Critiquing Comics #024: “Dreamkeepers”

Dreamkeepers is an epic teen-furry-fantasy-adventure comic, clearly influenced by anime and/or Disney. Those are both its strong and weak points. Tim and Mulele examine examine volume 1 (and a bit of volume 2) of this tale by David Lillie, Liz Thomas, and David Higgenbotham, and ask the question: how does one differentiate between unwarranted publisher meddling with one’s project, and useful advice that should be heeded? (Available on Graphicly, but the first volume can be read online for free!)

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Resident of Japan since 1989, creator of "The Crazing Spider-Hag"

6 thoughts on “Critiquing Comics #024: “Dreamkeepers””

  1. I have read the Dreamkeepers novels, and I have to say that I adore the story and the art of the works you have mentioned.

    Offhand, I would say that the setup of the return of Lord Void at the beginning and the long period before the introduction of the assassin was a good thing. It feels to me like the idea was to show the way that the surroundings of the world was before the introduction of chaos and havoc that the nightmares and the dark dreamkeepers cause. There’s a secret war that is brewing that will come to life, so in that respect, it pays to see how things were, and how things will change later on.

    The second novel, which features the main characters’ escape from the city, has a lot more action involved, and reveals more about the characters. It also explains more about the powers of the dreamkeepers themselves. Essentially, every character has a power that is unique to them. But powers have been forbidden from being used by dreamkeeper society, so most characters in the story don’t know what their powers are. I don’t think you’ll be seeing the insane craziness related to the Bleach story powers, but I think it does add a little flavor to things.

    Also, if you are interested, there are prequel story arcs that are featured on the Dreamkeepers website that show a little more about the characters and are pretty humorous in themselves. One of my favorite characters is Vi in the prequel, who has not shown up in the novels yet, but I am hopeful will show up in the third novel. Sort of a tomboyish character, kinda spunky and has attitude, but means well.

    Incidentally, I think that having a vision and having it unfettered by outside influences is a rare thing. Sure, it can be done badly at times, but I think in this case, it’s for the best. There’s making a creation for the sake of creation, and making a creation for the purpose of making money. And if you alter things for the sake of money, you can lose yourself along the way, to the point where it no longer becomes fun to do something because you’re always second-guessing yourself as to whether it will be ‘approved’ or not. Without those fetters, you can move fluidly with your ideas and know that the only approval that really matters if your own. Sometimes the two can work together, and sometimes they can’t. But I like the way this is going so far.

  2. While I basically agree with what you’ve said above, I can’t help but feel that the responsibility of the first act is heavier than the second and third acts of any narrative fiction.
    My example below has less to do with my feelings on “Dreamkeepers” and more to do with reader expectations.
    On a website, I will continue to read if I find the comic worthwhile. That may be character or plot or art etc. and if the story grows to something amazing, fine, it was worth it. But when you start packaging and selling the story the 1st book not only has to make back it’s cost but has to make enough to warrant a 2nd book. Though, there may not be too much distance between those two markers.
    Think of John Carter of Mars (or any movie you didn’t like). Do you want to see a sequel? Me neither. Would you pay money for that? What if they promised the story gets really good and the characters are so much better in part 2? Sorry, I’ve got better things planned for my money and time. Besides, why did they save their “better content” for part 2?

  3. A lot of your “critiques” are your personal tastes.

    You had a problem with the kids having powers… in a world where everyone has powers. This is one of the story elements that’s very solidly established.

    …and you didn’t like it.

    You also fail to understand the basic premise somehow… The other guys had to tell you Mace was an orphan.

    The thing with Paige is that she is a little sister figure to Mace. Not a love interest. She is also much younger than him.

    You failed so much with this… You should have spent more time with this comic before reviewing it…

  4. Edit*

    When I pointed out you didn’t like the powers bit, I meant that you were critizing a main plot point and failed to see it for what it was.

    It was as if you wanted it to be something that it isn’t.

    Felt I should expand on that bit.

  5. I listened to your review, and i can second that it was prematurely done, as you only look at vol 1, yes can argue, first volume is the most critical to make something going, not neaserily the case always.

    The second is that, by your voices is obv, you been quite tired, and it’s never a quality review or work when some one compleatly drain. I would say have another go at it once have planny rest.

    There are some things that you are right about, like the character development, as it rapid evolves from chapter 1 to chapter 3, art wise as well, i wouldn’t be suprised if vol 1 would be redone at a point ( i’d say after vol 4 if i would make guesses ) but if any changes to be made, mainly cosmetic, but would leave the flow of the story intact, not take away from it, but maybe add to it where feels something is missing.

    Agen, prematurely done review and i blame that on you being quite tired when making this, some points of critics are indeed inplace, but others are mainly personal taste and combination of not fully “processed” the story

  6. Mulele,

    I agree with you that the first act is a fundamental part of the entire storyline and bears a strong responsibility. Where I differ with you is in that understanding of that responsibility. Take for example the play Twelve Angry Men. Arguably, the most important character in the entire play, we never even see or meet. It’s a boy on trial for his life, and the case verdict is being argued by the twelve jurors. The start of the play tells about the case in general, what is at stake, and what is asked of the jurors. But then the play switches to the deliberation between the 12 jurors, and we discover the personalities and prejudices inherent in each. The play is about 12 men arguing, and while the purpose of the argument is reiterated throughout the play, the accused doesn’t even get a role. Granted, the story involved is a drama and not an action/adventure story, and the example I use is somewhat of an oddity, but there are different ways to go about things, and some lend success or failure in different ways. Another example is Waiting For Godot. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying Godot never shows; it’s a poorly kept secret. But it was different, and in a way that was creative.

    Now, I will admit, the first time that I read Dreamkeepers, both the first and second volumes were available to me. But in fairness, I purchased the first volume with the option to purchase the second volume later on if I liked what I read. I read through the first book in a little less than an hour, and found it to be interesting and creative enough that I wanted to read more. So I bought the second volume, read it, and now I am eagerly awaiting the third volume’s publication. Again, in fairness, David and Liz were very open with their product and allowed be to peruse their works a bit before purchasing, and it also helped that they are personable people who are easy to talk to and get along with. But the point I am making is that I liked the first volume, and paid for the second. And they didn’t promise me that the story and characters would get better in the second volume. That wasn’t part of their pitch, not at all. But I think they got better, and I’m glad I made the investment. I guess what it boils down to is personal preference. Sure, if you don’t like something, you probably won’t invest in a sequel. I agree with you on that point. But I gave it a fair and unbiased shot when I read it, and it earned my respect.

    I’ll close this reply by saying that I’m not trying to be a troll or anything. I am pleased that you reviewed the comics, and I am pleased that you found good things about the story and artwork to give it an overall positive review. I’m also not trying to change your viewpoints on anything (well, maybe just a touch, but that is the point of social discourse). But I want to make you aware that there are readers out there that feel that the novels/story can hold their own.

    P.S. I have not seen John Carter. But I have seen the first five minutes of Battlefield Earth. Why the first five minutes? Because that’s all I could stomach before I had to change the channel.

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