Following up on my previous article “CROWDFUNDING ENTERTAINMENT: A Fresh Perspective” I’m starting a series of articles sharing my notes documenting the crowdfunded projects and the experiences with backing them starting with those from last year. “Eyes on Shadowbinders Volume 1 and Volume 2” will be the first.
Shadowbinders was a color webcomic initially published online (for free) in 2010. Shadowbinders collection Volume 1 is the reprint of chapters 1 through 6 of shadowbinders webcomic published from 2010 to 2012. Volume 2 covers chapters 1 through chapter 10 that were published online from 2012 through 2014. I was unfamiliar with this series and finished both books in a day. This was my first backed crowdfunding experience from last year.
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Where did I first hear about Shadowbinders?
I hear about the project on the Clownfish TV YouTube channel last year where they were promoting their second chance Indiegogo campaign for their Clownfish Comics. They showed the books in one of their videos and they looked good.
The comic is written and drawn by husband and wife Kambrea “Geeky Sparkles” Pratt (writer) and Thomas “Kneon” Pratt (artist). Both previously worked on Disney comics for Gemstone Publishing. They have their own businesses, including YouTube channels, websites, and an online store, under their brands Clownfish TV, Clownfish Comics, Clownfish Studios, and Pirates and Princessses.net
ABOUT THE BOOKS
Shadowbinders is a young adult fantasy webcomic with elements of romantic comedy, adventure, and steampunk. I was impressed with the quality of the hardcover and the printing. The colors look great.
The creators acknowledged in their video that the artwork is inconsistent and evolving in a way. That is true but it’s not annoying for me. It made it interesting to see the progression of the art and the story was engaging. Even though the books are categorized as young adult comics I think it’s safe for a ten-year-old to read. In today’s culture, young adult material is completely different from what it was a decade ago.
BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE STORY
In this section, I will give a brief summary of how the story begins but will not go into details about how it ends.
The story follows Mia a 16/17-year-old girl struggling with the daily challenges of being a teenager in high school. She obtains an antique mysterious journal and a puzzle box her grandfather left her. She struggles to open the puzzle box. “What harm could it do to open a locked puzzle box-like object?” I’m asking myself while watching the panels. Where did I hear something similar before? Hmmm… Anyways, she manages to open the box and found a ring in it.
The ring appears to have magical powers. Her adventures begin when she is transported with the powers of the ring to the strange world of Belatyr on a floating ship. There she meets the captain of the ship, Crimson Rhen, a handsome egocentric, and infuriating casanova, with magical powers.
She also met his crew consisting of Elaina (a trusted female crew member), Tristan (the right hand of the captain), Winston (a bunny-like creature), and Andrew (a young kid) onboard the airship named ‘The True North”. It appears this “transportation” happens sporadically out of her control which leads her into very unfortunate situations going forward. Want to know more details? You’ll have to find out on your own.
ABOUT THE STORY
In this section, I will share with you a few things that got my attention when I was reading the story.
Let’s start with the dialogue from the other world. They use slang from the earth where Mia is from. How interesting. For example “what’s his face?” is a phrase I hear quite often during conversations when someone doesn’t remember the name of a person. Didn’t expect people from an alien world to know these things but that’s just me.
The writer cleverly managed to use the term bootlicker and present it as a profession as well as show its symbolic meaning. The term “bootlicking” is used to describe a person who commits the act of bootlicking. The act of bootlicking is when someone from the weaker class fully obeys, and puts the powerful class on a pedestal in their mind, in hopes of appeasing them to get better treatment or rewards.
The reason it is referred to as”bootlicking” is that the wealthy class “metaphorically” has a boot over the face or neck of the oppressed, suffocating them, and the working class licks it in an attempt to satisfy or dissuade their masters. There is literally a bootlicker character in the story. Yes, someone who licks the boots of the master.
The story also deals with themes such as leadership development, teamwork & trust, expressing & sharing emotions, and growing up (road to maturity). There is one particular part where the kid is acting more mature than you would have expected. And he reacts that way because of the life experiences he went through that made him have a different point of view of life. I really liked it because it is a good topic of conversation for parents to have with their kids.
The use of modern music in the story got my attention. It didn’t bother me but it makes the story outdated when writers do this in general in my opinion. You can figure out around which year it was written because the music preferences of teeners change periodically. Maybe that was the intention behind it?
FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH CROWDFUNDING COMICS
The whole process of receiving the books went well. The books were delivered in protective packaging that weighed approximately 3 pounds (1.4 kg). Clownfish Studios was very organized, provided tracking numbers and email notifications which made it very easy for me to track the package. The books can be a great gift for all occasions.
Overall, some level of trust is needed when backing crowdfunding projects and the acknowledgment of the risks involved. There is a chance that you won’t be receiving what you expected but in this case, with this second-chance campaign, the books were already printed, and they showed it on camera so I could see what I would get. The first campaign happened on Kickstarter with more rewards in addition to the book. I missed that one it seems. Oh Well… Let’s see if I can catch Volume 3 when it comes out.
The Shadowbinders’ saga is an engaging series about the adventures of Mia struggling to keep it together in her own world while trying to understand & learn about the new world of Belatyr. The quality of the printed books is top-notch and the art is interesting to look at. The books can be a good gift for kids (+10 y/o) and teens who like fantasy adventure. As of today, Volume 1 and Volume 2 are available to purchase at Clownfish Store.
My experience with Clownfish Studios through Indiegogo has been good. However, I can’t confirm if it will be a similar experience when you buy the books through their online store directly. Now we are talking retail, not crowdfunding. I imagine there won’t be any issues since they are in charge of everything including payment processing, invoicing, and shipping.
Hoping for Volume 3 to be published soon to figure out what the hell happened on that ship when Mia left.
Up next my eyes will be on “DragonRage: A Cradle of Embers Issue #1″ which was also a “second chance” crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.