Kickstarter! Park Sweet Treats Enamel Pins

DISNEYLAND! DELICIOUS TREATS! ENAMEL PINS! These are a few of my favorite things! 🎵

My good pal (and phenomenal Dungeon Master) Nikki Ward has taken all of these wonderful things and wrapped them into a fun Kickstarter project! Nikki ADORES Disneyland and visits more than most people I know (she and her husband even got married there). While I have yet to visit, I can’t help but me enamored by these adorable characters she’s created based on her favorite Park treats.

Nikki is a professional illustrator located here in Austin, TX and draws some of the most adorable fanart I’ve ever seen. She travels a lot for shows that she exhibits at and her style is all her own. While she’s known for her Disney work, she also does fanart of Overwatch, Critical Role, and much more – you can find prints and other products on her Society6 page. Nikki is also the founder of Geek Fire Labs where she makes bath and body products that SMELL AMAZING. From where I’m currently sitting, I can see three of her products in my bedroom: a kodama forest wax melt, my Droid Please lip balm, and my favorite Cthulhu perfume. Seriously, her stuff is so great.

As you can see, Nikki is a very skilled and experienced artist and maker. She’s made enamel pins before (I have her gorgeous Sailor Moon magical girl pin) but this is the first time she’s using Kickstarter as a platform for them. I’d love to see these Disney treat pins become a reality because they’re not only a personal passion of hers, they’re also just dang cute.

So please head over and pledge to the Park Treat Sweeties Hard Enamel Pins project.

A Night in the Woods & A Whole Lot of Feels

“At the end of everything, hold on to anything.”

Have you ever started playing a game that you don’t know much about but all your friends keep telling you to play? So you just do without actually looking up what it’s about? That’s what happened to me with Night in the Woods. And that’s also why I ended up crying my eyes out over a really well developed, well written, relatively short and incredibly deep video game.

Night in the Woods was primarily created by three people: Alec Holowka, Scott Benson, and Bethany Hockenberry. In 2013, it launched as a Kickstarter project and reached its goal of $50,000 in just 26 hours. In total, the game received $200,000 in funding and was released on PC, PS4, and Xbox in 2017 and for the Nintendo Switch in 2018. It was when it came to the Switch that I decided to jump on the bandwagon and play this game. I’m so glad I did.

I don’t want to give away anything about this game but here’s a short description. You play Mae, a college-dropout who has just returned home for the first time in a few years and discovers that in many ways, it’s just as she left it. But in other ways… well let’s just say the game takes a pretty surprising turn that leaves you wondering, “Just exactly what kind of game am I playing again?” Paste describes the themes covered as “mental illness, depression, the stagnancy of the middle and lower classes, and the slow death of small town America.” And that’s just a small part of what makes this game so real (despite the fact you’re playing anthropomorphic animals). For a short (I finished it in three days) side-scroller, this game really packs a punch emotionally.

If you follow me on twitter, you probably saw the distressed tweets I made after I finished this game. I was not at all prepared for how much this game impacted me. As someone who deals a lot with many of the same issues Mae has, I found myself uncomfortably familiar with the feelings she struggles with coming to terms with. At times it was like looking into the mirror of a younger me and I can’t say I liked it. But at the same time, the ending brought me comfort and the very real sense that I’m not the only one out there. And I’m incredibly grateful for my friends.

I know it’s only March, but so far Night in the Woods is my favorite game of 2018 and I’m really glad that I was able to knock it off of my To-Play games that I listed in my Fave Games of 2017 post. My initial prediction was correct: this game IS heartbreaking. If you haven’t played it yet, I highly highly recommend you add it to your list. Oh and if you enjoy the game, make sure you play the two mini-games located in the Extras section of the main menu. They add a little more to the main story and they’re just fun to play.

“The beginning is moments ago, the end is moments away. There is no time to forget before all is forgotten.”

Find Night in the Woods on the following sites:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
NitW Shop

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Okay so when I saw this Kickstarter flash through my feed on Twitter, I jumped at it. Some of my favorite platformers are on this list and even more that I’ve been interested in. I love indie games and I love when awesome artists draw fanart of their favorite works, so this is a kickstarter I can get behind.

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So what is it? Simply put, “It is an illustration anthology dedicated to some of the best indie games released or upcoming. It is our way to celebrate both cool art and cool indie games.” Thirty talented artists have come together to draw illustrations celebrating their favorite indie games which means thirty (and maybe more) gorgeous pieces of art in one game-packed zine. What do they plan to all include in this project? Here’s their list:

  • +20-90 artists/games more (depending on stretch goals)
  • An extra page per piece with some info on the game and the artist
  • A small interview to some of the gamedevs
  • Extra pages where the current artists will be able of including a smaller illustration to present another extra game they love

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A slew of talented artists that have jumped on board with this project. You can find work from Emmett Rose, Bonnie Mier, Dani Kruse, Guille Garcia, and so many more. You can find the whole list and more updates about the project on their Kickstarter page. There are some pretty awesome reward tiers and some enticing stretch goals (and they’ve already reached one of them)!

Currently, The Indie G Zine is attempting to add a few more games to their line-up, including Cave Story and the incredibly popular (and beautiful) Undertale game. If anyone knows folks from either of those games and can give them a nudge towards this kickstarter, that would be awesome. I know I would love to see both of those games included in the zine. The man behind the Indie G Zine kickstarter is Julián Quijano and he is super passionate about this project and bringing it to the fans. I can’t wait to see the zine in production.

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Go pledge now to The Indie G Zine Kickstarter now and follow them on twitter and tumblr for more updates. Supporting this project doesn’t just mean support for the zine – the zine itself will be promoting and marketing some pretty awesome artists AND the games they love. So what are you waiting for? Let’s go!

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YOU GUYS. I’m stoked up this upcoming game called Everspace by Rockfish Games (the folks who brought to you Galaxy on Fire). It’s a single-player 3D space shooter with rogue-like elements and non-linear storytelling – and it’s absolutely GORGEOUS!

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With nine days to go, they’ve (thankfully) already hit their goal of $244,285, but they’ve got some excellent stretch goals they’re trying to hit – like support for Mac OSX support, additional languages, and more! One of my favorite things about this game is that you can switch between first person shooter and third person. As someone who gets motion sickness easily, I can’t play FPS games as much as I would like, so knowing that I can switch to third person while playing is a total win for me in this game. Plus, did I mention just how stunning the graphics are?

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If you’re a fan of Star Wars or Mass Effect or any game that takes place in space, this looks right up your alley. I know it does mine and I’m stoked to check this out. Along with the Kickstarter, you can also check them out over on Steam where they’ve already been greenlit!

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Since this has already reached its goal, I’m excited to play this game in the future. Any game where I get to fly around in space has my vote! Thanks Rockfish Games! What are y’all waiting for? GO PLEDGE FOR EVERSPACE!

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Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, if you were looking for a crowdfunding project to support, look no further. Do you love 2D animation? Are you a fan of steampuck? Vivacious leading ladies? Want to see all of this together in one amazing film? Check out Hullabaloo on IndieGoGo!

This is by far my favorite indie project this year. Hullabaloo is led by James Lopez and a whole slew of other amazing Disney animators, and the whole project is an attempt to showcase the incredible art that is 2D animation. “2D animation is a beautiful but dying art form that the animation studios have all but abandoned.” The crew of Hullabaloo is looking to show investors that the public still loves and appreciates the astounding work that goes into an animation like this, and with our help and support, I think this project is the perfect way to do so.

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Not that that isn’t cause enough, but here’s another reason to support this project:

“In addition to helping save 2D animation, Hullabaloo aims to encourage girls to explore science and adventure. The film’s two protagonists are both young women and both scientists who use their intellect, wits, and courage to fight greed and corruption. We hope that Veronica Daring and her friend Jules will serve as positive role models for girls of all ages and encourage them to get excited about science, engineering, and sci-fi.”

FEELS, right? I am absolutely passionate about this project and you should be too. As I was writing this post, I am happy to report, the campaign has reached their funding! And they still have 28 days to go. Let’s help them reach ALL of their stretch goals! This film deserves it. So please, PLEASE, support this project. If you can’t donate to it, please share it. I am so looking forward to seeing this short film, and all other 2D films that follow it!

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Support Hullabaloo!

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On my bedroom wall is a an art print called Life in Motion, by an incredibly talented artist named Julie Dillon. I’ve been a fan of her work for years, so when I heard tell that she had created a kickstarter to fund the first book of her Imagined Realm series, I was ecstatic to pledge.

This campaign isn’t just great because it showcases Julie’s amazing artwork, it is also an incredible for another reason: “‘Imagined Realms’ gives me the opportunity to spend more time creating my own illustrations and projects, and also gives me the chance to create more illustrations that feature positive and diverse representations of women.” Every piece of artwork in this book is of a beautiful, empowered, diverse and unique woman, all set in a fantasy world all her own. The end product is breath-taking.

I am incredibly excited to share with you an interview with Julie Dillon herself. She has graciously taken the time to answer a few questions about her artwork and her already-funded Kickstarter campaign.

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Interview with Artist Julie Dillon

01. Your kickstarter only just launched and it’s already exceeded your goal. How do you feel with having such an amazing success already?

I feel relieved! This whole process has been really stressful, and it’s a big weight off my shoulders to know that I was able to get it funded. There’s still a ways to go to reach the stretch goals, and I have a lot of stuff to add on if the kickstarter gets to that level. Of course, while I want this to be as successful as possible, I’m also very aware of the fact that the higher it goes, the more work I’ll have to do to pack and ship everything. It’s just a big undertaking in general.

02. Tell us a little about what your process was for launching your kickstarter.

There was a lot more preparation work than I realized. At first I was only focused on making the art for the book, which was a big enough task in itself and took up several months. But as I got ready to launch, I realized I had to make all the site graphics, write up the press release, create a video (which I’d never done before), shop around for printers, price everything out, etc. I tried to stay on top of everything and not get too overwhelmed. If you just take it one small task at a time, it’s not so bad.

03. I adore that you’re focusing on empowered and diverse women. Is there a female person (fiction or non) that has inspired you in your work?

I don’t know that I can point to one individual person. I think rather I take inspiration from most women I meet, in some way or form. Their perseverance, how they handle adversity, their joy and love and how they express that in different ways.

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04. Your work is so wonderfully colorful! Do you have a favorite color palette you enjoy working with the most?

I noticed a while back that the purple and gold combo tends to show up a lot in my work. I’m partial to anything with a complimentary color scheme, since that tends to be a very eye-catching and dynamic. Sometimes I try to do something with a more subtle or desaturated palette, but I always end up making it more bright and colorful in the end.

05. What advice would you give another artist who is hoping to launch a kickstarter for their own work?

Get as much prepared beforehand as possible, and plan your promotion strategy long before you launch. You need to get the word out, or it’ll be a lot harder to get funded. Avoid promotional services that you have to pay for; I tried a few and so far they have done absolutely nothing, whereas working with my existing contacts and networks led to most of my traffic. Think about what kind of blogs and websites might be interested in your project, and send them your press release and ask if they’d be interested in featuring you or maybe even interviewing you. Many won’t respond, but some might, and every little bit helps. Be prepared emotionally if the kickstarter doesn’t go well, but also be prepared logistically if it ends up being really successful. Lots of people get overwhelmed in the order fulfillment stage because they didn’t plan properly. But, also bear in mind that at the time I’ve written this, I’m only about a week and a half into my first kickstarter, and I still have a lot of learning to do myself. 🙂

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Pledge to this Kickstarter!

You can pledge to Julie’s Imagined Realms: Book 1 Kickstarter by going to that page and donating at any pledge level. She has some great rewards and some even better stretch goals! So pledge, share, and celebrate in the awesome crowdfunding abilities of art lovers!

If you’re a kid of the 80s and 90s, you’ve probably got a soft spot in your heart for movies like the Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and all the Muppet films. So if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably hoped and wished for the dream team of Henson and Froud to come back together to create another masterful storytelling epic.

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Well. Your wish has been granted. Via Kickstarter!

Lessons Learned: A Practical Puppet Short Film

Toby Froud, son of Brian and Wendy Froud (and baby Toby in Labyrinth), has teamed up with Heather Henson (youngest daughter of Jim Henson) to bring to fans a short film called Lessons Learned. Together, they are bringing to life characters with the same magical puppet artistry that made their parents such integral parts of our childhoods.

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Toby writes on the Kickstarter page:

“Lessons Learned will be a short film about a young boy who receives an intriguing birthday gift from his grandfather. It is a gift that will stay with him for the rest of his life.

Having grown up with inspiring movies like The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth,it has been been a dream of mine to create such imagery with hand/cable controlled puppets. This film will also utilize a bit of modern technology to better immerse viewers into the world.

I need your help to make this movie come to life. If you are a fan of the Henson-Froud collaborations or perhaps just want to make a statement that puppet art is alive and desired, please consider a generous donation at one of the many pledge levels to help me reach my goal.

Be a part of the magic. Partner with me on this journey to make the dream into reality!”

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Pledge to Toby’s Kickstarter Campaign!

This Kickstarter has been up and running for awhile, but you still have about 50 hours still to pledge! As of right now, they’ve reached their goal and some! They’ve even hit their first stretch goal which has enabled them to add a new character designed by the one and only Brian Froud! Also check out the different pledge reward levels – they’re fantastic!

What are you waiting for? Pledge to Toby Froud’s Lessons Learned Kickstarter now!

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“Making his plush debut, it’s the cuddliest, cutest Little Moon God! He is an original character I created years ago based off an Inuit legend about the Sun and the Moon. In the Inuit legend, the moon is a male deity and chases the female deity of the sun all throughout the sky for eternity. The character has evolved over the years and I’ve now refined him into a super cute design fitting for a perfect, unique and exciting plush toy.”

Whenever I see an illustrator I follow get on the crowdfunding bandwagon and start up a Kickstarter, I have to jump on it. So when I saw that Kaitlin ‘Kit’ Reid had created a Kickstarter for her gorgeous Little Moon God Plush, I sent her an email straight away asking to showcase it and interview her. Thankfully for you all, she said yes!

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I love LOVE Kit’s artwork and I think it’s every artists’ dream to see one of their creations created into something physical enough to cuddle. I’m so happy I give Kit’s Kickstarter a little push to enable her to meet her stretch goals and create more gorgeous pieces of art. That being said, let’s get on with the interview!

Kickstarter Interview: Kaitlin Reid

01. Where did the idea of the Little Moon God come from? How has his character evolved and why did you decide to make a plush out of him?

The idea for the Little Moon God came from a college assignment, actually. We were tasked with illustrating a folktale of our choosing. I chose a very interesting legend about the origins of the sun and moon, and created two characters to embody those themes. At first the Little Moon God was “moon man” and he stood upright on two legs, and had glowing teal tattoos all over his body. He has morphed into the little fellow we know and love over 5 years or so. I decided to try to make a plush out of him, specifically, because he has always been a character people are drawn to, plush I feel a certain connection to him as well having worked with the character for so long.

02. How did you go about defining your pledge levels and rewards? Your stretch goals?

It’s a lot of math, planning, and kind of hoping it pans out. I’m not going to lie, it was very stressful and I almost quit a few times. My wonderful boyfriend helped me through it and supported my horrible math skills by supplying his own. You need to factor in your taxes and shipping fees, and be willing to gamble with potentially spending money out of your own pocket. If I just hit the basic funding level, I’d still have to put money into the project. There is no such thing as free money!

03. What’s been your favorite part of the whole Kickstarter process?

The love and support of people that I both know and do not know! It’s been an incredible first few days. I never dreamed I’d hit my funding level within the first 24 hours. It’s incredibly validating to see so many people really excited for your work.

04. What’s been the hardest part of the process? How did you deal with it?

I believe the hardest part was the one I mentioned before. I did almost quit a few times because the numbers seemed so against me and almost impossible to make. I would never have imagined bringing in over $5,000 in pledges so quickly.

05. What advice would you give fellow illustrators and creatives who are looking at starting their own Kickstarter campaigns?

Research! Spread your social media networks! And most of all really do your accounting. I’m learning as I go, and it’s certainly the least fun part about the whole thing. You really need to budget everything and come up with multiple scenarios for how it might all go down. You can’t predict pledges, so budget for the worse case scenario so you don’t actually wind up in the red from the kickstarter! Research what it will require to package and ship all of your orders out as well, it gets expensive fast.

06. LAST QUESTION! What is… your favorite color?

Ahh, I have to say pink! Though right now I am SUPER obsessed with the mint color that’s been floating around this seasons fashion…I painted my studio in mint a few months ago!

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Kaitlin Reid graduated MICA and currently works for a small animation studio in Baltimore. In her down time, she enjoys drawing fantasy critters and people, making costumes, and going to conventions.

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You can find from Kaitlin on her website Sunset Dragon, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Etsy!

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This much-awaited (much, much, MUCH awaited) Kickstarter project is the brain child of my friend Clay Gardner (with gorgeous illustration work by Niko Geyer) and pretty much SHATTERED its goal within hours – JUST hours. It’s called OVA: The Anime Role-Playing Game and I am so excited to start playing this game. I love anime, and I love tabletop RPGs, so I feel like this was made for me. And it seems, a lot of people feel the same way. The original goal was $7,500 but at the moment of writing this, they’re sitting pretty at $90,728. Holy crap, right?

“OVA: The Anime Role-Playing Game is exactly what it says in the title, a tabletop RPG lovingly crafted to capture the diverse worlds of Japanese animation. Save the princess (or prince!) from a fire-breathing dragon, tackle invading squadrons of giant robots, or find true love amid campus hijinks—everything you need is inside!”

Clay was sweet enough to take a moment of his time and answer a few questions about his awesome Kickstarter campaign. I figure the man behind the project would be able to tell you a little more about it than I can. So let’s start!

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The Interview: with Clay Gardner

01. Tell us a little about your Kickstarter. Where did the idea for it come from and who is all working on it?

I wrote the beginnings of OVA around ten years ago. I was just getting into anime heavily, and I wanted to represent the shows I was enjoying in role-playing form. But at the time, I felt constrained by most games available. Many great and fun systems existed, of course, but nothing seemed to let me create the character I wanted to. Even point-buy systems, which on paper were supposed to open up possibilities, always seemed to punish making cinematic decisions. Having a character good with both a gun and martial arts had very little to do with a character’s effectiveness in the game, but almost always resulted in a crippling reduction in available points. And so too with multiple flashy attacks, or really anything done for the sake of “being cool.” I wanted a game that embraced doing things for the fun of it, and soon, OVA took shape. I released it as a PDF in 2005, with a print run following the next year.

This Kickstarter is for a new, revised version of OVA. The game holds onto the same ideals I had a decade ago but is improved with all the experience I’ve gained in the time between. A brand new layout, art done by a single talented artist Niko Geyer, and many refinements and expansions to the rules make the game better than ever before. It’s OVA as I knew it always could be.

02. What was the hardest part about putting together a campaign like this?

I hope it’s not too much of a cop-out answer, but I feel like getting the whole thing together was the hardest part! By itself, each element was a lot of work, but being able to juggle creating a video, the page graphics, all the groundwork for promoting the kickstarter, and all the text the project required at the same time…well…I’m glad it’s all done!

03. What has the process been like getting OVA: The Anime Role-Playing Game together? What came first – stories, characters, worlds, etc? How do you keep it all organized?

Because OVA already existed in some form, working on the new edition sort of jumped between everything in no particular order. I’d spend some time creating a new character, who’d inspire a new rule or revision. Or maybe a new rule would change the way I thought a character should be written. But I think it was always about characters at heart. That is why we play role-playing games, after all, and I wanted to make sure that every part of the new OVA was dedicated to making the process of realizing a character as simple and fun as possible.

As for how I keep it all organized, I tend to jot down all my ideas in text files before introducing it into the actual manuscript. After I had the manuscript more or less complete, I began typesetting the book while making small revisions I felt were appropriate. I guess you could look at each file type like a different draft, with the actual InDesign layout file being my last pass for the text.

04. What advice do you have for others who are thinking about starting their own RPGs or Kickstarters?

Take the time to make your page look as good as possible. While a solid idea will get support based on its own merit, a professional presentation instills confidence in a project and shows that you’re the kind of creator that is serious about bringing a product to completion. Show finished, polished examples of your work in action, and if possible, make graphics that spell out exactly what each of your pledge levels offers.

If you’re kickstarting a game (be it an RPG, a board game, or even a video game) give visitors a way to try it out. Whether you offer a print-in play version, a condensed copy of the rulebook, or just a demo, people appreciate being able to know what they’re getting and not just acting upon a sales pitch.

Oh, and plan to take the whole first day off so you can dedicate it to your Kickstarter. *laughs*

05. And finally! If you were to sit down at a table to start playing OVA, who would be your ideal/dream RPers to play with? Can be anyone, living or dead. Who would they play?

That’s a tough one! If we expand the “anyone living or dead” magic to include breaking language barriers, I think it would be fascinating to play the game with Japanese story-telling greats like Hayao Miyazaki and Osamu Tezuka. And of course Ryo Mizuno of Record of Lodoss War fame. I wonder how he’d feel about OVA’s rules in comparison to systems like D&D and Sword World that formed the basis of so many of his stories?

What characters would they play? Ones from their own tales? New ones whole-cloth? Hard to say…but it would be kind of magical if one of them took up the Game Master’s hat instead!

Keep Pledging for Rewards!

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Right now, the goal is to hit $100k and I fully believe they can do! Let’s help get them there – if they get there, a new reward will open up, and I would love to get my hands on it. So what are you waiting for? Go kickstart this project!

I have Chris Rickert, ringmaster behind the Midnight Carnival troupe of volunteers for The Last Unicorn tour (you’ll be hearing more about this shortly), to thank for introducing me to this awesome Kickstarter. I can’t believe I hadn’t seen it before or it hadn’t somehow come across my radar considering the names involved with this project, but I’m so glad I got to be involved before it was over.

After I pledged, I got a note from Daniela Di Mase, one of the producers of the movie, asking if I’d like to write about it on my blog. Of course I jumped on the chance and here we are. So without further ado: Blood Kiss.

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Blood Kiss: Not Just Another Vampire Movie

There’s nothing supernatural about vampires.

My vampires, that is. In blood kiss, everything’s explained in terms of a symbiotic micro-organism that alters the vamps’ mitochondrial DNA. It renders them allergic to sunlight and silver, but they can still be reflected in mirrors and have no particular aversion to the cross. (Some might even believe in god.) They’re much stronger and faster than humans, and practically immortal to boot.

In terms of story, there’s something very seminal about the way it unfolds. Without going into specifics, I think I can safely say that it hits all the tropes of both the detective genre and the vampire genre, and does so in a very organic way.

You want to bring people to the movie’s end with the feeling that it couldn’t have ended any oher way, that the ending’s inevitability is highly satisfying, and yet they didn’t see it coming. If you can do that, you’ve created gold.” – Michael Reaves.

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That pretty much sells it for me. But if you need a bit more: Michael Reaves, who has written for Batman: The Animated Series, Gargoyles, The Twilight Zone, Star Trek: TNG, and so much more, is the mastermind behind this project and has pulled in quite a few of his talented friends, including Neil Gaiman (yes!), Amber Benson, and Tom Mandrake. Blood Kiss is described as classic film noir with a twist: vampires.

Honestly, I feel like I should stop there because I don’t know what else to say that would make you want to go – the story sounds genius and the list of folks taking part in this is enough for most people to cough up whatever they have in their wallets. You still have 7 days to do so too! Check out the Kickstarter page and make your pledge while you still have time. There are some excellent pledge levels and incentives to give.

You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, and also check out their youtube channel for interviews and more videos. Including this little gem from Neil Gaiman himself:

What are you waiting for? GO PLEDGE TO BLOOD KISS!