You may have noticed that it is not Monday. It’s a different day. I’m a few days later than usual thanks to WonderCon but hopefully I’ll make up for it. I’ve got summer fever. That’s probably because I was in SoCal and it’s impossible not to think of hazy humid summer day’s while visiting there. This week’s picks were inspired by what I think of when I think of summer: the color of a setting sun, exploring a forest and imagining an entire world beneath your feet, or the simple joy of leisurely reading for hours on end. So without further ado, let’s get straight to the biscuits.

1. Lemonade Summer

There is something deeply magical about summer, especially as a kid. The world opens to possibilities that seem truly endless. I could climb a tree, swim in the pool, or sit on a hill and stare at the clouds. Summer has a sound, a feel, it’s my favorite time of year. Lemonade Summer by Chicago based Gabi Mendez and Cow House Press is a graphic novel dedicated to grand adventures and exploring queer identities.

Cover art for the story “Strays”

The all ages 136-page chapter book will be about queer children, teens and young adults finding supportive communities and having fun. Each story will take on the color-scape of a summer afternoon, something the Kickstarter helps showcase really well. There are multiple stories, each featuring their own cover art and chapter artwork.

Cover from chapter “Ro and Ella”

Here’s a bit more information about what kinds of stories you’ll find in Lemonade Summer:

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  • Ro and Ella is a story about the new girl in town trying to make some friends. The story will explore the meaning and value of true friendship. It will also include transgender characters, trans solidarity, and girl power.
  • Sk8er Grrl is a lesbian shoujo-inspired romance that takes place on the tumultuous skating rink of love.
  • Treasure Hunting is about two best friends who go on an impromptu trip to the beach to search for rumored treasure. While change can be scary, true friends withstand great distance and time and will always be there for each other. This story features a non-binary character and themes of insecurity, friendship, and fear of change.

What I enjoy about this proposed collection of stories is that the focus is on positivity, finding yourself and people who accept you and support you for who you are. Positive narratives about LGBTQ and non-binary folks are sadly uncommon in popular media, especially when it comes to children centered works. This vibrant and fun collection would be a great addition to a summer reading list.

Cow House Press is hoping to raise $15,000 to help cover printing, distribution, and publication. There are a slew of backer rewards available, like this set of 6 summer-inspired postcards:

Having a kid-friendly book exploring identity, in all of its wonderful manifestations is a great way to spend some of money. At least if you ask me and even if you didn’t, I’d still say this is a campaign worth checking out. There’s more information about the other stories available and what the backer rewards look like. So head over to Kickstarter and check it out. Funding for this campaign will go through April 7, 2018.

2. Tala – An Explorational Puzzle Game

Okay, so this isn’t a comic or graphic novel, deal with it. I’ve been following the development of Tala for a while now and I think it’s an incredibly inventive approach to point and click adventure games. By combining traditional animation techniques with nature photography the creator of Tala, Matth Petrak, has truly done something visually distinctive.

Here’s a bit more about the game from its developer, creator, photographer and animator (Petrak does it all!):

You play as the eponymous Tala, a forest spirit who hasn’t quite found her place in the little woodland town she calls home. You have been helping the Town Guardian prepare for their journey into the daunting Deep Woods so that they can try secure food for the upcoming winter. In their absence you’re tasked with making sure that the townsfolk don’t get up to too much mischief, at least until the Town Guardian gets back. But the Baker is going to want fruit for her pies, the Sproutlings are full of energy, they’re bound to get into trouble (they always do!), and who knows what the Inventor is up to…

When the Town Guardian’s companion comes flying back into town early, you know that something has gone wrong. The Town Guardian is stranded in the Deep Woods. The Inventor’s dingy old plane is in disrepair, but with the help of the townsfolk you should be able to fix up the plane so you can quickly fly out and help the Town Guardian get back home before the winter hits.

Puzzles and interactions from Tala are blowing my mind.

What else do I like about this particular crowdfunding project you ask? There’s a 5-10 minute playable demo available on Itch.io. This will hopefully help you get a feel for the game’s mechanics and whether or not this style of game play is something you’re interested in. You can find the demo here. If you are a fan of animation, nature photography, or games that open up your mind to new conceptions of interactivity, than you should definitely check it out.

The cursor for Tala is context aware and changes based on your environment.

Petrak is currently hoping to raise $13, 160 to help fund the Tala‘s development, completion, and publication. The Australian based artist and animator has put a lot of care into the creating unique rewards for backers based on the game’s universe. There are wood-cut pins and posters, even digital portraits done in the art-style of Tala. It’s a neat chance to back a game developer doing something new, fun and thoughtful.

3. The Rift Effect 

A Victorian Steampunk monster hunt replete with tea parties and alternative universes? I like the sounds of that. Tea parties remind me of summer evenings at my grandmother’s, hence its inclusion in this list. I had this miniature tea set that my grandmother bought me and we’d make actual tea for the teaspoon sized cups. Then we’d watch the crime procedural Columbo, which I thought was the world’s most boring TV show ever produced. In a way, we both won. Back to business…

Here’s a little synopsis of The Rift:

Rifts, or tears between dimensions, are forming. They’re cool, swirling balls of energy and are pretty to look at but now creatures from other worlds are finding their way into ours. Lady Whitetower, Victoria, and Gunner make it their job to track these abnormalities down and send the creatures back to where they came from. They have a machine that creates rifts, electric nets, and knock-out gas but water monsters are never particularly safe.

This is creator Kathryn Batemen’s first Kickstarter and currently, The Rift‘s page is suffering from a dearth of information. It’d be nice to know how long this proposed comic is going to be, how far along the comic is in development and what her publishing plans and goals are. While Kathryn’s humorous approach to writing her Kickstarter campaign is appreciated, I’d probably forgo some of the funny for some facts about what the $13,500 is going towards. It’s an ambitious ask and we’re not really given enough information about the comic, timeline, or some other basic facts that more established Kickstarter campaigners tend to include.

A preview of the first three pages of The Rift via Kickstarter:

Page 1 of The Rift via Kickstarter
Page 2 of The Rift
Page 3 via Kickstarter

The artwork for The Rift is done by freelance artist Kevin Phillips and Matt James. It’d be great to have more information about these creators! There are a few rewards available, like a t-shirt, poster, and digital wallpaper for your phone. Once again it’d be great to see some mock-ups of these included within the campaign’s page. I truly enjoy the concept behind The Rift, hopefully Kathryn can help us out by adding a bit more information to her Kickstarter page. Funding for this project will end on April 9, 2018.


Welp! That’s it for today, please feel free to reach out to me on the social media to tell me what you’d like to see covered. If you have any tips, I’m always looking for new campaigns to feature.