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Comic book collides with augmented reality to tell a twisted sci-fi story

Modern Polaxis tells the story of a paranoid time traveller, and the secrets of his book can only be accessed via augmented reality.

Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET

Digital comics offer some fantastic benefits, but it's fair to say that the format has only scratched the surface of its potential. Although it makes carrying around an entire library of funnybooks a lot more convenient, and features such as ComiXology's Guided View offers a different reading experience, there's definitely a lot more to be explored.

Modern Polaxis, currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, is using augmented reality to craft a new way of reading comics. Created by Australian interactive designer and illustrator Stu Campbell, AKA Sutu -- whose previous work includes interactive comic Nawlz and outback space opera Neomad, a collaboration with the indigenous community in Roebourne, Western Australia -- it combines a physical comic with an app to reveal secret layers hidden within the pages.

The eponymous Modern Polaxis is a time-traveller, and the spiral-bound book takes the form of his private journal, where he logs his daily adventures. However, Polaxis is a paranoid man -- and he hides his delusions and conspiracy theories in the journal beneath a layer of augmented reality, which can only be accessed via a smartphone app. But how reliable a narrator is Polaxis?

"Polaxis believes the world we live in is a projection from another plane in the universe. This projection is known as Intafrag and is patrolled by Intafrag agents. The agents monitor glitches and pursue time travelling fugitives. Polaxis believes he is one of these fugitives. He can't quite prove any of this because he was pretty wasted the last time he time travelled, but either way he is certain the Intafrag agents are after him," Sutu wrote.

"The story follows Polaxis from a boring office job in Brisbane (Australia) to a house party in Montreal to the Amazon jungles of Peru. He travels the globe evading the Intafrag agents. He must hurry, for if the fabric of our reality is merely a flickering light, what happens when someone flicks the switch off?"

Each and every one of the books' 40-plus pages will feature audiovisual content that can be accessed via the Polaxis iOS app, created using the Boomcore AR technology created by Sutu and interactive designer Lukasz Karluk. You can check out what it looks like by downloading the app and pointing it at the image below.


The comic itself is being offered as a downloadable PDF for a minimum pledge of AU$20, and as a spiral-bound notebook for AU$30. Head over to the Modern Polaxis Kickstarter page for more info and to pledge your support.