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The Nightmarist

The Nightmarist

Words by Duncan Rouleau - Art by Duncan Rouleau - Published by Active Images - First published 2006
The Nightmarist

The trouble with dreams is that they can be confusing. While you're dreaming, situations that you can't even begin to piece together again as you awake can seem to make perfect sense. So literature that's based around the concept of dreams and dreaming either needs to be cleverly structured to make us think we're reading about dreams while The Nightmaristactually making a whole load of sense; or embrace the strangeness and tip the reader's world upside down. The Nightmarist takes the latter course, building a tempest of oddity, throwing it around for a bit, then sweeping up the mess at the end.

Beth Sorrenson is a budding artist who starts having recurring nightmares. The problem is that the line between dream and reality starts getting increasingly fuzzy - her psychiatrist and her mother appear in her dreams, picking through her insides and generally torturing her. But it's just a dream right? Well, maybe not. Enter the Nightmarist, an agent of the Ministry of Dreams, whose job it is to ensure that dreams and reality stay separate and that whatever forces are responsible are duly quashed.

Because of the nature of the story - part mystery, part horror, part psychedelic head scamble - the plot can be quite tricky to follow. The artwork fits the concept perfectly, with twisted and confusing images breaking apart what little panel order there is. The overall result needs effort and concentration to follow - no bad thing, but we wouldn't recommend it to those who aren't regular graphic novel readers and comfortable with challenging design.

It's a sophisticated read that won't be to everyone's taste, but those who like their comics to challenge their intellect and embrace innovation should get plenty out of it, especially if you're interested in horror, psychology and dreams.

Story:3 stars
Art:4 stars
Overall:3 stars
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