The Webcomic Overlook #107: The Dreamland Chronicles

3D CG Art webcomics. Brrrrrrr!!!!

The very term sends shivers down the spines of right-thinking webcomic readers and reviewers alike. In the past, I’ve mocked pixel art and stick figure comics as the aesthetic nadir of webcomics. However, no one practicing these two “art forms” ever tries to convince the readers that the artwork is actually good, and the good webcomics compensate fairly well with writing. I don’t know if you can ever make the same excuse for CG art, because in this case the art itself will always be front and center. So I’m not exagerrating when I say that 3D CG Art webcomics, hands down, are the worst looking webcomics EVER.

It’s counterintuitive, because 3D animation does pretty well with respect to movies. It’s gotten so mainstream that we can ignore the technical nuts and bolts and focus on the content… like how both Up and Avatar are both nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Motion Picture and not just for the technical categories. Unfortunately, your average webcomic creator doesn’t have access to James Cameron money, and, as a result, the stuff coming out of their cheap-o 3D programs is the epitome of terrible.

When you think 3D CG art webcomics, you think dead, unemotional faces. Eyes not fully lodged in their sockets. Stiff marionette poses. Plastic skin textures. On one hand, you have waifish and impossibly smooth 3D Poser lookalikes with slightly different hairstyles. On the other hand, you have the “artists” who put so little effort in their work that they’re basically just captioned screenshots from Sims 3 and Team Fortress 2.

Fellow webcomic reviewer Ping Teo at Webcomic Finds did a better job at distilling the pitfalls of 3D CG art on her blog when reviewing Sunset Grill:

Given that you work with 3D stuff, I’m guessing you should already be familiar with the Uncanny Valley Syndrome…. I think this is the biggest obstacle you are going to have to overcome. People are weird with regards to this thing. The more realistic the art looks, the less they tend to like it. Especially if it’s 3D. I experienced a little bit of this when I started reading your comic, it took a couple of chapters before I could stop feeling uncomfortable about it.

So why am I so keen on reviewing Scott Christian Sava’s The Dreamland Chronicles, a webcomic full of 3D artwork? Chalk it up to an ineffable curiosity and an unshakable faith that any medium can be tamed by a good storyteller. Can the worst artform in webcomics be redeemed by a skillful artist? Or can an artform be so bad that all it can deliver is migraines? Will The Dreamland Chronicles forever be doomed to wander the Uncanny Valley as well?

Writing a review of The Dreamland Chronicles has been a personal goal of mine for a very long time now. It intersects several points of interest. The CG aspect feeds my editorializing bug. Then fantasy aspect stokes my love of fantasy literature, which I quaff by the tankloads. Plus, it’s an all-ages webcomic, which is always appreciated in a world where “Comics aren’t just for kids anymore!” articles are a huge joke.

Unfortunately, I always hesitated for one simple reason: the length. The Dreamland Chronicles is now over 1000 pages. Daunting doesn’t even begin to cover it. Fortunately, Scott and Donna Sava are good people, and when they came across my blog and discovered my predicament, they helpfully offered to send me Volumes 1-3 of the comic (self-published, by the way), hoping that the print version would be easier to dive into. After a few mail-related mixups over the Christmas Break, I finally got the trades … and let me tell you, my dear readers, the package that the books came in was surprisingly hefty. If I got to say anything off the bat, The Dreamland Chronicles TPBs will give you your money’s worth in bulk content.

So now that you’ve seen a few sample pages: how about that 3D CG art? it is, without a doubt, ithe best looking comic featuring computer-generated illustrations that I have ever seen. It helps that Scott Sava is no amateur when it comes to the 3D arts. In fact, you might say that the man’s a 3D art kung-fu master. According to Wikipedia, Sava has worked on video games, a movie (Casper), and several 3D comics, including one at Marvel written by Greg Rucka (Spider-Man: Quality of Life). All that experience shows.

As a result, the art of The Dreamland Chronicles is very pleasant and easy on the eyes. There are some missteps, and I go over them later in this review. But first, the good.

The vast cast of characters are all very distinctive. You will find no Poser clones here. This is thanks in big part to Karen Krajenbrink and Robin Mitchell, who, as part of the huge Dreamland Chronicles team, were responsible for character designs. (I should mention, by the way, that it takes an awful lot of folks to create The Dreamland Chronicles, and they hail from all corners of the world. The appendix lists 26 contributors, including a whopping 11 people for something called “Character Rigging and Morphs.”) You will find none of the robotic missteps that plague the typical 3D CG art webcomic. There are times when the frame zooms in a character’s face, and you’ll notice that their faces can display a wide range of emotions. True, the most common expression in the comic is shock. (And why not? Weird things happen in Dreamland.) But subtle touches, like characters averting their eyes during moments of romantic tension, come off just as well as they would in ink. Touches like these keepThe Dreamland Chronicles out of the Uncanny Valley.

Secondly, you won’t find the jagged pixel edges that plague most 3D art comics. The rendering tool Team Dreamland Chronicles uses seems to make textures look smoother than output from his contemporaries. In particular, skin textures look less like plastic doll parts and appear more natural, like the skin textures you’d find on a Pixar character.

Also appreciated: the time Sava takes to set up some scenes. Some may find this a waste of panel space, but I personally think the expanded visual time frame is key to selling the reader on the illusion of movement in a CG environment. The library poster (a reprint of which was included at the end of Volume 3) calls it “The Greatest Animated Movie … You’ve Ever Read!”, and given the painstaking frame-by-frame sequences, I think the description is apt.

Finally, The Dreamland Chronicles boasts a pleasantly muted color palette. I mentioned in a previous review of a CG comic that perhaps the best option for most would be to render the panels in black-and-white, since the comparable color versions looked mind-bogglingly fake and awful. Fortunately, The Dreamland Chronicles doesn’t suffer the same issues. From the beginning, the world of Dreamland is bathed in a golden glow that is visually sound. The lighting gets even better in later pages, where I assume Team Dreamland Chronicles has access to better 3D rendering tools. Small flecks of light dance across the pages like tiny flames, and they paint a very serene and mystical setting.

“Yak, yak, yak, El Santo,” you say, making mocking puppet gestures with your fingers. “So you’re fawning over all the pretty pictures. Big whoopty-do, Roger Ebert. But you and I both know that some of the best fantasy webcomics were drawn with pixels and stick figures. What about the story, you logarrheic luchador?”

OK, wise guy. The Dreamland Chronicles an all-ages webcomic about a regular run of the mill college student named Alexander who becomes a dashing hero of sorts after falling asleep and journeying into the land of fairy tales. And, no, it’s not because he had too many tacos the night before. Wikipedia cites Windsor McKay’s Little Nemo as The Dreamland Chronicles‘ prime inspiration. I have never read Little Nemo, and I probably wouldn’t have heard of it if not for the NES game of the same name, so I’ll just say that the flora, fauna, and geopolitical situation of the Dreamland world is not all that different from C. S. Lewis’ Narnia.

Alexander once voyaged Dreamland as a child in the company of Kiwi the chipper fairy, Paddington the jolly rumble giant, and Nastajia the purple-haired elf princess. After recovering a sword from a huge dragon, little Alex wakes up, never to dream again. That is, until one day while chilling in his college dorm he receives a fateful care package from home, which includes a necklace with a sword pendant. That night, when he goes to sleep, he is once again teleported to Dreamland.

He finds his friends again, who are more or less how he remembered them. They’re slightly larger, but from the standpoint of personality they’re pretty much the same. Well, except for Nastajia, who is now a Queen. She’s little frigid, burned with loads of responsibility, and now a major hottie. She’s a little upset that Alexander’s sorta been MIA for a decade or so, but … well, you know girls in these stories don’t stay angry for too long. She lets Alexander in on her little quest: she’s looking for her parents, who are in turn looking for some legendary tablets that may save Dreamland from the rule of King Nicodemus, a wicked king who wants nothing more than to banish children away to the nightmare realm.

Alex is more than happy to help, because … well, it’s Nastajia, the hottie Elven Queen who is also a childhood friend. Who wouldn’t? Also, he’s in possession of a kickin’ Final Fantasy-grade giant sword! The sword has the power to cut through anything, like the Miracle Blade. It cuts through rocks, towers, giant seamonsters, gargoyles, vegetables, beef, poultry… BUT WAIT! Act now and Alex gets a magical suit of armor that turns him into a Medieval Iron Man absolutely free!

Along the way, they meet a racial melting pot of storybook characters. He strikes a friendship with a catgirl named Felicity. At the the same time, she immediately raises Nastajia’s suspicions and/or jealousy that Alex may be developing some catgirl fever. Elsewhere in the webcomic, they fly around on airships and meet mermaids and dwarves and centaurs. From time to time they get into some violent scrapes, which involved a lot of stabbing but is bloodless enough to be kid friendly. Dreamland may be in the thrall of an evil king, but that doesn’t mean that the place isn’t basically one huge amusement park.

Meanwhile, in the real world, Alex has a dickens of a time trying to convince his brother, Dan, that his dreams aren’t just dreams. And also there’s Nicole, who works at the University labs and remains quite skeptical that Alex is really, truly chilling with fairies and elves. She also discovers that when Alex goes into his dream state, he’s legally brain dead. Together, can they figure out how exactly Alex is transporting to a world full of whimsy and magic?

The entire comic proceeds in a standard quest structure. The team travels the length and breath of Dreamland to ferret out the messages behind the tablets. Like I said, it’s an all-ages comic, so the plot and characterizations may come off as being overly simple (and somewhat video-gamey) for older readers. Those looking for the next Harry Potter, i.e. those looking for a dark undercurrent with the fanciful storyline, may be disappointed. In my opinion, though, I think it’s much more difficult to keep a webcomic kid friendly while, at the same time, elevating the stakes. Sure, there’s something to be said for maturing a storyline to keep pace with the age of the readership, but there’s also something to be said for narrative consistency. However, eventhough I am admittedly an older reader, I still enjoyed immersing myself in an old-fashioned swashbuckling adventure. While reading The Dreamland Chronicles, I was reminded of the fine times I spent long ago thrilling to the derring-do Robin Hood or Treasure Island.

Despite the fact that all of the comic is online for free, I think that, especially for younger readers, it’s easier and more rewarding to read the The Dreamland Chronicles in book form. I mean, the print version is an incredibly attractive package. There’s a map of Dreamland in the inner covers to give that extra oomph of fantasy flavor. The appendices of the book is crammed full of goodies, too. There are pages of Krajenbrink’s wonderful sketches that have a great Walt Disney feel to them. Also, there are a few pages of Sava’s initial attempts at a hand-drawn Dreamland Chronicles before he went the CG route. Sometimes I wonder if there’s an alternate universe out there where The Dreamland Chronicles came out as a traditional hand-drawn effort rather than a CG comic … but then, where’s the pioneering spirit in that? The appendices also include pages of fan art, some of them from comic vets like Mike Wieringo and practicing webcomic artists like Sarah Ellerton (of Phoenix Requiem and Dreamless, reviewed here and here)!

Now, for some nitpicks: The Dreamland Chronicles does make a few visual missteps. Take one of the major villains: the big red dragon. I know he’s supposed to look fearsome. Yet, he looks like he’s made out of injection molded plastic, like a Megatron action figure from the old Transformers: Beast Wars line. The other disappointment was Kraken. This seemed like a no-lose proposition: all traditional depictions of the Kraken show him as a terrifying, tentacled Lovecraftian monster. (The Pirates of the Caribbean version being one of my favorite depictions.) What could possibly undermine this briny terror of the deep? How about portraying him with a really goofy face?

Additionally, some of the exteriors, especially early on are unconvincing. Take the dorm settings, for example. First of all, it looks far too neat to be any dorm room shared by two 18 to 22 year old guys. Second, and most importantly, doesn’t it look a little too spacious? The beds, especially, seem a bit too generously proportioned. There are also times in Dreamland where the buildings seem to be built for giants (look at the size of the characters in relation to the chimney).

Fortunately, these are minor nitpicks, and none of them are dealbreakers. Overall, the graphics from early in the run hold up pretty well, which is amazing when you consider the rapid obsolescence of CG artwork. Besides, most of these graphic issues I mentioned are remedied later on in the run. The team behind the comic gets several props for successfully proving that comics rendered in CG art can, in fact, be good (even if it means you have to assemble a large team to do it), and The Dreamland Chronicles is still the only webcomic that CG art has ever been implemented well.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)


About El Santo

Somehow ended up reading and reviewing almost 300 different webcomics. Life is funny, huh? Despite owning two masks, is not actually a luchador.

Posted on February 8, 2010, in 4 Stars, action webcomic, adventure webcomic, all ages webcomic, CG webcomic, fantasy webcomic, The Webcomic Overlook, WCO Big Review, webcomics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. Just to be sure, the rating has nothing to do with them sending you free copies of the book?
    Just kidding, though I do have some disagreement here. A lot of disagreement…

    While making something kid friendly too many make the mistake of underestimating kids. I mean, why are a lot of the most recent animated Disney movies so terrible story/script-wise? How do they compare to, say, Pixar movies? Making a story unrealistic and childish may work on the kids but it shoos away any older audience and removes the title “family” for the exclusive “kids only”. Even then that sacrifice, though not noticed by the younger audience, fails to stay with them as the better quality stories do. I don’t like the idea of hiding story quality behind the “kid friendly” shield obviously. I’d have to say I wouldn’t recommend this comic to my little brother or sister because I feel they get enough half-baked shows and movies from Disney and others. If they can read well enough to fallow this comic I’d much rather get them into a real book or something.
    That all said, I think the story quality requires at least some examination. It’s somewhat boring, dull. Making something “kid friendly” doesn’t mean making all your characters act like kids. After going through the comic it’s nice to see that this college kid is learning some life lessons later in the story, but until then he acts like a 10 year old who just woke up to find he was an adult. There is much more I could say on the story but some of it may be exaggerated by my next point.
    While it is nice that this is the best done cg comic on the web, that doesn’t remove all the faults of a cg comic on the web. Comparing it to other cg is like saying that McDonald’s food isn’t as bad for you because they use a better grease than most other fast food chains.

    visual problems with both this comic and CG comics in general:

    1. The characters have very few emotions at all, I think they might even be preset, which is bad. When you hand draw a face to have a certain emotion you are drawing it FOR that emotion, it’s not added as an afterthought. You don’t throw a prefabricated expression on a blank slate of a face and point the eyes in the right direction. Unless you make new expressions and the like for almost each and every panel you’re not likely to make them look at all convincing (this is all partly due to there being no in between expression).

    2. backgrounds. While using CG you might realize that unlike hand drawing you don’t have to redraw objects, people, or places at all. You just pop them in, get them positioned right, fix your lighting problems and hit “render”, right? Well sort of. The problem with this is that you have to draw EVERYTHING entirely. That shovel over there that you will only end up seeing the handle of for one panel but you don’t know that because you’re still designing the scene? You still draw the whole thing, scan the drawing, create and texture 3d models of it, and them move on to the next object. You end up with very vacant looking settings and very few details in general, which doesn’t work out because cg begs for realism with no excuses. So a whole team working on these things is nice, but it’s just not practical for comics, especially a free webcomic.
    3. Not even Dreamland can get things perfect. Things are disproportional, objects don’t seem to make contact with each other and give off that “CG look” because of it. The right lighting and textures takes way to much work for a webcomic. Here we have the highest quality of cg in webcomics and the characters all look like action figures and toys. That armor is totally plastic, don’t try and tell my it’s metal.
    Ok, I’m being harsh, and it’s supposed to be for kids but I’m beating it up. Overall, CG webcomics just fail. They are impractical in every way. It’s also a ridiculous idea to dumb something down just to make it kid friendly, that’s a misunderstanding of both stories in general and of kids themselves. Within the boundaries this comic sets for itself it works, but those boundaries are like a choke collar to it. If the story and characters were improved and the creators had gone with the original 2d plan this comic might have worked out. The only thing they got going for them now is being the best CG webcomic, for whatever that’s worth.

    • I don’t think we disagree all the much on the CG. I don’t think it’s perfect either. (I aired my grievances toward the end of the review.) However, it’s very attractive and eye-catching — which is the first and only time I think I’d ever attribute to a CG comic. I think it is not only the best looking CG drawn comic, I think it artistically surpasses a lot of the hand drawn ones I’ve seen. One of the benefits of doing everything in CG, for example, is that the particle effects, like patches of light and smoke and fire, are rendered more seamlessly than comparable ones inserted into something hand drawn.

      Thanks for bringing up the all-ages aspect. I wanted to spend more time talking about “kid-friendly” comics in this review (it was actually my original intro), but that would probably mean that this review would get some 2000+ words longer. 🙂 You are right: kids are pretty smart, but I think that sometimes writers misinterpret what that means. I think I’ll elaborate on this in a separate piece, since I have a feeling I’m going to get pretty long-winded about this. Keep watching this space for a Captain Nihilist article on the matter!

      (Incidentally, it’s kinda difficult to compare Disney efforts to Pixar. I mean, aren’t they the same company now? And before Princess & The Frog, I think Disney was out of the game for a while. I personally think Disney’s biggest problem was attempting to be more “mature” … by trying to go after the pre-teen crowd by releasing “cool” movies like Atlantis and Treasure Planet … but that’s just me.)

      • I should add, by the way, that perhaps part of the disagreement is that we have different thresholds of the “uncanny valley.” I think it varies from person to person. I remember when Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within came out in theaters, critics (including Roger Ebert, who I mentioned snarkily in my review) wrote glowing reviews about how realistic CG managed to cross the uncanny valley for the first time. I went to the movie thinking, “What were those critics talking about? This is WAY in the uncanny valley!”

        Thus, I can only report from my POV, which is that personally I didn’t find the comic offputting, though mileage may vary.

        I suppose I should put the question up to the readers here: is The Dreamland Chronicles in the uncanny valley or not?

    • The characters have very few emotions at all, I think they might even be preset, which is bad.

      It is possible to use preset emotions on your characters; as per the usual with CG presets, though, it’s also almost always a mistake. However I don’t think the problem is with variation. I can’t speak for custom models like those in Dreamland Chronicle, but even the stock models like those I use have 50 or more morph dials for expression, all of which can be used in conjunction and at strengths varying from about -50% to 100%.

      The trouble as I would identify it is with subtlety. Cartoons and comics tend to use somewhat exaggerated expressions and poses to get their point across, which is good, but CG models are meant for realism; if you try to exaggerate the expressions or features you end up with something awful-looking. If you don’t, the characters look unexpressive and blank. It’s possible to hit the happy medium, but not in every panel or every time.

      I’d also disagree with you a bit on backgrounds. You don’t *have* to scan/draw/model every little thing (in fact you can get by with no modelling talent at all, as I do): the CG community is very generous, and with a bit of digging one can generally find freebie models of all kinds of things. It’s one of the few advantages of CG.

      I agree generally, though — CG isn’t, and will probably never be, a match for hand-drawn comics. Useful for some of us, yes, but that’s about the best that can be said. 🙂

  2. The problem I have with Dreamland Chronicles, and the one that’s nearly making me delete it from my Piperka account is the pacing. I keep seeing entire pages that could be done in a single panel, losing nothing. Everything seems so … drawn … out that it’s really quite frustrating.

    • I usually have a problem with that too, Mike, but I think that the deliberate pacing is part of what makes the CG art palatable. I don’t think that Sava would’ve gotten away with it if it were hand drawn. What Birds Know, for example, has similar pacing issues, but for some reason I was much more impatient with that comic that with this one. (Well, also, What Birds Know tends to meander from the main storyline quite regularly into lethargic subplots and doesn’t come out on a regular schedule. Those, additionally, are momentum killers.)

      • It’s the fault of the art that makes the pacing for What Birds know so hard as much as I can figure. Given the proper art it’s easy to be at peace enough inside the art of a comic that you’d want it to last even longer. I’m trying to figure out what it is that throws off the art in such a way here.
        It’s like how the reason Reggae has a hypnotic feel because the guitar is playing the same two chords over and over slowly but you don’t notice until you are listening for it, until then you get this slow feeling at the back of your mind like you’re dozing off.
        There is something that blocks you out of the art in WBK. At first I thought it was the line-work but now I’m thinking it’s the shading and colouring more. The unrealistic colors (unrealistic as in boring and lacking in variety, like you have a small box of crayons with only so many colours and you don’t know how to mix them) or the way things don’t fade when they’re distant. A tree in the foreground has the same shade of green as the ones in a tree on a far away mountain, the shadows on it are the same too, there is also very little variation in the line-work. It’s as if the lines are too perfect, feeling unnatural (not perfect in that they’re done right, but in their lack of variation in thickness). I’m looking too much into this but now I really want to know.

  3. Wow.
    This has got to be the most in depth…most thought out…and well balanced review EVER!

    Thank you SO much!

    I kept going back and forth while reading.
    He hates it
    He loves it
    He hates it
    He…well he doesn’t hate it.

    I really didn’t care how it ended up. I was just so flattered that you put such time and effort into this.

    So much information for me to absorb.

    I really do appreciate it.

    I first started Dreamland in 2003. So I’m really feeling like I’m finally “getting it” now. Chapters 13 on are really my favorites.
    Both in art and writing.

    So thank you again. And thanks to Mike and Grey above me for voicing your thoughts too.


    • I liked the comic overall, but I’d be lax if I didn’t point out things that bothered me. For example, I gave Girl Genius 5-stars and a coveted spot on my Top Ten Webcomics of the Decade, but I still pointed out that the faces Phil Foglio drew were really inconsistent. I think if I notice and flaw and I don’t talk about it, I’m not really doing a good job reviewing.

      • I totally agree.

        And I think it’s absolutely necessary for both the critic AND the artist to HAVE those issues brought to life.

        Those relationships between fans, critics, and the creator help grow the properties into something so much more than merely one person’s idea.

        I wish more creators adapted to more input and criticism in their work.

        Again…thank you.

        • The encouragement of criticism alone is enough to earn extra stars in a review to me. Any artist acting out against criticism is hardly an artist are they? When you cannot take criticism you make the proclamation that you are without flaw and do not need to seek perfection because you are already basking in it. Hubris is the worst crime an artist can commit.
          So good for you “A” for effort and a side of class. But I still remain in opposition; I still think you guys should have gone for the traditional art route, with the concept drawings I have seen from you I think it would have left me more biased for it if taken that direction.

          That’s just me. I’m still defending the failings of Joe England and Philip M. Jackson because I’m so in love with their art styles. More so for Joe, they guy’s the master of black and white comics (to me).

  4. I read about 8 webcomics on a regular basis and to be honest, am not a huge fan of comics in general. My biggest exposure is reading them in the newspaper every day. That said, I absolutely love The Dreamland Chronicles. It is a very well told, interesting, family friendly story that happens to also have some amazing artwork attached to it.

    Could the CG stuff be a little better? Yes it could, and if you gave Scott access to the rendering tools at Pixar I am confident they would be. Could the story be a bit more “mature”? Yes, but honestly, I like it the way it is (mind you, I am as old as Scott is). Do I wish Scott would write the pages faster and get on with the story, hell yeah! But he is such a stickler for getting it right that I can’t possibly get mad at him for taking his time. Anyone who has followed the story as it unfolds can tell you how many times he has either asked for the readers opinions on how a page is turning out before it is published or even gone back to re-work lighting or some other detail that a few readers may have pointed out.

    Last, but not least, great job on the review. 🙂

    • I agree with Rich about the story. I am way in my forty’s but I loved the story. It’s simple, funny, touching and has that extra wow touch that reminds me of my childhood awesomeness about some old favourites (as El Santo wrote in the review, too).

      Maybe I was helped by the fact that I read the first 14 chapters in a whole (’cause I discovered this webcomic only circa a month ago … hey, in Italy we don’t have much of a cover of international webcomics, ok ?), or maybe because I am a huge fan of fantasy stories (that, after all, are always a bit naive, aren’t they ? Heroes never fail … it’s not how reality works …).

      Anyway, I found that the most appealing factor of this webcomic (remember that I am quite restricted in my views, since I don’t know and I don’t have time to read webcomics in general) is the author himself! Scott is a very kind person and a very appreciative one. As Rich says, he always considers reader’s opinion the most and he is always in search of suggestions and betterments. He is really an artist from that point of view.

      Ok, now I’m stopping or someone could think I am paid by him to be such a fan 😀

  5. As far as pacing goes, the webcomic normally releases 3 pages per week – one of the fastest full color webcomics around. I think it’s fair to grant Scott a few extra panels for atmosphere if that’s what he feels is needed considering the rate at which the comic is being release.

  6. I like the Dreamland chronicles, but in the end it was definitely too slow for me.

    I think the clothes the characters wear also REALLY bother me… Nastaja’s ridiculous outfit and Nicole’s REALLY LAME clothes are just so blah. And Nicole has light purple lips. I find it terribly obnoxious. Other than that, it’s a cute story.

    Just slow.

  7. I’m surprised you didn’t mention the speech bubbles.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I have a lot of trouble when the speech bubbles clearly have no relationship whatsoever to the art. These Dreamland chronicles pages are like you’re looking at a museum diorama and somebody pasted speech bubble stickers on the glass display case. I don’t really “hear” them as an integral part of the world the way I do with speech bubbles in drawn comics.

    Also, a lot of times the mouths look weird.

    I have never read Little Nemo, and I probably wouldn’t have heard of it if not for the NES game of the same name,

    Dude, what the hell. Get out there and read it, man! A comics critic saying that is like a film critic saying “I probably wouldn’t have heard about Orson Welles if not for the Transformers movie”.

    I hope that doesn’t sound harsher then I mean it; I’m sick and medicated, I can’t judge that. But seriously, Winsor McKay is one of history’s great cartoonists. As a comics fan/critic you owe it to yourself to get to know him.

    • Oh, brainwave! I wonder if having more sound effects would make the speech bubbles seem more natural; it seems like 3d comics and fumettti don’t have sound effects so much. Maybe the speech bubbles would feel more natural if they had more company.

      Motion lines might work for that too.

      • I think you’ve hit one of the main visual problems with CG comics here, one I forgot to mention. When a comic is drawn the lines are part of the drawing, the lines of the speech bubbles and of the text itself blend in, they become a part of it. No one had found a way of keeping the speech bubbles from standing out against the images in CG yet, as far as I know.
        Dreamland comes close by making the borders a thin coloured line, which greatly helps in blending it in to the image. It’s still far from a perfect solution.

  8. I’ll admit that I haven’t read all of this comic, but the art impresses the living heck out of me. Yes there are a few issues with proportion and plasticity (in my opinion it was relatively minor) but the lighting is truly insane. And the object detail! And I keep coming back to check out the expressions, I really had no idea that non-professionally produced CG art could achieve results like those.

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