We had a very interesting chat with Max Bemis ahead of the release of the first issue of Boom! Studios series Lucy Dreaming, a project where Bemis writes and Michael Dialynas digs in to art after finishing up his long-running series The Woods. The concepts behind the series seemed both fun and a little profound, equally cinched by Dialynas’ ability to bring humor and pathos to characters.
Our Noah Sharma reviewed the first issue glowingly, rightly picking up on some of the potentially hidden depths of the series. Now, with the release of the second issue, many of the ideas teased in Bemis’ interview have more fully come to light. And within a couple of pages of this month’s issue, we’re made aware, with nicely limited exposition, that whatever we thought was going on in issue #1, when Lucy seemed to sleep-travel to a Star Wars-like story, is actually something operating on a bigger scale.
We, like Lucy, are overwhelmed by this revelation, and are meant to be. And we get to share in Lucy’s full meltdown that her parents have kept this information from her throughout her life, only to let it drop like a bomb on her during an already stressful time in her life. We get the sense that she’ll be resilient and recover, but I really have to hand it to Bemis for committing to a multi-page disgruntled reaction from Lucy. This feels realistic, and helps ground the story despite its wild, wild premise that some kind of macrocosmic world of story ideas exists from which we derive our many myths and tales, and Lucy is one of perhaps a number of people who phases there during her sleeping hours to inhabit the bodies of its heroes.
I think that another writer might have spent about a page with Lucy mad at her parents, but Lucy’s initial freak-out, wonderfully illustrated by Dialynas as a series of overlays of Lucy trashing her bedroom in neon colors against a dark background (see below), followed by her slow trudge through an exhausting school day turns this into a different story–a psychological one. For a story that contains themes easily applied to the human psychology of storytelling, this is a great move, balancing the ideas of the story with specific events the reader can “watch” play out.
The unrelentingly frowsy face of Lucy is also a wonderful thing for comics. Depicting a young girl who is going to play the hero in many stories in her dream-state, without any overt societal standards of delicacy, frail beauty, or other fairly medieval but still pervasive feminine ideals present, makes a difference to me as a female reader, and hopefully will to young readers picking up the book as well.
Of course, I’m leaving out the biggest draw of each issue of this series–the story that Lucy plunges into this time around, which will take the form of commentary on the types of stories readers are familiar with in pop culture. This time, it’s pretty clearly The Hunger Games, and some of the dialog is laugh-out-loud-funny. The names of fantasy characters are critiqued. Characters are unceremoniously offed by creatures and each other. Something very clever that works well is the placement of faux yellow sticky notes over the dialog translating adult language into obviously correlating but passable non-offensive phrases, because this is a book a middle grade reader should be able to pick up without controversy. It works. And it’s funny, too.
Let’s just agree at this point that the team up between Bemis and Dialynas is a very good thing, and that this series has a lot of potential, not only for entertaining, but for talking about stories in an intelligent way that gives us a new angle through which to view our own lives and experiences. This “holding a mirror up to life” is one of the biggest driving forces in modern storytelling, and Lucy Dreaming finds new and engaging ways to do that.
Lucy Dreaming #2 is out in comic shops now from Boom! Studios. It is written by Max Bemis, illustrated by Michael Dialynas, and lettered by Colin Bell.