The following was sent in a March 5 email to Cal Catholic by Matt Lickona, writer for the San Diego Reader and author of Swimming with Scapulars.

The idea
If man was born to suffer as the sparks fly upward, just imagine what it’s like for a devil.

Bat Out Of Hell imagines life in the Inferno as a slightly darker version of life on earth. Sure, everybody’s doomed to suffer endlessly, but within the ranks of the damned, you’ve still got your haves and your have nots, your lordly tormentors and your grumbling, exploited underclass. Bat is very much among the latter, but he’d do just about anything to change that.

The trouble is, he’s not very good at his job, namely, ensnaring human souls and leading them down that broad and easy path to perdition. Maybe it’s because God hates him. Maybe it’s because he’s not quite bad enough to be a good devil. Maybe it’s because, even among the those who have lost paradise, he’s still creation’s biggest loser. But whatever the reason, things never quite go Bat’s way. Which is not to say he won’t keep trying — he’s got all eternity to get it right.

What we’re trying to do is produce the pilot episode of what we hope will be at least a 10-episode series set in the freaky world depicted by the Netherlandish painter Hieronymus Bosch. A world full of corruption and indulgence, angels and devils, torture and torment, sin and (just maybe) salvation.

The tidbits above hopefully give you some idea of what we’re about. Below, you can find the opening minutes of the pilot. Thanks for your time! Let’s raise a little hell! Also a lot of money!

Imagine this. Forever.

The title song
Everyone has always wanted to do a Tom Waits impression. Well, at least I did. Jesus shrugged.

The opening
If you’re curious, and would like to see the show’s opening act, you can check it out at

The team
Hieronymus Bosch — Muse, character designer, and background artist. I have loved Bosch’s art — without exactly realizing it — ever since I read George Jonsen’s 1977 children’s book, Favorite Tales of Monsters and Trolls. Illustrator John O’Brien’s work in that book has been referred to as “Bosch for babies,” and there’s one bird-man in particular who might pass as Bat’s first cousin.

Encountering Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights on a college dorm-room wall felt like a discovery and a return to childhood at the same time.

I had an interesting college experience.

By the time his Last Judgement showed up at my local free art museum, I realized something was up. Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson tells a story about trying to come up with an idea for a project after his film The Frighteners. “We just kept thinking, saying, ‘Well, it’s got to be like Lord of the Rings,’ or, ‘It should be just like that, but like Lord of the Rings‘… After a few days of doing this, we thought, ‘Well, why don’t we find out about Lord of the Rings?'” That’s kind of how I feel about using Bosch to tell Bat’s story. It’s not like I’m going to improve on his vision of hell, so why not just go with it?

I can’t top this bottom.

Mark Lickona — Animation director and editor (plus voice work). Mark is my brother and longtime collaborator. He’s also written for animation: fourteen episodes of the Chaotic series that aired as part of 4KidsTV on Fox, then later on The CW4Kids, Disney XD, and finally, Cartoon Network. Also the creator of, among other things, the Frankeneinstein series of animated shorts. Check them out here.

William Wilson — Sound engineer. William is a classical guitarist extraordinaire who also happens to make apps and run a recording studio. And he composed and performed the music for the title song below (with a little help from trumpeter Tim O’Neill).

Finian Lickona — Music-maker. Finian is my stupidly talented first born. He wrote and produced the theme music in that opening video, as well as most of the other music you’ll hear in the opening scenes. Just now, he’s working on a prep guide for the math portion of the SAT.

Matthew Lickona — Creator and writer (plus voice work). I’m a staff writer and film critic for The San Diego Reader, a weekly newspaper. The less said about me, the better. Suffice it to say that Bat has my sympathies.

The funds
We’re asking for $25,000 to produce our roughly 23-minute pilot episode. My collaborators have already done a good deal of work gratis to produce the show’s opening minutes. Here’s what it will cost to finish: $12,000 to Mark for animation, $2,000 to William for sound work, $1,000 to Finian for additional music, $2500 to Kickstarter and the money-transfer people. The remaining $7500 will go toward building a website to host and sell the show (plus future episodes!), paying the voice actors, obtaining higher-res images where possible, and fulfilling rewards.

Plus I hear there’s gonna be hell to pay…