Cold Cut Distribution's Feature Spotlight #20 - December 1996
Publisher: Dreamwalker Press (Issues 1-5)
Tapestry / Caliber (vol 2 #1 arrives this month)
Story & Art: Jenni Gregory
Cvr Price: $2.95
Life's not easy when you're a single girl struggling to get
along in the big city. Everything from the daily pressures of working
in a neurology clinic to the dangers of walking alone through a park
at night constantly beat on you. A good night's sleep is essential
to get you through your day -- what a shame Karen Brinson hasn't been
getting much lately. Sleep, that is.
She's been dreaming instead. Really weird dreams. She dreams
she talks to her next-door neighbor who's on vacation, who says they'll
talk when she gets back. Then, Karen dreams she's talking to the little
boy at the neurology clinic - the one with the inoperable brain tumor
who has almost no chance to live. In her dreams, she helps him deal
with confronting his parents and helps them come to terms with his loss.
That feels good, but still weird. And when the parents come around
later to thank her, she's getting seriously freaked out. What is
going on? Can she control it? Better yet, can she stop it?
Jenni's ear for realistic dialogue is so good, it's painful. Karen's
rambling thoughts as she begins to get seriously worried, even the way
she constantly deflects her friend's concern over her health all ring true.
The plotting is solid, though somewhat slower than one is used to in a
comic book. After five issues, the protagonist still doesn't really
believe in her abilities or have any control (can you imagine "Supergirl"
running five issues with her just struggling to fly?). Dreamwalker has
the feel of a solid novel being spread out into issues of a comic, as
opposed to issues of a comic being woven into a novel. The story has
its own pace which suits it perfectly - the careful pacing allows the
pathos to really shine through (especially in issues 2 and 3, the real
tearjerkers, which feature the young boy with the tumor).
Jenni's art in general has a flowing, liquid sensibility that lends
itself to the dreamlike and stream-of-consciousness feel of the book.
She still struggles with faces and hands (the hardest parts of anatomy
to master), but easily manages the key task of making sure everyone in
the book looks distinct. She hasn't found a way to make the older
woman neighbor look that much older, nor a way to make the police
officer look over 18, but she's working on it.
This is an easy sell to readers of Strangers in Paradise, and the
likable female star will catch the eye of readers of Wandering Star or
Private Beach or Action Girl. The dream-walking will interest
readers of Radical Dreamer or Rare Bit Fiends. Even Sandman
fans who liked the "Doll's House" storyline should pick this one up.
If you like Dreamwalker, take a look at:
Dressed For Success
Publisher: Egesta Comics
Story & Art: Chris Howard & Jeff Wasson
Cover Price: $12.00 (304 pp)
Frequency: TPB of first 13 issues; 2nd TPB next year.
Walter Andrewkowski has a problem. He's on the run from the
mafia, since while he was their accountant he embezzled 50 million
bucks. That in and of itself is a fairly sizable problem, so imagine
his joy to end up with a partner in flight, Alex Corbett - fellow
mafia avoider due to his unpaid gambling debts. Together, they
manage to get in and out of scrapes on all sorts of planets - holding down
jobs, losing jobs, losing Walter's money, etc. Along the way, they
get to meet furry bear matrons, killer androids from the future, a
wacked-out scientist who thinks he's invented a time machine, and plenty more.
Well-written and plotted, the series catches you with its
satire and parody, but stands on its extended characters and plotline.
The duo's comic timing is excellent, something not easily achievable in
comics today. They take on targets spanning the gamut of science fiction,
working in parodies of Star Wars (twice!), Doctor Who, Terminator,
and Back to the Future, as well as shots at Star Trek, Youngblood,
the TMNT phenomenon, Ronald Reagan and the Gulf War, and pastiches
of "Jaka's Story" and other comic stuff. The parody of Back to the Future,
in particular, is not to be missed. Would you believe - they go
back to their own issue 1?
Well, you've got to remember that, like Matt Feazell's great-selling
Ert! book, this is a collection of minicomics. Unlike Feazell, though,
these guys don't do stick figures - they do something more in the vein
of Doonesbury, art-wise. So some of their art, especially in the first
half of the book, suffers from reproduction limitations. Perhaps the
original medium was crude or the size change for the book rendered it
grainy - regardless, the first half of the book comes across as
primitive but entertaining. The layouts are consistently creative and
readable, though some of the fine line work vanishes and what remains
looks somewhat unfinished. In short, looking like good minicomics.
The improvement in the art over the first hundred pages is astounding.
Clearly the guys went from an "Oh, this is kinda cool" attitude towards their
work into more dedicated creatorship. Faces and figures firm up,
backgrounds fill in, reproduction improves, and in general the art
improves 1000 percent, looking not at all like mini-comics, and more
like professional full-size comics.
After issue 25 (this winter), these guys say they're going full-size
with Dressed For Success, and are going to tackle extended storylines
and characters while still adding dollops of humor along the way; focus
more on themes and less on parodies. Which is spooky in a way, since
the book I most often compare DFS to did the exact same thing - remember
Cerebus? Good parody writing with strong characters and plotting
led to the start of Dave Sim's major storyline - in issue 26. I'd suggest
you be watching DFS as they make the same transition. Meantime, this TPB
is quite a bargain (304 pp for only $12!) and should interest readers
of Buck Godot, Cerebus (Dave Sim has a laudatory quote on
the back cover), and Lethargic Comics (and Greg Hyland provides the introduction).
If you like Dressed For Success, take a look at:
Cold Cut Distribution
220 N Main St. - Salinas, CA 93901 - (831) 751-7300