"In The Lions of Valletta, creator Ursula Murray Husted gives us a cat’s odyssey that is in turns sweet, sad, and a little scary, and for good measure she throws in a beautifully drawn tour of Malta." Trina Robbins, author of Pretty in Ink, Women Cartoonists from 1896-2013 and The Chicagoland Detective Agency graphic novel series
"...I want to read it, and I especially want to see my young friends read it." Charles Brownstein, Executive Producer of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
"Ursula Murray Husted not only crafts a wonderfully charming story that includes lessons in art history and a peek at a place one would not necessarily think to visit, she does it with some of the sweetest cat characters to grace the comic pages. And everyone knows that cats make everything just that much better." Kris Dresen, creator of She Said, Manya, and Max & Lily
The Lions of Valletta is a complete 135 page full color original all-ages graphic novel.
(This isn't a sad story, I promise.) When my dad was diagnosed with a pretty advanced form of lymphoma, we planned a trip to Malta so he'd have something to look forward to while in treatment. He got better and we took the trip in 2004. I was captivated with the landscape of Malta and delighted by the large numbers of stray cats that lived by the docks and sunned themselves on the UNESCO World Heritage sites as though they owned the place. Most of the cats ignored us, some of them begged for food or ear scratches, but the most interesting ones considered us gravely and moved on. I found myself wondering what they were looking for.
That question became the kernel of this story embodied in the main characters Cilla and Betto. Cilla feels that life will only be complete when she finds a good home with people, while Betto is happy being a cat on the docks. Their adventure brings them through city, country, water, and eventually to a place where both of them can be happy.
I have added in many of my favorite things to write and draw: architecture, art history, cultural history, philosophy, big questions, small answers, boats of all sizes, and fish heads. This is a book that is very important to me and I look forward to sharing it with the world- with a little help from you and Kickstarter.
The most important thing that I hope to accomplish with this Kickstarter is to have more people read my book! In service of this goal, all funding levels result in backers receiving a copy of the Lions of Valletta, either in print or DRM-free digital download.
The moment the base goal of $2,000 is reached I will send a link to a pdf download of the entire story to all backers at all levels and new backers after the base goal is reached will receive the link shortly after they have supported the project. (We've reached this goal- thank you! I'll be sending out links every day to all new backers or if you don't want to wait, you can check out the first backer only update)
Because this book is finished your rewards are waiting only on printing and production. When the campaign has ended and the funds are released, the book files will be sent to the printer and the charms will go into production. The hand-bound copies will be in the mail as soon as they leave my workbench and the printer-bound copies of the books will be in the mail as soon as they get back from the printer. All of the physical copies will be signed.
At the $45 level the books will also contain an ink sketch of one of the main characters. Anyone who supports the project at $45 or higher will automatically receive all of the unlocked stretch goal perks for no additional charge.
At the higher levels you can receive original art of your cats, hand bound books, copies of my previous books, and the opportunity for your own beloved cat to appear in the end papers of the printed editions. Retailers have two levels that come with a promotional sign for their stores. The highest level has me come out to do my best professorial schtick and give a lecture or workshop for your event or school.
This is something special. I am a book nerd: both in the making and the reading. The idea of hand-binding a little edition of my book with linen thread, custom covers, end papers, and lovingly folded signatures... Well, it just warms my little heart. If you are a book nerd as well, backing at the $100 dollar level or higher will get you a signed and sketched in hand-bound edition of The Lions of Valletta produced at my workbench with an additional original watercolor painting bound directly into the book.
The $2,000 base goal will cover a small edition of locally digitally printed (but still lovely) The Lions of Valletta paperbacks, the hand-bound edition, the DRM-free digital copy for all backers, shipping, and the Dolce charm for early supporters. If I get support beyond the initial funding goal, reaching stretch goals will increase the quality of the book and add some fun perks at no additional charge to backers.
- $4,000- Reached! upgrades the printing from the nice digital to beautiful and locally produced offset printing for all physical copies of the book- Now all of the books will be offset printed.
- $5,000- Reached! adds an acrylic charm of Cilla to all backers at the $45 or higher level- Now everyone at or above $45 will get the Cilla charm (Cilla is the little black and white cat).
- $6,000- Reached! Increases the quality of the paper for all physical copies of the book
- $7,000- Reached! Adds an acrylic charm of Betto to all backers at the $45 or higher level
- $8,000- Reached! adds french folds AND foil stamping to the cover of all physical copies of the book
- $10,000- Reached! Adds an acrylic charm of Paolo the cathedral cat to all backers at the $45 or higher level
- $12,000- Reached! adds a 4X6in art print of Betto in Matisse's Goldfish to all backers at the $45 or higher level
- $15,000- Lions history added to the footnotes! Sketch section, early character designs, and history of the book added to all printed copies.
A black and white preview book was produced during 2011 in very limited numbers. If you are one of the wonderful people who possesses a copy of the preview book- thank you! Please send me a photograph of the book in your collection/with you/or with your cat and I will include an acrylic charm of Dolce (only available to early supporters and completely free of charge) with your pledge at $25 or higher. I am grateful for your patronage and hope you enjoy the rest of the story.
I will also send the Dolce charm to all backers from Malta at $25 level or higher. Without your beautiful country there would be no Lions of Valletta.
Risks and challenges
There are very few risks associated with this project. My priority is on printing this book and getting it out to the people who want to read it. I am familiar with the kickstarter process (my first kickstarter was completed successfully + sent out on time) and the art for this book is completely done. The files are ready to be sent to the printer the day that the kickstarter funds are disbursed through amazon.
I will be using Minnesota printers and doing blue-line checks on the book before it goes into production to keep it local and speed things along as smoothly as possible. That said, there is always the chance for mistakes and delays when making books- both by hand and with printers.
The books may be delayed if there is a problem with the printer. The very nature of the handbound books is that they are time consuming- that attention to craft is part of what makes them special. If there are any delays, I will keep all backers in the loop.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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