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There’s currently some artwork selling on eBay for $4,420.69. At least that’s the current bid as of this writing. And although that exact figure might have been chosen as a joke (420 and 69 are always good for a laugh), a quick look at the bidding history indicates that people seem very serious about acquiring this particular piece of art.
And who could blame them? Take a look for yourself.
The sketches were created sometime around 2006 for a video game called “Zybourne Clock,” which never came to be. Its creator, according to most sources, fired the one person on the team with actual game development experience and the whole project quickly fell apart.
The team behind the game came together on the Something Awful forums. Back then, Something Awful was the go-to place online for all things geeky, satirical or, for that matter, funny. Memes like Slender man and “All Your Base” got their start on the site.
Into this world came a SA user named “Rex Meteorite”. This person’s real name, perhaps mercifully, doesn’t seem to appear on any of the few remaining sources about the game’s history. They proposed an adventure game set in a steampunk type world. At the game’s center was an object called “The Zybourne Clock”—an amazing invention that allowed one to travel through time. As descriptions and artwork of the game began to appear on the forums, they were roundly mocked, and it’s pretty easy to see why.
Here is some of the proposed dialogue from the game. In it, one character is explaining to another how time works:
Imagine four balls on the edge of a cliff.
Say a direct copy of the ball nearest the cliff is sent to the back of the line of balls and takes the place of the first ball.
The formerly first ball becomes the second, the second becomes the third, and the fourth falls off the cliff.
Time works the same way.
In short, the game was a confusing mess, and its creator posted it to the number one place on the internet where things like that were mocked.
While the majority of people might have never heard of “Zybourne Clock,” it’s the stuff of legends amongst hardcore gamers. It serves as not only the butt of jokes but also a kind of cautionary tale about the hubris of youth. Or at least one likes to suppose, the people trying to create it were young. The idea that anyone past their early twenties was behind this is too frightening a thought to even contemplate.
If you have any doubts about its reach, just know that the game makes a cameo in the hit video game “Fall Out New Vegas,” complete with Johnny Five Aces and four balls on a cliff.
Since it’s been 13 years, the team behind the would-be-game can probably look back and laugh at the whole thing. That’s why, when James Kunert-Graf, the man behind the sketches of Johnny Fives Aces and his pals, came across his original drawings when he was visiting his parents, he decided to post them to Twitter.
going through my stuff at the parents house for the holidays and holy shit, look what I found (yes I did the bad internet drawing) pic.twitter.com/cuTSmuATRy— kunert (@kunert_ebooks) December 10, 2019
Lots of ppl saying they want to buy this so here you go. Hate to part with it but I've got credit card debt. Also have student loan debt, so I'll donate a big chunk of it to Bernie too: https://t.co/hUZQX83TO6— kunert (@kunert_ebooks) December 10, 2019
And while that might seem crazy, Kunert-Graf says he’s beyond being shocked by anything having to do with Zybourne Clock.
“At this point, I don’t think anything could really surprise me about this,” he said “I was surprised at the reaction back in the day, when people drew elaborate fanart of stuff like Johnny as Napoleon crossing the Alps. But I’ve spent the last 13 years randomly stumbling upon people bringing up the Zybourne Clock on a semi-regular basis. The sheer magnitude of the reaction is surprising, but I’m not surprised that people still have a connection to it.”
If you have a spare $4,700.69 sitting around (the minimum bid at this point), there are still five days left in the auction.
David Britton is a writer and comedian based in Rhinebeck, New York who focuses on internet culture, memes, and viral news stories. He also writes for the Hard Times and is the creator of StoriesAboutWizards.com.