When he launched his new 14-day Kickstarter project on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at 7 PM ET, Sgt. Rock – The Lost Battalion writer-artist and Shi creator Billy Tucci had a modest financial goal ‒ $1,500 ‒ and a loftier, more idealistic, simultaneous goal ‒ fire another shot in the battle for creator rights and use the battle to raise money for a veterans’ charity he supports. It seems like he’s scoring on both fronts.

The funding he was seeking arrived in the first eight minutes. He doubled his goal well under two hours in. 

As we update this article, less than 36 hours after the launch, he’s well over 400% of his initial goal and still going.

The more it brings in, Tucci told Scoop, the more the charity gets.

The project was created to introduce his new project, American Crusade Apparel.

The first piece in Tucci’s new clothing line features his original artwork “Airborne Salute.” The launch party was held at Best Comics, 1300 Jericho Turnpike, New Hyde Park, New York, from 6 PM to 9 PM on Wednesday night.

The genesis of the American Crusade Apparel comes from adversity.

In January an overseas company began selling pirated hooded sweatshirts displaying “Airborne Salute” without Tucci’s permission on their fake Facebook page “Paratroopers Is Life.” 

Apparently based out of China and with bogus Texas and California addresses and phone numbers, “Paratroopers Is Life” even went as far as purposely removing Tucci’s signature from the art. After successfully, legally thwarting the site’s efforts, it became clear that the best way to protect the Eisner Award nominee’s intellectual property rights was to feature his art on his own line of clothing.

American Crusade Apparel is the result. “Our limited edition ‘Airborne Salute’ All Over printed hoodies and T-shirts are 100% American made,” Tucci said. “In addition, we’re also offering prints, phone cases and more all manufactured in the USA by veteran-owned companies.”

“Salute” depicts a war-painted member of “The Filthy 13” (101st Airborne) leaping to battle fascism that fateful night before D-Day (June 6, 1944). The piece first served as the cover for Currahee!, the memoir of decorated WWII paratrooper Sgt. Donald R. Burgett.

Sgt. Burgett was Tucci’s personal hero and friend, who passed away last year, making the theft of the artwork even more painful to the artist. But Tucci was adamant about turning such a negative experience into something positive. To that end, for this project he’s teamed up with Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet-Tix) to raise funds and spread awareness for the national non-profit.

A portion of all sales after expenses are covered will be donated to Vet-Tix for their efforts to partner with major sports teams, promoters, organizations, venues, and ticket holders to provide free and discounted tickets to the more than 21 million U.S. military members and veterans.

“Working with Vet-Tix helped us facilitate the production, while we offered them a venue to raise money for all the amazing work they do to honor our veterans and current military,” Tucci said, “and now with them by our side, we embark on this great crusade to reclaim our artwork and to remember those sky soldiers who leapt into a fiery night and helped save the world.”

The top of the line and comfortable hoodies and t-shirts are made in the US and feature the VET TIX Logo centered on the back. Apparel is athletic cut in sizes of small to XXXL.

Rewards also include an Airborne Salute Vet Tix Airborne Appreciation pin; 9” x 12” Airborne Salute print; Airborne Salute Challenge coin with paratrooper on A-side and Vet Tix Airborne logo on B-side; protective phone case for all popular models of smartphones; and discounted “Filthy 13” special pledge level for 13 hoodies/t-shirts.

Another rewards level is the “Hoodie For A Hero” special opportunity to purchase a hoodie for our active Military Servicemembers. The hoodies will be forwarded to our troops both home and on deployment in gratitude of all those who keep us free and safe.