Cold Cut Distribution's Feature Spotlight #20 - December 1996


Publisher:	Dreamwalker Press (Issues 1-5) 
			Tapestry / Caliber (vol 2 #1 arrives this month)
Story & Art:	Jenni Gregory	
Cvr Price:	$2.95
Frequency:  	Bi-monthly


Life's not easy when you're a single girl struggling to get along in the big city. Everything from the daily pressures of working in a neurology clinic to the dangers of walking alone through a park at night constantly beat on you. A good night's sleep is essential to get you through your day -- what a shame Karen Brinson hasn't been getting much lately. Sleep, that is.

She's been dreaming instead. Really weird dreams. She dreams she talks to her next-door neighbor who's on vacation, who says they'll talk when she gets back. Then, Karen dreams she's talking to the little boy at the neurology clinic - the one with the inoperable brain tumor who has almost no chance to live. In her dreams, she helps him deal with confronting his parents and helps them come to terms with his loss. That feels good, but still weird. And when the parents come around later to thank her, she's getting seriously freaked out. What is going on? Can she control it? Better yet, can she stop it?
 [ panels from Dreamwalker ]

Writing Review:

Jenni's ear for realistic dialogue is so good, it's painful. Karen's rambling thoughts as she begins to get seriously worried, even the way she constantly deflects her friend's concern over her health all ring true. The plotting is solid, though somewhat slower than one is used to in a comic book. After five issues, the protagonist still doesn't really believe in her abilities or have any control (can you imagine "Supergirl" running five issues with her just struggling to fly?). Dreamwalker has the feel of a solid novel being spread out into issues of a comic, as opposed to issues of a comic being woven into a novel. The story has its own pace which suits it perfectly - the careful pacing allows the pathos to really shine through (especially in issues 2 and 3, the real tearjerkers, which feature the young boy with the tumor).

Art Review:

Jenni's art in general has a flowing, liquid sensibility that lends itself to the dreamlike and stream-of-consciousness feel of the book. She still struggles with faces and hands (the hardest parts of anatomy to master), but easily manages the key task of making sure everyone in the book looks distinct. She hasn't found a way to make the older woman neighbor look that much older, nor a way to make the police officer look over 18, but she's working on it.


This is an easy sell to readers of Strangers in Paradise, and the likable female star will catch the eye of readers of Wandering Star or Private Beach or Action Girl. The dream-walking will interest readers of Radical Dreamer or Rare Bit Fiends. Even Sandman fans who liked the "Doll's House" storyline should pick this one up.
 [ panels from Dreamwalker ]

If you like Dreamwalker, take a look at:

Dressed For Success

Publisher:	Egesta Comics
Story & Art:	Chris Howard & Jeff Wasson
Cover Price:	$12.00  (304 pp)
Frequency:	TPB of first 13 issues; 2nd TPB next year.


Walter Andrewkowski has a problem. He's on the run from the mafia, since while he was their accountant he embezzled 50 million bucks. That in and of itself is a fairly sizable problem, so imagine his joy to end up with a partner in flight, Alex Corbett - fellow mafia avoider due to his unpaid gambling debts. Together, they manage to get in and out of scrapes on all sorts of planets - holding down jobs, losing jobs, losing Walter's money, etc. Along the way, they get to meet furry bear matrons, killer androids from the future, a wacked-out scientist who thinks he's invented a time machine, and plenty more.

Writing Review:

Well-written and plotted, the series catches you with its satire and parody, but stands on its extended characters and plotline. The duo's comic timing is excellent, something not easily achievable in comics today. They take on targets spanning the gamut of science fiction, working in parodies of Star Wars (twice!), Doctor Who, Terminator, and Back to the Future, as well as shots at Star Trek, Youngblood, the TMNT phenomenon, Ronald Reagan and the Gulf War, and pastiches of "Jaka's Story" and other comic stuff. The parody of Back to the Future, in particular, is not to be missed. Would you believe - they go back to their own issue 1?

Art Review:

Well, you've got to remember that, like Matt Feazell's great-selling Ert! book, this is a collection of minicomics. Unlike Feazell, though, these guys don't do stick figures - they do something more in the vein of Doonesbury, art-wise. So some of their art, especially in the first half of the book, suffers from reproduction limitations. Perhaps the original medium was crude or the size change for the book rendered it grainy - regardless, the first half of the book comes across as primitive but entertaining. The layouts are consistently creative and readable, though some of the fine line work vanishes and what remains looks somewhat unfinished. In short, looking like good minicomics.

The improvement in the art over the first hundred pages is astounding. Clearly the guys went from an "Oh, this is kinda cool" attitude towards their work into more dedicated creatorship. Faces and figures firm up, backgrounds fill in, reproduction improves, and in general the art improves 1000 percent, looking not at all like mini-comics, and more like professional full-size comics.


After issue 25 (this winter), these guys say they're going full-size with Dressed For Success, and are going to tackle extended storylines and characters while still adding dollops of humor along the way; focus more on themes and less on parodies. Which is spooky in a way, since the book I most often compare DFS to did the exact same thing - remember Cerebus? Good parody writing with strong characters and plotting led to the start of Dave Sim's major storyline - in issue 26. I'd suggest you be watching DFS as they make the same transition. Meantime, this TPB is quite a bargain (304 pp for only $12!) and should interest readers of Buck Godot, Cerebus (Dave Sim has a laudatory quote on the back cover), and Lethargic Comics (and Greg Hyland provides the introduction).

If you like Dressed For Success, take a look at:

Cold Cut Distribution
220 N Main St. - Salinas, CA 93901 - (831) 751-7300

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