Thanks, Xeric Foundation!
Applying to this grant was a huge Hail Mary pass. I had planned to apply for the Xeric in a few grant cycles, once the full project was complete, to propose to print a single, unified, fancy book edition of the story that contains the tale from beginning to end. A friend casually mentioned in January that the Xeric is shifting its focus away from support to individual artists and towards larger charitable organizations, and the final deadline was fast approaching (at the end of February, when I was deep in the heart of crazy illustration). I decided to throw a long pass and try, assuming that a) a lot of other people would submit fractured projects since it's the last grant, and b) judging by the intimidatingly high quality of previous winners' projects, mine would be passed over, or at best appreciated by one of the judges who might send me a personal, supportive rejection letter. It will be a good exercise in grant writing, I told myself.
But no! ISS got a grant! This means that Volumes 1 & 2, in their current incarnations with hand-printed covers, will be joined into one larger edition for high-volume printing (fewer precious hand-made pieces, so cheaper ticket price!) and significantly broader (/national) distribution, assuming everything goes to plan. This is huge! It also shifts the planned production for the remaining books, but that is a problem to worry about another day. For now, since I've finished doing tiny dances of celebration, and after next weekend's comic expo here in Chicago (more on that soon!), I'll work in illustrating a new cover and working with Salsedo Press on a new mega-edition.
High fives all around!