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A novel about comic books, nostalgia, and the nature of reality. Illustrated by eight standout artists!
A novel about comic books, nostalgia, and the nature of reality. Illustrated by eight standout artists!
A novel about comic books, nostalgia, and the nature of reality. Illustrated by eight standout artists!
97 backers pledged $5,973 to help bring this project to life.

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Four Color Bleed

$5,973

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Ralph Rogers was the darling of the comic book industry, a teenage artist who’d taken the world by storm. He had it all, until a high-profile scandal left him in disgrace. Years later, his reputation in tatters, Ralph has fallen into an obsession with the legendary lost comics of Pithos Publishing—a shadowy company that vanished into the fog of time. As he uncovers the mystery of Pithos, the curtain unravels between his own mundane life and a fantastic version of reality. Ralph suddenly has everything he’s ever wanted: He’s a celebrity, a beloved artist, and he’s been reunited with the girl of his dreams. But soon this new paradigm turns deadly, and Ralph must fight for his life in a land where the impossible is commonplace, where caped heroes rule the sky, and where the villainous Ocularist will stop at nothing to conquer the world.

Four Color Bleed is my second novel. After the success of my horror-thriller Monsters All the Way Down, I wanted to write another book every bit as weird but more fun. Four Color Bleed is everything I love about heroes in capes, metafiction, and the wild world of comic books. Whether you’ve just discovered comics or have loved them for decades, you’ll find something special in this story.

The book is already written, and the response from beta readers has been overwhelming. This is not a tiny book—it currently clocks in at 400 pages—but every reader has raved about how fast they read it and how much fun they had along the way.

There are fantastic comic-inspired novels out there, but they all lack two things: consequences and scope. You can’t kill off a beloved character in a licensed novel, and you can’t shake things up, not really. I set out to transform a world, and the way you do that in a world of Anomalous heroes and villains is a major crossover event—only this time, it’s in the form of a novel. If you enjoy all those comic book movies, just imagine the story you could tell if you had an unlimited budget, no pesky character rights to get in the way, and total creative freedom. That’s Four Color Bleed.

You can preview the first fifty-two pages here!

After working in my career for 10 years, I realized it wasn’t where I wanted to be. These days I take care of my two fantastic kids full time. Being a stay-at-home dad where I live is unusual enough to land me on the cover of a local magazine and on the nightly news.

I do freelance writing on the side, which gels well with my parenting responsibilities, and I write fiction. I type away after everyone is asleep and on weekends because it’s something I love to do. Four Color Bleed is a labor of love created over a three-year period, written mostly on Sundays while my wife wrangled the kids. She's the best, and I guarantee this book wouldn't exist without her help.

If you'd like to hear more about me and my work, please sign up for my newsletter. You'll receive a free short story every month, along with access to an archive of past stories.

I knew a book like this would need illustrations, so I’ve lined up eight incredible artists to bring the world of Four Color Bleed to life. My book will be filled with fictional Who’s Who entries about the characters, and each one will feature an illustration.

Sample art by Rian Gonzales, who will illustrate Rika Mizuno, a technical genius with a mecha robot.

Sample art by Weshoyot Alvitre, who will illustrate Songweaver, a sorceress who alters reality with music.

Sample art by Ben Zmith, who will illustrate Jack Spratt, a stretchy hero from the 1960s.

Sample art by Adam Prosser, who drew Titania for the cover. He’ll also illustrate Mr. Stiff, a skull-faced pulp hero.

Sample art by Kevin Kelly, who will illustrate Meta Man, the star of a fictional comic book by our protagonist, Ralph Rogers.

Sample art by Morgan Perry, aka Geauxta, who will illustrate Titania, a second-generation hero trying to live up to the original.

Sample art by Ben Cohen, who will illustrate Danny Drastic, a ray gun-wielding hero from the future—and the past.

Sample art by Chris "Chance!" Brown, who will illustrate Ironworks, the heroic metal man with a tortured past.

There’s more to this project than fantastic artists. Rory Harnden, who did the cover for my first book, has knocked it out of the park once again. Phillip Gessert will layout the interior for print and digital, and he’ll be crafting some of his fantastic drop caps. I’m excited to have Jonathan Baker, formerly of W.W. Norton, editing and proofreading the text. The author photo is by Dustin Taylor, who must be pretty talented if he could make me look good. With a team like this, we can’t lose.

If we meet our initial fundraising goal, here are the extra rewards we can unlock together.

Unlocked: Digital Short story minicollection, containing four short stories by Ryan McSwain, all set in the fluid realities of Four Color Bleed.

Unlocked: An original digital wallpaper by Ben Zmith, featuring cute lil’ versions of Four Color Bleed’s four main characters!

$6,000: The digital short story collection will now contain eight stories!

$6,500: A postcard featuring the color version of Rian Gonzales’s illustration for the book!

$7,500: A postcard featuring the color version of Weshoyot Alvitre’s illustration for the book!

If we can beat these numbers, we’ll add additional illustrations to the novel. After that, who knows? So let's shoot for the moon and make this happen!

If you’ve read this far and are still not convinced, check out this free preview. It’s the first 52 pages of Four Color Bleed. This is not the final version, but it will give you a feel for my writing style, introduce the four main characters, and whet your appetite for more. I’m confident you’ll come right back and help make this dream the consensus reality.

You can pledge any amount to receive a thanks in the back of the book. Best of all, we have pledge levels for softcover and digital copies. Anyone who pledges at Solo Book: Digital or above will receive all unlocked stretch goals.

There are even pledge levels with my horror-thriller Monsters All the Way Down. Currently at 4.6 stars on Amazon with twenty-four reviews, Monsters is my blend of Philip K. Dick’s mind-bending paranoia and H. P. Lovecraft’s cosmic horror. If you like your books scary or weird, I bet you'll enjoy it.

NOTE: Both Pithos Pal-Up levels now include a digital copy of Monsters All the Way Down.

Need extra copies? If you'd like more than one copy of Four Color Bleed, increase your pledge for $20 per copy. For additional copies of Monsters, add $15 per copy.

If you'd like to go further, pledge at the Summer Crossover Event level to receive both books and the opportunity to name a character in Four Color Bleed. The character will have a speaking role, and there are plenty of interesting folks to choose from, including heroes and villains. As an added bonus, anyone pledging at this level will receive a full sneak preview of the book to help them choose their character.

With the Summer Crossover Event sold out, check out Pithos Presents. You receive everything from Solo Copy: Softcover, with the addition of an short story written by Ryan McSwain, complete with custom cover. You choose the subject!

Risks and challenges

This is my second time to publish a book, but my first adventure raising funds through Kickstarter. I'm also leading a team of over a dozen people, which feels ambitious.

But the book is written, which is the hardest part, and I have plenty of leadership experience. With your help, I'm confident I can bring my novel to life.

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Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    The Artie Simek Level

    Help make this book a reality and receive a thanks in the back pages of Four Color Bleed.

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Solo Book: Digital

    Receive a DRM-free digital copy of Four Color Bleed and a thanks in the back pages of the book. You'll also get any unlocked stretch goals!

    Digital copies available in ePub and Kindle formats.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    Pithos Pal-Up: Digital

    Receive DRM-free digital copies of Four Color Bleed and Monsters All the Way Down, along with a thanks in the back pages of Four Color Bleed. You'll also get any unlocked stretch goals!

    Digital copies available in ePub and Kindle versions.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Solo Book: Softcover

    Receive a softcover copy of Four Color Bleed and a thanks in the back pages of the book. You'll also get any unlocked stretch goals!

    Bonus: You'll also receive a digital copy or the book, available in ePub and Kindle versions.

    Free shipping in the United States.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    Pithos Pal-Up: Softcover

    Receive softcover copies of Four Color Bleed and Monsters All the Way Down, along with a thanks in the back pages of Four Color Bleed. You'll also get any unlocked stretch goals!

    Bonus: You'll also receive a digital copy of Four Color Bleed, available in ePub and Kindle versions.

    Free shipping in the United States.

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    Pledge $120 or more About $120

    Pithos Presents!

    Receive everything from the Solo Book: Softcover pledge level, plus Ryan McSwain will write you an original short story on the subject of your choosing. The story will be around 2,000 words long and come with an original cover. You can keep it for yourself, or share it with the McSwain Monthly Missive mailing list. It’s up to you!

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Summer Crossover Event!

    Receive a softcover and a digital copy of Four Color Bleed, along with the opportunity to give a supporting character your name or a name of your choosing, subject to author approval. You will have a variety of characters with speaking roles to choose from, including heroes and villains.

    In order to choose a character, you will also receive access to the beta version of Four Color Bleed months before the final version is published. We'll even throw in a softcover of Monsters All the Way Down and any stretch goals.

    Free shipping to anywhere.

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Funding period

- (31 days)