Comics, as this columnist has previously written, is an escapist medium that often deals with the fantastic. By doing so, comic books are sometimes closer to reality than people give them credit for. The Extended Dream of Mr D is a classic example of this.
It is written and illustrated by Spanish writer Max. The Europeans, this writer has always maintained, are better at comics than most others (some Canadian writers come close and that could well be because of the European influence on America’s neighbour). There’s a certain subtlety of touch and depth to their comics that all but the very best American and UK comics lack. From noir to pornography masquerading as erotic fantasies (or the reverse) to real realism (as opposed to magic realism), the Europeans excel at comics.
Max encounters his hidden facets in his dreams
The Extended Dream is the story of a man who cures himself of all that ails him—and as in most cases, this has more to do with the mind than with the body—by simply going to sleep for 40 days (and nights). In this period, he has a succession of dreams that cure him and make him a better person than he was when he went to sleep. Vendors of dream- and sleep-therapy may have something to say on the subject, but it is a simple premise and one that isn’t too hard to believe once you’ve gone through the initial suspension of disbelief bit.
The dreams provide Max with an ideal opportunity to address various issues related to the mind. And so, as Christopher dreams, he encounters various parts of himself that he had ignored over the years—his evil side, his female side, and so on. Max’s style of illustrating has been called “expressionistic” by some experts (and who is this columnist to argue?) and the simple black and white illustrations have a sense of fluidity about them that gives them a dream-like quality.
The Extended Dream is an old comic—it was written in the late 1990s—and has been translated from the original Spanish.
P.S.: No column on European comics is complete without a mention of Italian comics writer Igort whose 5 is the Perfect Number has to be the best book on the mafia hitman scene ever written (and illustrated).
P.P.S.: And, no column on European comics is complete without a mention of the Blacksad series created by Spanish authors Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (the books are written in French, though, and translated into English). The series is as film noir as it gets in look and feel (and plot structure), and all characters are shown as anthropomorphic animals. The protagonist is a cat, a large and feral cat, who reminds this writer of Bogart in his prime.
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