Akeron 'Movie' Poster
(#1: B1 size)

 
Akeron Poster with Machai (#2: A2 size)

 Akeron Mini Poster with Machai (#3: A4 size)

Panoramic view of Akeron. A majestic giclée art print based on production art from episode 1. Signed and numbered by Gustavo Garcia (90cm x 30cm)

Personalized Superhero Comic Cover 

Gustavo will create a one-of-a-kind, personalized comic book cover for you using a superhero name of your choosing.

Meet the rest of the team:

Artist: Gustavo Garcia
This Barcelona native moved to Holland with his parents as a kid. He now works as a comic artist, illustrator and a storyboard artist. His debut graphic novel Gagarin came out in 2012.

Color artists: Aimee de Jongh and Anna Engels
Aimee developed the color scripts and color style for episode 1. Anna Angels (Tumblr) is now continuing where Aimee left off.

Creative developer: Erik Loyer

The L.A.-based developer created Panoply, a powerful and very flexible Unity-based tool for creating interactive stories. 

Developer: Isabelle Kniestedt

Animator: Danne Bakker

Music: Mark Tschanz

Sound designer: Thijs Kammer

Producers: Femke Wolting, Bruno Felix and Tommy Pallotta
Femke and Bruno founded Submarine Channel -a not-for-profit digital storytelling studio- in 2000. Before joining Submarine, Tommy produced 'Waking Life' and 'A Scanner Darkly.' This year, Tommy, Femke and Bruno  won a Digital Emmy for Last Hijack Interactive, which they directed and produced. You can find all our stuff on submarinechannel.com, including our three previous motion comics!
 More info below.

Production costs for one episode are €7500 (about $8400), so with each stretch goal, we will be able to produce one additional episode. The money will be split like this:  


€7500 Creator fees (artist, writer, designer, developers, animator, sound designer, composer) 
€3400 Producing the rewards
€1100 Kickstarter fees 

Total: €12000

Scene from the prologue. What book is this? Who is the guy in the helmet? Questions that may or may not be answered in the coming first episodes.
Scene from the prologue. What book is this? Who is the guy in the helmet? Questions that may or may not be answered in the coming first episodes.

Submarine Channel has been around since 2000. We can honestly boast that we're pioneers when it comes to motion comics. We love comics, and we want to explore what more you can do with them. In 2001, we produced the very first interactive motion comic ever, The Killer. It still looks fresh today. With interactive web animation pioneer Han Hoogerbrugge we made the bizar but hugely popular interactive comic series HOTEL. Our most recent interactive motion comic is The Art of Pho, which was based on Julian Hanshaw's debut graphic novel. 

 Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Ascent from Akeron is a pure indie production. We have assembled an amazing team of international creators, who are working hard to finish the first three episodes. These pilot episodes are made possible by an initial grant from the European Union program for the creative sector. And we have self-funded the remaining part. We are happy to do so, because Akeron is a story we have wanted to make for a long time.

There's an amazing creative synergy in our team, and we all want to keep going and make an amazing innovative digital comic for you to enjoy. Motion comics are still very new, not to mention expensive to make. But exploring new territories is what we do! We love it, and there's so much left to explore...

Goal With your help we can keep this amazing team going while we look for alternative ways to fund the remaining episodes. We're reaching out to publishers and production partners, and we're looking for smart ways to fund Akeron. The funding goal is the cost of one episode and includes Kickstarter fees and the cost of making the rewards. We don't dare dream of stretch goals. We hope you like what you see here, and if you decide to support this project, you'll be part of an amazing journey into the future of comics.

Risks and challenges

The project is in good hands. Submarine Channel is a multiple award-winning non profit studio that's built a solid rep with its pioneering interactive projects since 2000. Two of those, Collapsus and Last Hijack Interactive were nominated for a Digital Emmy. The latter project winning one.

Ascent from Akeron has been in the works for years. The script is basically done, though William adds more dialogue and captions once the art is finished. We've produced the first three episodes, so we've identified the creative and technical risks and we've worked out the best workflow. But since we're exploring previously uncharted territory here, there are always some technical risks involved that might cause new episodes to appear later as planned.

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FAQ

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge €5 or more About $6

    Akeron Digital Wallpaper

    Receive an Ascent from Akeron wallpaper to give your desktop, tablet or smartphone a certain post-apocalyptic je ne sais quoi.

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    Pledge €10 or more About $11

    Akeron Wallpaper + Your name in the credits

    Receive the digital Ascent from Akeron wallpaper + a special thank you credit on the Akeron website (and the app, if we make one). Includes the option to link your name to your website.

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    Pledge €15 or more About $17

    The Motion Comic

    Be the first to see the graphic novel Ascent from Akeron. You’ll receive an early access code to new episodes 2 days before the official release. This includes future paid episodes, which will be made once they are funded. Also includes the digital wallpaper + your name in credits

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    Pledge €20 or more About $23

    Mini poster + Akeron Postcards Set + Motion comic

    Poster 3 (A4 size) showing Machai in the center of a group of miners. Comes with early access to all future episodes (see above). Also includes: digital wallpaper + your name in credits

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    Pledge €25 or more About $28

    Akeron Postcards Set + Poster 2 + Motion comic

    Receive a set of 5 Ascent from Akeron postcards + Poster 2 (A2 size) + early access to all future episodes (see above). Add €10 for shipping outside of Europe. Also includes: digital wallpaper + your name in credits

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    Pledge €35 or more About $40

    Akeron T-shirt + Postcards set + Motion comic

    Receive the Kickstarter exclusive Ascent from Akeron logo T-shirt + 5 postcards + early access to all future episodes. Add €5 for shipping outside of Europe. Also includes: digital wallpaper + your name in credits

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    Pledge €50 or more About $57

    Akeron Poster 1 (B1) + T-shirt + Motion comic

    Receive the official big sized “movie” poster + the T-shirt + early access to all future episodes. Add €10 for shipping outside of Europe. Also includes: digital wallpaper + your name in credits

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    Pledge €125 or more About $142

    Be a rebel! + Posters + Postcards + Motion comic

    Your name written on the walls inside the mine in episode 2. Also includes: digital wallpaper + your name in credits

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    Pledge €150 or more About $170

    Submarine Channel Box + Motion comic

    Receive a special box filled with Submarine Channel productions. The box includes: Watch the Titles DVD (PAL or NTSC), The Graphic Universe of Han Hoogerbrugge DVD (PAL only), the unique RefugeeRepublic.nl limited edition promo poster/flyer by famous artist Jan Rothuizen (designed by Roosje Klap), set of 5 Akeron postcards, the A2 sized Akeron poster (Poster 2) + early access to all future episodes. Also includes: digital wallpaper + your name in credits

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    Pledge €200 or more About $227

    Akeron Panorama Digital Art print signed and numbered

    Receive a (90cm x 30cm) special digital art print of the panoramic view of Akeron from episode 1 (pictured on the left). Beautifully printed on high quality paper and signed and numbered by Gustavo Garcia. Also includes: Early access to the motion comic + digital wallpaper + your name in credits + B1 poster (Poster 1) + Akeron T-shirt

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    Pledge €250 or more About $284

    Your social media portrait by Gustavo Garcia

    Gustavo will make an exclusive portrait of you in Akeron style (or a portrait of anything or anyone you like). Although he claims he's not the world's best portrayist, he'll try his best to make you something special! You will receive a digital 300dpi version and a signed print. Nice to use as your profile picture on social media. Also includes: Early access to the motion comic + digital wallpaper + your name in credits + B1 poster (Poster 1) + Akeron T-shirt

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    Pledge €500 or more About $568

    Get drawn into Akeron

    Become part of the project and be immortalized in episode 3 or 4 as an extra. You'll be dressed up appropriately! Also includes: Early access to the motion comic + digital wallpaper + your name in credits + B1 poster (Poster 1) + Akeron T-shirt

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    Pledge €750 or more About $852

    Personalized Superhero Comic Cover

    Spoiler alert! In episode 4, the kids discover a chest filled with comics from the 20th century - a pivotal moment in the story. Now you can be a superhero featured on a comic book cover! Gustavo will create a one-of-a-kind, personalized comic book cover for you using a superhero name of your choosing. Your cover will be featured in the story. You will receive a hires digital file to print and frame. Also includes: Early access to the motion comic + T-shirt + Poster of choice + digital wallpaper + your name in credits.

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    Pledge €1,000 or more About $1,136

    Workshop by author of choice or special request

    You'll receive a 1-hour Skype workshop by your author of choice: writer William Maher or creative developer Erik Loyer. Any other requests? Name it! We're open for ANY suggestions, in fact we DARE YOU. If it's possible, we'll do it. Also includes: Get drawn into Akeron in episode 3 or 4 + early access to the motion comic + digital wallpaper + your name in credits + B1 poster (Poster 1) + Akeron T-shirt

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    Pledge €1,200 or more About $1,363

    A Submarine Channel presentation + project consultation

    You will get a 40-minute keynote presentation by one of Submarine Channel's interactive producers Remco Vlaanderen or Yaniv Wolf for yourself or for your company, your school, etc. We'll cover all aspects of producing our award-winning interactive documentaries and motion comics; from financing, to production, distribution and marketing. We'll share the ins and outs and the do's and don'ts. (Flights and accomodation not included). Includes a consultation of your multi-, cross-, or transmedia project.

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    Pledge €2,000 or more About $2,272

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

    Wow, you're a boss! Get an executive producer credit on Ascent from Akeron and be a part of shaping the future of comics! You will also receive the posters, postcards, digital signed art print and T-shirt. You will also receive a consultation of your multi-, cross-, transmedia or animation project by Submarine Channel's Femke Wolting, Bruno Felix or Tommy Pallotta.

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Funding period

- (30 days)