Nov 242014
 
Starfall3
Starfall3

Damien Puckler as Captain William Hunter

Who’s ready for a new science fiction TV series? A good one. Yes, we are, too! So, we’re excited to discover the Starfall project, which has already filmed its pilot. The series stars Damien Puckler (Meisner, from the hit series Grimm), Ellen Dubin (Giggerota from the series Lexx, as well as roles in Earth: Final Conflict, and Abraxas), Andrew Jackson (Stargate SG 1), and Daytime Emmy-award-winning actor, Bill Oberst, Jr. (Take This Lollipop and Criminal Minds).

The series, created by John Ellis, is set in a post-apocalyptic version of our Sol system. The apocalypse came in the form of a race of aliens who conquered Earth and raided humanity (and some other alien races) for slaves. Eventually the alien Empire underwent political reform, choosing to style itself a benevolent republic, rather than a conquering empire, so the slaves are declared free. In practice, however, this “freedom” is anything but complete, as both humans and other

John Ellis, creator and producer of 'Starfall'

John Ellis, creator and producer of ‘Starfall’

alien races who were formerly enslaved are now tossed haphazardly back into the world as freedmen, and the world doesn’t quite know what to do with them. Humanity is more or less divided into three sets at this point: the ones who wish to revolt against the republic and get the conquering aliens out of the Sol system altogether; the ones who are content to assimilate into this new, blended society; and the ones who just have no idea what to do.

Krypton Radio got a chance to ask Ellis and Puckler a few questions about the project. Ellis told us, “Starfall will offer fans a new sci-fi space epic, intimately told through real people, not always doing the right things. Flawed actions with real consequences, against an infinite backdrop. Too, we’re striving for a higher production standard that hasn’t been seen before in independent streaming content.”

The action is set on a ship, the Ardri Jennet, which patrols the boundaries of the Sol system and tries to ensure that the freedmen are actually, you know, free. She is captained by William Hunter (played by Damien Puckler). Puckler told us, “Hunter is a tormented soul who began his life with true ideals and has seen them challenged and destroyed. He would easily chose to live in solitude, far away from any other beings, but life always throws him back into the position of responsibility … to be a leader, to take charge and make vital decisions. It’s that inner conflict between his idealistic compassionate heart and his experience of the real world and how to approach it, that makes the character truly captivating.”

His crew are an assortment of races and ideologies, which makes for plenty of potential for drama and excitement. Ellis gave us a sneak peek at the personalities. “Hanso Baash (played by Bill Oberst Jr.) is a brilliant engineer with extremely low self-esteem. Throughout the show he will come up with solutions to insurmountable problems, never once thinking

Andrew Jackson as Lorr T'vek & Ellen Dubin as Shingh-ah

Andrew Jackson as Lorr T’vek & Ellen Dubin as Shingh-ah

they’ll work — even after they do. This lack of confidence comes from being raised among a people (he’s of a race called the Quulsa) dominated by females, where males have no rights and are little more than sperm donors. He’s a bit of a rebel by even being aboard the Jenny, but constantly frazzled by self-doubt.

“Shingh-ah (played by Ellen Dubin), is one of the last members of her race (the Selsky), who have been hunted to extinction because of a singular ability they have (no, I’m not going to tell you!). She’s aboard the Jenny to hide in plain sight–she’s determined to stay off everyone’s radar for her own protection. Yet she is bonded to the crew, and will fight for them and with them against every foe.”

We asked Ellis what inspired him in writing Starfall. He said, “I take inspirations from almost anything. Tolkien to Alien; Dumas and Verne; Michael Connelly and Elmore Leonard. Pink Floyd, Rush and the Moody Blues. My own life has been a wealth of insight and thematic ideas. And my faith is always present and guiding me.”

Puckler said, “I have always been a huge fan of Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, and the like. Starfall embodies all of these and more. It’s the ultimate sci-fi opera with deeply developed characters … each battling their own

Damien Puckler and Andrew Jackson on set

Damien Puckler and Andrew Jackson on set

inner conflicts while dealing with life as a crew member of the Ardri Jennet. It’s a fascinating scenario with fascinating stories!”

What’s it like to go from working on a network series to an independent production? What’s the biggest difference? “Money! Network series simply have more money available.” Puckler replied. “That, however, also puts them in a chokehold of what’s popular. Smaller productions always strive for a bigger budget, but the financial  shortcomings are overcome by creativity. More and more smaller shows are being made that are challenging what is out there. Smaller productions are able to create characters and storylines that are not always politically correct and/or are pushing the envelope! It think that is extremely exciting as an actor and even more as an audience.”

Where will Starfall be available? Ellis says, “Our original plan is to self-distribute online, and build a fan base large enough to support our continued independence. Even should a deal Starfall 1be offered by a third party, we’re determined to maintain creative control.”

Starfall has already succeeded in completing filming on its pilot. It’s currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the post-production work needed to make Starfall the masterpiece it’s meant to be. Now that principal filming is complete, the episode is awaiting editing, music and special effects. Ellis says that crowd-funding the work will allow greater creative control, and will also get the series in front of fans in half the time of a traditionally funded project. Donors get some pretty cool perks, including a walk-on role (at the $10,000 level), an Ardri Jennet uniform (at the $3,000 level), and loads of other goodies for smaller donations! The Starfall Kickstarter ends on Sunday, December 21, 2014.

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Apr 292014
 
Habitat
Habitat is a real-time, physics-driven orbital strategy game for PC, Mac, Linux and Xbox One where you build, fly, and fight with unique space stations you create out of space junk orbiting earth. Their Kickstarter is already successful, and it may be in part due to its unique gameplay.

A thousand years into our future, the Earth is on the brink of oblivion. To save Mankind, you must use the mind boggling amount of junk in orbit around the planet to create new habitats and vehicles – and yes, weapons – to support life or to destroy it. You have to explore and manage your resources, or your brave little band of humans snuffs it. With the addition of salvaged rockets and other propulsion devices, you can build self-mobile space stations, scout vehicles and screaming metal death traps to use against your enemies.

A fascinating side note to this story is that while they were working out the gameplay and the physics it would use, they learned about a phenomenon known as the Kessler Effect or Kessler Syndrome. In 1978, NASA scientist Donald Kessler published a paper on the frequency and consequences of artificial satellite collisions in Earth orbit. This describes the point at which our sky is so full of junk that mass chain reaction collisions can occur, and to a certain degree this is already happening.  That’s the core concept behind the 2013 film Gravity in which the Space Shuttle, International Space Station, Hubble Space Telescope, Russian Soyuz spacecraft and the Chinese Tiangong space station were all involved in a chain reaction debris cloud started by a Russian missile strike on a defunct satellite.

Almost unsurprisingly, there is already a rock band called Kessler Effect. They’re from Letterkenny, Ireland.

While Gravity‘s portrayal of the Kessler Effect is heavily dramatized, occurring over hours instead of years, it’s already starting to happen. Minor collisions involving bits of other satellites are already starting to happen.

The game has both Sandbox and Campaign modes, and it supports cross-platform, multiplayer action. Versions will be available for the XBox One, Windows, iOS, and Linux. Backers who join the campaign now can get their XBox One copy reserved for only $35.

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Mar 012014
 
Original Cover Art

Original Cover Art

by Brandy Grote, contributing writer

Comic books have not always been aimed at children. From their earliest history, both in America and the rest of the world, comic strips have been used to tweak politicians and beliefs, poking fun, or shining a light in dark corners. In Europe, comics in this bande-dessinee (literally: “drawn strip”) style have been gathered and published in magazines such as Revista Skorpio, Eura, and 2000AD.

One of the stories published in Revista Skorpio in the 1980’s was the serialized “Krantz”. This story – by the prolific Argentinian artists Jorge Claudio Morhain and Horacio Lalia – is about Ross Krantz, a time traveler from the future. He travels several centuries into the past to prevent a slaughter of Protestants in 16th century France, which was supposed to have prevented Hitler from coming into power in our own time. Of course, time travel rarely goes without a hitch, and Krantz is left confused and alone in the primitive past. He is aided by one young fellow who he recognizes and renames as Nostradamus! He meets and works with – or against – other notable names in history in his attempts to complete his mission and return to his own time. He learns many amazing things about himself and the universe as he does this.

The story involves time travel, but it doesn’t delve into the mechanics of “how” at first, even though we do learn the “why” of Ross’s journey. This doesn’t lessen the strong story arc: quite the opposite, in fact. The story is broken into several chapters, each following one historical person or event. The cape-wearing Krantz is involved deeply in some cases, while at other times, he seems only an observer. As the story arc evolves, so does Krantz, as he learns how to manipulate the information he discovers to complete his mission to the best of his ability.

The story contains aspects of mysticism and actual historical events, including witch hunts and torture, which may explain why the story was banned by the Catholic Church. Although a few first names were changed in the story, nearly all the characters truly existed and can be researched online.

The artwork in this book is amazing. Horacio Lalia is a master of inks, with stark, dark backgrounds setting off delicate, expressive faces. His eye for detail includes clothing, accessories, and items used across time, location, and class lines. He has created artwork for many adaptations of beloved horror stories, and his work is well known in Europe as well as South America.

Jorge Claudio Morhain has written nearly 6,000 comic strips alone over his amazing career, in addition to his children’s stories, political cartoons, and television and movie screenplays. In the 1970’s, he wrote and drew cartoons for Editorial Columbo, an Argentinian publishing dynasty that folded during the political unrest of the early 1980’s. He was also Undersecretary of Culture, Education and Tourism for Canuelas, Buenos Aires in 1993, and Director of Museums and Archives there from 1997 until 2000.

This graphic novel is being brought to America through a Kickstarter campaign by Bronco Ink Publishing, LLC. Off Registration magazine (a Bronco Ink publication) Editor-in-Chief Scott O. Brown says, “We believe in and have supported Horacio’s work whenever possible over the last decade. And Jorge is a powerhouse writer deserving a wider audience. Their ‘Krantz’ is a great comics collection for science fiction fans, history buffs, and lovers of classic bande-dessinee style comics. If ‘Game Of Thrones’ or ‘Da Vinci’s Demons’ strike your fancy, then ‘Krantz’ is right up your alley.”

The Kickstarter runs through March 12, 2014. While pledge levels begin at $5, pledging $10 will secure you a digital copy of this historic book, and $25 will guarantee you a softcover copy as well as the digital version if the project is fully funded.

Pledge levels run up to $350 (The “Bleeding Cool”). This level only has 2 spots, one has been taken at the time of this writing! The perks of this level include having Horacio Lalia pencil artwork for your own 4-page story, which will also be colorized by Off Registration. They will then letter it and print YOUR STORY in a future edition of Off Registration magazine! You will receive the softcover and digital editions of “Krantz”, as well as “Monstrology”, which is an anthology of monsters written by Scott O. Brown and others.

The $250 level, “Project Cronus”, also has 2 remaining slots at this time. It also includes having your own story inked by Lalia and printed in Off Registration along with the softcover and digital editions of “Krantz”.

This work is magnificent for its place in the history of comics, as well as a great example of the work of these two artists who are practically unknown in the States. Making this translation available may help change that.

For adult comic book aficionados and collectors, this is a highly desirable translation. For comic, horror, suspense, history, and even religion buffs, it is an intriguing story.

This story is considered adult, for mature readers only, both in subject matter and artwork.

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Feb 102014
 

Cyanide and Happinessby RJ Ryan Seutter, contributing writer

It’s no great secret that the internet is a veritable smorgasbord of stimuli. From YouTube to Tumblr, social media is rapidly changing how we communicate ideas and fart jokes. Of all the new media born of the internet, however, one of the most entertaining and visually stimulating is the web comic. I chatted up Matt Melvin from Cyanide and Happiness, an online strip done by four very talented artists. It continues to be a personal favorite of mine. Its humor is often adult in nature and from time to time, a little crass; not knowing whether you’ll get another drug  joke or a lengthy anecdote about society’s coddling of people who fall second place kind of adds to the hilarity.

I asked Melvin what he thought about being internet-famous.

“I do not consider us famous. We did a panel once about making stuff on the internet, but we’re introduced with a powerpoint presentation on fame equating us to the likes of Angelina Jolie. It was bulls**t.” A very humble response from a man whose art is seen by millions.

When I contacted him, they had just wrapped up the Cyanide and Happiness Show Kickstarter. Having decided that television wasn’t going to work out, they called upon their fans, raising enough money for an entire year of weekly shorts, in addition to the show itself. Pretty badass, turning down TV deals to maintain artistic integrity. But more to the point, the creators of Cyanide and Happiness strive mainly to convey their humor the best way they know how, for the sake of the reader’s enjoyment.

Melvin said it best. “We were all just dudes making dumb crap on the internet. Became friends, starting doing stuff together, years later it became our jobs. We didn’t initially approach it from the standpoint of trying to make a living off it; we generally just loved doing what we were doing. That’s definitely partially the reason why it’s been so successful.”

After nine long years, four booklets, and a TV show that’s too cool  for TV, Cyanide and Happiness has many more shiny, new endeavors in its future, which we fans eagerly await.

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Jan 212014
 
lukeBanderloftPoster

We almost didn’t publish this, because we figured you’d have to be living under a rock not to know about Rocky Perry’s Luke Banderloft fantasy adventure series of novels – but when we saw the Kickstarter for the web series he plans to make out of it, we decided to jump on the story.

Luke Banderloft isn’t exactly human.  Not quite.  He’s a Twilerian, a member of a silver-skinned elf-like race.  In Luke Banderloft and the McFarven Pirates, he stumbles into The Gate District without friend or hope. An outcast among outcasts, Luke quickly finds himself at the behest of The Red Hook, his band of thieves and the larger forces that control the lurid slums of Safekeep.  He’s in the murky shadows among the unsavory, unclean and immoral. Misfortune, poor luck and ill omens have led him from the distant shores of his home to this most desperate corner of the corrupt city of Safekeep.

In a city populated with scoundrels, magicians, giants and other strange creatures, Luke must keep his friend’s close, his enemies closer and his cards even closer to his chest.  The play is Cut-throat and winning is the difference between fortune and death.

Luke Banderloft and the McFarven Pirates blends American history with its mythology for an adventure that excites the senses.  One of the encouraging features of this Kickstarter is that they’re not asking for their entire production budget – just enough to get season 1 finished.  They’ve already done so much, and they’re eagerly advancing on the finish line to release their first production season’s work on an unsuspecting world.

If you’ve never done Kickstarter before, don’t worry – you don’t have to pay anything at all if they don’t meet their funding goal.  If they do, your credit card will be billed, and they then send out the fundraiser perk for the level of contribution you made.  You probably hear this a lot about fundraising, but every little dollar counts.  If all you have is a buck, then pledge it.  If everybody who thought that a dollar or five dollars wouldn’t make enough of a difference to bother with, most of these deserving projects – and in particular, this one – could be funded almost immediately.

Personally, we think this trailer looks really good, and it shows that they’re capable and ready to get the job done.

Go be a backer.

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Dec 062013
 
hangingcoffins4

It’s a classic OGL First Edition style adventure module. Players must escape the traps and monsters of the dreaded Vampire Queen’s dungeon!

Created and written by veteran game designer and filmmaker Mark Taormino, this module has everything: daringly attired vampire queens, imprisoned demons, and a dungeon adventure full of devilish traps and vile beasts to overcome.  It’s consciously designed to look and play like a classic D&D gaming module, but works with any adventure rule system.  The writing and artwork for the module are top notch, and it looks as good as anything we’ve seen – better than most, in fact.

OGL stands for Open Gaming License, first established by Wizards of the Coast to license the core game mechanics of their Dungeons and Dragons game to third party developers, so that they could publish compatible modules without running afoul of trademarks or copyrights.

The Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen has already hit its Kickstarter funding goal, so it’s going to get made – now it’s just a question of stretch goals, and the first of these happens at the $3,000 mark. There’s even a tabletop figurine in the works – the sculpting is done, and it looks amazing!

The campaign has already been funded, but it has about two days to go. If you love tabletop roleplay gaming, consider contributing to this one.  Wouldn’t it be great to have a copy in your gaming library?

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