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Almost Real: A Speculative Biology Zine (Vol. 5 • Mythology)

by Jay Eaton & Hye Mardikian

Legends new and old come to life in Almost Real’s fifth mythological volume, powered by our contributors’ speculative imaginations.

Get this latest volume or catch up on all 5 at a special bundled price -- they're all here!


supported of $18,000



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Let the mythos come to life with Volume 5's DRM-Free PDF! This also gets you a name of your choosing...





The ~70 page softcover zine: 8.5x11" and full color with a paired PDF to boot!





Unleash the world of the Tarrasque! Select this tier to not only get the zine and the digital PDF, b...





Get the zine and the digital PDF, the 11x17" Tarrasque insert poster by Mar Spragge and Puzzled Jay...





Get the zine and the digital PDF, the 11x17" Tarrasque insert poster by Mar Spragge and Puzzled Jay...





Legendary treasures await! This tier gets you the full bundle of Volume 5's campaign rewards! NOTE:...





Transmute Almost Real into PDF form! This tier is purely digital rewards, getting you all five publi...





Just want the books themselves? Never fear! This tier gets you the base library of softcover zines w...





"✨ FOR RETAIL/LITERARY VENDORS ONLY ✨ 5 copies of the Almost Real Vol. 5 Zine (with the Tarrasque...




Ye Olde Tippe Jar

If you want to add a little something extra - you can increase in increments of $1 by simply pressin...


These items are only available once you have selected at least one primary Reward listed above.




Vol. 5 Tarrasque Poster Insert

Extra 11x17" print of the "Tarrasque" Poster Insert by Mar Spragge and Puzzled Jay Productions! This...




Vol. 5 Griffin Enamel Pin

Extras of the 2.5", antinque gold Vol. 5 antique gold enamel pin! This item is campaign-exclusive an...




Vol. 5 Iron-on Woven Patch

Extras of the Vol. 5 iron-on woven patch! This item is campaign-exclusive and won't be reproduced!




Almost Real Vol. 1 Softcover and Digital PDF

Vol. 1 softcover and paired digital PDF! 13 artists blend the fantastical with the scientific in a 6...




Almost Real Vol. 2 Softcover and Digital PDF

Vol. 2 softcover and paired digital PDF! Take off into the world of speculative biology with Almost...




Almost Real Vol. 3 Softcover and Digital PDF

Vol. 3 softcover and paired digital PDF! Dive into worlds of imagination with the Almost Real zine s...




Almost Real Vol. 4 Softcover and Digital PDF

Vol. 4 softcover and paired digital PDF! Powered by Biotechnology, and inspired by the imaginations...



Five years ago, development began on Almost Real’s first volume— bringing artists together for a collaborative project in the world of speculative biology. Since then, we’ve taken to the skies with Volume 2, explored the depths in Volume 3, and crafted biotechnological wonders in Volume 4. 

Five years later, Almost Real is taking a look at the mythological as inspiration for the biological

Welcome to Almost Real: A Speculative Biology Zine (Vol. 5: MYTHOLOGY!)



Imagined in 2017 and first successfully crowdfunded in 2018, the Almost Real: A Speculative Biology Zine series is an annual publication with a unique collection of contributors per-issue, and managed by co-editors Jay Eaton and Hye Mardikian. Inspired by colorful informational books of old like Zoobooks and interactive encyclopedia illustrations, this 8.5x11”, full-color magazine will be sure to delight all ages, as well as inspire those looking to ground fantastical creature designs in the scientific world of spec bio. 



With our previous issues’ themes like Flight, Aquatics, and Biotechnology, Almost Real has had the honor of collaborating with dozens of incredible creators, and also bringing together a treasured multitude of readers that’s powered and funded the Almost Real series for half a decade.


For our fifth volume, we’re exploring legends new and old alike with a theme of ✨Mythology!✨ 



Our 15 contributors are putting unique spins on familiar legends; they’ll let you hunt for cryptids, share mythos from alien worlds that hits close to the human heart, and might even introduce you to some brand new mythos to sink your speculative teeth into. With 12 entries (and a special back spread dedicated to our poster critter), you’re sure to feel inspired from these fantastical features.



• Laura Wilson (twitter: @LauraMakesArt)

Why Zoop?

We’re glad you asked; especially considering we funded our first four volumes on Kickstarter! Zoop.gg is a platform that specializes in comics and graphic novel crowdfunding— built by people familiar with book-related, direct-to-consumer fulfillment, and handled by those who specialized in comics outreach. Almost Real’s contributor roster is also a unique blend of comic artists, illustrators, writers, and academics that carry a love for the natural world around them that inspired their entries; alongside a myriad of other internal, non-crypto-supporting reasons, we saw Zoop would be a wonderful new home for the zine we’ve worked on for half a decade.



Zoop will also be able to provide more accurate shipping charges and reward pledge fulfillment for our backers to avoid the fulfillment problems we ran into last campaign— pandemic guidelines and current world shipping restrictions/delays aside. We’re stoked to have been accepted onto the platform, and there’s no speculation on our ends that Zoop’s customer service has been stellar for us so far!

Our Budget


We’ve had to update our base goal thanks to shipping rate changes and inflation, but our funding allocations have mostly stayed the same! Our three main chunks are dedicated to shipping, artist payment, and then printing the zine itself, so there’s not much of an update in this realm as we bring Volume 5 to life.  



What you came here for! At the usual size of 8.5x11” printed on a durable internal/external stock, Volume 5’s 70+ pages are available as a softcover magazine, or as a specially-formatted and DRM-free PDF. Every pledge at a selected tier gets your own custom name on the Special Thanks pages, too!



Check out Zoop’s unique "Add-ons" feature to build your pledge with extra copies, side rewards, older volumes, and more! 🦄✨


For purchasing previous copies individually or acquiring them in advance of our projected Summer/Fall 2022 fulfillment for Vol. 5, visit Fortuna Media's store here for physical or digital editions of Volume 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Combining the incredible, collaborative imaginations of Mar Spragge and Puzzled Jay Productions, our poster artist team has brought a family of TARRASQUES  life on our 11x17” insert poster!



You’ll also find this piece inside the zine with some signature Almost Real exposition about this funky family of fellas, but pledge at our appropriate levels to take in the whole poster! 


Our singleton, high-reward tier of “ILLUMINATED BEASTS” will snag one amazing backer the original 12x18” watercolor painting, mailed directly from the artists with utmost care (and utmost thanks for your support)!


Following the unique pin per-issue tradition for Almost Real, we’re back at it again— featuring our cover critter, the golden marsupial griffin! 

Screenprinting, diestruck gold, AND an epoxy coat: what’s more regal than a shining example of speculative mythos? This’ll be one of our larger pins, and with plenty of detail you won’t wanna miss! 

That’s right, we’re bringing back an iron-on patch as a side reward! But what makes this one a bit more special, you might ask?



Inspired by marginalia critters and other heraldic beast artwork, this beefy woven patch with golden spot thread will be a gorgeous addition to any accessory that could use a little extra shine!

Stretch Goals

Tango and Swing are ready to prove or debunk these myths with your help! How far can we drive our funding up the historical arch into the griffin revealing their secrets?

With every issue of Almost Real, this book wouldn’t exist without the incredible creativity and hard work of our contributors. Therefore, we want to make sure they’re the first and best funded by our budgetary ability, and your further support will only help expand their speculative visions.


Our first stretch goal at $20,500 increases our artists' payments by an extra bonus!  UPDATE MAY 22 | REACHED!

Our second stretch goal at $25,000 increases our artists' payments by an extra bonus!  UPDATE May 26 | REACHED!


(If we break our last goal, all subsequent stretch goals after $28,000 will go directly into bonuses for our artists in multiples of $3k, so support us to raise that bar for artist payment! This section will be updated as the campaign both progresses and we break future stretch goals.)

Want to see our critters leap off Volume 5’s pages? Our guest artist stretch goal has you covered! 


At $22,000, guest artist Little Tunny (@itslittletunny) will illustrate a 8.5x11" sticker sheet and be included for free in all tiers at "CONFOUNDING CREATURES" and up, featuring unique designs and of our 3rd volume's creatures and critters! UPDATE MAY 24 | REACHED!


Printed on waterproof matte vinyl, this sticker sheet will come complimentary starting at and above the “CONFOUNDING CREATURES” tier (or any tier that has the label of "this tier is available for stretch goal add-ons"!)


Another complimentary manuscript has revealed itself from the archives! 

At $28,000, our woven patch artwork will be printed onto a sturdy 6x9” gold foil print, included for free in all tiers at "CONFOUNDING CREATURES" and up! UPDATE MAY 31 | REACHED!


Printed on heavy duty card stock and embellished with gorgeous gold foil touches like its smaller patch cousin, this print will come free with any tier at “CONFOUNDING CREATURES” and up (or any tier that has the label of "this tier is available for stretch goal add-ons"!)

The Editors

Ye olde editors Jay and Hye back at it again! Mind the administrative “headaches.”


Jay Eaton (biological editor, contributor, chief series director & artist) has been harassing worms and pillbugs, wondering how organisms work and why, and using science to twist existing creatures into troubling new forms since childhood. Many years later, they continue to draw made up animals and harass bugs, but professionally this time. Their comics and world-building projects focus on hard science fiction and fantasy, with an emphasis on complex, immersive settings. Find more of their work on their blog, twitter, or website. 


Hye Mardikian (@explodinghye, book designer & editor, project business administrator), is a 29 year old queer Armenian graphic designer, editor, and business/technical administrator in the PNW who talks way too much about Star Trek between typesetting and worldbuilding writing. Server by day and Fortuna Media EIC by night, their Seattle-based micropress began with TABULA IDEM and continues with Almost Real— still seeking to create cohesive, collaborative works that give worthy frames to the beauty found in the art that graces those pages. Find more of their work at explodinghye.com

Special Thanks

• To our contributors, from both Hye and Jay: we thank you for being with us during a pre-production that took unexpected twists and turns, we’re delighted by the incredible critters you’ve put clear amounts of love and work into, and we’re so excited to show the world what you’ve brought to life!

• To the coastal Salish peoples and their lands where Fortuna Media’s editors operate out of and live on (specifically the Duwamish Tribe where Seattle is and its leaders have never recognized): we acknowledge we’re here where your lands and peoples are without permission and colonialist invasion. We urge our backers on Zoop to be aware of the plights of erasure the Salish/Duwamish face regarding climate change and cultural assimilation, and we hope you support them through any and all means possible by action and advocacy.

• To our former backers from Volumes 1 all the way to 4: thanks for helping us in our move to Zoop (we wish we could get y’all pizza)! We hope you enjoy this newest installation in a series we’re humbled has been able to go on for five years, and we can only strive to do better with each campaign. 

• To the spec bio community: thank you as well for helping germinate and inspire the idea for Almost Real in the first place. May you continue to create and invent life as vast as the worlds and sciences you tackle.

• To Iron Spike of Iron Circus Comics, for originally creating the artist bonus model that began on Kickstarter!

• Iris Jay (@irisjaycomics), for creating our ever-wonderful crowdfunding campaign videos and trademarking “Almost Real!”. Forsooth: find more of her work here!

• Always, for Liam Willow Rain Brueggerhoff (1994-2017).


We've learned a lot from our last campaign's shipping/UI hurdles, and we're thankfully able to streamline our future fulfillment process with help from Zoop's platform and shipping program updates on our ends! While books are set to begin printing in late June and continue on for the proceeding weeks, all the zine's internal artwork is ready to go, the editors putting on the finishing touches while this campaign is live. Barring any extra finishing touches we might need to make, side tier manufacturing, and possible production/shipping delays, we expect fulfillment begin in August at the latest, and peeter into the beginnings of fall.

Frequently asked questions

Yes! We encourage you to get more than 1 item! That could be multiple copies of the same reward, or you can mix and match rewards! There is no limit, unless otherwise stated in the reward description.

Our campaigns are for a worldwide audience unless stated otherwise in the campaign. All international orders are sold with the terms DAP (Delivered At Place). You are responsible for any duties and taxes required for the shipment's entry into your country. Our carriers may require you to pay taxes and fees related to importation and customs brokerage of your shipment -- but if your item is really low in value, it may fall under the customs de minimis of most countries. For more information, please contact USPS

Zoop does not store or keep your credit card info. Stripe simply holds the credit card info until the end of a successful campaign and then charges it. It is strictly for this one time use and won't charge it ever again.

You can either access the transaction through your account and click the cancel button, or contact us at hello@wearezoop.com and we'll cancel it for you and send back a confirmation email.


Cancellations of rewards or add-ons of $500 or more must be made before there are 72 hours left in the campaign. The reason for this is it can have a negative effect on the tally of the campaign. If it is a limited reward or add-on, there may not be sufficient time for someone else to purchase it, leaving the campaign possibly not funded. We ask for your courtesy of the people running the campaign when making these decisions.

Please use the notes section in the last checkout step or you could e-mail us at hello@wearezoop.com with that info during the campaign if you'd like to get it out of the way. Otherwise, we'll be reaching out to all supporters of rewards that require feedback shortly after the campaign is over.

If you want to make changes, you should first cancel your original order and then start over with a new one. If you don't do that and simply process an additional order, the way our system is currently set up you may end up being overcharged for shipping -- which we could remedy for you, but it just takes that extra step of catching it and crediting you back the extra shipping, so please try the prior way first.

Rewards are the priority items that the creators have chosen for the campaign. Add-Ons are meant to be secondary items that are 'unlocked' after you buy something from the Reward level. There are no restrictions on buying Rewards, but you can only buy Add-Ons if you've bought a Reward. Zoop sets this up under the direction of the creators. Some may choose to only have Rewards, some may choose an even balance of Rewards and Add-Ons, and others may choose to only have one or two Rewards with the rest of the items being Add-Ons.

Since we have an a la carte rewards system, shipping rates will vary from supporter to supporter. We use a weight-based calculation system in your checkout cart, though, so, after you enter your country, you'll be able to see it calculated in real time with each item you add.

No - this is it! We're essentially your in-campaign pledge manager. If you are interested in supporting these creators, this is the time to do it!  And it's the exact reason we allow you to purchase as many rewards as you want during the campaign!