by Elyse Russell & Dany Rivera

A clockwork android named Kyra, completely assured of her place in the world, is becoming riddled in self-doubt and burdened with questions of her own identity.

SENTIENCE, an American light novel, is a 13 chapter mix of prose and comic art (containing approx. 20 illustrations including some sequential art) that is ready to shatter the boundaries of the medium.

For fans of: Ex Machina, Mortal Engines, Pinocchio, The Princess Bride, The Dark Tower Series, Monstress, Claymore


supported of $4,000



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Sentience Digital

PDF of SENTIENCE, PDFs of art print set and Dany Rivera’s cover, plus get your name listed in the ba...




Sentience Physical Edition

Physical copy of SENTIENCE, 6”x9”, approx. 150 pages, contains approx. 20 illustrations including so...




The Full Bard

➊ Physical copy of SENTIENCE ➋ PROSPECTS #1, 2, & 3 ➌ FINAL GAMBLE #1 (Retail Cover) ➍ Digital copy...




Digital Full Bard





Sentience Physical Edition & Giclee Art Print

Physical copy of SENTIENCE, hand numbered 11x17 Gicleé Art Print by Dany Rivera, comes with a digita...




Sentience Retailer Package

5 physical copies of SENTIENCE, Promo poster, Additional BOB Swag for your customers, Shop info list...




Tip Jar

If you want to add a little something extra for us hard workin' creators and administrators. You can...


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




Additional physical copy of SENTIENCE

Add another copy at a reduced rate!





2”x9”, 14 pt. cardstock high UV gloss coating, printed on front & back




SENTIENCE “Automaton Spellbook”

3.5" x 5.5" Softcover Pocket Notebook by Denik (US Only)




SENTIENCE Sticker Sheet

4" x 6" sticker sheet, includes stickers of Archibald the mantis, clockwork skull design (same as pi...




SENTIENCE Skull and Gears 1” Glow-in-the-Dark Enamel Pin

Glow in the dark enamel Pin by Dead Hours (US Only)




Band of Bards Logo Sticker (SENTIENCE/Archibald Design)

Holographic vinyl, 5" Sticker design by Dead Hours. PREMIUM printed eye catching sticker!




SENTIENCE 5x7 Art Print Set

4 prints, writer/artist front/back combo




SENTIENCE 11x17 Gicleé Art Print by Dany Rivera

Hand-numbered, US Only


6 / 10


SENTIENCE get drawn-in as background character!

Limit 10


1 / 7


SENTIENCE Soul Vial Necklace

Handmade by Author Elyse Russell, Limit 7




Band of Bards Logo Sticker (The Standard)

Main logo sticker




Band of Bards Logo Sticker Pack

4 designs - Standard, Final Gamble, Prospects, and SENTIENCE. Four for the price of Three!




Band of Bards Screen Printed Tee-Shirt (The Standard)

US only




Band of Bards Screen Printed Tee-Shirt (ANFO)

US only




Band of Bards Tim’s Secret Stash

Tim will pull and send you a comic from his personal collection! US only




Small Art Pack

➊ SENTIENCE Bookmark ➋ SENTIENCE sticker sheet ➌ SENTIENCE Skull and Gears Enamel Pin by Dead Hours...




Large Art Pack

➊ SENTIENCE Bookmark ➋ SENTIENCE sticker sheet ➌ SENTIENCE Skull and Gears Enamel Pin by Dead Hours...



Tessienne, the Sorceress Mother, is a master necromancer whose obsession with bringing her daughter Kyra back from the dead is matched only by her heartless determination to maintain her monopoly on Soul Energy. A powerful source of dark magic, Soul Energy harvesting is a black art Tessienne has perfected and ruthlessly guards. Employing an army of assassins to keep would-be competitors in line has been effective but requires constant attention. The Sorceress Mother seeks a more efficient method of maintaining monopoly. Her answer is an intersection of Soul Energy harvesting, dark magics, advanced android tech, and her obsessive need to bring back Kyra, the only being she ever loved.


A clockwork android named Kyra, completely assured of her place in the world, is becoming riddled in self-doubt and burdened with questions of her own identity. A humanoid assassin performing on behalf of her Sorceress Mother, harvesting the energy of human souls. Manipulated all her life, Kyra is forced to undertake her mother's twisted orders, until she falls in love. Forced to make a choice between loyalty to her abusive mother, or to her own heart, Kyra must learn how to reclaim her identity and forge her own path in life. Nobody, especially Kyra herself, knows what will happen as she gains SENTIENCE.


Elyse Russell has conjured up a fantastical world and a story that takes us on a journey of gaining sentience, discovering free will, and having to grapple with the dilemmas of what to do with that freedom. It’s a savage existence, but that doesn’t mean we won’t encounter love, we’ll just have to spill a lot of guts to get to the heart. 


American light novel, what is that? It’s our take on the traditional Japanese format that is popular among young adults. Roughly 150 pages, but with a supersized helping of art. We’re doubling the standard number of illustrations to around 20, and including some sequential art. Standing uniquely on its own, SENTIENCE is a bold move for a wider audience.


Click here to download a FREE PREVIEW of the book's Prologue


This is a scene from chapter 1, a caravan of legged wagons about to be ambushed. Watch for more of these illustrations to be unveiled during the campaign.


Some examples of interior pages with art


Here's an early cover mock-up, some sketches and fashion designs highlighting the work going into bringing the story and its characters to life:


Watch the cover of SENTIENCE come to life in this time lapse video!



From Publisher

SENTIENCE is the first American Light Novel from Band of Bards, and the first title of Elyse Russell’s that we’ll be publishing in 2022! We’re still a new independent publisher but that won’t stop us from expanding what we offer! Formed in March of 2021 in Buffalo, NY we support Creator-Owned IP, and are committed to publishing stories with a focus on Representation, Inclusion, and Diversity. (You can read more about our mission here.)


The all female team of creators helmed by Elyse Russell are no strangers to prose, comics, or the like. Dany Rivera is a tremendous talent who is about to break-out and become a household name, while editorial veterans Nicole D’Andria and Damon Barret Roe close the gap bringing their abilities and knowledge of the written word to the forefront. 


Ultimately without our friends, fans, and this amazing community we could never have gotten as far as we have. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for supporting this idea, and thank you in advance for helping to make our first go-round with ZOOP a resounding success!


Elyse Russell is a writer of short stories and graphic novels. She has works published/accepted with: Quill & Crow, Crone Girl's Press, HyphenPunk, Mermaids Monthly, Outcast Press, and more. When not writing, Elyse enjoys drawing, reading, taking naps with her cats, and ingesting copious amounts of cheese.

Visit her website at and follow her on Twitter @ElyseRussell13  (BraveLittleTeapot). 


Dany Rivera is a Mexican comic artist, newly graduated from art school. She's been into art since she was a kid, and plans to make her way in comics and, someday, animation design. Dany also enjoys spending time with her best doggo, Dorotea, as well as surfing and reading. Sentience will be her first (but certainly not last) large project with both Band of Bards and Elyse Russell. Visit her website at Follow her on Twitter: @Dany_Comics  (Daniela Rivera)


Damon Barret Roe is the pen name for a 30-something writer obsessed with all things horrific and fantastic. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology that—in true millennial fashion—she has no intention of using. Instead, she hopes to make a successful career out of building worlds, writing poetry, and spreading heebie-jeebies. She is the Assistant Editor for Quill & Crow Publishing House and the lead on its gothic lit e-zine, The Crow's Quill. She co-edited and -curated the anthology, Eros & Thanatos: An Anthology of Death & Desire. She also has an editing credit in the anthology, Grimm & Dread, and her poetry was published in Crow Calls Volume 3. Her first short horror story appears in Haunted: A Crow Showcase. Damon is Latin American but was raised all over the world in a multicultural home. She channels this upbringing and her queer orientation into her writing, focusing on themes of equality and oppression. She is querying her novel, the first installment in her original dark fantasy series, Moonborne


Twitter, Instagram, TikTok: @moonbornewriter 


Nicole D’Andria is the creator/writer of Road Trip to Hell, her first creator-owned project! She adapted Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir and Peter David's Artful to comics. She works as a freelance comic editor for Scout Comics (Impossible Jones), Tapas Media (Comedown Machine), and Band of Bards (Reluctant Hero). Nicole also writes comic book news stories for Screen Rant and coordinates a series of interviews showcasing crowdfunding creators for Comic Frontline. Learn more at


“​​It's a woman-centric Pinocchio, elevated through nuance and a Geppetto so traumatized by loss that he (now she) has become as cold and methodical as the automatons she experiments on.”

- Comic Book Yeti


"Haunting prose, twisted imagination, and a lead who's anything but a hero make this sci-fi horror light novel stand out!"

- Robyn Singer (Author, Final Gamble) on Elyse Russell and her light novel, SENTIENCE:


"Both Dany and myself are convinced that we were meant to meet and work together. We messaged each other in the exact same hour from two different websites, and everything has been smooth sailing ever since. We just plain clicked. Working with Dany is, honestly, one of my favorite things on the planet. We've become friends, too: we read (smutty) books together, tell jokes, and talk about life. Dany always picks up what I'm putting down, and then makes it BETTER."

- Elyse Russell on building a relationship and working with artist Dany Rivera:

Stretch Goals

$5,000 - Double print run & a sticker sheet for every backer.


$6,000 - Begin funding FELL WITCH, the next title from Elyse Russell & Dany Rivera.


$10,000 - Creator bonus and a free digital copy of FELL WITCH for each backer of SENTIENCE!



Prologue, Chapter 1, and 25% of artwork completed on launch. 

April 11 - May 13: Campaign

June 30: Final editing completed

July 31: Entire work completed and sent to printer

August 31: Fulfillment completed (with BoB fulfilling domestic US orders and Buy Small Press fulfilling international orders)


We love backing crowdfunding campaigns too, and we know there's nothing worse than when our rewards arrive damaged. We're going to make sure that your stuff arrives as safely as possible so all comics will be individually bagged with backing boards, and packed neatly into Gemini Comic Supply Flash Mailers.  


We have two successful campaigns under our belt as Band of Bards, but as with anything, there are risks and things may not go exactly according to plan. While we are experienced with managing teams, there still could be situations that are unavoidable and may cause delays in production. This is our third crowdfunding campaign at Band of Bards, and we will continue to strive toward doing our best to run this campaign as smoothly as possible.

Frequently asked questions

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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!