Send Me Your Money!

In early May I created a Patreon account. I’ve made it thirteen years without asking for help, and if I want ATC to keep going, well… I’m gonna need all the help I can get. I’m gonna need you to send me your money!

Apologies to Suicidal Tendencies – the song popped into my head while writing copy for Patreon and it seemed like a great opener for the related ATC blog post (this bit here), so I ran with it.

This post establishes the existence of the Patreon account and firms up the ATC production roadmap. The roadmap is planned to be the first blog post to the account once I take it live. I feel that it reads a lot like a pitch for a fixed amount of funding – a budget, if you will – and in some ways it is. While ATC was planned as a seven book thing and for a very long time was dreamed of as an ongoing series, I can’t see past the end of the current book. It has been in production since 2007. ATC is a trilogy until it’s done. I have to finish it; I can’t move on with my life until I do. I can not see or plan for what comes after it until I, myself, am after it. I am Ahab. Creative fatigue and financial stress have really put the zap on me. My costs are fixed. My freelance income is not. Freelance is a fickle beast – on the one hand pants are optional on the other the work commands and utterly exhausts the creative impulse. I am asking you to buy time. The more you pledge the more time I’ll have to spend on ATC instead of some hungrier thing. The faster this particular leg of the project isĀ done the faster we’ll get to see what comes next.

With your help there will be a next.

ATC Production Roadmap

Effective 2015.05.06 this is the planned order of operations. Patreon pledges will speed up production considerably. Substantial funding for comics production time will allow for the creation of new pages and additional support material as detailed in item 6.

1. Transitional Voices Chapter Four – as of the first week of May, 2016 the current book and chapter of ATC has 21 pages remaining, of which 5.6 have been rendered and drawn. The remaining pages of the chapter have been scripted and laid out and production on those pages will begin when the current 5.6 page scene is complete. The plan is to produce these pages in the summer and fall of 2016.

2. The “Science Pass” – After TV4 has been completed the entire series will be edited. This will be the third or fourth – and final – trip through the wringer for some parts of the comic, and the first real reassessment of all material produced since April of 2010. While a number of visual tweaks are planned the primary purpose of this edit is to bring ATC cosmology in line with my present understanding of physics, which has advanced considerably since the universe was laid out in the late ’90s. While this won’t result in any substantial changes to the story there will be a bit of rewriting, and some re-rendering. Of particular relevance are concepts such as ground state, vacuum energy, and Alcubierre space. The intention is to finally nudge ATC from the “occult sci-fi” quicksand it’s been thrashing around in over to the “hard sci-fi” bedrock that it aspires to. The science pass will be accompanied with extensive developer commentary – possibly even full-on “behind the curtain” overshare.

3. During the science pass the entire comic will be “remastered” – this means minor tweaks to Dead City Radio and another round of elbow grease for The Dualist. At this time all reformatted pages will be posted to Patreon, at higher-than-present resolution and with developer commentary and layouts if they’ve been scanned. This is when supporting ATC on Patreon will really start to pay off, as the intention is to post everything to Patreon as pages are completed, then batch-update the ATC website. This round of editing shouldn’t take long – no more than a couple of months, depending on finances. I’ve been itching to do this for awhile and the only thing holding me back is the fact that there’s a chapter in production. This is a big reason why the ATC Patreon account is monthly and not per page – the number of pages I can produce or edit in a month varies greatly; my expenses do not.

4. ATC Website Version 14 will feature an as-yet undetermined layout with a greater emphasis on cast profiles and glossary articles, as well as support for higher resolution pages. Patreon supporters will see most or all of this material well before it debuts on the website. The intention is to go deep on characters and assets, with substantial support galleries for vehicles and profile-specific art for cast bios, all cross-indexed with comic pages – even more extensively than they are now.

5. The support material developed for the website will also appear in PDFs, which will enter assembly after the Science Pass. At this point the comic will be ready for hardcopy. Patreon subscribers will get the highest quality PDFs I can fit into a Patreon post. The maximum listed size of a single attachment is 100 megs, so I may post individual chapters as opposed to entire books.

6. There are plans for additional installments of Dead City Radio – plans that could be realized if Patreon funding reaches sufficient levels. These stories aren’t 100% necessary for a coherent reading of ATC as written but they would fill in some sizable gaps in the narrative, and would be damned cool to look at. The bits that I’d like to create are a good-sized addition to Leitmotif and a 40-60 page Dead City Radio Six, which could be published either with DCR or as its own graphic novella. These additions have been outlined clearly enough to have been referenced multiple times in the existing script, and would prominently feature combat cyborgs, night clubs, and a space station. If you’re wondering how Tantek knows what Greg’s combat abilities are like when they haven’t met on screen or if you’d like to see the inside of a space habitat designed to house over a million people… pledge early, pledge large, and get your friends to pledge!

7. After the above items have been completed, planning for the next book in the series will begin. This will be done as a combination of story development and R&D – ATC simply can not sustain the production values of the current book on a weekly timescale with a one-person team and I need to climb down to something I can produce with lower development overhead. Following the completion of the existing books the production pipeline will be reassessed with the goal of achieving substantial reductions in CG asset development times. While this stage of development is still a ways out and is subject to revision the plan is to do some “research comics,” experimenting with different styles by producing short stories set in the ATC universe. If this stage of development is realized it may well be as a series of Patreon and convention exclusives.

While I can probably get this thing finished eventually on my own dime, without your help the optional parts of Dead City Radio will stay on the cutting room floor and the finished package will be rather more spartan than envisioned. Your Patreon pledges will help me finish the current work in a reasonable amount of time, and will aid in the production of new pages and new stories. Like most webcomic artists my dream is to do this or something like it full-time. While that may not be feasible I am confident that finishing the existing work and having the awesomest most amazingly well-presented hard sci-fi reincarnation trilogy in the entire history of whatever can be achieved… with patronage!