I'm a professional cartoonist and have been keeping
a Journal in comic form for the past year. In fact, it was one of the first
things my agent told me I should work on. It seemed hard at first, but even if I
just scratched down one image per day, my skills as a cartoonist improved and I
become more prolific.
Cartooning is a very demanding art form, I agree, but once you get the hang
of it, it comes naturally to you. Learning to produce "Sequential Art"
(Comic Art is not the correct term) is like learning to speak a second language.
In order to be a successful cartoonist, you have to communicate through pictures
first (words come later, sometimes edited to fit the art). Plus, you have to
work *fast*--me and my friends receive outrageous assignments--editors are
terribly demanding, often requesting 20+ pages in two weeks. The faster and more
detailed you are, the more your work is in demand (literally).
Sequential art is not just a profession, it's an obsession!
Sometimes in my daily journal (or sketchbook), I record my dreams. Some of
these illustrated dreams end up fleshing out a story idea or get me started on a
story--sort of a warm up before I do anything in the day. The illustrated dream
sequences are not the best art in the world because they often reflect my
drowsiness or laziness at the time--but they do seem to be the most interesting
drawings I have accomplished within my journals. Illustrating dreams are very
refreshing and it takes less time to draw them than it would for me to do an
actual full-length 48 page story.
I think that the reason why it is so difficult for people to record their
dreams (whether in comic or written form) is that people tend to think too hard
on their dreams--that somehow their dreams ought to make some "sense"
and too much emphasis is put on the dream and *not* on the "dreaming."
Dreams don't make sense and the only sense they make is when we decide to make
sense out of them. Dreams do not follow any set rules.
That's why they're so damn interesting!
Dreams are extremely freeing for me as a cartoonist. When working on a
regular story, I am limited to a coherent plot or outline--in other words, I
*have to* follow the rules. With dreams, there is no true coherent
sequence--images flow onto the paper and I am not bound by an already heavily
thought out plot or outline. The only times I've ever had difficulty recording
dreams like this was when I concentrated too long on how everything
should look, feel, etc. This isn't necessary!
There are many cartoonists out there who have published dream-related
Kulikowski's article barely even tapped the surface! Comic Dreamlogs are
not new...in fact, the first cartoonist to record his dreams in this form was
Windsor McKay--the creator of Little Nimo--back in the early 1900's! And
cartoonists aren't the only ones to be influenced by dreams...
Remember Salvador Dali? He used to doze off with a glass of water in his
hand. Once he fell asleep, his grip on the glass would slip, and he'd awake and
paint whatever he last saw in his mind. Anyone who's interested in this sort of
dream experiment should remember it.
When keeping any sort of dreamlog, my advice is draw or write your dream
without thinking about it and don't waste too much time recording it. Do your
best to try to capture the essence of your dream. Do this immediately after
waking. Record only what comes to mind naturally--*in the sequence that you most
I don't know, maybe I'm an unusual case, but...expressing my dreams (mind
you, I did *not* say 'recording' my dreams) has always been easy and enjoyable.
I would be more than happy to hear from any of you out there in dreamland who
are presently keeping a dreamlog. How do you express your dreams? Is it easy for
Thanks for hearing me out,
--Val, the Dream Shaman
Comic Journal Dream Entries by Val, the Dream Shaman
Dream Note: In response to the Dream Art Review by Stan Kulikowski
(ED issue #9), the following dreams are presented in a
"sequential/comic book/journal form" and are subsequently
"brief"--for easy analysis. Since I cannot submit the actual artwork
(for lack of obvious reasons), the dreams are in semi-scripted form (so, while
reading 'em try to imagine them as being part of a comic book).
Dream #1: August 1, 1995 "LampShadeHead"
--Outlined in black, there is a young male figure standing before you. He has
an old tattered lamp shade for a head. No face. There is a spotlight on him, as
if he is on stage--infact he *is* on a stage of sorts...the stage of your
mind--the Dream Theatre--and is about to make a monologue...of sorts--
LAMPSHADEHEAD: (soft voice) ...many wonder what we really are and why we do
what we do... (second panel, closer up)
LAMPSHADEHEAD: ...why and how do we become *spirit* guides... (third panel,
his hands crossed)
LAMPSHADEHEAD: ...we're ghosts, really. The ghosts of people who have led
rather unsavory lives... (fourth panel, hands uncrossed)
LAMPSHADEHEAD: And we pay for what we did or didn't do in life by serving an
eternity of community service... (fifth panel, LAMPSHADEHEAD in dead silence,
hands to his sides) (sixth panel, LAMPSHADEHEAD more distant)
LAMPSHADEHEAD: ...Yet many fear us. Many think we're demons. Or
hallucinations. We're just trying to do our job... (seventh panel, still
distant, image of LAMPSHADEHEAD gets fuzzy) LAMPSHADEHEAD: My name is
now LampShadeHead. I killed myself in 1989... (eighth panel, even more
distant) LAMPSHADEHEAD: ...gunshot wound to the head. Val, you saw me die. Now
only you are open enough to see me. Thanks for listening. (ninth panel, figure
LAMPSHADEHEAD: ...I was once known by the nickname "Cheesy"...And I
just wanted to tell you that I think what you're doing is great... (tenth panel,
completely black, figure has gone) LAMPSHADEHEAD: (just his voice remains)
...keep it up.
I had a friend who shot himself in the head at a party in 1989. It was a
suicide. I watched him die. That was six years ago. It has never left my mind.
When I dream about him sometimes, he either has no head, is holding his head,
or, as in this dream, has a different sort of head altogether. He tells me he is
a "guide" to several people and, on numerous occasions has given me
advice. I don't know if it's really him in my dreams. He scares me. But in this
dream he put me at ease. I'm a cartoonist and have just landed my first job
doing a series of stories for an independent company. It's a great
start...perhaps I needed a "psychic" pat on the back(?!)
Another Side Note: August 1 is a holiday for me; Lammas--a pagan holiday in
celebration of the harvesting of corn and bread--a feasting day, so to speak.
Dream #2: August 2, 1995 "Sour Reunion"
--first panel opens with me (back turned to audience) looking out at a couple
on a park bench--a man with a beard and scruffy black/brown hair with a bimbo-ish
blond--the man is smiling and waves at me--
MAN: (happy) Hi, Val! ME: (narration on top margin) I was at a woodland
resort somewhere up north. I walked into an underground room (which actually led
me outside) and saw an old friend with a strange woman. (pause) I was only
slightly jealous. I felt afraid and sad... (second panel, close up of man and
MAN: (still smiling) It's been a long time... I've missed you!
ME: (narration) He looked thinner and happy...not like he ever was before. He
didn't look mean. I started to love him again. It felt so real! (third panel, me
beside my old friend, I look silly with him, smiling like the blond bimbo--I
become the bimbo?)
ME: (more narration) Then I notice that the woman (who had previously been
blond)...THAT WOMAN WAS ME! I looked...well, terribly dumb and silly. (fourth
panel, I'm a little girl sitting on my old friend's lap)
ME: (still more narration) Suddenly I was no longer looking at myself beside
him. I was myself beside him and felt uncomfortable. He sat me on his lap...
MAN: (holding me on his lap as if I were his daughter) So, what have you been
ME: (looking up to him) Well...I'm a cartoonist now--just like you are--and I
went to the Chicago Comicon last July and I got a job!
ME: (narration on bottom of panel) ...AND I BECAME A LITTLE GIRL! (fifth
panel, big scary close up of my old friend, hands reaching out to me in an
invitation to hug)
ME: (narration on top) He reached out to hug me and I was afraid...
MAN: (tearfully happy) I'M SO...SO PROUD OF YOU! ME: (narration on bottom) I
jumped away from HIM, knowing that this was only a dream...He started to cry,
yet was so happy. I freaked and ran away. The dream soon ended and I felt
ashamed of dreaming this dream. ...it was so stupid. (end)
This "friend" was something of a hero to me long ago, but walked
out on me. He was a fellow cartoonist who made it big. We were once great
friends. He's no longer so big in the business and I haven't seen him for over a
year. I always looked up to him, now he's gone...and I'm still angry and bitter
at him for walking out on me. He was supposed to be my friend...*
I hate this dream.