Returning once again for another week (and hopefully for Forever) is another round of Weekend Webcomics! I’m teaming up with the fabulous Vidasoy to share our love of all things webcomics, from decades-long series to ambitious short projects, we’re here to recommend and analyze what webartists and writers have to offer for the curious reader. To kick off this week, we’re going to take a look Dreamless, a webcomic that is pretty darn romantic. With elements of the supernatural and the sublime, of passion flared from circumstance and high-stakes and high-adventure, all rolled up into a beautifully illustrated package–and best of all, it’s a completed work and completely free to read.
In the 1940s, sickly eighteen-year-old Eleanor secludes herself in her room, with strict orders that people keep out while she’s sleeping during day-time hours. This is not a mere peculiarity: Eleanor has a secret, one that she has carried her entire life. When she sleeps, she doesn’t dream; instead she sees scenes from the life of a boy named Takashi. However, she’s not channeling a past life: he is real, his life tied to hers through fated circumstances, so that when one sleeps, the other dreams of them and lives their life alongside them as a living specter.
They know one other’s language, everything about each other from their deepest fears to their shared hope to one day finally meet — for real.
This lifelong, long-distance relationship has kindled into a passionate love between the pair–though war, distance, and the peculiarities of their tied lives stand in their path towards happiness. But desperation and commitment to each other might just win against such impossible odds, and Eleanor and Takashi might get that fairy-tale ending their story deserves.
Dreamless is a neat read for those new to webcomics–in particular because it is a finished story–so there’s no need to worry about missing the next update. The plot is nicely contained and does not meander or wander in the way that some long-standing webcomics might. In fact, I would argue that Dreamless is more like an online graphic novel as its story is wrapped up in one neat package, supported by incredibly gorgeous art.
Dreamless‘ lush illustrations were handled by illustrator Sarah Ellerton, who is well known for her web-series, The Phoenix Requiem. Dreamless takes on a more painterly and realistic style than her usual work, forgoing the “comic” look with thick lines dark lines and cell-shading. In fact, the softness and paint “look” adds to the “dreaminess” of the story, while also suits the historical time period with its emphasis towards more realistic facial expressions and features. Ellerton also has an eye for color, and masterfully uses color for mood and to transition between scenes.
Dreamless is definitely a beautiful webcomic to view; take the time to admire the artistry behind each panel that is incredibly unique to this story.
Dreamless’ author, Bobby Crosby, is also no stranger to webcomics; he is the author of a number of comics, including the rom-com Marry Me. As a veteran webcomic writer, it’s no wonder that Dreamless wraps up quite neatly, avoiding meandering and side-stories to deliver this tale of star-struck lovers separated by war. However, I find that while having such a contained story is unique, it is also a bit of a weakness.
Those of you who thirst for explanations–especially in regards to Eleanor and Takashi’s unusual life-long link–may just need to suspend disbelief. The same can be said about the romance between the pair–much like a Romantic novel (Note the capital R–we’re talking Wordsworth and Bronte sisters here), passion erupts with little to no explanation or build-up. We as readers need to accept the words as they are since this is a completed story, though a longer-planned webcomic might have had the time to play with these topics (and several other side-plots) in longer arcs.
Still, though there may not necessarily be some satisfying “tie-ups” in terms of plot, Dreamless is a beautiful graphic novel and a fun, quick read. I like to think of it as a good example of the power of publishing on the web for artists and writers, especially when it comes to the possibility of exploring any topic and posting at one’s own pace, and for some interesting collaboration.
So if you’re looking for a Sunday night read, with some drama, some romance, and gorgeous art–wait no more and check out Dreamless!