The Princess Can Save Herself, Thank You

The Princess Who Saved Herself [MP3]

The "Code Monkey Saves World" project is about to stretch itself into the world of kickass princesses. Troubadour Jonathan Coulton and filmmaker and comics writer Greg Pak teamed up a few weeks ago to launch a crowdfunding effort to raise $39,000 to create a series of comic books based on the villains and other characters from Coulton's songs. On their way to blow past $200,000 in pledges, the dynamic duo added more pages to the future comics, promised JoCo would record an album of newly recorded acoustic versions of the songs referenced in the comics, and provided other rewards, most of which existing backers get added without having to increase their pledge.

Pak and Coulton have at least one more rabbit to pull out of their jointly worn hat: a children's book created from "The Princess Who Saved Herself," the title of which explains the song.

Illustration: Takeshi Miyazawa and Jessica Kholinne

"If ever a song wanted to be adapted into a children's book, this is it," Pak said in an interview. If the project hits $250,000, the book will be created after the "Code Monkey" comics are done, and fulfilled digitally. Existing backers at $15 or higher will get the "Princess" book as well. There's no plan (yet) for a printed version of the book.

The story is along the lines of Brave rather than, say, The Little Mermaid film. Pak pointed to little girls who may play at princesses today, as that's encoded in the culture and beyond, but wear ripped jeans under the ball gown and don't need someone else to guide their adventure and control the outcome.

It's a neat model they are following as goals keep being exceeded. Some Kickstarters have been criticized because they mostly pay the creator for his or her time; why that's a problem, I'm not sure, because people who make things deserve to be paid, and crowdfunding is a voluntary operation. As far as I know, Kickstarter does not send goons to homes to threaten people into providing valid credit-card information for stuff they don't like.

But for projects that start to grow extremely large, seeing additional creative efforts included from the new funds certainly makes them more appealing to those that haven't contributed. Pak said that he and Coulton have wanted to layer on more elements to each reward level as the pool of money has increased, which also means being able to pay all of their collaborators for more work. "Because people have supported it, because so many people have come on board, the whole thing can get better," said Pak. The rising tide of funds float everyone's boats. This includes working with the team creating the "Code Monkey" comics: Takeshi Miyazawa, Jessica Kholinne, and Simon Bowland.

After quickly passing their initial goal, Pak said that he is a state of constant amazement. Though he knows that his and Coulton's work has been well received and that fans have supported their projects directly in many ways in the past, the intensity and scale of response has been a "huge amount of fun."