The arcade was supposed to be safe.
At school, they were bullied, but when the bell rang, Patrick, Michael, and Paul could always count on blowing off some steam playing video games and pinball. In the small town of Autumn Hill, there wasn’t much else to do.
But then the whole town seemed to go crazy, and it was right after the new game with the weird name showed up. Suddenly the arcade wasn’t as much fun anymore. The kids became sinister and violent. Some of their classmates went missing from school or got in trouble with the law. And the bully that wouldn’t leave them alone… why did he commit suicide?
Now the parents are organizing, looking for something to blame for the danger their children are in. Can a video game really cause this much damage?
A coming of age, psychological horror tragedy set in 1986, Polybius Dreams is a loose retelling of the popular internet urban legend about the killer video game. The main focus of the comic is not the conspiracy surrounding the game, but rather the fragmentation our protagonists experience when adolescent deaths lead to social unrest in their community.
Three high school freshmen find their lives upended when the arrival of a mysterious new video game causes a sudden outbreak of violent and suicidal acts among the youth of a small town. Their world begins to unravel just as they are dealing with their recent transition to high school. Outbreaks of violence occur among people exposed to the game, and as the main characters try and make sense of the situation, they start having menacing nightmares that seem to be leading them down a very dark path. Our goal with Polybius Dreams is to create a suspenseful story with rich characters and emotional impact, but also with a fair amount of social critique, and nostalgia for arcade culture.
Why the game shows up in the town or where it comes from is a mystery. In the end the reader will have to come to their own conclusion as to what it means, but by then the lives of the protagonists will be irrevocably altered.
Chapter 1 is 32 pages, in full color. Suggested rating for the comic is "teen" for some language, violence, and spooky themes.
Patrick is an only child raised mostly by television. He’s short, and a little underdeveloped for his age. Paul is nerdy, lanky, and outspoken. Michael, the heart of the group, is heavy set and jovial. He likes to act silly in order to get a laugh. At the start of the story, they are simply trying to adjust to life in high school.
Jimmy and Jamie are the young African American siblings that own the local arcade. Jimmy is older, good at working with his hands, and wears an army jacket. Jamie is his punky younger sister, and they have a friendly relationship with the three boys. Jimmy and Jamie want to run their business in peace, without their customers becoming too rowdy, or parent's groups trying to shut them down.
The parents of our protagonists play an important role as well. Paul’s mother, Linda, is the architect of Paul’s rebellion. Paul has two younger sisters and his father is missing from the picture. Linda deals with that by drinking a little too much, getting involved at church, and working with other parents against what she sees as the malevolent forces of popular culture. Michael’s father owns the town butcher shop across the street from the arcade, and Patrick’s parents are well meaning, but they don’t pay him too much attention.
While the events of the story play out, there’s a mysterious woman hanging around town. She seems to be there in some official capacity, taking pictures of the various crime scenes, but just who she is and why she’s there is a mystery.
In bringing this to readers, we want to be sure to preserve as much of the mystery of the game as possible, but also use it to tell a personal, character driven story that everybody will find relatable. Polybius Dreams is a story that directly addresses the tragedy of adolescent suicide while also invoking themes such as the "satanic panic," and the perennial discussion of violence in gaming.
Who We Are
Ben Grisanti studied Sociology and Media at DePaul University. He has published academic work on the study of superheroes and self publishes a horror comedy comic called Insurance, for which he ran two successful Kickstarter campaigns. His background is in the study of social problems in media, and is writing Polybius Dreams with that framework in mind.
Keith Grachow has been a graphic artist for the last 20 years and has worked for Play Along Toys, on the Bruce Lee, Enter the Dragon series, and for Disney Animation as a digital ink and paint artist on the animated films Princess and the Frog (2009) and Winnie the Pooh (2011.) His print work includes a series of children’s books and the independent comic books Concrete Martians and Saltwater.
Ester Salguero is a professional colorist, layout artist, and letterer for the comic book industry. She has worked for IDW Publishing, Disney, Titan Comics, and others.
Well obviously, we’re offering the comic book. We have $5 digital copies, and two covers to choose from. We also have this super cool t-shirt designed by tattoo and comic book artist Rob Pawlewski, and a lot of prints. Prior to launching this campaign, we approached a variety of different artists to create pin-ups for us. We didn’t give them many rules, only a few of the themes and motifs we’re playing with in the core story. We have 9 pin-ups total. We’re releasing 6 of them now, and 3 will be offered as stretch goals to help us fund the entire series. You can also get all Ben’s comics and most of Keith’s print work, art lessons from Keith, and lettering and a writing workshop from Ben. We’re also offering a chance to get most of the original art from our awesome pin-ups where available, and the original Kelly Williams art from our variant cover.
All the money from this campaign will go toward paying Keith and Ester their respective page rates for completing the project, and printing all the rewards.
By the time this campaign is over, the first chapter will be pretty much done! We're giving ourselves till autumn just to be safe, but we'll probably be shipping much sooner than that. Hopefully, we'll be sending out some stretch rewards to everybody that pledged at a level that requires shipping as well. We’ll be adding more rewards as stretch goals when we reach our base goal, and we have a full 60 days to get to that.
60 days? Are you CRAZY?!
Yes, but the reason we’re doing 60 days is because this is a 4 part miniseries, and we’d like to try and fund the whole thing all in one go. Of course, that’s going to require a lot more money than what the initial goal is, but we’re confident that if we can get chapter 1 into the hands of readers, it’ll be much easier for us to fund the rest of the series at a later date.
All backers at every pledge level will get a digital copy of every chapter we’re able to fund through this campaign and be the first to be able to order any print copies as they are made available.
So if you pledge at the $5 digital level, there's a chance you could end up with the entire 120+ page 4 part series, but only if we hit our final goal. We’ll also keep you updated with process art and any new developments in the Polybius Dreams story.
We're very happy to have reached our initial goal! We're now offering the following stretch rewards for everybody pledging at a reward level that involves shipping! We have a new print from Taramarie Mitravitch, and buttons based on our logo art and one of the screen shot designs by J.B. Roe. We also have more original art for sale, and we're opening up two spots to be drawn into chapter two to help us get there!
These pin-ups are all available as mini-prints as part of the campaign. We will also feature these as a pin-up gallery with the Cover B edition of Polybius Dreams, chapter #1. All mini-prints are approximately 6”x9” in size.
Original art is available for most of our pin-ups! Assimilation, Arcade Zombies, and Illuminati Arcade are all colored digitally. Advertisement is full color, and Arcade Wasteland is grey wash.
Limited edition Kelly Williams cover!
We don't really like charging extra for a variant cover, even if it's a limited edition, so we're going to include a pin-up gallery and a behind the scenes essay that addresses our process for bringing this story to life.
T-shirts will be made available in all sizes, including female shirts, and will be screen printed. Add $30 to any pledge level to add a t-shirt!
Get the original t-shirt art, your choice of cover for the comic, and the t-shirt itself for $75!
All Our Stuff
Keith is offering all 3 of his children's books: On a Planet Named Up-In-The-Sky, What Does Slog Do?, and Above a Planet Named Up-In-The-Sky. The children’s books are co-written with Keith’s mom, Amy Grachow. He’s also offering digital PDF copies of Concrete Martians, which is a two-part retelling of the 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast that terrified people across the country. You’ll also get a copy of Saltwater, which is an alternate history story about a Mars Colony that is established in the early 1960s, and are cut off from Earth for 50 years. Concrete Martians and Saltwater are both written by Mitch Cook and published by KikaMika Comics, which you can visit by following the link below.
Ben is offering all 5 installments of his underground indie comic Insurance, which follows the exploits of claims adjuster Earl Gratz, who is the best in the business of magical and haunted artifacts. You’ll also get The Man in the Diner, a terrifying psychological horror story about a teenager who gets way more than he bargained for after interviewing a stranger on camera. In addition to these comics, you’ll get a copy of his very first attempt at writing sequential art with the super rare Plenty of Time zine, which is about a pair of astronauts who return to Earth after many years in space, only find that the planet is now depopulated. Insurance is illustrated by Mike Alvarez, with Covers by Rob Pawlewski and Nimesh Moraji. The Man in the Diner is illustrated by Rob Pawlewski, with covers by Autumn McGee. Plenty of Time is illustrated by Becka Kinzie with inks by Ben Grisanti and Brandon Pace.
Get Drawn into the Comic
We have only 4 slots available to get yourself drawn into the comic! There is one stipulation: you have to be okay with us drawing you as a teenager, even if it's awkward. Please note: the art lesson is not meant to be included in this level. It's a typo we did not catch in time, and we can't change it now! If you want the art lesson and to be drawn into the comic, we can work something out.
Art Lesson, Lettering, and Writing Workshop
For a unique reward, Keith is offering art lessons over Skype, if you’re looking to advance your digital art skills. Ben is offering lettering services if you’re an artist in need of lettering, and a writing workshop. Ben’s background in media studies means he has an uncommon perspective when it comes to crafting a comic book tale. In addition to addressing timing and cinematic storytelling, he’ll help you expose and write to the subtext of your story.
Color Pages Completed So Far...
You can read the first 17 pages of Polybius Dreams in black and white by visitng the following link.
And now, a message from Ben from a dark room somewhere in Buffalo, NY.
Risks and challenges
It’s always a challenge to get a new project off the ground. Polybius Dreams was written over the course of many years, and it’s exciting to see it come to fruition after all this time. The biggest challenge now is getting the comic made while supporting Keith and Ester, who are both professionals in their field.
There aren’t very many comics like this one. It’s a character driven psychological horror tale, which is a type of story that is underrepresented in comic books. We believe that we will find an audience, but we need your help to do so.
Please pledge and share us out on social media and help bring our project to life. Even if you’re not able to contribute now, sharing us on facebook or twitter can help us out immensely!
We're interested in cross promoting! If you want us to share your comic book related project, drop us a line!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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