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The Daily Read: 3/12

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The Dreamland Chronicles is one of the most popular, visible and consistently updated webcomics out there. And to top it all off, it’s one I’ve never really liked.

I think I’ve narrowed down the reason I don’t particularly like it to the fact that the popular computer-generated fantasy just doesn’t read much like a webcomic. But looking at the last two updates, I’m finding it doesn’t even read like a comic at all – it “reads” like a movie – and yes, a really good one at that.

Maybe it’s the well-polished and well-rendered characters, the smooth, gleaming CGI styling or the epic fantasy scale, but for one reason or another, The Dreamland Chronicles feels at times like a big-screen Pixar storyboard. And like any box office blockbuster, Dreamland is strongest when the actions, and the characters, are in motion. There are powerfully cinematic pieces in the current chapter, as Dreamland’s eclectic cast faces off with the king of Dreamland – a giant dragon. Simply put, it doesn’t get much more epic than this.

I still think there’s room for improvement in Dreamland though. While the webcomic captures the intensity of close one-on-one combat or the intimidation of vast battle sequences, the results are hazy for anything in between. In the same storyline, the heroes battle a horde of beasties, and it’s sometimes hard to make out the action.

There’s also the problem of the webcomic format. As I’ve noted before, in effective webcomics, there’s a hook device of some sort that baits the reader to read the next installment. Reading The Dreamland Chronicles, on the other hand, is like watching a movie clip on YouTube or Yahoo! Movies – the action runs until the time is up, and then stops, whether the scene is over or not. Some pages just feel like they need more of a hook while others serve as a smoother transition to the ongoing action.

Otherwise, The Dreamland Chronicles is a momentous achievement in the medium. Though it’s not without flaws, no webcomic truly is – progress is what webcomics are all about after all, and The Dreamland Chronicles represents one powerful dose of fairy dust in the industry.

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