Webcomic Review: Dreamless

[3/14/2011: Added link to another review. Also, since this review is not quite up to my current standard, I intend to rewrite it with more in-depth commentary and accompanying pictures.]

Hm, seems like I’ll be reviewing webcomics on this blog as well. Fancy that. I just jumped 200 years in two posts!

Romantic drama ensues.

Title: Dreamless
Author/Artist: Written by Bobby Crosby; Drawn by Sarah Ellerton
Format: Webcomic
Published: January 4, 2009 – July 25, 2010
Pages: 70
Reason for Beginning: I don’t remember where I heard about it; possibly it was on the TVTropes list of fantasy webcomics. But the premise intrigued me and the art is painterly, so I gave it a go. Plus this was when I was only just discovering webcomics in general, and was exploring.
Reason for Finishing: Short, as webcomics go, and sweetly romantic. The magical element (which remains unexplained) brings up some really interesting ideas.
Synopsis: In the years before WWII, an American girl and a Japanese boy are linked from birth by being able, while sleeping, to literally see through the eyes of the other one.  One will nearly always be awake while the other is asleep.  Both are born bilingual, and since they can often sense each other’s “presence,” they manage to communicate and, soon enough, fall in love.  The difficulty of loving someone on the other side of the world is not lost on them, and much drama ensues.  THEN WWII begins, bringing more pain, more troubles, and, perhaps, a glimmer of hope…
Story Re-readability: Perhaps sometime I will, though I don’t feel the need to right now. It ended in a satisfying manner, but the plot was sometimes handled a bit awkwardly. Artwork is beautiful, though.
Author Re-readability: Maybe; the writing was decent, sometimes very good, just not great. Crosby has written a few other webcomics, I think one about zombies. Reading them would be based on whether or not they individually seem good.
Artist Re-viewability: I’m already a huge fan of Sarah Ellerton’s Phoenix Requiem, which she writes as well as draws. So, yes. She’s my second favorite webcomic artist right now, next to Tracy Butler of Lackadaisy Cats.
Recommendation: Mainly for people who like idealist love stories. The magical realist element does add a fascinating and fairly original twist

Key Thoughts

This is the only complete webcomic I’ve finished so far.  Like I said above, the storytelling is a bit clunky at times, what with some flashbacks and time-skips that are a bit confusing at first.  Everything does manage to sort itself out in good order, but it might briefly cause a headache or two, trying to figure out whether or not one of them is watching the other at a given moment, or why one character assumed something about the other when it isn’t clear to we readers.  Things like that.  But, like I said, it’s all sorted in the end.

However, it also felt like there were a number of missed moments, where the story could have done something unique because of its premise but instead took a more conventional route.  It’d make a good movie, too, if it were skillfully fleshed out.  There’s a lot of potential for grand drama here, not to mention the beautiful theme of interracial romance between a white Californian girl and a Japanese boy in the 1940s.  I liked how each character was treated with equal respect and intelligence, neither succumbing to clichés.  Their love felt organic and believable.  They made you want them to be together.

Sarah Ellerton uses a softer art style than in The Phoenix Requiem, which is very sharply defined and vibrant.  Here, the effect is almost like watercolors, and it complements the theme of romance and dreams.  Very pleasant to look at.

Beyond that, I cannot think of any more to say about it.  It is a pleasant read that will not demand too much of your time.

Other Reviews
El Santo @ The Webcomic Overlook

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Author: David

I’m a young Christian American reader writer dreamer wanderer walker flier listener talker scholar adventurer musician word-magician romantic critic religious idealist optipessimist man.

4 thoughts on “Webcomic Review: Dreamless”

  1. Seems like a truly novel idea seeing thru each other’s eyes. Of course they would have to be born bilingual or the story wouldn’t work but I admire the novelty of the idea. Sounds like it’s worth a look.
    I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed Lackadaisy Cats; just re-read the entire series and am frustrated that the story is not being updated often enough with new strips. Perfect combination of prohibition/depression era history (which has fascinated me since childhood) in the mid-western US and my favorite little critters. I nearly cracked up on Tracy Butler’s line “When dealing in sociopathic criminalism and gratuitous violence, how could it not be cats?” Pure genius. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. There is a fair bit of suspension of belief aside from the magic element, even with regard to the ending. Like I said, I think there’s lots of room for a very skilled writer to flesh it out into a great piece of fiction. But as it is, it is still very enjoyable, and relatively short. The artwork looks very detailed and fairly well-researched for the ’40s, though it doesn’t show off that era’s style nearly as much as Lackadaisy does for the ’20s, haha.

      I know, the slow updates are agonizing! Then again, there’s so much detail in each page, so it probably takes her a long time to sketch them out and figure out the right way to draw everything. And she probably has a day job, too, the comic being her hobby. If you’re hankering for another gorgeous webcomic with highly-detailed period clothing, check out Sarah Ellerton’s “The Phoenix Requiem” (there’s a link on the “Projected Reviews” page). You’re not likely to get to the end of that one soon, as it’s very long (and ongoing). Victorian-inspired fantasy, with insightful characters in an original setting. It is more slowly paced, but develops lots of atmosphere. Cinematic, in many ways. I’ll probably review it once I get to the end of what’s been posted.

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