The Dreamland Chronicles: Book One
By Scott Christian Sava (Blue Dream Studios, 2006; $19.95)
I have to admit that I was initially put off by the computer animated artwork when I first flipped through The Dreamland Chronicles, especially compared to Diego Jourdan’s more familiar cartoony style in Scott Christian Sava’s Ed’s Terrestrials, which I received in the same review package. At first glance, it struck me as too similar to fumetti or cinemanga, the characters seeming unnaturally stiff, almost like the worst of Greg Land‘s work for Marvel over the past few years. Having enjoyed Sava’s writing in Ed’s Terrestrials, however, and always intrigued by the concept of our dreams actually being other worlds, I gave it a chance and halfway through, was extremely glad I did.
The Dreamland Chronicles: Book One is a fun and entertaining all-ages tale that posits the existence of a magical world of fantastic creatures, visited by children in their dreams. Alexander Carter used to visit every night as a child, and upon waking, would tell his twin brother, Dan, of his adventures, who would write them down and eventually be inspired to become a writer. Now college roommates, Alexander returns to Dreamland after nearly eight years of not dreaming, only to discover he is destined to play a part in the upcoming war between Dreamland and the Nightmare Realm. Sava has once again created an excellent cast of characters — Paddington Rumblebottom III, the adorable dancing rock giant, is my favorite — and deftly balances the two worlds by crafting a realistic relationship between the two brothers that is equal in dramatic weight to the more fantastic elements of Dreamland.
As the story reeled me in, I warmed up to the artwork and was eventually able to appreciate its dexterity, as the impressive team of computer artists Sava assembled not only offer distinctive character designs and settings, but manage to communicate emotion surprisingly well. Sava helps by taking full advantage of his nearly 300 pages, pacing the story in a way that allows it to breathe without feeling decompressed. The extras include a look at some of his original painted pages as well as an assortment of character models and page layouts that give the book the feel of a big-budget CGI movie.
Highly recommended for fantasy fans young and old!