Wolves of Portland: Brick Port Dogs
Gaslight adventure, humor, magic, romance, and the challenges of juggling business and anthropomorphism in Steampunk-era New England…
Brick Port Dogs
Open-ended project on Patreon
UPDATE 3/2/14: The Brickport web comic launches tomorrow!
I would never have stumbled across the artist Elizabeth “Glowcat” Malloy had I not seen her page on Patreon. And I’m so very glad I did–if you’re a Facebook user, visit her photostream gallery or look for Glowcat on DeviantArt and click randomly around. Her work is detailed, exciting, expressive, OMG werewolves, and her occasional “must have spent weeks on it” image is on par with any of the Great Old Masters on the convention circuit.
Her newest project, recently launched on Patreon, is a steampunky story set in coastal Maine, in the tiny fictional city of Brick Port, Maine. Mainers might recognize the occasional note of Portland, once Glowcat’s home town. It may be silly, but I’m excited about a Steampunk (or steampunk-inspired) story set in the United States, the dynamic ingenuity of mythical America seems like such an obvious fit for the technological playfulness of the genre, it’s surprising we don’t have a bit more native sons and daughters of Steampunk…but I digress.
The principle characters in Glowcat’s are Victoria and Cyote, the former a tattoo artist, the second a roguish jack-of-all-trades (I’m not saying that there’s a certain amount of “drawn from reality,” here, but Glowcat’s gallery has no shortage of tattoo work. Dr. Who fans might like her TARDIS design. I don’t follow Dr. Who personally, I assume there’s not supposed to be that much blood spattered on the windows :)
The series, at least from the notes Glowcat shared with me, seems to lead with a romance between the two characters, with threads of adventure woven in. In a world where Brick Port is a mote of civilization stranded in the wilderness, and there are goblins and other magical creatures hidden in the margins, there’s adventure to spare. Victoria develops through the series, both in her relationship with Cyote and on a winding, mystical path. The world is touched by magic, with hints of a magical world soaking into ours like paint into a canvas, and the realization of that mystic otherness is one of Brick Port Dogs’ long-term plot elements. That, and trying to run a business when your partner is a coyote. Good luck with that.
On the “furry” front, the characters of BPD run a continuum, from characters like Victoria with just a touch of the inhuman, through typical anthropomorphic fangy tail-waggers, to fully animal characters, driven more by instinct than the trends in the new Sears Catalog.
The world of BPD is a blend of Steampunk, touched with just a bit of the gothic (Glowcat mentions the Mordheim game as a source of artistic influence). Her world has the usual steam-powered automatons and the unusual anthro elements, but along with the magic comes goblins and likewise critters, soothsayers and healers, and Cyote himself has some magical elements that Glowcat hints at–we’ll see how those unfold. Glowcat says she’s found a lot of inspiration in the sepia-toned world of Lackadaisy, in its aesthetic treatment and nostalgic tone–I’m not sure I see it, although Cyote’s manic grin might have escaped from that world.
Now, about the funding model. Ultimately, Glowcat’s plan is to release the series in webcomic form, an ongoing promise that’s perfect for Patreon’s sustained funding model. A dollar, or $5, or whatever a month for something that brings me joy on a Monday morning? Don’t mind if I do. However, there’s a hybrid element at work that’s unusual–at the end of the day, BPD wants to be a graphic novel, a concrete, hold-in-your-hands tome. There’s a clash of ideals there, on some level, between the soft, ongoing funding model and the more Kickstartery project launch model. Both approaches are about creating community–a microfandom on the one hand, and angels for a big release event on the other. I hope to have a chance to talk with Elizabeth down the road to see how she’s merged these two models.Artwork used in this post with the kind permission of the artist to support her project, please do not reuse.