...And Then I Woke Up

click to enlarge

Date Launch #9a and #9b: September 1999

Concept Well, depending on your perspective, I was either too busy or too lazy to put in another page of “Sasquatch” this month.  Instead, I went and made a couple of dream comics.  These are based on actual dreams dreamt by yours truly.  I tend to have periods of crazy dreams and then periods of little (remembered) dreaming.  Usually, I have several wild dreams in a night, and I wake up after each one thinking that there’s no way that I could possibly forget the dream; but then I fall back asleep and have another funky dream, making me forget the former one.  So I’ve tried to get better about trying to write down something in the middle of the night so that I can at least remember some of it.

These represent a few of the ones that I was able to capture.  Granted, they aren’t the wackiest dreams that I’ve had, but they do show some of the quirkiness that goes on in my head.  You shouldn’t think that these are exact representations of the dream.  A lot was lost between sleep and wakening, and more between thought and capturing it on paper, and even more between scribble in the middle of the night and the actual finished comic.  Still, even though they are far from perfect, I thought it was a good experiment to try.

Layout a) I didn’t really think this one through very well.  I slapped the title panel on, and then kind of worked out that I could put three rows of panels on the page.  Based on the 2 dreams, nine panels seemed like a good number to work them into.

b) I took a little more care with this one, although it turned out very similar to the first one.

Putting it Together Some things were more successful than others on these two.  It was kind of hard to cram so much information into a short space and I was often more interested in talking to myself than to an audience.  There were lots of dream elements that I wanted to remember and these often were more important to me than telling a clear and concise story.  That is, I tried to capture my thoughts about the dream as much as a straight retelling of the dream.  In that sense, some things took on greater significance than I would have given them in a “normal” story; and other things were left less explained than they would have in a normal story.  I was mostly okay with that because, hey, these are dreams, and dreams are like that, some things make sense in a dream that would never make sense in the real world.  However, I do think it makes it harder for an outsider to appreciate the comic.

There were some other unsuccessful areas.  Of note, see the big book panel of the 2nd comic.  There’s a lot of unnecessary information in this panel.  For example, it’s pretty clear from the picture that the book is big, I don’t really need to add the note.  Also, it’s pretty clear that I’m flipping through it because of the additional pages, so the “flip, flip, flip” is probably unnecessary.  Finally, with a little extra attention to the artwork, a lot of the text is probably not needed, since you could probably tell that I was frantic…oh, well.  This is the kind of lesson that takes a while to learn: just how much information is necessary to get the point across?

Lettering a) except for the title, I actually think that the lettering looks halfway decent on this one.  Admittedly, some of the text is probably hard to understand, because the dream itself is funky.  I didn’t work out a very goodway of noting when the dream was dreamt.

b) for the most part, the lettering is satisfactory here as well.  Where it is less successful are in those places where the character is talking, or there are random notes floating around.  I have some of those notes floating around because I wanted to remember certain things about the dream.  In particular, it is always interesting to me what elements my subconscious chooses to include in the dream; so here I’ve noted stuff about my shirt, and a movie as an aid to remembering these details.  Admittedly, it doesn’t work so well from the perspective of someone who didn’t have the dream.

Inking a) started out using a water-based ink.  I think that I have determined that I will only use acrylic-based ones from now on.  I can have better control over what I’m doing and it just frankly looks better as an end product.  There s a lot less spread of the ink across the page, because the page will soak up the watery stuff in unpredictable ways.  Anyway that explains (some of) the blotchiness of the title frame.

I also used the white paint on this one, and it just didn’t work out very well, especially in reproduction.  I still need to find a white acrylic paint.

2) started using a smaller sable brush on this one.  They are nice.  Sable brushes and acrylic ink (so far) are the way to go.

Reproduction typical xerox bullshit


  • Brushes: Windsor and Newton Sable #2 and #00—very nice.
  • Pens: Rapidograph, Pilot Precise V7 for lettering and straight lines
  • Magic Rub Eraser
  • Paper: 11 x 14 Bristol
  • 30-60-90 triangle
  • T-Square
  • Ridgeways Horse Hair Brush
  • Higgins Pen Cleaner: This is good for getting the ink out of your brushes
  • Black Acrylic Artist’s Ink: Use an acrylic ink.  It makes a huge difference.  Everything else I’ve tried is just way too watery.  The ink dries faster and more evenly, and it looks glossier.  Of course, it dries faster in your brush too, so you have to clean you brushes more often.
  • White UniPaint (fine line): for whites.  It don’t work so well, but it’s the best thing that I’ve found so far.  

Overall I think this was a good experiment, and I hope to continue it.  Where it is less successful are those areas where I give esoteric information—who’s mary? who cares if you wore that shirt?—so these are not as “reader friendly” as they could be, and while I think I should work harder to make all my stuff more intelligible to the audience, I also want to temper that with being able to do things that I want to do.  It’s a strange balance, because you want to follow your vision, but you also want to have people read your stuff.

What People are Saying About ...And Then I Woke Up


John Says:

As you already know, I love this kind of stuff.  Dreams, artwork from friends, artwork from friends about dreams...   I got a royally major kick out of this one.  It's one of my fave's.   Trying to be critical, let's see what I can pick on.   The logo could be, I don't know, heavier.  I personally wouldn't have selected balloon letters, but then they seem to go OK with this strip, so maybe I'm a loser and you should ignore me.   The strangeness around the logo is OK, but not really dream-related symbols there, so it's just kind of--I don't know--nutty.  The waking Chris is kinda funny.  Nice tits, btw.  Certain elements are a little off...the girls hair kind of turns into the border of the thought bubble.  Took me awhile to figure that out.  I don't clearly understand the demon face thingy.  I mistook the airplane in the gorilla's hand for a banana at first.  This could work to your advantage, actually, if you ran with it, but might be a bit much just for a logo.   The two hick brothers are cool...nice characterization and not Chris' typical people kind of drawings.  I don't understand what the guy means by he "lost the rent".  Do you?  Was this weird dream logic that you were reciting (which is how I took it), or were you making a joke here that I don't get?   The monkey eating the banana...well...was this actually how he appeared in the dream, or were you just trying to play-up the zany aspect?  Don't get me wrong, he's fine...but I'm just curious about this.  How many of these images are accurate to the dream and how many did you have to take artistic license with to pull this off?  More about this later as the panels progress...  Also, I'm again wondering about the line that the monkey is saying.  Fabricated for effect, or true to the dream?   I have no comment about the car.   As for the rest, (the aquarium, etc) well, that's the part that I loved...  The Shatner/Nimoy thing is a riot.  Did I tell you about the Shatner dream that I had in which he was touring and you would see him at convenience stores and such, and the attraction was that you had absolutely no idea what he would do?  He would just ransack the place, or insult everybody, or whatever, and people paid and travelled to see it.  I talked to him after the show, asked him why he was doing it, to which he responded, "because my career is pretty much over".   Anyways, I swear that at LEAST one of those women is Laura.  I vote for the one that was devoured by the fish.  You've already told me that's not the case.  Are you absolutely certain?   I reeeeally want to get a better look at that aquarium.  Maybe you should take that as a positive in that I'm interested enough to want to see more.   The panel where you are talking with the girl is intriguing.  Again, is this actual dialogue?  The way that dialogue is included in these short bits is effective and goes a long way towards giving it that dreamlike quality.  For example, in the first strip, if you had no dialogue, only narration, it wouldn't be nearly as interesting.  By contrast, had you included a long conversation in the middle of the second strip, well, I'd have to see it before I could judge, but the quick statement-response is kinda cool.   Where she's putting on the fish head thingy is a nicely done panel.   My only gripe/thing that nags me (I have now been able to identify) was the absence of background in almost every panel.  I realize that you were going for simple here, but it gives a flatness.  Granted, you weren't dreaming about Jack Kirby's Captain America, but still...just black or cross hatching might have helped.   This message is kind of ruining the fun for me.  Having to look at this in a critical way kind of blows.  The simpleness actually works in your favor here regarding dreams coupled with humor.  If you labor it too much, it probably wouldn't carry either effectively.  You would probably be best served ignoring critiques on this particular "genre", but hopefully there was anything of interest said that you might have wanted to know.

...And Then I Woke Up #2

John Says:

This one has much more black than ATIWUI and, although heavier, seems more nocturnal I guess, so easier to read as a dream maybe?  The logo is maybe better...progression from bubble letters to smokey bubble letters heh heh

I didn't like the waking Chris as well...the first one was cuter (more cute?)...and the right arm almost appears as though you're wearing a long sleeve shirt for some reason.   Well, I've seen this and some of the others numerous times, and I always just read through them.  Upon closer, more critical examination, I find the first panel hard to read as to what's happening there.  Are you looking into mirrors here?  If so, again, I'm curious about the actual visuals here.  Was this a way to portray the idea, or an actual visual from the dream?   Panel two reads well, and the bed gives a better understanding of the mirror than if it were just you there (spacial references again, they do wonders...).  Was this bed in the dream too, or did you just need something ornamental to use as a reference point?  Oops, just looked again and the right arm (left in mirror) doesn't match right.  Looking critically at these things ruins 'em for me : )  Not really, but I like them just fine without having to point out stuff like that.  I'll try not to dwell on 'em too much and focus on the whole.   So...anyways, it occurs to me that...although I like how you're exploring possibilities in terms of border arrangements, logos, etc, the lines didn't need to extend off of either edge of the page here.  The wavy bedding above the top three panels would have done just fine without those last two little lines.  In this case, your thought bubbles could've led right to panel one : )  That would've been cool, but it's neat that you find a way to incorporate the date upon which you dreamed the particular dream.   So...you fixed your hair and I find it quite disturbing, but that's the point, so I'd chalk that one up to a success.   Wish I knew Corby...I'd probably get a kick out of your rendition.  The she-males are pretty humorous when one understands what your thesis was all about...   The page flipping worked well...nice to see you get action/movement in a panel.  That's a whole other challenge in a static picture... and you made the right choices about the amount of detail to include in the middle series of panels...dark/light/dark...reads well.  The important details are covered and it's consistent.  The whole strip reads that way.  No odd jumps from one panel to the next, nice and consistent, while jumping from black to white.  It's nice that you can work in scenes with white backgrounds, but the whole still reads as dark and atmospheric.  The stage really worked well in that last panel...   One gripe...not sure who is wondering, "What is he doing?".  Kinda works for the story in this brand new character pops up and asks the big question, but might've been neat if we knew who it was too, or if it's an audience member, where's the rest of the audience?  Seems more like someone in the cast.   This dream speaks volumes about you, whether you know it or not (and I'm sure that you do).  You probably wouldn't agree with my conclusions, but that doesn't matter because I'm right anyways.   Now, for your enjoyment, I'll read the Launch Pad.   Wow, OK.  Where to begin?  You were dogging yourself over the book page flipping, for starters.  I thought it was just right.  The flips added to it and were better left in than removed IMHO.  Making notes to reference things was cool and didn't really occur to me what you were doing 'til you explained it.  I think it's a pretty effective tool in this context.  Maybe if it were more consistent...like it could point out things that were specific to the dream, but not areas where you took artistic license (although I don't think that there was much of that in this second strip).  The redundancy of the description "huge book" didn't occur to me, but probably wouldn't have...you are much more "redundancy conscientious" than I.  Maybe even more of these notational references would've been cool.  They can point-out things that are elements of the dream, add to the whackiness, that you can't appreciate visually.  I'd never be able to tell that you're wearing your old shirt under your cloak there unless you pointed it out.  I had no problem with the references.  Admittedly, maybe you could've have worked out the reference to the big book into the narration in that scene, but otherwise, the notations helped reference the significance of things without having to explain, "and see this was that car that I drove past on Wednesday..."   It occurs to me that many of the images of people are obscure, but you have that one horrendous close-up, and this is very "dream-like".  The scene where you're looking out at the stage (panel 6) is very atmospheric and dream-like.  This strip had a nice blend of just enough information to seem like a dream.  Too much detail doesn't seem dreamlike...not enough information could seem too cartoony and not hold any weight.   "HMS Donothing" was interesting, but your talk of lettering made me realize that it might've been a little nicer if the lettering was in a different type of font than the commentary.   Your crotch was too bulbous in that last scene...or maybe that was accurate to the dream as well?  Heh heh heh, couldn't resist...   I'm thinking maybe a little something behind you in panel seven (cross hatch or whatever)...but I could be wrong about that due to the dynamic of light and dark throughout the strip...were it too dark, it might've blow the pacing.   The quick layouts allow you to hit the high points of the dream without having to flesh-out the more boring aspects in the dreams.  Each panel is like the punchline.  Nice job in this one of pacing and of wrapping it up with room to breathe in that last double-panel.  Must be a major bitch getting this stuff to fit nicely on one page.   I agree with your assessment of doing your thing vs. anyone actually wanting to hear about it.  I really enjoy Rare Bit Fiends, but I doubt many people can get anything out of it.  It's absolutely incoherent at times.  You basically read this stuff for awhile, then it's through.  There's no beginning, middle or end.  I found it humorous how his mind would translate stuff.  There were times, though, reading it when it just left me feeling kind of empty or wanting more.  I guess it's like telling your dream to someone.  It's never as great to them as it was to you, even if they care about such things.  It's a shame, though.  I have grown to love hearing about people's dreams, because they can really cover some ground that would never be realized otherwise.   That's all for now.  I'd say the second strip was more accomplished than the first, but loved them both.