“THE LUCENT: Waking Dream” is an intriguing story with exceptional art. You’ll need to pay attention to every single panel.
At first glance, I liked the mystery element in the presentation of the concept story and the art. I was intrigued by the project. I admit that the story interested me also because it has a female as the main protagonist, and I was very curious about how her story would be told. However, I did wait until the fulfillment period started before I made the final decision to back this crowdfunding campaign.
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Michael Bancroft is the author and artist of THE LUCENT: Waking Dream. Joe Fulton is the editor, and Eric Weathers is the letterer.
Last year was the first time seeing Michael’s work on his crowdfunding campaign page, and later his YouTube Channel. The concept story and art posted on the campaign were sufficient to get me interested. Joe Fulton worked on previous crowdfunding campaigns, Flying Fortress and Arc Athena, which I didn’t know anything about at the time. I know of Eric’s work from the previous backed campaign DragonRage: A Cradle of Embers Issue #1 and he also has his own YouTube Channel showing off his work.
ABOUT THE BOOK
THE LUCENT: Waking Dream is an 80-page, full-color trade paperback, including 56 pages (glossy paper) of story, plus 14 pages of bonus material in the main book. The binding is excellent, and the softcover is semi-glossy looking by a matte laminate and spot UV cover on the front and the back, very attractive to the eye. The spine of the book is also printed in detail. The book has dividers for the main story and the bonus material. Everything in the book looks so detailed. Additional to the book there is also a 10-page saddle-stitched book containing a preview of the next issue. Overall, the book has a very high quality/professional look.
The book is the first issue of the ongoing young adult fantasy series “THE LUCENT”. THE LUCENT weaves mystery, suspense, super-powered action, and romance together in a world where our myths and legends come to life. People that enjoy stories that bend reality like The Matrix (1999), Inception (2010), Lucid Dream (2017), or stories that re-imagine history like The Highlander, or games like Assassin’s Creed will be interested in the book.
In the first issue, we meet Ella Forsythe, a young woman who from the outside appears to be living an unremarkable life. She has a secret. In her dreams, every night in her dreams, she’s visited by Damon Spector, an enigmatic young man who’s teaching her to do things she never thought possible. However, when the barrier between dreams and reality begins to blur, her secret will draw her into the middle of an ancient conflict that will turn everything she knows upside down. Her allies hide in plain sight, as well as her enemies. Who will help her, before it’s too late?
ABOUT THE STORY
The story takes place in a world very similar to our own, but where nothing is as it seems. It’s a place where ancient shadow societies, hiding in plain sight, train a select few to tap into mysterious abilities, to fight secret wars for control of the future.
It all begins with this quote: “What in me is dark, Illumine. – Jhon Milton”. A quote that seems to originate from the following:
“What in me is dark Illumine, what is low raise and support, That to the height of this great argument I may assert eternal Providence, And justify the ways of God to men. 1 Paradise Lost. Book i. Line 22.”
The main story starts in ancient times, probably somewhere in the Middle East, circa 3800 B.C. (The Levant). We learn about the legend of Olam, the stone terrifying stone man. A powerful magical being, like an ancient god, is capable of providing favors to humans in exchange for some sort of sacrifice. In the book, we get a glimpse inside his sanctuary.
We learn about his existence from a man, a descendant of one of those humans that dealt with the Olman. He is en-route with his sick son to the sanctuary. We learn that he is not afraid of facing the Stoneman. He is more concerned for those that willingly give into the dark, and don’t think of the consequences.
The Modern World
Back to our timeline, the story then takes us fourteen years ago. We see Eric Forsyth running away scared of something and is guided by a voice giving him instructions. Suddenly 3 figures appear in front of him: Alex (the voice he was hearing who appears to be an ally/friend of his), a mysterious figure, and his little daughter Ella. We learn that there is someone called Le Maréchal, who is targeting Ella. All the men do their best to protect her even when it may cost their lives.
Back to the present day, we see a grown-up Ella displaying some impressive powers. We meet Damon who is apparently dating her and helping her with some sort of training. What exactly the training entails we don’t know but it’s related to developing her powers. As the story goes on, there are 4 pages in the book where I’m reminded of Peter Parker and the redhead Mary Jane Watson. Only this Mary Jane (Ella) seems to be more powerful, one of a kind. That is until it’s time for her to wake up and we realize that all was a dream.
In the real world, we see that she has a job at a secondhand bookstore, a job that she is not very fond of. She seems like an introvert with no social life. We meet her boss, a very “modern” looking woman, and James, the boss’ boyfriend, who is a very peculiar character, to say the least. After work, Ella is going back home to check on Arthur, her grandfather figure. On the train, she feels the presence of someone or something but doesn’t see anything. We do.
When she finally arrives home, she has a serious talk with Arthur. Artur gives her a shoebox containing some old photos. He also gives her a mysterious note he just wrote and a ring box. Ella takes the ring out, puts it on, and goes to sleep. And then the dreaming starts but this time it’s different. It’s difficult to explain what happens next, you must figure it out for yourself.
Bonus Character Studies
After the main story, we get a few character studies as bonus material in the book. The stories are presented in an interview format where the character is sitting in front of what appears to be a male investigative journalist that is trying to collect information about the characters and their relationship with Ella. The reader sees everything from the journalist’s perspective. The characters interviewed include Ella Forsythe, Arthur Forsythe, Amita Rajan, James Morro, Alexander Rentröm, Jonathan Biram/ Le Maréchal, and Damon Spector.
In my opinion, the most entertaining interviews were those with Arthur Forsyth, James Morrow, and Alexander Rentröm. We get to see Arthur in action, completely taken over by the interview with his wisdom. James, interview shows us that he is hiding something. Alexander is pure entertainment but like Arthur, we also understand that he has seen and experienced a lot.
The interviews that got my attention were those with Amita Rajan, Jonathan Biram a.k.a Le Maréchal, and Damon Spector. Amita looks passive and doesn’t seem to care about stuff. It looks like she is holding back some resentment that could lead her to do some stuff. We just don’t know how that could have affected her moral compass.
Jonathan seems to be from a powerful family with sufficient resources to last for generations. His family appears to have only sons every generation or there is something else going on. During the whole interview, he stays in the shadows. From this, we understand that he wants to stay away from the public eye and appears to have inherited an ancient quest to complete a specific mission from a secret war. The last interview is with Damon who shows his skills and takes the interview over and makes it into a training session.
Overall, I enjoyed this bonus material. It’s a different way to get to know the characters. It would have been easier to include it in the main story or make a supplemental book but this “out-of-the-box thinking”, and attention to detail for this specific project is what will set it apart from others.
Additional to the main book we also got a 10-page preview of the next issue. It starts where the main story of the previous issue is left. It appears Ella will be facing some serious real-world problems.
EXPERIENCE WITH THE CROWDFUNDING PROJECT
I backed the crowdfunding campaign during the stage when fulfillment started meaning that the books were by then printed, and people started receiving them and “reviewing” them.
Some people were giving it a hard time for the cover art on the main book and the preview comic. Regarding the main book cover if it didn’t have that glossy touch maybe I would have liked it less, but the same cover art was also provided as an oversized print. I liked it. However, I think covers are an important selling point for projects like these so maybe offering additional covers could be an option for future campaigns.
I chose the campaign tier that comes with the signed book, 3 prints sized 8.25 by 11.5 plus one 16.5 by 11.5 (A3) sized fold-out pin-up poster sent bagged on-boarded on a rigid book mailer. As a bonus, I also got an Ella sticker (cartoon version of her pose on the main cover, only here she looks scared rather than fierce), a trading card, and a magnet of a ginger root hand.
Well, I initially thought it was a trading card but it’s actually a “Thank You” card from Michael. So far from the projects received this is the first time I’m receiving a “Thank You” card. Even the “Thank You” card is detailed. It’s not just a simple Thank You, there is a story and a message as well, which is much appreciated. I wouldn’t have understood the hand art otherwise. I think I also now get why that specific cover with a focus on the hand was chosen. It reads to me as proving that he can draw hands. I also look at it as a “Talk to the Hand” to critics. Personally, I also see it in today’s climate as “Stop the Nonsense”. I must admit that I like the cover now even more.
It took a while to finally get the package from Australia which was expected. The tracking number was timely provided, and I must say that everything arrived in great condition which was very impressive. The posters were carefully packed which I was very grateful for. For this campaign, everything was packaged very carefully to survive multiple handlings.
THE LUCENT: Waking Dream is a mind-bending story that will keep you in suspense until the last page and the art looks amazing. Because of its kind, it’s not a book for everybody that is used to popular superhero stories. It’s something completely different.
This is the fifth graphic novel project with a female as the protagonist that I backed and received so far. I wasn’t disappointed. All of them have a good start at world-building and establishing their main characters. Some did it better than others. It’s great content for these times where there is a demand for genuine female-driven stories as the mainstream entertainment media is failing miserably at delivering them. It is a great opportunity for independent creators to take charge.
For those that are just recently discovering the world of THE LUCENT new copies are on sale on eBay through the creator’s website. However, keep in mind that Australia is having some challenges with international shipping to some countries. Maybe selling a digital copy of the book could be an option in the future?
In any case, I’m looking forward to “The LUCENT: Painted Death” to know how the story continues. What we know so far is that it will be a 90-page book that it is currently being drawn and will be penciled & inked by end of May. The current objective of the creator is to launch the crowdfunding campaign once the book is completely drawn which I believe could be somewhere between the third or fourth quarter of this year if everything goes as planned.
Up next my eyes will be on “Charlie’s London: From East Lane to the Limelight”
Previous publications from the series:
- EYES ON SHADOWBINDERS VOLUME 1 AND VOLUME 2
- EYES ON DRAGON RAGE: A CRADLE OF EMBERS ISSUE #1
- EYES ON THROUGH THE WOODS COLLECTED EDITION
- EYES ON BONDS VOL.1: THE DRIVE