As a recently-indoctrinated comic book fan, I know well the trials and tribulations associated with the medium. The agonising wait (monthly, for some series), the slender size (and yes, a lot more work and effort goes into a comic page than a page of plain words, especially when you have 2-3 people working on the same comic) and (for me at least) having to make trips to the few places that carry comics as well as regular books.
Webcomics are not as forgiving a medium to the artist. Updates are expected with far more regularity - the few I follow are updated daily, 5-6 times a week. Others with more intensive artwork update more irregularly. The major impractibility of webcomics are their most exciting aspect: they're free. Most artists have a store with merchandise, and sometimes a PayPal donate button, but paying to read isn't mandatory. Thus I have a huuuuge amount of respect for webcomic artists, who not only do their work for (mostly) free, but usually do it themselves - the same person writing, drawing, coloring and lettering.
Also you can read my previous post about comics/webcomics here.
The actual review:
I was reading my usual Girls With Slingshots when I happened to scroll down. I don't remember if I clicked directly on the ad or clicked around a few other places first, but I found it, and I'm so glad I did.
YU+ME: dream, as described by its creator Megan Rose Gedris, is "part high school romance, part journey/adventure story, and part total-mind-fuck". Megan started the comic straight out of highschool in 2004, so as her disclaimer posted under the first comic frame explains, the storyline matures and expands as the comic goes along. As does the art! Megan experiments with many, many different styles and colour palettes, starting from a few hundred pages in, when she starts using color, all the way up to a roundabout page 500 where she starts using photo-manipulations, watercolor and even clay figures. If you like consistency in your comics, you might be a little bit put-off. Some of the change in style/medium is symbolic, helping represent different planes of reality (dreams, memories, imagination etc) and some of it is just plain experimentation. Personally, I think that the different mediums enrich the story, but I recognise that it might be a bit off-putting to some people.
What starts off as a really adolescent, coming-of-age type fantasy story turns into a complex, twisted tale about acceptance, love and the shifting boundaries of reality. The comic is divided into two parts, and a total of fourteen issues (still going at the time of this review!).
Let's get this out of the way with first: the main character of this comic series is a lesbian. She finds friendship in a gay male couple, as well. So if you're a homophobe, this comic isn't for you. This comic also deals with the struggles of the GBLT community - not heavily, but in a way that is relevant to the characters and storyline. The main character is, after all, struggling with her sexuality.
The comic starts off following the main character, a 17-year-old girl named Fiona, who is basically an outcast at her school, with a depressing home-life consisting of an almost entirely absent father, and an aggressively indifferent step-mother. Now, don't let the modern-day Cinderella beginnings fool you. This comic has layering, planning and intricacies of plot which have left me breathless. In part one, it's mostly high-school level drama (which I in no way intend to belittle with this statement, I did not enjoy my school years much and I know firsthand how the issues can dog you and damage you all the way into your adult years) and the tediousness of growing up in general. Things are compounded by the issue of Fiona's sexuality, and the hostility of her environment to any kind of 'abnormalities'. She also starts to learn about her mother, who died in a car crash when Fiona was three. Fiona was in the car, but she doesn't remember her mother, and her father not being around means she can't ask him questions. Around issue 9, which is the last issue of part one... massive freaking plot twists. Out-of-the-blue, but in a really good way. If you can stick around til the end off issue 9, I guarantee you will not want to stop reading. Not only does Fiona learn the truth about her mother and the events surrounding her death, but issue two is where the adventure, fantasy and surrealist elements of the comic really come into play. But never fear, it doesn't in any way become all show and no plot. On the contrary, here's where Megan's incredible storytelling skills come into full play: events from the past are thrown into new light as the readers are treated to a view from another angle. We learn about things that we hadn't thought about, or only really noticed in passing.
The only way that I can explain the intricate, thoughtful plot here is to take a real risk. I'm assuming most of you will have read Harry Potter. Well, you know how J.K. Rowling laid down little things throughout the series, which became hugely significant later? How you never saw things coming, but when you went back and re-read the previous books, you could see the clues, and you smacked yourself in the face and said "Of course! It was there the whole time and I didn't notice!" Well, at the risk of genre-crossing and doing a bunch of other artistic no-nos, this is exactly what Megan does in this comic. The story unfurls like a piece of dazzling brocade, with shifting hues, finely detailed work and rich texture. It is truly amazing and you can tell she put so much thought into the storyline before putting pencil to paper to start on the artwork. By issue two, any preconceptions you might have had about the simplicity of the story and plot will be blown rather violently out of the window. I'm roundabout issue 12 at the moment and still having head-spins from all the reveals.
I've been reading this comic voraciously since I found it; I'm almost dreading getting to the last panel and having to wait for the updates like all the people who found this before me. I reccommend this comic to anyone who has a heart; even as a completely straight girl from an un-broken family, I absolutely related to these characters. I fell in love with some characters, and completely despised others (although Megan doesn't let the bad guys be cardboard-cut villains for too long... or the good guys be pure, either!) The end of issue 9 had me gasping and close to tears. The page could not load fast enough to tell me what was going on next. I'm enthralled by the twists and turns and revelations. I'm still having trouble tearing myself away from the computer, all the way down the tracks in issue 13.
Now go check it out before I blab everything in my excitement and spoil it for you! GO!
I'll be back when I finish reading,
EDIT: Megan plans to have Yu+Me: dream finished by the 19th of June this year; she's got it planned, plotted and written. I think she's just finished off the artwork and of course, she wouldn't want to publish it all in one big lump when it's a 6-year project. It wouldn't be fitting.
I am sad to have discovered this comic so late, but I am incredibly glad to be here for the final stages. It's such an amazing story. I just got up to today's update and WAAH cliffie! This is one webcomic I am definitely saving up to purchase in hard-copy.