Having spent the last week and a half in daze, both rushing about in the last hectic days of work before summer all the while both simultaneously worrying about having nothing to write about or the time to really find anything, it’s a relief to have a handful of things fall into my lap in the last few days. If anything it reminds me to just ask around and that generally the comics community online, especially on twitter is eager to give you recommendations on new things and promote each other.
One thing I bought on a whim from a chance encounter online was the comics anthology Dirty Rotten Comics. I’d never heard of them before now and needless to say I didn’t expect anything so polished and professional in it’s presentation. It’s a delightful mish mash of comics talent from around the UK that I fully intend to dig into with a full review in the next few days. However I did wan’t to talk one comic in particular separately.
Emily Rose Lambert, is an illustrator and first class graduate from Loughborough University who works as a greetings card designer. Her work encompasses comics, design and illustration, often featuring repeating patterns, showcasing a preoccupation with indigenous American culture, nature and animals.
Dreamscape is the lovely, achingly cute story of two adorable animal characters travelling through a series of dreamlike vignettes that evokes the ephemeral nature of dreams and conveys that sense of disjointed dreamlike logic as the characters drift between seemingly disparate situations and emotions. The story floats effortlessly from the fantastical, one of the figures breaking into fragments, one lovingly patching up the other with clay and leaves to the more everyday, as the dreamers enter a birthday party late and unable to sing along with the other revellers. From the small embarrassments that gently gnaw away at us in the night to the gentle sense of dread as an unknown figure watches us from afar, each instance captures the moments in dreams where feelings seem always just a little too close to the surface, more immediate and raw.
On her own blog, Emily briefly describes her process behind the comic revealing an early draft that she had begun creating digitally until, as she puts it a “boost of confidence in using ink and pencil” promoted her to switch over to more traditional methods resulting in the final comic. It’s a decision that definitely works in her favour, as does the restriction to black and white owing to the anthology it’s collected in.
The first draft almost seems too solid, too real while the traditional hand drawn panels fit the otherworldly tone of the story perfectly. The final version with the soft pencils and ink give her story a suitably intangible feel in the way that dreams often are. A sense that if you tried to bring it any more into focus, recall it in more detail, it would fade away. The sudden sadness upon awakening as you desperately grasp at details that moments ago seemed so clear become more fleeting and blurred around the edges the harder you concentrate on them. Only half remembered, leaving you only a feeling or a vague sense of them.
The comic ends where it begins as one of the figures looks out onto the stars once more, again emphasising it’s roots in dream logic and the recursive, circular nature they sometimes taken on, with motifs or events being repeated over and over. Her sparse dialogue has the rhythm and mood of a fairytale. Sweet, whimsical and imbued with both trepidation hope,it manges to cover a complete gamut of emotions in only two pages.