Emily Rose Lambert’s Dreamscape is an atmospheric and haunting journey through the subconscious, a shorter version of which first appeared in the pages of Dirty Rotten Comics #4 last year. In this self-published edition Lambert has taken the opportunity to significantly expand on this moodily meandering piece from its original fleeting incarnation.
In my recent BF interview with her here, Emily – who is also one of 2016’s Broken Frontier ‘Six Small Press Creators to Watch’ – revealed how Dreamscape was originally intended to be a series of dream diary-style comics but evolved into something longer-form.
In her words: “The short version that I submitted for Dirty Rotten Comics put across my idea, but I wanted to incorporate more elements from my dream diary to form an expanded narrative and explore the theme further; reflecting the disjointed nature of dreams, the way the landscape changes, how things are left hanging without a resolution and don’t quite fit together or make sense.”
Dreamscape is indeed a deliberately fractured piece that replicates the peculiar logic of dreams with a familiar unpredictability. Two anthropomorphic rabbit-like creatures traverse an often unwelcoming wilderness; obstacles forever encroaching, sinister figures observing, and even their own sense of identity melting along the way.
Lambert captures the rambling, jumping arrangement of the random threads that our minds stitch together in our slumbering hours in all their disconnected, yet oddly linked, contradictory glory. Recurring themes are in evidence throughout – mild body horror (bottom image), a sense of a quest without a purpose, and intense feelings of loss and guilt for people and situations that don’t (and never will) exist.
The fantastic is a constant feature of this fantasy locale but every so often recognisable elements from the routine of the waking world weave themselves in and out of events – our protagonists finding themselves on the last bus home, for example, adding an ironic twist as something so ordinary and everyday becomes oddly incongruous in this bizarre setting; real world iconography suddenly alien and misplaced.
The poetic and flowing use of language adds a sense of poignancy, drawing together the disparate strands of Dreamscape into a greater whole. But these tightly paced pages also display a firm command of comics trickery to emphasise mood and motifs – shifting perspectives, a deft manipulation of the passage of time between panels, and the movement of characters within the environs of a single image all combine to remind us of the curious nature of this dream environment.
Lambert’s work to date has incorporated the mythological and folkloric to great effect and there are echoes of that in the design of the ethereal and cyclical landscape she creates in these pages. Not just an eerie re-creation of that nocturnal terrain we all retreat to in our sleeping hours, Dreamscape is also a confident early offering from a creator we recommend you keep a close eye on in future…
For regular updates on all things small press follow Andy Oliver on Twitter here.