BY JENNIFER M. CONTINOScott Christian Sava's Dreamland Chronicles
takes a college man back to his childhood whimsy by transporting Alexander to the Dreamland, a magical world he stopped believing in when he was 12. The series has all the magic of Little Nemo
or The Wizard of Oz
, with a sensibility that makes it almost instantly relatable to people of all ages. He began the adventure online, but several places have collected this series including, most recently, IDW Publishing
. Sava told us what it was like taking a series he's been working on since 2002 and introducing it to so many different people. THE PULSE: What is The Dreamland Chronicles? For some reason, I think Little Nemo when I hear the title ...
SCOTT CHRISTIAN SAVA:
The Dreamland Chronicles was heavily influenced by Little Nemo. In art school, we studied Winsor McCay at one point and I was blown away. I’d been writing in my sketchbook about a kid who goes to a world of dreams and here it was. Just 100 years earlier.
I kept working on ideas…but always came back to Nemo. What happened to him when he grew up? Did he fall in love with the princess? Did he still dream?
That’s how Dreamland came about. In fact…for the longest time…Alexander was named Nemo.
Now…many years later…The Dreamland Chronicles is its own story. Complete with history, relationships, and of course a fan base all its own.
I’m really happy with how it’s all come together.THE PULSE: How did you come up with the idea of this magical realm? I mean we all hear about fantasy places and have read stories, watched movies and heard songs about mystical places, so what went into your mix to create this saga?
Exactly that. Everything I’ve read, seen in movies, and discussed with friends. It’s a bit of everything.
The “quest” is pure Hobbit. The beautiful princess the hero “gets” is from John Carter of Mars. The timeline and how time is different between worlds is from the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Add in the Never-ending Story, Dragonslayer, Labyrinth, Legend, Clash of the Titans, Conan, and all the other movies I watched as a kid…and there’s my inspiration.
I think any creator who tells you their ideas are unique is delusional. EVERYTHING we do is based on something else we’ve seen or heard. Nothing is original anymore. It’s simply an amalgamation of our experiences.THE PULSE: We've seen a lot of stories where in dreams someone is more powerful or has a different life than in reality. What sets Alexander's adventures apart from the rest? I mean, what do you think your story offers that others of this kin are lacking?
I honestly don’t know. I mean…the compliment I’m given the most is…”your story has such a fun ‘familiar’ feeling to it”.
I think that’s the point. It has elements of movies and books I love, and therefore others have that same nostalgic feeling when they read it.
I don’t know if Alexander in Dreamland is any different than Neo in the Matrix or John Carter in Mars. It’s just that wonderful element we dream about at night. Going to a magical world where you can do more than in this mundane one.
It’s a universal desire I think. I know I would love it…and I hope my kids and the others who read Dreamland find that connection too.THE PULSE: How long did it take you to develop The Dreamland Chronicles? What were the challenges of even getting this story off the ground?
I’ve been working on it since 2002 (when I finished Spider-Man). So it’s 7 years now. Before that it was just me doing sketches and jotting notes for 10 years.
The biggest challenge is money. It costs a LOT of money.
I’m not a modeler. My designs are nothing like Karen Krajenbrink’s wonderful drawings, and I am horrible at rigging bones and doing facial morphs.
So I had to hire a team of artists to help me build these characters and worlds. Together…we’ve created over 200 characters and 100 environments. And we’re only halfway through.
Funding is tight. I started the Dreamland Chronicles back when I was still taking on animation work. So we had money. But now I’m doing it full time and mostly we’re borrowing money from family and banks.
It’s a labor of love.THE PULSE: How old were you when you stopped believing in imaginary creatures or magical things? You've made Alexander 12 when that happened to him; but what about you? When did you have a childhood's end?
Well my family still thinks I’m a big child still. I have action figures, games, comics and really don’t do much “grown up” stuff.
But actually BELIEVING in magical things? Oh…I don’t know. Whatever the date was…I’m sure it wasn’t a traumatic experience. Nothing noteworthy.
I picked the age of 12 for Alexander because it’s always been an age of reckoning. The age where kids turn into adults. Seemed appropriate.THE PULSE: I know reality sets in and that's the reason a lot of people lose their fantasy ... but what happens to make Alexander at 20 remember his childhood fancy and adventure?
He finds a necklace. It takes him back to Dreamland. Without it…he’d have never returned.
And even upon his return back…he doesn’t believe it’s anything more than a dream. A very REAL dream…but just a dream nonetheless.
It’s only after many adventures and experiences that he actually starts to believe this may actually be real. This fantasy world may actual exist outside of his mind.THE PULSE: What are some of the creatures or beings that inhabit the Dreamland? Who are the good? What is the bad?
Paddington Rumblebottom III is a rock giant. He goes from town to town teaching the inhabitants how to dance. Yes….he’s a dance instructor. He’s known throughout the land and his celebrityism (I just made that word up…) often opens up many doors for the group. People just love him.
Kiwi is our resident fairy. She’s pig tails and butterflies. She’s cute, loves pink, and loves playing match maker. But don’t’ mess with her in a fight. She’s got five fists of fury if you get on her bad side.
Nastajia Ashenheart is the love interest. She and Alex were close as kids. Puppy love really.
But Alex disappearing for 8 years has forced her to grow up a lot quicker than she should have. She (along with the others) assumed he was dead. Then…2 years ago…she lost her parents. Now..at such a young age…she’s ruling Ashendel as Queen.
There are literally HUNDREDS of other characters…but I’d rather people discover them for themselves. That’s half the fun.THE PULSE: How did you decide the art style or format for this series?
I did try painting the series. I did a few pages. It was OK…but I knew I wanted to do something really different. Just coming off of Spider-Man kind of made me want to see how far I could push the medium. So I went for it.
I tackled it as I would an animated feature film. Storyboards, character designs, a schedule, budget, everything. So it’s half animated movie/half comic book to me.
It hasn’t been easy. And a lot of “purists” won’t even give it a try because it’s not pencil and ink. But overall I’m quite happy with it.
The fans have been wonderful and often quite encouraging.THE PULSE: Who or what influences your creative process the most in The Dreamland Chronicles?
Definitely my kids. They love it when I read to them. They’re in Kindergarten now…and learning to read. How amazing it’ll be to watch them read it themselves.
Then again…in jr. high school to see them pick up on the romance and other aspects. And again as a parent…to see it from my eyes now.
The fans are a definitely huge influence. They give me daily feedback and encouragement. They also tell me who they love and who they hate.
Pixar is such a great inspiration artistically. I’m always pushing myself because of their genius. I’m so glad they came along and showed everyone how brilliant animation can be on a computer. It’s so encouraging and humbling.THE PULSE: How did you come up with the idea of this magical necklace that transports him back to the world of his dreams? Is the story here a little different from what happened in the webcomic?
I guess it goes back to when my family would take me to church a lot. We went like 5 days a week at some point. I was in Jr. High or early High School.
My dad had this big silver cross he’d wear. I always thought it looked kind of like a sword.
One year I found a sword shaped cross and begged my parents to get it for me. It was a cross…so they couldn’t say no.
But I wore that everywhere. Thought it was so cool. I guess that stuck with me in some sense. THE PULSE: You were publishing this online and through your Bluedream Studios imprint. What made you want to continue this series with IDW? Is the IDW series a reprint of your webcomic or all new materials?
The comic series as well as the graphic novel series is definitely the same pages as the Webcomic. To date…I’ve published under Astonish Comics, Blue Dream Studios, Alias, and now IDW.
Each time we’ve tried to break into the comic shop market…but found my series really isn’t for “fanboys”.
The story is slow. It’s light hearted. It’s colorful and family friendly.
It’s pretty much EVERYTHING the fanboy comics are not.
But where my comics may not do as well in the comic shops…they’re doing extremely well in book stores and online. It’s a different audience. More girls. More guys who aren’t pure fanboys. Parents. Kids. Pretty much everyone else.
It’s been wonderful.
IDW has really taken the book series under their wing and supported it 100% I’m very excited for the future.THE PULSE: What do you enjoy the most about working on this series?
Everything. I love writing the next chapter. I love the romance. I love working on new lands and new characters.
I love holding a finished book in my hand. I love waking up weekday mornings to an inbox full of fan mail. I love meeting fans who tell me Dreamland is their favorite comic. I love doing sketches for fans.
I love seeing fan art. Reading Fan fiction. Seeing pictures of peoples children reading Dreamland on trips. I love it all. It’s just an incredible thing.THE PULSE: How is creating The Dreamland Chronicles different than some of your other projects?
It’s all mine. Well…I guess it is and it isn’t.
It’s all mine in that it’s my story and art. But of course the art is based on assets supplied to me by incredible artists who design and model things for me.
But it’s still my baby.
I work on it every day. Putting out another page. We’re 800 pages in and going strong. It’s a marathon.
My other projects…I write them, then hand them off to artists. There’s not that daily toiling over every detail.
Dreamland’s my baby.THE PULSE: Speaking of your other projects, we had news of several of them being optioned. What's the status of some of those?
Pet Robots just got a writer. Colin Trevorrow is working on the screenplay right now. I’m hoping Disney goes into production on the live action film by summer.
The other ones are…well I can’t talk about it. But we also optioned Hyperactive to MTV last year…but nothing has come of it to date.
Other than that…we have 4 other projects currently being worked on for film. But until they’re announced…I can’t say anything.THE PULSE: What else are you working on?
Ok…let’s see. Ed’s Terrestrials hit stores last month. Pet Robots hit stores last week. Hyperactive comes out next week. My Grandparents are Secret Agents hits stores in January. Cameron and his Dinosaurs hits stores in March. Gary the Pirate hits stores in May. The Luckiest Boy hits stores in July. Magic Carpet hits stores in September. And I’m working on Animal Crackers now. Whew.
Of course Dreamland keeps rolling on as well. Book 3 will hit stores in January as well. I’m hoping to get the last 3 books in the series (6 books total) finished in the next 3 years (one every year). We’ll see if I can keep that pace.
PULSE readers can learn more about the series here: http://www.thedreamlandchronicles.com/