For those paying attention (like the screaming fans at New York Comic Con when the Crossed panel clarified this news), Garth Ennis has launched a new webcomic today set in the Crossed universe, Dead or Alive, and this 12 week program of new content every Thursday also kicks off a landmark move from Ennis and Avatar Press: to crowdfund a series of live action webisodes connected to the story.
To start with, the comic is not what Crossed fans will necessarily be expecting: it's a self-contained arc that follows a specific band of survivors after the Crossed outbreak, set in the mountains in survivalist style, and in particular the story traces the choices and personality of a particularly hearty and driven survivor. The mysteries in his past leave you guessing, and encourage the reader to explore the ways in which people survive–whether individually or in groups–and how they perceive each other. There's a brutally fresh feel to this comic as readers are bound to recognize vestiges of a life they know well, the remnants of 21st century modern morality and questioning.
The crowdfunding for the the live action series written by Garth Ennis that builds on this webcomic is unusual in that it's happening directly through Avatar Press and not through a platform like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. That enables Avatar to honor the contributions made to the campaign regardless of what level of funding is reached within a given time period. As the campaign states:
You'll notice that our fundraising has some elements you'd commonly see at places like Kickstarter, but we have also changed some things up. One of the biggest changes is that we are taking orders for related products in support of our goal. These goods will all ship out to you in January 2015, no delays waiting for the very length process of a filmed series getting made. It's not a case of waiting until we hit a certain dollar threshold before we green-light the entire work.
We will use funds as they come in to move it forward. We know we want $100,000 to shoot an entire season, but even with the first ten thousand dollars we can move forward with budgets and pre-production. With the next twenty thousand we can get location scouting, start sourcing props / costuming, look at SFX tests, and even begin casting. With every dollar that comes in, we move further towards shooting and so we will process the orders as they come in, get your goods out to you, and kindly thank you for helping us be one step closer.
The early shipping of rewards and the commitment to the long-term filming goal, initially for the pre-production stages make this a unique venture that is directly geared toward dedicated "Crossed Nation" readers who want to see this project become a reality.
Garth Ennis also speaks directly about the campaign and how it fits into the Crossed universe, a venture that's as far from Hollywood's tampering with original comics to make a palatable blockbuster as it could be. He says:
I don't want to water Crossed down, and I don't want to have to change it beyond recognition either. I don't want to add more blood to satisfy an investor's desire to penetrate the overseas market, nor do I want to tone it down to fit the PG-13 model. Crossed is not the perfect starting point for that Martian vampire cop idea some producer's been cherishing these last ten years. Neither is it the next teen warrior franchise.
The Crossed are not about to discover the humanity inside themselves and let the last survivor go, because he satisfied their sense of tribal honor through trial by combat. They won't be neutralized by some serum that gives our hero his girlfriend back, even after she was bitten. And they're not going to be reduced to xbox cannon fodder in some shoot-'em-up, either; no one's going to be battling the Crossed Queen in a giant strap-on fork-lift.The idea behind DOA is for Crossed to stay Crossed: in other words, to remain exactly what it has been in every script I've written since Jacen Burrows and I created the title.
If we're going to take Crossed onto the screen, I don't see how we can do it any other way. If you agree- we hope you'll come along for the ride.
The scope of the project is more than ambitious, but also carefully planned in stages, and with experienced screenwriter as well as comics master Garth Ennis at the helm of the world that he created, the webcomic is just our first entry point to what Dead or Alive could achieve.
Rewards for donating to the project include different packages starting as low as $5.oo and including "add on" features to build up rewards further. For $30.00, for instance, a contributor receives the ENTIRE digital collection of Ennis' Crossed comics and exclusive print copies of Dead or Alive.
For those who want to be part of this Crossed new genesis point, they will be contributing to reaching realization of the first season of the Crossed webisodes, with seasons 2 and 3 as goals thereafter. The final goal? To see a Crossed feature film made. It's a creator-owned project in motion, and the sky's the limit. It's all in the hands of the fans to bring what they want to see to life. Read the comic here, find out more about the funding campaign here, and make sure to check back in each Thursday when a new installment of Dead or Alive appears online.