Zoop into the Week with Dead Dreams: The Lucid Chronicles #1

Zoop into the Week Dead Dreams

By: Nicole D’Andria

This second “Zoop into the Week” spotlights Brittany Matter’s debut on Zoop with the first issue of her science-fiction series Dead Dreams: The Lucid Chronicles. Find out more about dream drugs, doppelgängers, and preferred parallel worlds when I talk with both the series’ creator as well as the artist.

Dead Dreams: The Lucid Chronicles is set in a world where people can take drugs with science-fiction consequences. The protagonist of this series, Piña Axletree, takes a tonic and then awakens in a parallel world living life as an alternate version of herself, a woman heading up a drug syndicate. Far removed from the life of an actress that she had been dreaming of, will Piña give in to her brutal parallel’s life or return to her own? The series takes a look at how abusive environments can cause characters to change their lives.

Creator and writer Brittany Matter enjoyed writing multi-genre stories featuring themes such as the cycle of violence and overcoming fears. She is also an accomplished editor, working on series such as Miranda in the Maelstrom. Plus, her thoughts have appeared in comic book publications like Marvel.com and the Image+ magazine.

Alongside Brittany is an amazing team in their own right. Artist Dailen Ogden (WIFWULF), who also worked on an issue of Miranda in the Maelstrom, will be tackling the interiors for the series. The letterer is Gabriela Downie, whose letters graced the pages of the critically acclaimed Harleen. The series editor is Heather Ayres, who previously co-write Splittling Image with Brittany. The designers are Sasha E. Head (Decorum) as well as AndWorld Design (Fearscape, Clear), who are joined by flatter Drew Wills (WIFWULF).

There will be plenty of early bird rewards and discounts for backers who pledge funds to Dead Dreams early in the campaign, which will run until Midnight the night of March 29, 2022. They’re aiming to raise $3,500 by the end of the campaign. Reward tiers include digital ($6) and physical (early bird price $10 for the first 72 hours, $12 for the rest of the campaign) copies of the first issue as well as a beautiful variant by Liana Kangas (Star Wars Adventures) for $13 for the first 48 hours followed by $15 for the rest of the campaign. Notably, 10% of the funds that the campaign earns will be donated to Kathy’s Legacy Foundation. This is an organization founded in support of children and pets who have experienced domestic violence. So, definitely consider checking out the rest of the rewards and backing the project on the Dead Dreams Zoop campaign.

For more insider info on Dead Dreams: The Lucid Chronicles, check out my interview with creator/writer Brittany Matter and artist Dailen Ogden.

Brittany Matter

Nicole D’Andria (ND): In the official press release for Dead Dreams, you are courageously open about your past experiences, stating: “As a person who grew up in abusive environments, I wanted to examine the seemingly inescapable cycle of the adage ‘hurt people hurt people’ through doppelgängers.” Why do you feel it’s important to explore real-world situations like this in the comic book medium?

Brittany Matter (BM): I think the comic book medium offers a unique opportunity to show instead of tell. For example, there are several quieter scenes that immerse the reader into the world and the feelings of fear and horror that are evoked by Dailen’s brilliant lines and colors. I think it’s important to incorporate real-life situations, albeit in a sci-fi setting, to shed light on real problems, and let people know they aren’t alone in experiencing them.

ND: Can you share some examples of inspirational stories written portraying the cycle of abuse and potentially overcoming it?

BM: The first inspirational story that comes to mind is actually WIFWULF by Dailen Odgen and their co-creators Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly. It’s a deeply personal story for Dailen and it captures what it feels like to be in an abusive relationship while incorporating how the victim gets justice, albeit in a tragic but fantastical way.

Another good example is Matilda (1996) based on Roald Dahl’s book of the same name. I definitely related to Matilda’s story (minus the telekinesis) as a child, but looking back, she was literally empowered to defend herself from her abusers, and I think her story made me feel hope.

Dead Dreams The Lucid Chronicles #1 Cover B by Liana Kangas
Dead Dreams The Lucid Chronicles #1 Cover B by Liana Kangas

ND: You also go on to say in the press release that “Piña and her doppelgänger Matron are two sides of the same coin—they both grew up abused by their parents, which makes Piña the anxious, timid person that she is, while Matron doesn’t exactly overcome her traumatic childhood.” Can you expand on the similarities and differences between Piña and her doppelgänger Matron as well as tell us about some of the other characters who will play key roles in this series?

BM: Piña idolizes the idea of being an actress, though she’s timid and afraid to pursue her dreams. It’s safer for her to keep dreaming than actually following through, where her doppelgänger is quite the opposite. She’s fearless, has tunnel vision when it comes to her goals, and will do anything to achieve them.

The others that Piña may or may not encounter are wandering souls orbiting the Dead Dreams booth where the tonics are sold. From the surly vendor Avae Klein to Jolie Kramer, the bright-eyed entrepreneur, and the booth’s supplier, Sable Bagman, they’ll all embark on their own journey, making choices they never dreamed of having to make. Then there are the doppelgängers in the parallel universe, some of which are part of an exclusive dream drug cartel…my husband calls them doppelgängsters, haha!

ND: There are a variety of different dream drugs in the series. What can you tell us about each of them and their significance within the story?

BM: There are about a dozen. I can tell you that they are different in each universe and some are more potent than others.

The Cast by Dailen Ogden

ND: Can you tell us about each of the artists, designers, and everyone else on your creative team who helped bring Dead Dreams to life and why they were the perfect people for their respective roles?

BM: Artist Dailen Ogden added pure life, dreamy energy, and a decent dose of horror to the story, and their colors are otherworldly. Letterer Gabriela Downie brought masterful sound effects and effortlessly placed balloons. Editor Heather Ayres saw this story’s potential and helped me keep the world and characters consistent.

Designer Sasha E. Head brought next-level in-world logos for the alchemic dream tonics. She also designed the book’s aesthetic and signature logo. AndWorld Design is helping me with the final touches to get the book ready for production.

Flatter Drew Wills is as detail-oriented as they come, ensuring Dailen’s coloring process went smoothly. For the first handful of pages, layout artist Hari Conner set up Dailen with layouts, staging, and initial character designs, which were all used as a foundation that set the tone for the book.

Artist Liana Kangas is coming in to bring us a variant that is out of this world. James B. Emmett is my marketing coordinator, who has been essential these last couple of months prepping for the launch on Zoop. He keeps my head on straight, reminding me not to overthink things.

ND: If you could live a parallel life and be anyone you wanted to be, who would you be?

BM: It was my childhood dream to become an astronaut, so I’d definitely want to pursue that life, but only if it were in a Star Trek universe. Exploring space and other worlds with a crew like the Enterprise would be my jam.

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ND: Why did you choose to use Zoop for your campaign and what have been some of the pros and cons of using the platform?

BM: I was hesitant to run my own Kickstarter and then late last year when Zoop opened their submissions, I thought why not submit and see what happens. Then they offered to handle fulfillment and shipping for me so I couldn’t pass that up! Working with Jordan Plosky and Eric Moss has been awesome; they’ve been hands-on and responsive, up for answering all my questions. I think a con is that I don’t get to upload the content to the site, but I guess it’s one less thing I have to do so I’m okay with it! Thanks, Zoop!

ND: What is the number one reason why people should pledge money to your Zoop campaign?

BM: To dream with us. I think we made an absolutely stunning story that’s immersive, and we hope that you join us on this journey! The book’s completed so pledging goes to printing, fulfillment, and shipping. Since all the art and lettering is already finished, getting the book in your hands will be a breeze (barring the paper shortage!).

Plus, 10% of all the funds raised will be donated to Kathy’s Legacy Foundation, who support children and pets impacted by domestic violence.

ND: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers?

BM: Read comics, as many as you can, pore over them, inhale them, learn from them. If you get hung up on the formatting part of writing a script, check out Comics Experience—their templates are great and they have sample scripts from a slew of comic book writers. Write often and find a process that works for you.

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ND: Since you also work as an editor, what would you say are the top three mistakes/issues you find when editing someone’s work that people should be aware of when writing?

BM: Not naming characters. Sometimes I’ll get through a whole script where none of the characters have introduced themselves or said each other’s names, so it can make it hard for the audience to identify them, in some cases. I have read scripts where nameless characters exist, but they have a reference, like “mysterious person 1” and that works well enough, but if they’re important, it’s good to give ‘em a name.

Too much exposition. With comics, the art can tell the story just as effectively (if not sometimes better) than the words. Remember to let the artist do what they do best.

Tropes and stereotypes. Research them. Some readers and writers love these two things, but there are harmful ones to be aware of and a lot of opportunities to subvert both to make the story stand out from the rest while not doing any damage.

ND: Promote yourself! What other projects in addition to this one do you have planned for us to look forward to in the near future?

BM: I recently finished editing a bunch of projects. Jason Inman and George Kambadais’ SUPER BEST FRIEND #2, which is live on Kickstarter now and continues Mattie Moore’s story after he livestreamed his best friend and superhero’s secret identity to the world. Nathan Schreiber, creator of SCIENCE NINJAS: VALENCE, brought me back to edit volumes two and three of his chemistry trilogy, which teaches kids about science! I also publish a newsletter “A Matter of Fiction”, where I interview comic creators, share what I’m up to with writing and editing tips.

Dailen Ogden

ND: How did you become part of this project and what were your initial impressions of the story itself when you first heard it?

Dailen Ogden (DO): Brittany and I initially met while working on a book called Miranda in the Maelstrom, written by Riley Biehl. Brittany was the editor and I was the artist for issue #2, and that book was a blast! When she reached out to me about Dead Dreams, saying yes felt like a no-brainer.

The story is a lot of fun—I’m very much a horror person at heart, so getting to inject a little bit of that into the book (without going overboard) was an exciting prospect for me.

ND: When creating the environments in this science-fiction world, how did you go about making the parallel worlds feel different from one another?

DO: A huge part of the credit for this goes to the first artist to take a crack at the book, Hari Conner! They did a lot of design legwork in the beginning and I didn’t want any of it to go to waste, so I definitely used their concepts and pages as a springboard for my own. Hari was very intentional about styling the two worlds differently and about giving them each a unique color palette, so I made sure to honor that even as I brought my own design sense into the mix.

The first universe is very solarpunk—bioluminescent plants, sci-fi-inspired clothing, and its primary color is teal. The second feels lower-tech in a lot of ways; the styling is much more victorian or steampunk, and its primary color is this kind of terracotta burnt orange.

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ND: In the same sense, how did you differentiate the doppelgängers in the story, like Piña and Matron, and how are these differences significant?

DO: The doppelgängers in the story all share faces with each other, so in this case, styling and acting are VERY important. There’s a blurry line here between whether or not they can be considered the “same person” when their lives and upbringings—while parallel—have been literally worlds apart, and exploring that was important. The first issue doesn’t touch very heavily on it yet, but I did some character busts that definitely highlight the effect. Who’s sweet; who’s brutal? Who’s confident; who’s timid? Telling the differences between characters who look similar has to come down to that.

ND: Which page was your favorite to draw in the first issue and why (barring any spoilers, of course!)?

DO: I absolutely loved drawing pages 1-6, the ones that Hari tackled first. Of the pages that I designed myself, I think 16 is my favorite. And I like them all for the same reasons: I love backgrounds that feel populated and detailed with lots to get lost in. They can be the hardest ones to draw, but they’re also the most satisfying ones to look back on.

ND: If you could live a parallel life and be anyone you wanted to be, who would you be?

DO: Haha, this is an interesting question! Frankly, I feel like my life is full and interesting and rich enough that I don’t really want to be anyone else. If I’m going to switch bodies with something, I’d rather it be, like… some kind of wild animal. It sounds kind of nice to have no responsibilities except for just what’s in front of you, to survive.

Plus that means a wild animal would be in my body, and that sounds like a hoot.

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ND: What is the number one reason why people should pledge money to your Zoop campaign?

DO: The number one reason should be because they want to! But that aside, I think we’ve made a gorgeous and intriguing book, and it’s great to have a new platform to offer some competition to the big players like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Zoop was built by creators, for creators, and I really hope to see it succeed.

And on that note, Brittany deserves to succeed, too! She works so hard and is such a fun and passionate collaborator, and she deserves to see returns for everything she’s put into Dead Dreams. I think her passion shines even brighter than mine on every page—and that’s not because I’m not passionate, haha!

ND: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book artists?

DO: Just get out there and make comics! Do the work because you absolutely can do it. Mastering your craft is like showering—you have to do it all the time, or you’re gonna stink, and there are no shortcuts to learning page layout or acting or backgrounds. Make comics for yourself about anything you want. That practice and that drive will take you farther than anything else.

ND: Promote yourself! What other projects in addition to this one do you have planned for us to look forward to in the near future?

DO: Keep an eye out for WIFWULF from me, Jackson Lanzing, and Collin Kelly, out through Vault Comics this year! It’s a folk horror fairytale graphic novella and my most intense and most personal project to date.

I’ll also be relaunching my own comic, The Liminal, this year, but I’m not sure when just yet.

ND: Thanks to both of you for taking the time to be interviewed and I hope the campaign goes well. Readers interested in checking out the first issue Dead Dreams: The Lucid Chronicles can see the Zoop campaign here!

DO: Thanks so much, Nicole!

BM: Many thanks, Nicole!

ND: Do you have a crowdfunding project? Want to be interviewed about it and have the project featured on “Kickstart/IndieGogo/GoFundMe/etc. the Week?” Then message me on my website. Also considering checking out the official Kickstart the Week: Interviews with Comic Book Kickstarter Creators Volume 1 on Kindle.

Check out the first “Zoop into the Week” featuring Thirty-Three!

Other “Kickstart the Week” features:

Voyage Anthology 2: Melting Pot

Bear Skin – a Hardcover graphic novel of Dread and Horror

Karma The Sizzling Erotic Graphic Novel


A Hunter’s Tale: A Comics Poem

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