Jennifer Daydreamer: Oliver

By Jennifer Daydreamer
56 pages, black and white
Published by Top Shelf Productions

Years ago at SPX I picked up a bunch of minicomics with the name “Jennifer Daydreamer” on the cover. Soon afterwards, it was almost like she’d vanished off the face of the earth, and I found myself wondering if we’d ever see Daydreamer and her self-titled comics again. I was pleasantly surprised, then, when earlier this year Top Shelf released Jennifer Daydreamer: Oliver. The nicest surprise for me was probably the discovery that she’d spent her years away from comics getting even better.

On a quiet island in the middle of a seemingly endless sea, two children dressed as an angel and a devil meet. A young boy learns how to detatch his spirit from his body while sleeping and travel to other places. A man’s inner thoughts manifest as three men dressed as daisies and run wild. These are just some of the things you’ll meet here…. but are they separate incidents, or are they somehow related?

Jennifer Daydreamer’s comics are one where dreams and reality intertwine, literal daydreams come to life. The three short stories in Jennifer Daydreamer: Oliver intrigued me a great deal in part because of their surreal nature, with connections that are almost but not quite concrete. There’s an internal logic in all of these, and while it might be a bit much to say that it’s a puzzle box waiting to be discovered, there is a joy of discovery and realization that goes on when you read Jennifer Daydreamer: Oliver. The narration in the comic helps achieve that atmosphere; Daydreamer keeps it from getting pretentious even as she writes in veiled phrases that may perplex as much as they reveal. Best of all, though, is the wonderful sense of humor that appears from time to time. In the final story where the voices in Jack’s head are manifest and running free, it’s hard not to laugh at the narration box stating, “Jack’s doctors have told him that he is crazy… but, the truth is, it’s the Voices who are crazy, not him.” Then again, it’s hard just to keep from grinning by the end of this comic, let alone laugh.

Daydreamer’s art is an integral part of the mood she creates in her comics. Her drawings of the clouds and the landscape, with their tightly grouped lines that create patterns for the reader to see, are amazingly evocative. You can almost see the wind moving across the page from panel to panel, from pushing the clouds in the sky to rustling the grass around Oliver’s feet. It’s a very soft, almost sketchy look that gives just the right amount of realism to let you know what’s going on, but at the same time keeps it vague enough that it doesn’t snap the reader out of the peaceful dreamlike state that the comic tries to place you.

Jennifer Daydreamer: Oliver is for dreamers and poets, for wishers and imaginers, for artists and audiences alike. It really is quite unlike anything else being published, and I’m really happy that Daydreamer and Top Shelf are bringing these unique creations to a larger audience. Hopefully the first of many, Jennifer Daydreamer: Oliver brings readers to her world of Encephalon, but with any luck we as readers will drift there once more, and soon. Jennifer Daydreamer: Oliver is on sale at better comic book stores everywhere.

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