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.
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.