Lady Sabre has battled hordes of goons, faced down destroyer zeppelins, fought giant mechanical monsters and soon it looks as though she’ll have another victory under her belt — a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Writer Greg Rucka and artist Rick Burchett started the campaign on May 6 to crowdfund a print collection of their webcomic, Lady Sabre & The Pirates of the Ineffable Aether. When the goal was met in the first eight hours, the creators were stunned.
“It’s overwhelming,” Rucka said. “Webcomics live or die on the basis of who reads the comics, on the community you can build. I don’t think we had any idea that the support for the comic would translate so tremendously to the Kickstarter. It’s humbling, and it’s wonderful, and it’s — honestly — a little frightening. I’ve run out of words for gratitude. Our best way to say thank you now is to deliver a book that everyone will be proud of, backers and creators alike. Honestly, I’m still in a daze about it all. Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine this level of support.”
With half the campaign still to go, Rucka and Burchett aren’t resting on their laurels. They’ve since added additional stretch goals that will not only make the quality of the printed book better, but will provide new opportunities to expand the narrative through annotated process books, ephemera from the storyworld, and other creations yet to be revealed.
“There’s so much of the Lady Sabre world that we’ve never even seen, so much we’ve just hinted at, and if all goes to plan with this campaign, we’ll be able to pull back the veil a little further, share that much more,” Rucka said.
Lady Sabre & The Pirates of the Ineffable Aether follows the titular Lady Seneca Sabre as she adventures across a mysterious world of clockwork monsters, stoic gunfighters, sword wielding dirigible commanders and storms that threaten to destroy the very foundations of life across the Aether. In creating the strip, Rucka and Burchett, along with web designer Eric Newsom, drew on the elements that were foundational to the adventure stories of their youth.
“I’ve been a fan of steampunk all my life and never knew it. Or, more to the point, I didn’t know that’s what it was called,” Burchett said. “When I was very young I saw two movies that kindled a love of this type of fantasy in me. One was Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the other was George Pal’s The Time Machine. The Victorian design ethic juxtaposed with steampowered science was mesmerizing for a boy growing up in a small town on the banks of the Mississippi. Plus, it introduced me to the notion of the scientist as action hero — a guy who was not only good in a scrap but was also educated and inventive. He wasn’t some ‘egghead’ who was the first guy to get killed in a monster movie. What could be better than that?”
For Rucka, the steampunk genre affords beneficial storytelling opportunities.
“I love the freedom to revise an historical setting, frankly; our Lady Captain would have been a remarkably rare occurrence in the Victorian era, after all, never mind the diversity among the rest of our cast and crew,” Rucka said. “Being able to pick and choose from real world moments, styles, places and to recolor and alter them to fit our world allows for a nice point of contact — we know the real world analogues but we’re not bound by them. Steampunk is exceptionally good at that, and — the lit major in me can’t help this, forgive me — it allows for some interesting social commentary.”
With the campaign a success thus far, the creators hope that more readers will consider not only reading the book in print, but on the web, where they continue to publish installments every Monday and Thursday.
“I’d like people to read Lady Sabre and become lost in the world Greg, Eric and I have tried to create,” said Burchett. “A place where they can care about those ink lines, where they can discover, or rediscover, a sense of wonder. A place where maybe the heroes aren’t perfect but at least they aspire to be heroic. A place where integrity and good deeds matter and maybe that’s not a reflection of the world we inhabit but wouldn’t it be nice if it was. Most of all I want them to have fun. Maybe it’s not saving the world, or the universe, but sometimes it’s just fun to take a map away from the bad guys.”