The Dreamer

Cartoonist Lora Innes does an excellent job balancing both halves of her story in the first volume of The Dreamer: The Consequence of Nathan Hale.

The Dreamer cover
The Dreamer
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When we first meet the lead character, Beatrice is waking suddenly from a sexy dream about kissing a Revolutionary War soldier. At high school, she’s trying out for the play and wondering about going to the upcoming Halloween dance, but when she sleeps, she’s another person, helping the brave Alan Warren fight against the redcoats in 1776. She and Nathan Hale travel through the lines after Warren rescues her from General Howe’s ship.

The idea of a girl with another, vibrant fantasy life has been done before, but often in such a way that we’re clearly led towards seeing one or the other as the “real” world. Here, that’s not the case — Beatrice is part of an important historical event in the past, but in the present, she’s also got a dynamic cast of characters and another guy, just as attractive and interesting to her. Ben, a football player, joins her in trying out for the play and goes to a museum event with her to meet her parents.

I found myself enjoying each section while in them equally. Innes has clearly done a lot of historical research, providing a strong feel of verisimilitude in the day-to-day existence as part of a rebel force. However, her feel for teen girl conversation is just as realistic, as is her facility with faces and expressions. I’d forget about one story part while reading the other until they switched. I ended up wanting more of both, especially since in present day, Beatrice has just begun telling her friend about what she thinks is happening to her and struggling with what she should do. To that point, she was carried away with excitement and drama and exploration of what was happening.

Unfortunately, her webcomic is published at a rate of a page every Friday, which means volume 2, which is planned to contain issues #7-11, isn’t even done yet. (Issue #11 is currently being serialized.) However, all the pages are still available online, so it’s easy to sample and get sucked into this story. As soon as you finish this first collection, you’ll want more; I’m ready for additional adventure and to find out what happens. In the meantime, there’s a recent interview with Innes that discusses her history and process.

11 Responses to “The Dreamer”

  1. Lora Says:

    Thanks for the great review! And for taking the time to read through our archives!

  2. Grant Says:

    I read some of this a while back and enjoyed it. The art is pretty good too. I’m glad the collection is out. It kind of reminds me of Brian Lumley’s “Dreamland” series, only with a different historical setting.

  3. RadioFlyer Says:

    Even as a man, I must admit, I love the Dreamer. It has a little bit of everything. Innes does exceptionally well with facial expressions and backgrounds. Many webcomics skimp on a lot of this stuff, but you can tell she takes the time to do it right. Great stuff overall!

  4. Christina Hicks Says:

    Hi, I’m a librarian in Texas and a member of the Maverick committee (a graphic novel reading list compiled by the Texas Library Associations’ Young Adult Round Table) and I loved this so much I nominated for our list. Happily, it made it!

  5. Johanna Says:

    “Even as a man”? I would think guys would be more interested in the history than gals at first glance. It’s a good book for everyone!

  6. invalidname Says:

    One thing I found myself thinking “The Dreamer” is how much it reminds me of shoujo, specifically the sub-genre of “ordinary girl whisked away to another world, where she becomes pivotal to a great war”, such as Inu Yasha, The Vision of Escaflowne, and (especially) Fushigi Yugi. And I mean this in a good way: I’ve long hoped to see manga’s influence on American comics be realized in terms of storytelling, not just artwork (does Wolverine with speed lines really do anybody any good?)

    The trick is going be be seeing how Ms. Innes gets herself out of the corner she’s painted herself into. Bea may be a terrible student, but it’s remarkable that she could look up the details of her dream (the Continental Army’s 1776 defeat in the Battle of Long Island), but overlook that the Captain who’s been looking after her, Nathan Hale, will be famously remembered for his last words prior to his hanging by the British (spoiler tags need not apply, methinks!). Or maybe Bea *does* know this and is keeping it to herself. Now that would be a hell of a twist.

    It could be that Bea will ultimately use her knowledge of the future in 1776. She’s already proven willing to do so, when she saw (but misinterpreted) the “Death of Warren” painting. Establishing whether or not she can do this is going to be a key point going forward. If she’s just a spectator in her dreams (as she has been so far), then the story is a pleasant diversion. If, on the other hand, she discovers she can, say, carve her name in a stone in 1776 and find it still there in 2011, then *everything* is in play. Again, I’m hoping to see Ms. Innes show her hand on this someday.

    And finally, am I the only one who thinks this would make a great movie? The premise is rich, the mix of action and romance is intoxicating, and it’s an easy (if cynical) pitch to Hollywood: “it’s Twilight meets history class”.

  7. Grant Says:

    “I would think guys would be more interested in the history than gals..”

    Isn’t that stereotyping? How do you know I’m not in it for the romance? ;)

  8. Johanna Says:

    Hey, that’s great! Yes, it’s generalizing, but … that other person started it!

    Invalidname, that’s a very nice analysis, thank you for posting that.

  9. Dee Says:

    You know after being burned by the big two it’s nice to find something so nice.

    Thank you for the wonderful recommendation
    Johanna I’m sure going to spread the word
    about it.

  10. Ed Catto Says:

    Really impressed with this book and impressed with Lora too.
    Also like the Jenny Frisson covers.

  11. The Dreamer Volumes 1-3 — Revolutionary Fantasy and Romance » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] third collection of the webcomic The Dreamer is due out April 1 (earlier in comic stores, where it can be preordered with Diamond code JAN14 […]




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