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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Third issue of “Dream Reapers” comic book to be released this year

by Sylene Argent

Coming hot off the successful release of the first two issues in the locally written and illustrated comic book series, “Dream Reapers,” the third in the series is set to release some time this year.

J. George Morneau, author of the series continuing to gain momentum, said the idea for the series was something that came to him in his ‘50s. At this point in his life, he was devoting more time to developing his creative side, like writing poetry and making art.

At this time, he had a story for “Dream Reapers” in mind, but wanted to connect with others in the industry for guidance. He attended an event he knew Windsor’ Tony Gray, a big name in the comic book industry, would be at. He suggested he find himself a good illustrator.

Though Morneau was developing his artistic talent at the time, creating illustrations for a comic book was not something he had done and knew, in order to ensure his words would be enhanced on the page properly, he had to find someone with a lot of talent and would share the same level of passion for his project.

While at an art show in Windsor a few years back, he spoke to a nearby vendor about needing to find an illustrator, and he was directed to meet a young fellow, just around the corner, who was also onsite selling art pieces. Morneau went for a walk, and it was then he met Keith Ashton, who would become the artist responsible for creating the eye-catching illustrations for the “Dream Reapers” series.

Ashton went to the University of Windsor and studied fine art for around a year, and later interned for comic industry superstar, David Finch, where he was given the push and guidance to enhance his skill. He then opened his own commission work business.

Ashton noted he had a comic book idea of his own at the time, and when Morneau approached him, he figured why not give it a try.

Soon after that initial meeting, the duo began meeting at a nearby coffee shop to hammer out ideas to push out the story and fine tune the details for the art.

Ashton, Morneau said, has a unique gift of being able to close his eyes and picture an illustration in his head, before he begins outlining his panel. “To me, that is a unique gift few people have,” he said.

Morneau gave a lot of credit to Ashton for his dedication, noting each book in the series takes around 450 hours to illustrate.

Through the initial stage of creating the illustrations for the first issue, Morneau said he was greatly appreciative of the mentorship he received from Essex-based artist – whom he called Essex’s best top secret – Ron Suchiu. Morneau visited his art studio regularly to ask questions, and he was always willing to provide guidance. He said Jeff Lemire, originally of Woodslee, is also an inspiration as his comic book “Sweet Tooth” is now a series on Netflix.

The duo printed 500 copies of the first issue in the series, which was released a year ago last November. All of which sold out rather quickly. Being community-minded individuals, a portion of the proceeds of the first issue was forwarded to the Windsor-Essex branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association. A second printing of the first issue was ordered to keep up with demand.

The second issue was released in November, and is well on its way of also becoming sold out.

The “Dream Reapers” storyline involves three main male characters, one of which resides in reality, while the other two exists in the spirit world. The trio work together to enter the dreams of evil people to affect change by using their nightmares against them. One of the spirit world characters is one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Biblically, the character is derived from the one named “War,” but he is called “Conflict” in the book.

“He’s the leader and rallies the other two guys [Carl and Slade],” Morneau noted, adding each of these three characters has his own background story. This character’s physical appearance evolves through the books as he changes into something else.

Morneau just finished writing the third issue in the series, which will be published and ready for distribution this year.

“It will set the stage for what comes out next,” Morneau said. He plans to have 12-16 issues in the “Dream Reapers” series, which will lead into five other titles – “Mr. Beegeau,” “Malice Riders,” “Thenologist,” “Vengeful Spirit,” and “Ute” – that will tie into the same universe. The different stories will coalesce.

So far, the feedback has been good, Morneau commented.

The first two comic books in the “Dream Reapers” series are available for purchase through Morneau’s employer, Essex Home Hardware, as well as the Seguin’s Tecumseh location. It is also available at Border City Comics, Paper Heroes, Storytellers Bookstore, River Bookshop in Amherstburg, and at Indigo in St. Clair Beach.

Now, the duo is working on expanding its distribution area, and is hopeful the series will be available at a nationwide outlet. The duo also plans to attend the Comic event in Chatham on April 30.

“There’s been ups and downs. There’s been time we were bummed,” Morneau said of the process of creating the comic book series. “You have to keep in mind, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”

He said the Windsor-Essex area has a lot of talented people in the comic book business, who work for larger companies.

Moving forward, Morneau said his dream is to wake up every morning, put on a fluffy pair of slippers, drink a coffee, then get to work on writing his comic books.

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