Monday, April 10, 2017

Mystery Science Storybook Needs Your Help to Survive!

It's time for some real talk, everybody. The Mystery Science Storybook series is in serious trouble and I need your help if any of this is going to stay afloat for much longer. For those of you who don't know, Mystery Science Storybook is a series of graphic novels written and illustrated by yours truly, Dave Chadwick, aka Sugar Ray Dodge, that takes cult movies (most of which have been featured on MST3K or at RiffTrax) and turns them into faux bedtime story parodies. This all started two years ago with a successful Kickstarter campaign and some promising initial sales, which lead to the concept becoming an ongoing digital-first series.

However, also as many of you know, we ran into major production problems and the physical publication of the book was delayed by six months past the initial estimated delivery dates. But the biggest problem we face stems from an abusive DMCA claim filed against us by James Nguyen, director of Birdemic: Shock and Terror. Mr. Nguyen claimed his copyright had been violated in the parody "Attack of the Birds," and went on to assert that this was not a parody but a wholly unauthorized continuation of the Birdemic series. He was successful in getting the original book pulled off of Amazon, Blurb and Gumroad, crippling my ability to sell my intellectual property.

Now, we have been able to get Storybook back up and running on both Blurb and Gumroad, where you can buy physical and digital versions of both completed volumes. However, despite petitioning Amazon several times to get Storybook reinstated, they have flat out refused to even hear our case. This is crucial because a presence on Amazon, by far the biggest digital retailer on the internet, is essential to the growth of the audience and the brand. Since we're not on Amazon any longer, our growth and ability to make a profit has been crippled. This came at a time when we had been building momentum, and all of it was taken away in a heartbeat. At the time of this writing, we will not be able to take advantage of any interest generated by the revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Netflix later this week.

To date, Storybook has received no online media coverage outside of a few podcasts and the inclusion of chapters in the digital goodies sections of RiffTrax Live since 2015, (and to them I am eternally grateful for letting me participate in the show in this way, it's such an amazing honor fore me.) This is why I need everybody's help right now. The project is on the verge of collapse unless we can get the word out about it through the fan community and sell some copies, and/or if we can get the continuation of the series significantly funded through our Patreon campaign. If everybody can pitch in just a little bit, even if it's only $1 per new chapter, or if it's sharing this story on social media, we will be able to grow to the point where Nguyen's actions have been neutralized and we can stop operating at loss, expand the audience and the Storybook series as a whole.

I wouldn't be writing this if the situation were not dire. This project has defined my life for the past two years, I'm nowhere near a point where I feel I can move on from it. There's still so much left to be done, so much new art to make and new stories to tell. The creative opportunities of the series is too rich for me to walk away from, I feel it's my purpose in life to expand this world as much as I can right now. So, this is my way of getting down on my knees and asking all of you for help.

The easiest way to help, obviously, is share the project on social media. The no-budget nature of the project omits the possibility of any money spent online advertising. If you can hit that share button on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or wherever else, it would be very much appreciated. Another way to help is to become a recurring donor to the project on Patreon. The details of how it all works is explained on the campaign page, but suffice it to say here that even a $1/month recurring donation from you would go a long way to get the project back on it's feet and properly funded so I can concentrate full time on creating new material. And then, of course, you can buy physical and digital copies from Blurb and Gumroad. You can also pick up some limited edition hardcovers for 2017 on this page if you're into collecting this kind of stuff.

Again, I wouldn't be asking like this if I didn't feel the series was in danger of total collapse. Thanks to everybody who has supported this project so far, it means the world to me. We just need to push this a little more for it to become truly successful. Thanks for hearing me out. - SRD

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