This week’s crowdfunding roundup has us traversing tea shops in Cardiff, talking trash (and oil) in Canada, and a embarking on a delightful journey with a little girl who has zero f _ _ _ s left to give.

1. The Beast

Cover of Ad Astra Comix’s The Beast via IndieGoGo

Small comics publisher, Ad Astra Comix in Ottawa, Canada tempts us with a story about two young people on opposite sides of the fight over protecting the environment. It’s a look at two people trying to make a living on a dying planet. This will be Ad Astra’s first original production but their fifth title overall. The writing and illustration for this comic is complete, this crowdfunding campaign is solely to cover publishing and shipping costs.

The Beast follows two art school graduates from Edmonton, Canada just trying to find a little financial security in the world. As luck would have it, one student finds a job working as a photographer for an environmental nongovernmental organization (NGO) while the other finds work in advertising. “It’s a funny and occasionally uncomfortable look at how doing your best and doing good don’t always take you to the same places.”

Issues surrounding the environment are always fraught with high emotional stakes. There are real consequences to action and inaction. It’s a constant and ongoing battle between addressing the economic and fuel needs of the population now versus safeguarding the environment for future populations. In the battle over oil, arguments are carefully crafted through political consultants and masters of spin. We see shellacked ad campaigns, position papers, and mailers from all sides of the political spectrum.

The public discussion of energy in Canada is a mess. The oil industry churns out emotionally manipulative ads equating the tar sands to cupcakes. Environmental NGOs have apparently decided that if they can just make an ad depressing enough, it’ll spur us to action and stop climate change once and for all.

Based on the research by Dr. Patrick McCurdy, a professor of communications at the University of Ottawa, The Beast promises to be an interesting, and sometimes satirical, look at the way messages are crafted and disseminated. The team at Ad Astra has a flexible funding goal 8,999CAD or about 7,100USD. They are willing to adjust the size of their print run to reflect how much money is raised.

About Ad Astra Comix: Founded in 2013, Ad Astra Comix is an Ottawa-based creator, publisher, and promoter of comics with social justice themes. Our mandate is to work with creators and readers to see more comics that amplify marginalized voices and dismantle oppressive ideas like racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and colonialism. We retail comics, hold workshops, and host a political comics artist residency. We also curate political comics for artistic and educational institutions.

2. NPC Tea: Issues 4 and 5

NPC Tea Issues Four and Five via Sarah Millman on Kickstarter

Traditional brick and mortar shops don’t have it easy these days, especially when a form of banned magic threatens to destroy not only your tea shop but your entire town. Illustrator and writer Sarah Millman is back and giving the people what the want: Tea, orcs, elves and humans working together to thwart evil. NPC Tea is an eight issue series which begins as a slide of life comedy and morphs into a fantasy story with traditional roleplaying game elements–all set in modern day Cardiff, Wales.

Panel from Sarah Millman’s NPC: Issue 1

To give you a brief overview of the story arc so far, I’ve included a crude summary but you can also find back issues on Millman’s website. Issues one through three introduce us to main characters Bryn, Oz and Hannah. Oz, the high-strung elf who runs the ailing tea shop Y Ddraig. Hannah, a magicless human obsessed with magic and summoning. Then there’s Bryn, an ex-fire summon who helps operate the tea shop with Oz. Issue three dives a little deeper into the student summoners with an evil plan to bring back a previously banned form of magic. The issue ends with a high stakes black tie event, the annual Black Mage Ball. Issue three also introduced us to the punk orc Iro and ice summon Nix.

Punk orc Iro and ice summon Nix from NPC Tea Issue 3 via Sarah Millman on Kickstarter

Millman’s Kickstarter is over half the way to its funding goal of $3,280. Here’s a little more information from Kickstarter about what backers can look forward to from NPC Tea issues four and five:

The comics will be 32 pages each, UK-sized, and are available from £3 in digital and £8 in print. The digital issues will be sent out to you as soon as they’re ready, so issue #4 will be released mid-December and #5 in February. The print issues will be sent all together in February, so that I can guarantee the best possible print quality (and it helps with postage!) However, I wanted to make sure to get you something for Christmas… so all print backers will be sent a Christmas print mid-December, just in time for the big day! Everybody will also be sent a digital copy of this yuletide greeting too, regardless of reward level.

Millman has also commissioned several artists to produce special prints for the different reward tiers including: Rachel Smith (House Party), Nich Angell (7STRING), Vince Hunt (The Red Mask From Mars) and StarsInMyCoffee. This is Millman’s third Kickstarter campaign, with the previous two campaigns having successfully funded the first three issues of NPC Tea.

About Sarah Millman: An illustrator and writer from Cardiff, Wales who graduated from Bristol UWE with a degree in Illustration in 2011, and after that completed a Masters in Animation at the University of Glamorgan in 2012. Since then she has worked as a freelance artist, with clients from the comics and games industries.

3. The Little Girl Who Gave Zero [email protected]*!s

My father was the master of swearing artfully. His passion for stringing together expletives while trying to fix something he had no business of fixing, has perhaps biased me towards the title of this book. Billed as a handbook for the modern day feminist, this crowdfunding campaign hopes to bring readers an empowering story from author and strategist Amy Kean and with illustrations from Jess Milton.

It’s a story Kean says she wish she had been able to read as a child. A sort of guide to help on the quest of self-empowerment. The book follows the adventures of main protagonist Elodie-Rose, as she attempts to navigate the rules of modern society. Young folks have a lot of rules and expectations placed on them by adults with the responsibility of caring often placed on young girls. It can be a burden, especially if one is never taught how to leave some care and love leftover for themselves. Why the swearing? Well, as Kean said on Twitter, swearing should be less shocking to us than say a world leader who openly admits to sexual harassment and assault.

Jess Milton, who writes the webcomic Flying Ship, brings the words of Kean to life in a whimsical and joyous way. It provides the story of Elodie-Rose with a much needed lightness. Hopefully the typographic layout of this book will be fine-tuned before the print run, as its current iteration feels a bit clumsy and difficult to follow. Still, the excerpts provided below can give readers a good general sense of what to expect:

Proposed page from Amy Kean’s and Jess Milton’s illustrated book via Unbound
Proposed layout from Amy Kean’s and Jess Milton’s illustrated book via Unbound

Here’s some more information about what your pledged dollars will fetch you:

The Little Girl Who Gave Zero Fu*ks will be a lovingly produced, full colour hardback book of 60 pages with colour printed endpapers and bookmark ribbon. It’s a sing-songy love song to life, illustrated in the style of a ‘dystopian Millie Molly Mandy’ and made to be remembered. The Little Girl Who Gave Zero Fu*ks should sit on your bedside table and be read every morning and every night and in the middle of the day, too. We’re living in very strange times, and this book provides a welcome antidote to all the hate and resistance to positive change.

Currently, the book is around 60% funded. Those looking to pledge have a variety of rewards to choose from, ranging from tote bags to a special holiday themed art print. Kean has said a clean reward option is in the works to allow those with young children or schools the ability to request a clean copy of the book.

About Amy Kean: A strategist in her nine-to-five and cultural writer focused on equality.

About Jess Milton: Creator and illustrator behind the fantasy webcomic The Flying Ship, based on the Russian fairy tale.

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