Originally published at Fangoria.com on April 10, 2011
JAKE THE DREAMING #1 (Radical Publishing) is an illustrated novel that provides readers with a surrealistic and dark fantasy adventure. When a young boy realizes he can enter into another person’s dreams, he begins to have tremendous fun with his supernatural powers. But the boy doesn’t realize his imagination is also creating monsters at the same time. As his mind loses grasp of reality, he is turning whimsical dreams into violent nightmares.
The story kicks off at a suspenseful pace as a wolf with a white stripe chases after a young boy named Jake. When Jake reaches toward the cliff’s edge, the innocent child wonders what are his immediate options. If he jumps, Jake will certainly fall to his death. If he stays put in the exact spot, the hungry wolf will viciously attack and eat his flesh. He has to make a quick decision right before the snarling wolf moves. Just as the wolf leaps into the air, Jake holds onto the wild beast as they both dive to their deaths.
Jake’s sister, Ella, rolls her eyes when she hears her brother has gotten into trouble again. Jake crazily reenacts his fantasies in the classroom, getting into trouble with the bullies and teachers. Is this child retreating to his daydreams because he is running away from his lonely home-life? Or, is he letting his imagination control him, allowing himself to forget where the line between reality and unreality is?
Jake wholeheartedly believes if he can enter the Etherland, he will be able to rescue his father. In reality, his father is lying still in the hospital bed with his mind lost in a coma. Jake wants to enter his father’s dreamworld and wake him back to life. But in order to do that, the dreamer has to face monsters living in this nightmare universe. Nocturnus, a frightening and devilish figure, eagerly awaits for Jake’s arrival as he holds his father’s soul hostage.
The writing duo of Adam Freeman and Marc Bernardin (a former STARLOG editor; pictured above) wisely focus on the brother/sister relationship between Ella and Jake. The authors never downplay their intelligence, even though they are just children. Readers are learning about the rules between the Waking and Dream World, just as the protagonists are. This coming-of-age tale captures the emotions of youth and innocence.
The artwork by Andrew Jones enhances the text with his vibrant illustrations. His animated collage of colors portrays the dreamscape full of wonder and awe. Then, Jones darkens the tone to bring out the menace of the nightmarish imagery. His rough sketches augment Jake’s loneliness of having a father missing in his daily life.
JAKE THE DREAMING #1 is a strong combination of lively drawings and quick-read prose. Read as a brother and sister battle fantastical monsters in an epic dream scenario! Comic book fans will definitely have a lot to enjoy with this illustrated novel. The issue arrives on Free Comic Book Day, May 7, and you can also preorder JAKE THE DREAMING through the official website here.