Electric Dreams

A Dream Comic Art Review

Stan Kulikowski 

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Kulikowski, Stan (1995 July 28). A Dream Comic Art Review.. Electric Dreams 2(9). Retrieved July 31, 2000 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams  

_the sandman_ was neil gaiman's breakthrough into the big time comic publications. now he virtually controls a major chunk of the trade as a subsidiary of DC (one of the big two with Marvel). although i buy maybe $100 in comics every month, i was never much taken with the early _sandman_ series. i would buy one occasionally but never enough to continue the stories until this last one "the kindly ones". i liked the manner in which the main characters interact with the dream characters who have developed a nice sense of depth. i will probably trace that series backwards now to see when they started getting good. perhaps i just missed the value in the writing earlier-- i will see. the new story "the wake" is on the stands right now, it picks up with the death of the dreamlord, most of his supernatural family coming together with some mortals. meanwhile the new dreamlord is reestablishing the dreaming after its near destruction. if you are interested you can pick them up as trade journals. instead of collecting each issue individually like i do, they put out the entire story under one cover like a graphic novel. i see them fairly often in the comic shops. that is probably how i will bracktrack that series to see where it got good.

i have some credentials as a comic artist myself-- even been published a couple times in local publications. i have thought about producing some of my more general audience style dreams into panel art, but the amount of work always seems prohibitive. first, i believe we would need to start with a dreamlog as the surest method of capturing the dream, then use that as a script for the panel expressions. i don't think it would be very meaningful unless the cartoon artist was the dreamer to get some visual authenticity in the image work. most cartoonists i have known produce personal works which they don't publish and some of them naturally contain dream material. the problem i see in doing dream material in panel art as a general continuing form is the great amount of work it takes to capture the visual elements in a coherent sequence.

remember when you first started a dreamlog? there is a language barrier which has to be overcome in getting dream memories into linguistic form for preservation. i think this is some cognitive effect that our normal language production system usually does not originate from the memory where dreams are stored or produced. it seems to take some effort initially to develop the language needed to speak about dreams, even though the final language is just like our everyday language when we have dreamlogging set up as an on going activity. once we develop the linguistic channels out of dreamland into text, we seem to become more fluent in it and it becomes easier. less struggling to get some half-remembered fragment of dream memory into an expressible phrase.

the problem i see in panel art for that process is that cartooning is very slow and labor intensive activity. sure, we have the advantage of going from image to drawing directly, but the effort in composing the drawing is many times greater than the similar effort in framing dream into speech stream. most people who sleep together tell their dreams in the morning. few would get up and draw them. comics are a special combination of words and drawings which tell a story together in a manner which either alone cannot do as well. i am afraid that on trying to layout a dream sequence like a comic, it would take so long that the heart of the dream would be lost... or the cartoonist would spend all day at the drawing table after rolling out of bed. it really seems to me the best sequence will be dream -> dreamlog -> comic with the language element imposing its order before the visual elements get to drawing.

i have thought about putting the 'breaking up is hard' dream (see electric dreams vol. 2 #3) as a panel story, or maybe that first 'brick wall' lucid dream (coming up next issue) (which would be technically very easy since there is only me and a building to draw.) then comes the problem of how to publish. if each panel gets its own .gif file, then we need a slide viewer to keep them in sequence, and the byte size of the total thing gets big fast. if a strip or page is the distributable object, then resolution of the thing on a monitor would be a concern in the art production. comic artists have a necessary feel for the final production media when starting out the first penciling of layout.


oh, there is another comic that just started about dreamwork. it is called _metaphysique_ or something like that. it is about a young college kid whose father is a dream researcher. between classes, he is one of the research subjects who have been trained in lucidity but his father has a lot of restrictions on what they can do when they are out of the lab. particularly they are not associate with other research subjects, but the kid has the hots for this girl from india, so he is sneaking out to see her. also they are beginning to use lucidity for astral projection so they can get into each others' dreams... so far so good. but unfortunately the kids are using their lucid control to turn themselves into superheroes who fly through the air and rescue people from disasters.

they have just established that at least the boy can effect realtime objects while in his dreamtime, but the girl can just watch and talk with him. her hands pass through solid objects while his can or cannot as he wills it. undoubtedly there will be some bashing supervillians with the fists and mystical powerbolts. what a waste. after setting the research basis of lucid dreaming, it seems to be descending into just more costumed x-men with silly names and silly powers.

i would now recommend "the kindly ones" _the sandman_ (for grown ups with eccentric tastes) but not _metaphysique_ (unless you like juvenile conflict resolution).

Editor's note: There is also a comic book devoted to the sharing of dreams called "Roarin' Rick's Rare Bit Friends" which is reviewed by Jeremy Taylor in the last ASD newsletter 12(2) pg. 8. Subscriptions are $24.00 for 6 issues. Checks payable to "King Hell Press" POB 1371, West Townsend, VT 05359-1371

Also, for more _Sandman_ stuff try the web site "A Page of Dreams" URL: