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AU Daydreamers ‘Billieve’ in comic’s, season’s successful future
7/21/11

Daydream Billievers Dan Napolitano and daughter Sophie

Daydream Billievers Dan Napolitano and daughter Sophie

In May, NFL.com posted an article featuring an Associated Press photograph of Dan Napolitano and his daughter, Sophie, dressed in pajama costumes at a Buffalo Bills game last season. In the photo, Sophie holds a LOWLY BUT LOYAL sign, demonstrating the mentality of the Daydream Billievers, an Alfred University Buffalo Bills fan group and comic strip Napolitano created.

"The strip really isn’t about football, it is really all about what that sign said - laughing at being lowly, (in any aspect of life) but remaining loyal," says Napolitano, AU director of Student Activities.

The idea for the Daydream Billievers came to Napolitano during a conversation on a previous trip to a Bills game. Knowing about other fan groups and Bills fans sometimes using the term "Billiever," Napolitano purchased pajama costumes to convey fans dreaming of winning and dubbed the group "the Daydream Billievers."

"I just have these crazy ideas," says Napolitano. "It’s fun to watch something develop into a legitimate program."

Napolitano says the future plans for the Daydream Billievers include having the comic featured weekly on the fan-site BuffaLowDown.com beginning Aug. 1, attending all this season’s games, and finding ways to increase involvement in community outreach and service. He also says he would like the group to develop more of a parking-lot presence at games, where fans could pose for photos with the group or buy the "Billievers" comic book.

In 2010, Napolitano, along with Alfred student Zach Grosser, AU class of 2011, launched a daily comic strip in the Hornell (NY) Evening Tribune. They maintain the comic’s characters represent the enthusiastic, cynical and depressing aspects of Bills fandom. Napolitano and Grosser published a book, "The Daydream Billievers: Season One (Volume 1)," featuring the comic’s first season in December 2010, making the collection available in the campus bookstore and on Amazon.com.

"People who liked the comics in the paper had asked if we were going to publish them because they thought it would be a good gift either for their father or their brothers," says Napolitano.

Despite the NFL lockout, the comic’s 2011 season moves forward. Grosser says Napolitano comes up with the comics’ ideas, draws, and writes. Grosser prepares the comic for release by taking the scanned versions of the drawings and translates them digitally, cleans them up, and digitizes the text and color.

"Usually I tie the story into traveling to away games or mocking a visiting team," says Napolitano. He says upcoming storylines include rookie Marcell Dareus, the characters dealing with the lockout, and his 9-year-old son, who has absolutely no interest in football or contact sports.

"The Daydream Billievers comic to me is a really fun creative outlet," says Grosser. "I get to collaborate with some of the best people and I don’t think there is anything more fulfilling than making other people laugh."

Grosser says the group brought him new experiences.

"I never had followed most sports before, but when Dan was just running the Daydream Billievers fan group that went up to Ralph Wilson Stadium, I joined in and started following the Buffalo Bills."
Grosser says he would like to see more feedback from the Bills themselves.

"I would love to see the Buffalo Bills recognize us more, either helping to support us as a true fan group, or even buy a large number of our Season One book to send to their dedicated fans," says Grosser. "Down the road I would love it if we kept making comics, had at least a few more seasons worth of novels, and had a strong following both through the strip and at games."

Grosser says passion and pride make the group successful.

"I think between Dan Napolitano and our fans, we are driven by passion," says Grosser. "Bills’ fans as a whole are about community pride and spirit and I think we embody that well."

Napolitano ’93, ’98, began rooting for the Bills as an Alfred art student during the years of the team’s four Super Bowl appearances. He witnessed the fans’ loyalty, despite the team losing each time.
Napolitano and students began wearing the "Billiever" costumes to games in 2009.

"Every student that’s gone with us always had a fun time," says Napolitano. He notices the group consistently attracts attention.

"People love us or people mock us," says Napolitano. "People want to pose for pictures or call us Waldo and make fun of us."

Napolitano says the groups represents Alfred University’s identity and enhances the game experience.

"People who get the quirky spirit of Alfred dig us," says Napolitano. "It takes the attention away from the importance of winning or losing at a Bills game. It’s goofy fun."