M. Alice LeGrow’s manga Bizenghast, one of the flagship original English manga for Tokyopop, was touted by Teen Vogue as a must-read; it spawned a tabletop game, a line of merchandise, an art book and a legion of obsessive fans. Known as Marty to her friends and fans, she travels the country at cons talking about her beautiful and spooky ghost mystery/adventure series, entertaining with her signature wit and considerable cosplay talent. She is an artist who found herself with a fandom but no publisher; and like the force of nature she is, she continued Bizenghast’s story by releasing the final volume with Right Stuf and a handful of self-published ashcan comics. But now, on Bizenghast’s tenth anniversary, she’s bringing her biggest story back in a fittingly big way.
How? With a video game.
Her new Kickstarter campaign aims to fund the Bizenghast 3D RPG. Partnering with Cosmic Forces means that Dinah and the gang will be brought to life by a creative team that, collectively, have animated Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Pirates of the Caribbean, Hotel Transylvania, Oz the Great and Powerful, The Golden Compass, and many, many more.
“We're going all-out on this game...it's going to be a fully-immersive 3D experience, with incredible environments to explore in detail, gorgeous cinematics, lots of secrets to uncover and riddles to unlock. It's primarily an exploration and puzzle game, but with an eerie, sort of gothic and surreal atmosphere and a lot of dark humor. We have motion capture and facial animation technology on-hand for the characters and we're aiming to line up a full live orchestra in Prague for the soundtrack. We want this to be an incredibly rich and compelling game experience,” says LeGrow.
It is the first of it’s kind. According to LeGrow, “This Kickstarter campaign is a challenge, primarily because we need to bring in the support of the anime and manga community, to show the mainstream game industry that american manga can be a viable source for video game entertainment in America. If future american manga and alternative comics artists want to have the opportunity down the road to get their own creations made into video games, then now is the time to build support and finance for games like this, to pave the way for future title adaptations. We firmly believe that this kind of art style can be a success in America, but we need the support and backing of everyone to drive the message.”
Rallying her fandom is something Marty has experience with. Her most recent comic series, The Elephant Book, was successfully crowd funded with Kickstarter. This project, however, is much bigger, and asks for a lot more. She’s always been a big believer in rewarding fan generosity; backers can get crazy rewards, including the game (naturally), soundtrack, access to the developer’s forums, beta testing, an art book, Bizenghast playing cards, t-shirt, a tombstone or original painting of your likeness in the game, tickets to the launch party, or an appearance as an NPC. The campaign needs $125,000 to get funded, which seems a little scary, but it's something the anime and video game community has done before.
There’s also an extensive stretch goal plan:
Check out the art of the Bizenghast manga, as well as LeGrow’s Bizenghast-inspired cosplay.
The Kickstarter runs through April 17th, so now’s the time to jump in. Marty's last words on the campaign?
Just kidding. Or maybe not. It's probably best just to donate.
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