Dreamland Chronicles #1

By Scott Christian Sava
48 pages, color
Published by Astonish Comics

Computer-generated comic book art is certainly not a new innovation in comics. The first ones to receive press were books like Iron Man: Crash and Batman: Digital Justice, both of which were about… surprise surprise… computers. So it’s with that in mind that if I had to pick the best thing about comics created on a computer in this day and age, it would be the fact that they aren’t all about computers. A computer never shows up center stage in The Dreamland Chronicles #1, and hopefully Scott Christian Sava will make sure one never does.

Up until his twelfth birthday, Alex had a series of dreams where he, along with three fantastical companions, flew through the Dreamlands vanquishing evil and exploring new territories. Then Alex’s dream took a strange turn, involving a discovered sword, and he never dreamt again… until now, at age 20. But Dreamland seems to have progressed without Alex’s presence, and the world has changed for better or for worse.

The basic story for The Dreamland Chronicles is a pretty standard one, with a young boy traveling in his dreams to a fantasy world, and it’s there that Sava’s writing shines. You get the impression that this is a larger-than-life world that Sava understands intimately, and that you’re just now getting to see through him. In many ways, it’s like The Dreamland Chronicles is telling the story of Sava’s own dreams, and I appreciate the sense of wonder that he’s able to bring to the reader. Not quite as strong is the dialogue in The Dreamland Chronicles; characters often come across more like they’re reading exposition than actually talking to each other, stiffly relaying information back and forth. It comes across a little clumsily to the reader, and hopefully future issues will have smoother dialogue now that the basic situation has been explained to the audience.

To some extent, that’s the same problem I’ve got with Sava’s art. When it comes to the big picture, I like it a lot. From the stone arches hanging over the water to the goofy looking rock creature, the characters and places in The Dreamland Chronicles looks really impressive. When an ancient tomb is revealed in a rockslide, for instance, you can just tell at a glance that it’s a place of great importance and mystery. The problem is that it’s once more the little details that keep throwing me for a loop. Characters always seem stiff and posed to me, never like they’re moving naturally. It could be a problem with seeing animation stills—a lot of the “cinemanga” books that use freeze frames of animation seem to have the same problem—but they never seem to be free-flowing and alive, but almost like abandoned toys left for the rest of eternity in the same spot.

In the end, The Dreamland Chronicles #1 is a promising start, but one that I hope improves from issue to issue. The big ideas and overall scope of the comic seem to be in perfect order, it’s just a little tweaking that needs to be done to get the rough spots taken care of. With some stronger dialogue and slightly more graceful characters, The Dreamland Chronicles may turn out to be a real winner. Right now, the jury’s still out. If nothing else, though, $3.50 for a 48-page color book is one heck of a deal, and I applaud Sava and Astonish Comics for letting a first impression be at such a reasonable price. Now here’s hoping the rest of the book falls into place with the next issue.

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