Review by Alexander Moser
What would you do if you woke up in a strange room and didn’t know where you were, or what you’d done the night before to get there?
That’s the question Dream Thief repeatedly asks the reader. John Lincoln, a pot-smoking, unemployed average joe doesn’t seem to have much going for him, except for his friendship with a former college football star. One night, the two go out at a museum and steal an Aborigine mask. The next morning, John realizes he is wearing the mask and has just killed his girlfriend. Somehow, he also gained memories of his girlfriend along with a man she killed. John doesn’t seem to question the nature of his memories, but instead questions the marijuana he smoked that night. After nearly killing a pair of drug dealers over some potentially laced weed, he falls asleep…waking up once again in front of a pile of dead bodies.
Jai Nitz works his way through a solid start to a new story, introducing the main characters, addressing their wants, needs and faults. Lincoln is clearly not the world’s greatest hero. Lincoln’s voice is clearly defined in Dream Thief. Nitz brings the concept in halfway into the story—showing us the magical mask and it’s tremendous powers. While we don’t get a perfect sense of what’s going on, the dialogue keeps the story moving, coupled by some terrific artwork.
Greg Smallwood is really the star of the book. He packs detail into each panel, meticulously constructed to carry a different vantage point and include details that will push the story ahead. He uses thick white gutters in order to push the panels out, making each stand out against the page background. Towards the end, Smallwood gets creative with his layouts, drawing ferociously large page-spreads that feel as supernatural as the story itself. He uses coloring effects near the end when John punches drug dealers to mirror his actions with the memories he learned, showing a nifty trick with artwork and coloring.
But the true moment of the book is where the image and word collide—pages 1, 11 and 19 all have similar layouts. Coupled with the first line, ”What would you do…” we see a sense of repetition that is emblematic of the story and the form of a graphic novel.
An amazing blend of word and image, Dream Thief is the next big book to pick up. The artwork alone will sell the book, regardless of what word balloons lay within.
-Stellar, experimental artwork
-Story does a good job of telling us about protagonist
-Plot doesn’t move along until late into the book