Mike Kennedy writes for Bleeding Cool:
Bengal, the French comic book artist and co-founder of CFSL.net, is running a Kickstarter campaign right now. Not for yet another art book, nor a new series or graphic novel, nor an animated short film. He's creating something different, a wholly unique experiment that could very well appeal to nearly everyone in one way or another.
At the core of the project is a deck of standard playing cards, featuring original characters designed and beautifully illustrated by the artist. Each character is a fully-realized individual within the four Houses of an original fantasy universe, The World of Cassyno, with each house based on the four suits in a standard deck. These houses have intricate interwoven backstories, political agendas, and access to four very unique magical energies. And each character's strength and weakness adds an entirely new level of balance and complexity to both the world and the deck itself. The campaign offers a supplementary World Book exploring the dark fantasy setting, illustrated by Bengal and a host of talented friends, as well as several card games set within the world itself.
Sounds interesting, right? If you fall into any one or more of the groups below, you won't be disappointed —
COMIC BOOK AND ANIME FANS: Bengal's comic book work has been sought out by the hardcore comic fans since his debut series MEKA was released in France in 2004. He has since grown in popularity with the ground-shaking BD series NAJA and LUMINAE. His unique blend of Japanese dynamism and European composition sets his work apart from any other out there. He is even offering signed copies of his first two books finally being released in English by Magnetic Press this summer – NAJA and MEKA – as pledge rewards in the World of Cassyno campaign.
ILLUSTRATORS AND FANS OF CONCEPT ART: If you just like looking a gorgeous character concept art, this deck is a portfolio of mini-prints featuring original character designs by the celebrated artist, a 54-page unbound art book in a sense.
In addition, the supplementary World Book will feature additional illustrations by well-known illustrators such as Claire Wendling, Joe Madureira, Enrique Fernandez, Mahmud Asrar, Marguerite Sauvage, and Kim Jeong Gi.
And if that still isn't enough to whet your appetite, the campaign is also offering a bonus deck of 54 cards featuring unpublished pieces from Bengal's "Griseline" sketch blog, with each card highlighting a unique, alluring girl sporting a different costume, some original and some winkingly familiar. This "Cosplay" deck will only be produced for this campaign, and these pieces will not be printed elsewhere – you can only get these through this campaign.
FANTASY FICTION FANS: The World of Cassyno is not just a collection of character portraits – it is a complete, original fantasy world filled with wonder and intrigue. Still recovering from the dark days of the century-long War of Nine, each remaining House has established itself as a solvent kingdom, each vying to prosper… and in some cases conquer. Hidden agendas, secret alliances, crippling insecurities, and explosive revelations are all seeded within the World Book, ready to blossom and unfold in explosive rounds of gameplay as well as ancillary fiction created by and for the fans themselves. It is like Alice in Wonderland meets Game of Thrones.
CASUAL CARD GAMERS: The supplementary World Book features a number of card games that can be played with the deck itself, incorporating the characters and lore in a way that gives exciting narrative to an otherwise abstract set of rules. From discard games to combat games to conquering and collection games, the World book offers a number of different styles to choose from. Even if you aren't familiar with Bengal's work or choose not to lose yourself in the depths of backstory fiction, these games can still make a wonderfully fun game night.
GAMBLERS: Every card player wants a deck that says something about them, something classy yet cool, something that makes the game as visually engaging as the competition itself. And if that chosen deck also happens to offer your opponents a distractingly beautiful hand of artwork that throws off their concentration and ability to bluff, even better.
MAGICIANS: If you are, or know, a magician who practices slight-of-hand close magic card illusions, you know how important the presentation is, and a great presentation is often one that tells a story. With these unique, engaging characters in your deck, that presentation narrative can take on a whole new, original twist, making even the most tried-and-true illusion a new and unique performance all your own.
BLEEDING COOL READERS: If you are a regular reader of Bleeding Cool (which would be a safe bet, if you are reading this), and you back the campaign with a message to us mentioning "Bleeding Cool" in the body, then you will receive a bonus Joker card not offered in the campaign itself. This second original Joker is in addition to the LE Joker offered in the campaign.
The World of Cassyno Kickstarter campaign runs through May 15th. http://kck.st/1jI7AsF