Monday, March 23, 2009

Forty Winks: The Perils of Pandora

In the waning years of the previous century, I found myself in the midst of a group of highly creative individuals who wished to take comic books beyond the worn out parameters of super heroes and the dreary pretensions of Frank Miller garbage to a universe where any type of story was possible and commercial considerations were not an issue. These people were part of an independent, small press movement. Brave souls who put their time, energy, and money into producing comic books for the sheer joy of creating something that had never existed before.

The comic that I was involved with was called Forty Winks (you can still find copies on eBay for cheap). It told the story of a 10-year-old girl named Pandora who lived with her widowed father. She was an ordinary girl except that she was an "active dreamer," that is, someone who didn't just float passively through her dreams, but could actually control her actions within the Dreamscape. When a mysterious monster begins attacking her in her dreams, she sets out to discover who this monster is and how he can be stopped. Along the way, she enlists the help of a scrappy gang of urchins known as the Smith Street Gang and a Dream Guide named Sam, who shows her how to navigate the tricky and treacherous world of dreams.

The initial adventure of Pandora and the gang ran over four issues beginning in September 1997 and ending in June 1998. A Christmas special and a TV parody issue followed. Forty Winks proved so popular that she appeared in another company's comic book titled, Comics Library International, where she appeared in five issues. The story, known as The Perils of Pandora, followed on the events in FW #1-4 where Pandora is put on trial in the Dreamscape for breaking several dream laws during her previous adventure. As punishment, she is sent on a mission to explore various aspects of the dream world and gather knowledge about how it works. By the time this new storyline started, however, our little group splintered apart and the producers of Comics Library International took over Pandora's story. The last two segments were written and drawn completely without the participation of her original creators. It was an unfortunate end to a promising story.

Almost 10 years later, the world of indy comics is a very different place, thanks to the World Wide Web. Now comics can be produced and presented to a global audience without the expense of printing paper copies and distributing them to whomever will take notice. Forty Winks artist John Peters has been a steady presence in this world of Internet comics for many years now, and he has returned to the story which ended prematurely. Forty Winks: The Perils of Pandora is being serialized on Web Comics Nation. You can take a look at it here.

Since the storyline in CLI was not fully realized as it was originally intended, John is recreating much of the comic and constructing a new ending. John is an amazing artist with a wildly creative mind. Please check it out. I, for one, am certainly looking forward to seeing where he takes little Pandora on this new, old adventure.

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