Crowdfunding Friday: Kaiju, Alan Moore and Chessboxing

From giant monsters to Alan Moore to Chessboxing, here's a fresh selection of worthy, geek-friendly crowdfunding projects...

At least two of the crowdfunding projects in this week’s post feature two ideas in collision, whether it’s a violent pastime and a cerebral one, or giant monsters and 20th century history. During my weekly trawl through sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, I began to note sheer the number of projects that do a similar sort of thing – and comics that fuse a concept or profession with a furry animal seem to be particularly popular.

Tiger Lawyer is fairly self-explanatory (“about a tiger… who is also a high-profile criminal defence lawyer”), but there’s also The Samurai Chef, about a monkey who happens to be good at cooking, and a comic about a pirate with a cat for a beard.

In most instances, these projects find the funding they’re asking for, which proves that there’s a ready audience for ideas that even some independent comics publishers would find too niche. With this in mind, let’s start this week’s crowdfunding selection with a potentially great comic that sees kaiju creatures used as weapons in the Cold War…

World War Kaiju

The title of this comic book project might smack of shameless opportunism – coming as it does around the time of World War Z and Guillermo del Toro’s kaiju-themed action flick Pacific Rim – but there’s far more substance to it than its Asylum mockbuster-like name might suggest.

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Described as “A satire of Cold War paranoia, and a love-letter to the kaiju genre,” the comic is based on a simple yet compelling concept: what if World War II wasn’t concluded with an atom bomb, but by unleashing giant monsters?

We get the impression that creator Josh Finney has really done his research and thought carefully about the details of his world; his colourful, sometimes comical monsters do battle with accurately-depicted fighter planes and ships from the 40s and 50s, and glower at us from Cold War propaganda posters.

The project’s already halfway to achieving its $15,000 goal, and if it reaches the $25,000 threshold, the 80-page comic book could expand to a chubbier 200-page volume with no extra cost to backers, which is exciting. Oh, and Team Kaiju has also devised a giant monster-themed drinking game. Kampai!

His Heavy Heart

Although best known for his groundbreaking comic book writing, including Batman: The Killing Joke, Watchmen, From Hell, V For Vendetta and many more, Alan Moore has recently ventured into filmmaking. In collaboration with photographer-turned director Mitch Jenkins, Moore created the short films Act Of Faith and its follow-up, Jimmy’s End.

Set in Moore’s home town of Northampton, the films are dark, disturbing and loaded with bleakly seductive imagery – you can watch them here. As well as those, Moore and Jenkins have already completed two, as yet unreleased chapters in their series of short films – called Upon Reflection and A Professional Relationship – but for the fifth and final part in the cycle, they’ve turned to Kickstarter.

Called His Heavy Heart, the film will complete the journey through a British town’s nightmarish underbelly, and form the foundation for a proposed feature film, The Show. Like Moore’s comics, the short films we’ve seen so far are loaded with wry humour, allegory, and often beautiful to look at.

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The £45,000 Moore and Jenkins hope to raise for their film is definitely worth backing, particularly when  you consider that a pledge of just £10 will give backers access to downloads of the four films so far completed, with the fifth becoming available on completion in 2015. More generous pledges will net you all kinds of seedy and handsome delights, from art books to t-shirts and, best of all, Jimmy’s End-branded beer mats.

Yatagarasu: Attack On Cataclysm

Over the past year or so, we’ve seen all sorts of unfairly neglected videogame genres get a new lease of life thanks to crowdfunding. Double Fine’s Broken Age, for example, managed to raise a remarkable $3.45million, and is perhaps the highest-profile point-and-click adventure since its heyday in the 1990s.

The creators behind Yatagarasu, meanwhile, are hoping to use IndieGoGo to revive the 2D fighting game genre. The team has a unique pedigree, too: based in Osaka, they’re partly made up from staff who once worked on King Of Fighters for SNK. And like that arcade series, Yatagarasu: Attack On Cataclysm is a one-on-one brawler with quintessentially Japanese pixel graphics.

The team have been working on Yatagarasu for the past six years, but want to use crowdfunding to create a new build of the game, with localised versions for non-Japanese-speaking countries and new characters.

The character designs on the game’s campaign page are stylish and distinctive, and some of their biographies are fabulous. Female combatant Aja Salisbury, for example, is said to hail from England, and was once “an intelligence operative for the Conservative Party, and undertook dirty work to protect old traditions.” We shudder to think what that means, but we’re keen to play the finished game. To the best of our knowledge, Yatagarasu could be the first one-on-one brawler with a Tory in it since Margaret Thatcher fought Ayatollah Khomeini in that Spitting Image game from 1989.

Chessboxing: The King’s Discipline

Have you ever wondered whether a game could encompass both the beard-stroking intelligence of chess, and the sweaty brutality of boxing? Well, wonder no longer, because here’s a documentary that introduces us to the world of Chessboxing. Now, it may be that Chessboxing has been going on all over the place without us noticing it, but for us, this is the first time we’ve heard of it.

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As the name implies, Chessboxing sees its opponents alternately punch each other in the face, then settle down for a round of chess, before standing up and punching each other in the face again. It is, as David Bitton’s documentary describes it, “The ultimate test of brain and brawn.”

First appearing in a comic by artist Enki Bilal in 1992, Chessboxing has since grown into a niche sport in the real world – and Bitton’s film will explore its gradual rise in popularity. Ninety-five percent of the film’s already been shot, so the $35,000 goal (or more, if it gets there) will be spent on things like post-production, animation and securing rights to footage and music.

It’s such a mad, strange concept that it’s well worth considering – and the pitch video above is undoubtedly worth a view, if only to take in the edifying sight of a man with a pineapple for a head. Fabulous.

You can read last week’s Crowdfunding Friday here.

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