Free Comic Book Day is coming on May 7th and in the hopes of gaining some publicity, Radical Comics sent me a copy of their free offering, Jake the Dreaming, a little early. I’m glad they did because it looks to be an excellent book.
The Free Comic Book day edition of Jake the Dreaming isn’t a full story but rather a preview of an illustrated novel that will be published in December. It’s the story of Jake, a 10-year-old boy, who keeps having adventurous but terrifying dreams which includes his classmates and relatives.
By day, he’s a normal student who can’t stop day-dreaming. By night, he’s a boy who vanquishes demons and other assorted monsters. The preview contains excerpts of several chapters both in Jake’s normal life and in the dreamworld. Jake and the readers soon discover that he is “Dreaming,” the chosen one with the ability to enter others’ dreams and save their souls from the evil Nocturnus.
What Parents Will Like About It:
An illustrated novel differs from traditional sequential art in that the story is told primarily in prose instead of through the art. The illustrations are placed throughout the book to support the prose instead of the other way around. In the preview, the illustrations were single and double-page spreads of Jake’s dreams, which include everything from a shark with a “Yield” sign as a dorsal fin, a horrifying wolf, and dinosaurs that eat tanks.
What Kids Will Like About It:
My youngest son, age eleven, said the layout reminded him of an old-style manuscript, like a fairy tale. “I like the story but I also really like the way it’s presented,” he said. The artwork by Andrew Jones is eye-popping and the story is immersive, especially when stuck in the dreams. This reminded me a bit of the atmosphere of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series for DC Comics, though, obviously, this is suitable for children and much simplified. Coraline might be a better analogy.
My son asked if he could have the novel when it comes out, so the preview certainly accomplished what the publisher wanted.
There’s a gorgeous illustration of a dinosaur/dragon eating a tank.
About the creators:
Adam Freeman has written the X-Men for Marvel Comics and The Authority for DC Comics Wildstorm line. Marc Bernadin has an endorsement from Nathan Fillion on his blog — always a good thing — and was born and raised in New York City. He writes for Entertainment Weekly‘s Pop Watch Blog and wrote this article about the cancelation of Dollhouse.