Art Synk

Original Graphic Novel Daydream Nation Debuts on Tapas

Comics, Mar 20, 2022
Ella Daydream Nation

Watercolor painting by Kristen

An Introduction to Daydream Nation
By: Matthew Langley

When I was a 17 year-old highschooler, I was introduced to the world of Greek Philosophy and Jung's psychology thanks to my teachers. I had read a few texts on these subjects in the past, but it was thanks to school work that I was forced to sit down and study these authors and their ideas. Some of these topics, especially Jung's subconscious and Plato's World of Ideas seemed familiar to me. I was aware of the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona RPGs and their heavy Jungian thematic influences, and this only deepened my interest in the subject. But it was the World of Ideas that struck the heavier chord in my mind. Plato's Theory of Form established that everything that is, was and will be, already exists in the shape of ideas that resides beyond the material limitations of the world as humans can perceive it. That every story, every invention, every end of the world and every possible thought is already out there in an endless void of imagination. An infinite ocean of thoughts and ideas.

the sea of void

This is how the seeds for what would eventually become Daydream Nation four years later were first planted in my mind. Fast Forward to December 2020 and after an uneventfully chaotic year of being locked inside my house with my plans in a constant state of change, I was starting Studio Synkai with the friends I had made during the production of Studio Synkai's Evangelion: Amend. Despite our love for franchises like Fate/Stay Night and Neon Genesis Evangelion we knew that if we were to really make it as a multimedia studio, we had to release our own Original Creations and IP's. I developed two at the time: the dark fantasy series Faithless (which is still in development and will be released in the near future) and Daydream Nation. The series got its name from the classic Sonic Youth no-wave record and it alluded to something ethereal but present in our mundane world. A familiar place you've been to, but vaguely remember at the same time. By this stage of its lifespan, the project already had its biggest plot points and characters ready in my mind but it still lacked that extra air of strangeness and surrealism that a story like this needs in order to fully make its mark on the reader. And so, a few weeks later artist Kristen Lopez contacted us at the Studio for a possible collaboration. It only took one glance at her work and artstyle in order for me to talk to her about the series and once she accepted to work on it, Daydream Nation as it is today was born.

The story of Daydream Nation begins with Ella, a no-wave underground musician with a spunky look and snarky attitude. Ella's world can be perfectly summed up in one word: Grey. It's dirty, rainy and sad. It's habitants hate every block of concrete and every billboard ad, yet they still keep their heads down and stay on their daily commute to a job they loathe. Others are happy and find comfort in a peacefully static and uneventful existence. Of course, this is how our protagonist sees this world. Ella is the art-before-cash rocker who can barely get enough money to pay rent and lives on an unhealthy diet of alcohol, cheap store food and cigarettes. However, despite how stressful her life may be, Ella enjoys the hardships of being an underground artist and she thinks everything is worth it if her music and words end up bringing a new outlook on this bleak world. The message is all that matters to her.

daydream nation graphite

Our protagonist may think that she is just an unknown starving artist but the truth is far from it. In fact, Ella is one of the rare individuals who are labeled as "Immateria-Sensitive." The Immateria is the other side of reality, the mind to the Materia's matter. In the Immateria, based on the previously mentioned Theory of Forms, every thought and imaginal act exists. A boundless realm with infinite possibility. To give you an idea of how this endless this world exists, I will ask you to think of anything, absolutely anything that comes to your mind right now. Well, that thought and whatever it involves, exists somewhere in the Immateria. Not only that thought but every conceivable variant of it, regardless of how major or minor the alteration may be, also lies somewhere in there. It is from here that most of our story's heroes and antagonists hail from and where most of it will take place. The way the Immateria and the Material interact is through a symbiotic relationship. An Immaterial concept or being can only manifest itself in the Material through the imagination and mind of a human being.

Our mind and imagination are the only way through which these worlds can co-exist. Think of it this way: Stan Lee creates a comic book with the fictional character Spider-Man. The Immaterial being (Spider-Man) and any specific event involving it (a fight against Venom or just Peter Parker going to school) are manifested in the real world in the shape of a piece of media that originated in the mind of its creator (in the case of Lee, a comic and later on movie adaptations, animations, etc). Now, if the character Spider-Man suddenly spawned in the real world as a manifested idea it would practically break reality as we know it, sinceeveryone knows that Spider-Man is a fictional character. This is exactly the main conflict of Daydream Nation, Immaterial ideas/beings are manifesting in the Material world and causing havoc. Reality is falling apart, the line between mind and matter blurs as fiction and reality converge with one another. In order to stop these leakages from the Immaterial realm to happen, the Immaterial Entropy Regulation Corps (I.E.R.C.) is tasked with taking out and removing Immaterial threats from the Material world. This is how Immateria-Sensitive humans, so humans whose thought patterns' vibrational frequency is more in sync with the Immateria, are endangered when our story begins: Someone is hunting them down and sending Immaterial beings after their heads. This is how Ella, a simple musician, finds herself caught in the crossfire of a secret war that spans time and reality itself, as everything in her world is silently nearing the Apocalypse, the end of everything as we know it.

daydream nation end

Daydream Nation is available to read on Tapas

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