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

26 claimed

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


Sentience Physical Edition

79 claimed

Physical copy of SENTIENCE, 6”x9”, approx. 150 pages, contains approx. 20 illustrations including some sequential art, comes with a digital copy, and get your name listed in the back of the book!


The Full Bard

2 claimed

➊ Physical copy of SENTIENCE ➋ PROSPECTS #1, 2, & 3 ➌ FINAL GAMBLE #1 (Retail Cover) ➍ Digital copy of each of the above issues ➎ BoB logo sticker bundle (FG, Prospects, SENTIENCE, Standard)


Digital Full Bard

1 claimed



Sentience Physical Edition & Giclee Art Print

1 claimed

Physical copy of SENTIENCE, hand numbered 11x17 Gicleé Art Print by Dany Rivera, comes with a digital copy, and get your name listed in the back of the book! US only


Sentience Retailer Package

2 claimed

5 physical copies of SENTIENCE, Promo poster, Additional BOB Swag for your customers, Shop info listed on BoB website, and Shop listed in the back of the book!


Tip Jar

14 claimed

If you want to add a little something extra for us hard workin' creators and administrators. You can increase in increments of $1 by simply pressing '+' in the quantity field during checkout until you reach your desired amount. Much appreciated!


Add ons are only available once you have selected at least one Primary Reward listed above.


Additional physical copy of SENTIENCE

6 claimed

Add another copy at a reduced rate!



4 claimed

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


SENTIENCE “Automaton Spellbook”

3 claimed

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


SENTIENCE Sticker Sheet

1 claimed

4" x 6" sticker sheet, includes stickers of Archibald the mantis, clockwork skull design (same as pin), Soul Energy vial & SENTIENCE logo


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

3 claimed

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

ITEM_sticker_BOB LOGO_Mantis2


Band of Bards Logo Sticker (SENTIENCE/Archibald Design)

2 claimed

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


SENTIENCE get drawn-in as background character!

6 / 10 claimed

Limit 10

Necklaces copy


SENTIENCE Soul Vial Necklace

1 / 7 claimed

Handmade by Author Elyse Russell, Limit 7


Band of Bards Logo Sticker (The Standard)

1 claimed

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)

2 claimed

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

1 claimed

➊ SENTIENCE Bookmark ➋ SENTIENCE sticker sheet ➌ SENTIENCE Skull and Gears Enamel Pin by Dead Hours ➍ Band of Bards Logo Sticker (SENTIENCE/Archibald Design by Dead Hours)


Large Art Pack

1 claimed

➊ SENTIENCE Bookmark ➋ SENTIENCE sticker sheet ➌ SENTIENCE Skull and Gears Enamel Pin by Dead Hours ➍ Band of Bards Logo Sticker (SENTIENCE/Archibald Design by Dead Hours) ➎ SENTIENCE “Automaton Spellbook” (3.5" x 5.5" Softcover Pocket Notebook by Denik) ➏ SENTIENCE 5X7 art print set writer/artist front/back combo (4 prints)



Honorary Bard

4 / 4 claimed

➊ Print copy of Sentience signed by creator Elyse Russell ➋ Sentience bookmark ➌ Sentience sticker sheet ➍ Exclusive Invite to every Band of Bards Annual Meeting ➎ Exclusive Band of Bards Honorary Bard die-cut logo sticker ➏ Choice of BoB logo or ANFO t-shirt ➐ Pitch Consult with Band of Bards ➑ Write a guest blog on the BardBlog ➒ Tim’s Secret Stash



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.


2022-05-03 05:35:35

Chapter 1 is complete!


SENTIENCE is almost funded! A nice spot to start the week for sure. This is also a week of more big reveals. Chapter 1 is complete and Comic Book Yeti has an exclusive review coming later in the week. Once that is up we’ll also have the full Chapter 1 available for free on GlobalComix. Honestly, if you read the Prologue and Chapter 1 on GC and still aren’t convinced to back this awesome title I don’t know what you’re waiting for.


With some more material in hand I’ll also be reaching out to select retailers over the next 10 days. The best way to reach lots of readers is through retailers. The fun thing with SENTIENCE is that we’re able to reach out to indie book stores too. Local Comic Shops are special to us and they’ll always receive exceptional service from BoB. It’s just fun to get to branch out into a new literary circle and expand the Comics Doing Good ethos to new retailers and new fans. While I have my list of shops to contact I’m always happy to learn about new shops. So if you have a favorite local comic or book shop you think SENTIENCE would look great in let me know. Better yet, let them know. Nothing gets a shop’s attention like a customer standing in front of them making a request.


Thank you to all who’ve been so wonderfully supporting us in this campaign!



2022-04-30 17:33:34

Elyse Russell on why she writes


When I decided to get into writing comics, I knew that there was one thing that would be most important for me to focus on: Women's issues.


Bringing topics surrounding the lives of women, particularly those that aren't discussed as much, is always at the forefront of my mind. SENTIENCE highlights many female relationships (since almost the entire cast of characters is female), but the most important one focuses on the toxicity between an abusive/manipulative mother and a daughter trying to figure out how to deal with it.


THE FELL WITCH centers around post-partum depression, which, though it's being talked about more, still doesn't get enough attention, ESPECIALLY in comics.


Female friendship/sisterhood also features heavily in SENTIENCE. Kyra and her sister-android, One, have a relationship fraught with rivalry, secrets, and poor communication. There aren't enough mothers in comics, if you ask me. SENTIENCE sheds a light on a less-than-perfect mother/daughter relationship, THE FELL WITCH shows a new mom fighting depression to get to her baby, and BRUNHILDA AND THE HEX WITCH features a warrior mom with 15 kids.


SENTIENCE doesn't just feature women on the page; the entire creative team behind it is female, as well, and two of the four of us are Latina. I want to always make an effort to bring female and minority voices into comics, and this is forefront when I assemble teams. In short, if you'd like to support women in comics, both on and off the page, come check out SENTIENCE. We're running out of time to make this happen, and we need your help!

2022-04-19 18:58:15

A Few Adjustments

Tim Stolinski

We took a hard look at Week 1 of the campaign over this past weekend. Some things stuck out. Chief among them was that people appeared to be balking at the price after the Early Bird offer expired. While we all believed the prices we set were fair and reasonable for this work, the reality is that if it was a barrier it needed to change. So we knocked $2 off both the digital and physical copies in the main tier of rewards. Anyone who backed after the Early Bird expired will have their pledges adjusted to reflect the current reduced price when the campaign concludes. We also reduced the price on our 4 logo sticker pack down to $12, you get 4 stickers for the price of 3. Some more details on the oversized BoB logo with Archibald the mantis were also added in. It’s a $5 sticker and we wanted everyone to see just how premium of an item it is as a 5”x5” holographic vinyl sticker.


You may have also noticed that we reduced our funding goal. Kind of a bold move, so let me explain. Early on in our discussions with Zoop it was made very clear to us that some things could be changed after launch. This helped with pre-launch anxiety as it took a lot of the guessing game out of play. We knew that if we were a little off on anything it wouldn’t kill the campaign. I think that’s a strength of Zoop as a platform. It also made me a little overly aggressive in our budgeting. 


That’s on me and nobody else. The reduction in our overall funding goal reflects a more conservative initial print run. The upside is that reducing our initial goal has also helped to bring our stretch goals into focus. So we are now running with an initial goal of $4,000. Our first stretch goal at $5,000 doubles our print run (with BoB paying some cost out of pocket). Second stretch goal kicks in at $6,000 and will help us get a start on funding FELL WITCH, the next title from Elyse & Dany. The third stretch goal kicks in at $10,000 and will be a straight creator bonus PLUS a free digital copy of FELL WITCH to every backer of SENTIENCE!


Keeping things simple when you can is pretty important for a funding campaign. We prefer to roll with funding goals that do not add complexity and help drive more comic production. Speaking of production, Chapter 1 should finish up this week. We’ll be sharing some more artwork from that chapter, and everyone’s favorite Yeti will have an exclusive preview of Chapter 1 to share with you shortly.


#ComicsDoingGood "

2022-04-12 16:32:49

Great start for our American light novel!

Tim Stolinski

What a thrilling first day to kick off the SENTIENCE campaign on Zoop! We hit 51
backers in the first 24 hours and are at 26% of our funding goal. That’s a strong start and a clear
sign that the American light novel is something in demand from comics fans and traditional
prose readers alike.

We have to thank everyone who showed up on Day 1 to back the campaign and help
spread the word. It takes a village to crowdfund a book. Band of Bards has spent much time and
effort on building our fanbase and expanding our reach, but that will always have its limitations.
Word of mouth (or Tweet) is always the best endorsement any project can hope for. So thank
you to all of yinz who’ve had our backs. BoB & Sentience’s creative team are incredibly grateful.
Looking to the next few days we want to continue to build upon the early momentum. So
please continue sharing on all your social medias. If you have friends you think would be
interested in this steampunk/dark fantasy/sci-fi adventure please tell them about it. If you have a
local comic shop or book store you feel would be interested in SENTIENCE, please let them
know about it (we have a retailer only package for them).

If anyone has questions about the campaign, the story, or the items on offer just hit us up
on the old Twitter dot com and we’re happy to answer anything about SENTIENCE!




Does Zoop save my credit card info?

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.

What does Zoop use for checkout and when would my credit card be charged?

We use Stripe for checkout because it is VERY secure. They exceed industry security standards and are trusted by thousands of companies, including Amazon, Lyft, Slack, Shopify, and Airbnb, who use Stripe's software tools to accept payments. Their interface is pre-made by them and we don't have the ability to augment it in any way. Once there, you have 15 minutes to complete the transaction by hitting the 'SAVE CARD' button. Stripe then holds the credit card info until the end of the campaign. You won’t actually be charged unless the campaign reaches the funding goal. The pre-order amount will show as 'pending' on your credit card statement until that date. If the campaign doesn't fund, your pre-order will be canceled, and the pending charge will disappear. You'll get an email confirmation with a summary of rewards and charges both after the initial pledge and after the actual charging of the card (try looking in your spam folder if you don't happen to see it in your inbox). 



How do I cancel a transaction?

You can either access the transaction through your account and click the cancel button, or contact us at 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.

Any other questions/ comments?

Please e-mail us at and we'll get right back to you!

If I got a reward that requires some feedback from me, how do I let you know my request?

You could e-mail us at 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.

Do you ship to my country?

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

Where can I find your shipping rates?

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.

If I purchase rewards and then want to make changes to that purchase later on in the campaign, what is the process?

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.

Will there be a post-campaign period where you can make changes and get add-ons through a 'pledge manager'?

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!

What's the idea behind the Rewards and Add-Ons? Can I get both?

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.

Can I get more than 1 item?

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.