This Saturday, September 19th, my show "RollBots" premieres in the USA on the CW4Kids. This is where things get serious, so I'm going to try and inject a little silly. And I need your help. Yes, you.
What is RollBots?
It's many things. On the surface, it's a Saturday morning cartoon not unlike classic Transformers, with little robot spheres that do battle with each other. Canadian kids have been watching it since February, and they love it (I have hundreds of parents' emails to prove it). But on a deeper level, it's also mini-geekery in action. I like to think of it as Battlestar Galactica Jr... there's a series arc with a complex mythology that I hope will help train kids to see beyond "Monster of the Week", and hope for something better.
What's this challenge?
I'll be honest: even though my books do reasonably well, I earn more writing a single episode of RollBots than I have from The Vector. My TV habit funds the rest of what I do. If RollBots does well in the US, I will get to do another season, and I will have more time and resources to make things like The Pig and the Box and TorrentBoy. If not, my ability to make Creative Commons-licensed goodness will be severely limited.
What I'm asking of you is this: please watch my show. If you have kids, plonk them down in front of the TV to watch it. If your kids have friends, tell them too. If you don't have children of your own, buy some (no, not really). Tell everyone you can that RollBots is on TV this Saturday, and it's gonna be great!
I know some of you don't know me and couldn't care less about me, so I've made a list of reasons RollBots is worth supporting. It's aimed at Internet folk and geeks, but the rest of you can read it too...
- I wrote The Pig and the Box, which Cory Doctorow and Richard Stallman praised for highlighting the evils of DRM;
- I have a mid-400,000 Slashdot userid. In one episode, a character shouts: "First post!", and another says "Ha! You fail it!";
- I created a whole new language and alphabet for the show, and it's actually used;
- One episode is called "The Do Right Module", about special mod chips that prevent the heroes from doing lawful things;
- Two of the Tensai (geekbots) are called Zilla and Bug;
- Another episode is called "The Pirate Bay";
- A pair of episodes near the end of the season are "The Cathedral" and "The Bazaar";
- The main road in the city is the RMS. Others are the PHP and the CFM;
- There is a mythology to the series that goes back 1,000 years, and it connects to the series itself;
- It's old-school action/adventure like we used to watch when we were kids. Things move fast, smack into each other and explode;
- It promotes the philosophies and ideals of the free culture and open source movements from broadcast TV.
So what's the pay off?
Beyond the fact that you'll get to spend 30 minutes of happy time this Saturday, there's another benefit I'll throw into the pot. The average ratings for a show on the CW4Kids in our time slot is 0.5/4. I want to improve on that if I can. So I will bribe you (collectively). Here's how it'll work...
- If we hit 0.5/4, I will release my next book, Typhoon, for free on the web, under a Creative Commons ShareAlike Noncommercial license;
- If we hit 0.9/5, I'll release Typhoon under a Creative Commons ShareAlike license (so you can resell it if you like). I will also donate 25% of my first episode scripting fee (for a hopeful season 2) to the EFF;
- If we hit 1.1/5, I'll release Typhoon under a Creative Commons 0 license, which means it's public domain. I will also donate 50% of my first episode scripting fee (for a hopeful season 2) to the EFF;
- If we hit anything above that, I will CC0 Typhoon and donate 100% of my first episode scripting fee to the EFF.
Just for context: Typhoon is a sci-fi action novel about near-future asteroid pirates and the dangerous politics of defying a government-sanctioned monopoly. The outline for the book has already drawn serious interest in turning it into a TV series of its own, so believe me when I say that CCo-ing this sucker is a big deal for me. And for further context, a script for an episode of RollBots is worth a bit less than $10,000. So that's a decent-sized donation to the EFF, no matter how you slice it.
What's to do?
Watch the show, obviously. Write about this challenge, twitter it, post it on Facebook... all the usual stuff. I realize Nielsen families don't grow on trees, but if enough people are chatting about RollBots, we're bound to bump into some of them. Every last bit helps.
I'm not asking for money, and I don't expect miracles... and I realize it's presumptuous to ask for your passionate support of a show you've never seen before... but if nothing else, I want you all to know that while most Saturday morning cartoons look stupid, like they're created by committee trying to squeeze pennies from toddlers... this show, this time, is made by a true Internet geek, and he needs your help.
You may now commence the flaming.