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A Redtail's Dream

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A Redtail's Dream (link to aRTD) (aRTD) is the "practice comic" Minna Sundberg made and published during her studies at Aalto university so as to verify her readiness to go public with the long-term project of SSSS.

Cast and Plot Edit

ARTDcast

Ville (in his normal form of a Finnish Spitz), Hannu, and Puppy-Fox (left to right) on the back cover of the aRTD book

The main characters of aRTD are the 24-year-old Finn Hannu Viitanen and his dog Ville, aged 5. Hannu, being less than a social person, takes a walk into the surrounding woods while the village of Hokanniemi prepares for the Midwinter festivities. In the meantime, Puppy-Fox, one of the spirit animals of Finnish mythology, has a mishap above the village with the auroras he's been tasked to maintain that night. As a result, the soul of everyone still in the village when the spill happened is whisked away to the spiritual plane, where the birds following The Birds' Path pick them up and carry them toward Tuonela - that is, the afterlife.

Puppy-Fox is able to create temporary pockets of "dream worlds" for the souls to stay in, but isn't quite able to intervene himself and transfer the souls back to the real world to undo the effects of his blooper. However, finding the souls of Hannu and Ville still on the spirit plane "near" the village, he realizes that he can send them to help cover up his mistake - an option he's routinely happy to take, rather than facing retribution.

SealVille

Hannu and Ville, who can actually talk to each other on the spiritual plane, get sent to one dream world after the other, with a standard task of helping the leading human therein complete a (usually nonsensical) task and then handing him a talisman that triggers the return of all humans within the dream world to reality (where Puppy-Fox has set up sort of a stasis zone to keep them from realizing that something's amiss and not a dream). Ville's body keeps partly morphing into that of another animal everytime they enter a dream world, usually matching another spirit animal that has entered before them to assist and advise the humans trapped therein.

[WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD]

HumanVille

After retrieving the last humans from Tuonela itself, Puppy-Fox reveals that Hannus real body received a neck injury during the initial event that is bound to kill him, and returns only Ville (in his original dog form) to reality. Kokko, who has gotten wise to Puppy-Fox's attempts to sweep everything under the rug, intervenes, fixes the bodily damage, and creates a last dream world herself for Hannu to get saved out of by a Ville in partly human form. After that succeded, Hannu and Ville finally return to reality - both in human form.

Related Finnish Mythology Edit

The story of aRTD is heavily based on Finnish mythology, in particular, the Kalevala and the concepts of the Finnish linnunrata ("Bird's Path", i.e., the Milky Way) and the Karelian sielulintu.

Feature Introduction Edit

Not all of the features known from the SSSS and the later aRTD online pages were introduced right away. The first page to have an author's comment was number 140 (link to aRTD), the comments section appeared first on page 201 (link to aRTD), using IntenseDebate's system; TopWebComics and vote baits were already present before page 140.

aRTD never had a forum or a wiki dedicated to it, but in the June of 2013 - concurrent to the beginning of chapter seven -, its TV Tropes page was created.

The aRTD Book Edit

ARTDbook

Front cover (mock-up) of the aRTD book

After the comic completed online, the author decided to give crowdfunding a try to finance a print run and started a campaign on Indiegogo - which raised more than five times the funding needed to have the print run happen.

The comic needed (link to SSSS) some (link to SSSS) editing because it hadn't been made with issuing a printed version in mind from the get-go, and the fan base got invited to proofread the pages' texts while Minna worked on the imagery. In early December 2013, the electronic master was sent to Otava Book Printing Ltd, and 2,000 books were delivered to the Sundberg family home in early February 2014.

After sending out approximately 1,200 books claimed during the Indiegogo campaign, about 750 books were left to be sold later on, with Minna opening an online shop for a brief period. The last 50 books "in mint condition" were put up for sale in the morning of 11-Feb-2015 (link to SSSS) - and were sold out within two hours (probably a lot less).

Minna originally did not plan to have a second print run. As of now, a number of damaged / returned books remains, which Minna pondered to sell "way later once I have the time, possibly after the SSSS books are printed and shipped." However, seeing how fast the last ones got sold and how many commenters still wanted one, she re-edited the announcement (link to SSSS) to say that

I might print a second edition eventually (maybe change the back of the cover a bit to keep the first edition visibly special) but that'd be at least a couple of years from now. Perhaps like a 5- year anniversary edition or something?

As usual for Indiegogo campaigns, contributors could directly request perks for the money they pledged, and as the total sum climbed beyond the minimum amount, it unlocked stretch goals.

Available Perks Edit

The campaign offered a total of thirteen perks to select from.

ARTDperks

Overview of Perks

Note that the perks do not unambiguously translate to the number of books claimed, as there was the possibility to reassign the amount pledged for initially-selected perks (or pledged without choosing a perk, or pledged beyond the nominal amount of a perk) to a different selection of perks during the fulfilment phase (which was run through Backerkit). In particular, there was no matching perk (amount) to add more books to a shipment within the Nordics (reduced shipping costs).

Frustrating Fox level
(US$ 15, 19 claimed) included the PDF version of the book (comic + extras).
Hopeless Human level
(US$ 20, 98 claimed) included PDFs of the book and the minicomics.
Darling Doggy level
(US$ 35, 29 claimed) included both PDFs and a pack of postcards showing Villes various forms. (Note postcards-related stretch goal below.)
Northern Start[sic!] special level
(US$ 75, 127 claimed) was used either for the Squirrel level to be shipped within the Nordics, or to add a book to an non-Nordic shipment.
Scornful Squirrel level
(US$ 90, 319 claimed) included both PDFs, an (unaltered) copy of the book, and shipping to anywhere outside the Nordics.
Sleepy Snake level
(US$ 105, 298 claimed) added a signed and numbered bookplate to the Squirrel level.
Sensitive Seal level
(US$ 110, 40 claimed) added the postcard pack to the Squirrel level.
Majestic Moose level
(US$ 125, 149 claimed) added the postcard pack to the Snake level.
Bumbling Bear level
(US$ 150, 124 claimed) added an inked drawing of Ville, in whatever form requested and on the bookplate, to the Snake level.
Hostile Hare level
(US$ 170, 93 claimed) added the postcard pack to the Bear level.
Supreme Swan Level
(US$ 250, 16 claimed) added a separate, black and white drawing of Ville to the Hare level, in a form chosen by the contributor.
Kokko level
(US$ 450, 2 claimed) added a separate, black and white drawing of Hannu and Ville to the Hare level.
The Bird's Path Level
(US$ 600, 16 claimed) added a separate color painting of Hannu and Ville to the Hare level.

Several upgrade possibilities, in particular the possibility to upgrade the bookplate drawing to feature two characters, were announced and made available during the campaign.

Stretch Goals Edit

All twelve stretch goals that have been announced - most of them during the campaign - have been met, expanding the book etc. as follows:

ARTDstretch

The Stretch Goals

  • The design of the book was extended to include printed endpapers, silver foiling and embossing on the covers, a red marker, and have an epi-epilogue added.
  • The series of originally two minicomics was extended to four.
  • The postcard pack grew from five to nine cards.
  • Last not least, the funding allowed Minna to start publishing SSSS at the rate of four pages a week while the printing was en route, and five per week thereafter, instead of the original plan of three per week.

Book Contents Edit

The book is © Minna Sundberg 2014 (first printing), and has been assigned ISBN 978-91-637-4627-7.

A good while before the print drive started, the question whether the book should be printed as a single volume, or as two books, was put to public discussion (link to aRTD). There was a majority in favor of the single-book version.

In addition to the stretch goals mentioned above, the content is as follows (entries of the book's own table of contents in boldface):

Dedication 1 Chapter 8 531
Imprint 2 Afterword 574
Table of contents 4 Bonus Content 576
Foreword 5 Various Sketches 577
Prologue 8 Mythology Guide 582
Chapter 1 35 Character Bios 586
Chapter 2 59 Name Pronunciation Guide 589
Chapter 3 89 Fanart Contest Results 590
Chapter 4 153 Poem: Tuonelan joutsenen tuho
(The Fall of the Swan of Tuonela)
598
Chapter 5 287 The Drawing Process 600
Chapter 6 407 Desktop Backgrounds 602
Chapter 7 457 Author Bio 608

The Extras Edit

Note that the minicomics were provided only as PDFs.

ARTDPostcards

The diamond-shaped bookplate would usually be glued into the book on the left-hand page opposite of page 1 (with the printed dedication). Signature and number go on a dividing line a little below the center, and the part below shows a picture of Kokko minding her fellow birds on The Bird's Path. The ink drawing, if any, fills the upper half of the bookplate.

The postcard pack, extended to nine cards per the stretch goals, show Ville in his dog, squirrel, snake, seal, moose, bear, hare, swan, and [Spoiler: (with Hannu, and Puppy-Fox hiding in the brush) human] form, respectively. The scenes depicted aren't taken from the comic, and the cards use a much brighter-colored palette than it.
A protective envelope adorned with a Hannunvaakuna on the front and another scene [Spoiler: with Hannu, human!Ville and a hiding Puppy-Fox] on the back is provided as well.

The two already-existing How Hannu met Ville and Easter Special minicomics were complemented with two more showing how Hannu earned himself the title of a member of the Graveyard Vandals, and of Hannus and Villes visit to the Pet Store. All four minicomics (and the donation wallpapers) are still available from the aRTD store (link to aRTD).

Relation Between aRTD and SSSS Edit

In the SSSS prologue, the radio moderator Esko and his colleague, who appeared in the prologue and epilogue of aRTD as well, make another appearance. This is explicitly said to be merely a cameo and not indicative of continuity between the two stories.

Both stories are based on a Finland, resp. Nordic countries, of more or less current times; aRTD has its protagonists take a round trip through the mythological world from there, while SSSS moves through 90 years of apocalypse aftermath during the prologue to arrive in the actual setting of the story.

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