All The World’s A Stage For No Holds Bard

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Eric Gladstone writes,

You know the drill. Whenever trouble was afoot in Gotham City, billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne hurries over to his bust of William Shakespeare…and wait, why Shakespeare?

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Why not Shakespeare? I think we can agree Batman’s always been the most theatrical superhero. The man needed therapy but got ninja training instead. He spent a good chunk of his family fortune fashioning himself after a spooky animal and goes out every night beating poor people to a pulp. He’ll make somebody eat out of a tube for the rest of his life, but god forbid he kill anybody because he has to be “good guy”. When he does snap and thinks he takes a life (in an Elseworlds story or a nefarious illusion or whatever) he gets poutier than Hamlet. I just drew out that self-obsession to a naturally weird conclusion by casting Shakespeare himself as the world’s greatest crimefighter and painstakingly wrote most of the dialogue in iambic pentameter.

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So that’s the impetus behind No Holds Bard. I thought it was funny so I rolled with it.

According to Alex Woofson (whose own project, The Young Protectors, made an astounding $133,640), one of the secrets to good Kickstartermanship is to build an audience of fans ahead of time. I never really did that. I was always clueless about how to do it and scared of potential “haters”. However, I was lucky enough to catch some of the most talented artists in comics today at the right time and brought them on board. These include The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl’s Erica Henderson, Oh, Killstrike’s Logan Faerber, Lumberjanes cover artist Cara McGee, The Auteur’s James Callahan, and Sabretooth Swordsman’s Aaron Conley. It’s a pretty awesome roster measure for measure.

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Woofson also says to create tempting rewards, so I tried to make some really cool ones on top of just getting a PDF of the book. I’ve seen a lot of these campaigns that are like “a buck gets you on a mailing list.” Eh, no thanks. For Bard that same dollar gets you a print-at-home activity kit and wallpapers (and the mailing list, it’s unavoidable). I also commissioned pin-ups from Pixar artist Bobby Rubio, Self-Obsessed‘s Sina Grace, and Harvey Beaks and adorable children’s book illustrator Ashlyn Anstee, plus a cover from The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail’s Dave Kloc, all of which are available as lithographs. There’s also a two song EP for download with songs by Spencer Owen (Dude Bro Party Massacre III) and Allie Goertz (Rick & Morty Concept Album), face masks that look like the Bard’s, t-shirts, original bristol boards, and for those of you with a macabre fascination and money to spare, I had my friend, propmaster Sally Courtois, design a one-of-a-kind velour-lined commemorative box with a real human skull inside.

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Now I feel pretty confident about the quality of the work, but the whole idea of actually putting my stuff out there to be one of the most terrifying concepts of my life. Yes, I’ve written things for public consumption before—I’ve been responsible for a big chunk of the dialogue in the Marvel Heroes ARPG since the game started development, but to deliver something that I started that will succeed or fail on its own merits is making my hair fall out. Best-case scenario, people will see it, like it and want more. I can only hope.

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And hey, if we hit half our goal in the first two weeks I’ll shave my head and get out in front of this alopecia areata.

Love and hugs…

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.