I'll admit I was that kid who drew all my imaginary friends with pointy ears. So even as an adult I am a sucker for a fantasy story. And that's what The Dreamland Chronicles delivers, in the best way possible.
I first found The Dreamland Chronicles when I was first getting into reading a lot of webcomics. At first I was just really fascinated by the style, which I had never seen in a webcomic, but I soon realized that the story's scope and detail were more than worthy of the comic's cinematic features.
The story spans both our reality, and the magical Dreamland, only accessible in sleep, but where actions can have consequence even in the real world. Theoretically, we all access Dreamland as children, but as we grow older, our connection grows weaker. It's like the Neverland of dreams. But it turns out the main character, Alexander, has a much more complicated relationship with Dreamland, tied to it's lore and it's kings, than he ever knew. After his mother finds a necklace from his childhood and returns it to him, he is suddenly transported, in his sleep, back to the world he thought was only a part of his childhood imagination. Here he meets up with his childhood romance, Elf princess Nastajia, and pals Kiwi the Fairy and Paddington the Rock Giant who help him realize that things in Dreamland aren't quite how he remembers them. He then sets out on a epic quest to solve the problems in Dreamland with his magical pals and an assist in the real world from twin (but polar opposite) brother Daniel and brilliant (and pushy) fellow student, Nicole.
The brilliant part about The Dreamland Chronicles is that it is, to my mind, the epitome of an all-ages comic. Writer and creator Scott Christian Sava openly admits that when he writes, he writes with his twin 6 year old sons in mind. But while many comics branded as "all-ages" are really just aimed at children and can sometimes fall into simple or sophomoric patterns, The Dreamland Chronicles builds a rich lore that is fascinating to readers both young and old. It does not shy away from relationships or tragedy, but treats them with a respect and reality often lacking in comics aimed at younger readers.
Additionally, one of Dreamland's greatest strengths is it's endpoint, something often mythical in the world of comics. Sava has long stated that The Dreamland Chronicles has 24 planned chapters. He mapped the entire story out, just like you would if you were writing a novel. This isn't one of those webcomics that is going to run indefinitely or started with only half a plan in mind. It is a full-fleshed tale with a beginning, middle and end, and as such, is able to really tie everything together without the fear of contradicting itself or changing direction.
And it's understandable why the story would be plotted so far in advance, not only does the comic update five days a week, with very few days missed in the five years the comic has been running, but the computer animation is a must more time-consuming process than some traditional hand-drawn comics and involves many more players. Sava enlists a whole team through his company, Blue Dream Studios, that help with the creation of the Dreamland worlds. He has character designers and modelers, environment designers and a whole slew of people who do other jobs I will openly admit I don't understand. It is a real collaboration that results in a top notch product. You can find more about the process and the people who work on it on the site's FAQ page.
Overall, I would highly recommend The Dreamland Chronicles to any reader, young or old, who is a fan of great fantasy tales. Plan and simple.
TL;DR Even if you're not a fan of fantasy tales, I would recommend looking at The Dreamland Chronicles as a case study of a great all-ages comic, great storytelling and a well-done, well-planned webcomic.
The Dreamland Chronicles is created and written by Scott Christian Sava and produced by him and a team of digital artist through his company, Blue Dream Studios. You can read the story so far in its entirety online or purchase volumes 1-5 in hardcopy. You can find the books in the Blue Dream Studios store.
Thank you to Scott Christian Sava for graciously providing Spandexless with such great art samples for this piece. Come back next week for a Q&A with the creator!