[Crowdfunding is the in thing for obtaining money to fund a variety of projects, with Kickstarter being the most prominent of these sites. With new projects going live daily, it's a chore to keep up with, let alone find, interesting genre projects. The Crowd Funding Roundup will be our effort to bring projects we think are interesting to your attention so you can, if you so choose, decide to help out. These posts will be a collaborative effort between James Aquilone and JP Frantz.]

Auror’s Tale – A Fan Web Series

What it’s about:

Auror’s Tale is a fantasy web series in three acts. Here is a short synopsis: New York City is a battlefield. Dark magic rules the underworld. The NYC Department of Magical Law Enforcement (DMLE) is the only line of defense. Hawthorne is the force’s newest recruit and the dark criminals’ latest threat. Plunging into the nightmare that his occupation offers, he makes quick enemies of the most depraved wizard gang in America: the ever violent, ever twisted Hellhounds. Auror’s Tale chronicles Hawthorne’s tempestuous adventures.

Why it’s interesting: The final Harry Potter movie hit theaters a year ago and J.K. Rowling has set the series aside to do adult books. So now it’s up to fans to carry the torch (and pray they don’t get sued for copyright infringement). Auror’s Tale is a “darker and grittier” take on Rowling’s fantasy universe. It’s sort of like The Dark Knight meets NYPD Blue but with wizards and muggles. The visual effects look as good as anything Hollywood has to offer. (Check out the full trailer here.) For only $5, you get your name in the credits of episode one.

Mark Dos Santos Art Book

What it’s about:

I am comic book artist, Mark Dos Santos. Over the past few years, I have provided commissions of favorite characters and sold prints of my work at comic conventions across the US and abroad. As a way to thank fans and celebrate my fifth year on the convention circuit, I am putting together a limited edition, full color, hardbound art book. This is an opportunity to gather many of my finished illustrations, including discontinued pieces, in one place. This unique collection will also include a selection of sketches documenting my working process. A sort of behind-the-scenes peek into my studio not available anywhere else.

Why it’s interesting: Mark Dos Santos’s credits include the comic books Eureka, Grimm Fairy Tales and Cthulhu Tales. But he really shines when it comes to his convention commissions. Trust me, you want this stuff! For $30, you get a signed copy of the book and a 4-by-6-inch postcard featuring the cover artwork.

Futuredaze: An Anthology of YA Science Fiction

What it’s about:

Futuredaze is an anthology of YA science fiction for teens, young adults, and the young at heart. The anthology will feature fiction and poetry that sparks the imagination, twists the heart, and makes us yearn for the possibilities of a world yet to come. At a time when every other YA book features vampires, werewolves or other fantastical creatures, Futuredaze will be an anthology for the next generation of science fiction readers.

Why it’s interesting: As the editors put it, “Reading is an essential part of anyone’s development. With the dramatic increase of other genres starting to overwhelm the YA anthology market, we see a real need to provide another option — Science Fiction.” So, forget sparkling vampires and love-sick werewolves. This is SF for kids. You have to support that! For $15, you get a signed copy of the book, which will be released in trade paperback in June 2013. (You have till the end of the month to submit stories to the anthology. For more info, go here.)

Dear Mr. Watterson – A Calvin & Hobbes Documentary

What it’s about:

It has now been 17 years since the end of the Calvin & Hobbes era. Bill Watterson has kept an extremely low profile during this time, living a very private life in Ohio. Despite his quiet lifestyle, Mr. Watterson is remembered and appreciated daily by fans who still enjoy his amazing collection of work…. This film is not a quest to find Bill Watterson, or to invade his privacy. It is an exploration to discover why his “simple” comic strip made such an impact on so many readers in the ’80s and ’90s, and why it still means so much to us today.

Why it’s interesting: During its 10-year run (1985 – 1995), Calvin & Hobbes was one of the most popular syndicated daily comic strips. Seventeen years later, reruns still appear all over the world. This documentary, which began in 2007, is a celebration and exploration of the iconic strip and includes interviews with Seth Green, Bloom County creator Berkeley Breathed and Jean Schulz (widow of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz). For $35, you get a DVD of the film plus an online thank you.

Duster: The Graphic Novel

What it’s about:

Duster is a 215-page graphic novel project. [The story:] In the closing days of World War II, a widowed housewife turned cropduster pilot struggles to rescue her teenage daughter from a band of Nazi war criminals who crash near her small Texas farm.

Why it’s interesting: Beyond the Nazis-in-Texas conceit, the book was penned by two cartoon veterans — Micah Wright (writer of The Angry Beavers) and Jay Lender (writer and director of SpongeBob SquarePants and Phineas and Ferb). The artwork is strong, with a cool retro feel to it. For $30, you get a deluxe hardbacked copy of the book. But for $500, you can appear in Duster. Just send in a photo and the team will draw you in the comic “being murdered by Nazis” (which is probably the best way to be murdered by Nazis).

After the Fall – Film

What it’s about:

A cyber-punk sleeping beauty story formed about a girl from the past, who through medical advancements, reawakens in the future — only to find herself caught in the middle of a post-apocalyptic war. Together with a group of ragtag resistance freedom fighters, she discovers she is the key to unlocking a weapon that could protect humanity or destroy it…. Now we’re asking you to join us on this journey to bring After the Fall to theaters — beginning with a short prequel film and leading to the feature film trilogy.

Why it’s interesting: The film’s star and director, Randolph Scott, says After the Fall was inspired by the untimely death of his sister. The story looks promising, sort of Buck Rogers meets The Terminator. The visual effects and sets look professional. As a bonus, Scott is a dead-ringer for Battlestar Galactica’s James Callis. So there’s that. For $20, you get a digital download of the film.

Annika Ash and the Lost Robot

What it’s about:

Annika Ash is a young girl studying to be a guard at H.A.L.T, the Honorable Academy of Lookout Training. Her first special assignment is to protect the berries of a rare tree on a small island. At first Annika believes this task is beneath her- but a series of events will lead her to reassess the very concept of what it means to perform her duty. Annika becomes stranded on a floating junkyard island captained by a very odd robot. The poor guy can’t remember who he is, or what his own duty is- all he knows is he’s being chased by monsters and, sadly, feels he can’t stop long enough to return Annika to her island.

Why it’s interesting: First, the illustrations here look terrific. Colorful and whimsical , Annika Ash is certainly eye catching. Hopefully the story about a lost robot will live up to the visuals. $25 receives a softcover book while $40 receives a hardcover. Plus, you know, a robot story for kids.

Cold Fusion: Secular Equilibrium

What it’s about:

Cold Fusion: Secular Equilibrium predicts a grim future awaiting mankind. Environmental disaster, uncontrolled technology, and war have left the earth barely hospitable. You will explore a world where mankind struggles to survive, recorded history is scarce, answers are hard to find, and people aren’t always who they seem.

Why it’s interesting: Retro-inspired gaming is gaining momentum these days and Cold Fusion aims to tap into that movement. It looks like the old 16-bit RPG’s of old wrapped up in a modern day steampunk/western themed setting, which sounds pretty cool to me. The concept art looks rather intriguing as well. According to the video, the game’s story line is done, the Kickstarter is to pay for professional art and music to round out the game. $10 is a small price to pay for a game with the caveat being the lack of professional development experience. It certainly looks interesting though and this type of thing is why Kickstarter was created.

HeXit

What it’s about:

Police officer Jane Davis unexpectedly finds herself in the middle of a hostage rescue operation conducted by operatives of a classified government agency. The sudden change of events puts sensitive information in her hands she would not have been supposed to see. Her curiosity drives her to start her own investigation. However, it clearly becomes clear that the agency wants to prevent her further involvement in the situation. It becomes obvious to her that if this sensitive material leaks to the general public it will shake the very foundations of society as we know it.

Why it’s interesting: The point-and-click adventure game has been an extinct species in the gaming world for many years, but it appears to be making somewhat of a comeback, with Double Fine’s p-n-c game The Cave setting Kickstarter records for funding. HeXit sets its sites on a Science Fiction oriented point-and-click which sounds really good. It will be available for Windows, Mac and Linux and $10 gets you a copy of the game. The development studio behind the game is asking for money from backers in lieu of trying to find a publisher, which can be difficult. They believe “that there is a demand for science-fiction adventure games which offer a capturing storyline and a fascinating atmosphere” and I agree. HeXit could be that game.

SKYJACKER

What it’s about:

Skyjacker is a first-person free-roaming space combat game with unique features rarely – or never – seen in other space games to date.

- Travel from the surface of a planet to the tunnels and bays of orbital space stations, with no transitions or cuts in between.
- Bump space hulks and asteroids into collision courses with your enemies and watch the pretty fireworks.
- Disable and destroy component parts of a ship. Cargo ship’s getting away? Slow it down with some neighborly torpedoes to the engine.
- Salvage the parts you didn’t destroy and mount them on your own ship. Add insult to injury – rip enemies apart with their own guns!
- Swap out engine parts to change the behavior of your ship – play it like an arcade game, like a classic space game, or with full inertia and momentum.

And all this in professional graphics and gameplay. These aren’t idle dreams – we’ve already done it. We just need to polish it up.

Why it’s interesting:Open world, 3D space combat simulator. If those words don’t make you giddy than you must be dead (or not a gamer). It’s been a long time since games like Wing Commander, Freespace and X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter scratched the old 3D combat itch. Add in an open world, go anywhere, do anything system and the expectations are set very high. If you need more convincing, there is a demo (alpha release of the game) you can try. Be sure to visit the Kickstarter page for a ton of really cool looking pictures and more information on what the people behind the game have done in the past. $15 sounds like a steal.

Alpha Colony: A Tribute to M.U.L.E.

What it’s about:

Alpha Colony: A Tribute to M.U.L.E. is an economic video game for your iPad or desktop, similar to Sim City or Civilization. It offers an interactive experience you can share with your family and friends. The basic game play is simple but mastering supply and demand on a remote colony is not. Deciding what to produce and when to trade it makes for a compelling experience for the whole family.

Why it’s interesting:M.U.L.E. is one of the all time classic computer games, created by Dan Bunten in 1983. Dan was working on an updated version of his game until his untimely death in 1998. Now the fine folks DreamQuest Games have taken the gauntlet want to release not one, but two games based on M.U.L.E. The first being a recreation of the classic game for mobile (iOS) platforms and a new game inspired by the original for PC and iPad. They have the license from the Bunten estate and access to Dan’s notes for his updated game. Check out the Kickstarter for a ton more information and a lot of cool backer levels, thought $500k seems like quite a bit to ask for.

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