Crowdfunding Friday: heroes, pulp fiction, stop-motion & Lionel Richie

Superheroes! Books! Games! A giant head! Here's another batch of worthy, geek-friendly crowdfunding projects for your perusal...

We’re now into our second month of these weekly crowdfunding posts, and trundling around the internet has become a really fun weekly ritual. From compelling new ideas to bizarre, ‘what were they thinking?’ schemes, each trawl through the web’s crowdfunding sites turns up a fresh surprise at every turn.

Although some of the things we’ve stumbled on our downright cheeky – unless we read it incorrectly, one person appeared to have set up a project to fund their overseas holiday – many are perfectly worthy. This makes the task of choosing just three or four projects each week extremely tricky – particularly as we always try to pick lots of varied things, rather than focusing exclusively on, say, movies or games or books.

To this end, this week’s selection comprises an offbeat superhero web series, a stop-motion point-and-click videogame, a pulp sci-fi paperback, and as a surreal bonus, a giant effigy of a popular 80s singer.

Sight

Do you remember the 1983 fantasy film Krull, where a cyclops named Rell (played by Bernard Bresslaw) knew the precise time of his own death? Well, the protagonist of Sight possesses the same gloomy ability. And although this vision of death is a depressing reality for former defence lawyer turned bar tender Andy, he finds a way of turning it into a positive: by becoming an unlikely superhero. After all, if you know how and when you’re going to die, then you’re better placed than most to take risks.

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“He knows when he’s going to die,” explains actor and creator Justin McLachlan, “so on the flipside, he knows when he’s not going to die – which means he can take risks that other people would probably never take.”

Sight originally began life as a short story called Superhero, first published in Kris Goldsmith’s anthology, Red. With the $21,500 McLachlan and executive producer Scott Sparks hope to raise through their Kickstarter campaign, they plan to turn Sight into an eight-part web series.

We’ve a soft spot for stories that offer different takes on superheroes, whether it’s the indestructible everyman in M Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable, or the troubled telekinetic teens of Josh Trank and Max Landis’ Chronicle. Sight has vague similarities to those movies, and if the execution of the web series can match up to its tantalising what-if scenario, it could be well worth backing.

Tabula Rasa/Deep Penitentiary 6

If there’s one thing we dislike about ebooks – and there are lots of things we do like about them, obviously, especially the Den Of Eek ebook, available now – it’s that they don’t smell of anything. Not like pulp paperbacks, with their suggestive colours and yellowing, crumbly pages: they smell musty and lovely.

Authors Shane Crash and Anthony Mathenia’s proposed split paperback project is like something straight out of the golden age of pulp novels – a time when publishers like Ace frequently published genre fiction in the book equivalent of a double feature, where readers got two stories for just a few cents.

Like those pulp books of old, Crash and Mathenia’s novels – respectively, Tabula Rasa and Deep Penitentiary 6 – will be published together in a single volume, complete with fabulous hand-painted artwork on the cover. Their stories are full of futuristic vampires, assassins in space prisons, action, humour and grim mysteries.

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The authors are asking for just $1,000 to get their project Kickstarted – and a pledge of $13 nets you a signed, printed copy of the book. It probably won’t be yellowed and musty when you receive it, but the stories and the cover art should be enough to transport you back to an era of classic pulp SF.

Amikrog

If the character designs and humour in the pitch reel above look familiar, that’s because it’s the work of Doug TenNapel, the creator of the classic 16-bit platformer Earthworm Jim and PC point-and-click adventure, The Neverhood. Although TenNapel’s remained prolific in the realms of comic books, he’s remained absent from the videogame industry since 1999’s Boombots.

With his Kickstarter project Amikrog, TenNapel, along with former colleagues Mike Dietz and Ed Schofield, hopes to create a spiritual successor to Armikrog. Like that earlier game, Amikrog will be brought to life with some beautiful stop motion animation, and its characters – a lanky, pale chap named Tommynaut and his alien canine sidekick, Beak-Beak – are as fun and engaging as you’d expect from TenNapel.

The game also employs the vocal talents of Rob Paulsen (Pinky And The Brain, Animaniacs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite himself), so it’s the kind of lavish production that most publishers would balk at publishing these days. Naturally, all that animation and voice acting doesn’t come cheap – the creators are hoping to raise $900,000, making it the most expensive crowdfunding project we’ve featured in these weekly posts so far.

The good news, though, is that you don’t have to pledge a huge amount to get hold of the game; just $20 will give the first 10,000 backers access to an early digital copy, plus a bonus desktop image. For fans of point-and-click adventures or TenNapel’s work in particular, it’s a project well worthy of consideration.

Lionel Richie’s head

We realise this isn’t a particularly geeky project, but it’s so weird we had to include it here anyway – just as a kind of surreal bonus, like the dinosaur statue with the head of Christopher Walken we featured a couple of weeks ago. And besides, if you were at a rock festival, wouldn’t you be enthralled by the sight of a giant inflatable head of Lionel Richie, glowering down at you like one of those stone gods out of Zardoz?

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If their goal of £4,900 is met, Spanish artists Hungry Castle plan to create a three-metre-high recreation of the singer’s visage, complete with balast to keep it on the ground, and some scientific parts inside to help it stay inflated. This astonishing piece of art will be displayed at this year’s Bestival on the Isle of Wight in September, and if the artists can meet a stretch goal of £10,000, they’ll make the head twice as big. This large Lionel Richie head will allow visitors to step inside one at a time, where they’ll discover a ringing telephone. Should they answer it, they’ll hear the words, “Hello. Is it me you’re looking for?”

Obviously, this is brilliant. And while £10,000 might sound a bit steep for what is essentially a huge surreal joke, the artists put it this way: “We know £10,000 is a lot but the Clumsy Smurf balloon cost £130,000. Just saying.”

You can read last week’s Crowdfunding Friday here.

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