Written by Frankee White. Art by AHG, C. Thomas Anderson, Julia Cartales, Dave Chisholm, Alex Delgado, Sachi Ediriweera, Ivan Fiorelli, Minerva Fox, Colm Griffin, Rupam Grimoeuvre, Henry Guerra, Matt Harding, Matthew Harrower, Salvador Hernandez Jr, Fell Hound, John Jack, Liana Kangas, Jonathan La Mantia, Fabian Lelay, Elizabeth Malette, Adam Markiewicz, Mike McGhee, Gary Moloney, Dan Morison, Jenny Odio, Skylar Patridge, Sebastián Píriz, Simone Ragazzoni, Benjamin Sawyer, Shaun Sunday, and Artyom Trakhanov. Lettered by DC Hopkins. Edited by Danny Lore.
Jam comics can be a lot of fun to read. The idea behind them is that a group of comic book creators come together and each collaborator takes a turn on a page. The result is a showcase of different styles and techniques that are centred around a story or theme.
Project: Starless Daydream is a comic, and a successful Kickstarter campaign, to take the idea and put its own spin on it. It tells the story of the final episode of a mech anime series that never existed, with writer Frankee White collaborating with more than 30 other creators along the way.
The story takes its influence from Mobile Suit Gundam, with a hint of Neon Genesis Evangelion. In the year 40XX, the war between Earth and one it’s space colonies is winding down. Fuku is an ace mech pilot, who has just defeated their long-time rival and is now disillusioned with the whole war and the side they represent.
As I mentioned, the comic is a finale to an anime that never existed. Readers witness consequence to actions that feel final with resolutions to plot-points hinted at the beginning. Being dropped into the closing episode could be confusing to readers, but it sticks the landing by not introducing too much to the readers. Everything you need to know is given early on, then we see that play out throughout the narrative. Some times this is explicit, while other times it’s picked up in dialogue and actions.
While I have been referring to Project: Starless Daydream as a comic, a zine might be a more suitable description. It tells the story not just through comic book pages, but character bios, journal entries, and pin-ups. In ways, it’s reminiscent of the current era of X-Men, giving the reader burst of information about the characters and world. It makes for a load first quarter, but it frees up the rest to carry on the story.
With more than 30 different artists, there is a buffet of styles of display. Many of these are anime or manga-inspired, which makes sense considering the premise. That being said, there’s a broad spectrum of ways that inspiration is interpreted. Some artists take a more detailed approach, with dense line work and fine lines, while others are more sparse. White, who also curates the comic, has done a great job at matching these artists with different parts of the story, identifying which styles work best for action and quieter moments.
From a visual standpoint, jam comics can feel chaotic for the number of different styles on display. It appears the team of Project: Starless Daydream realises this and has coordinated artist for flow between pages. More often than not, artists with similar styles follow one another. It’s rare for styles to jump drastically. When it does, it’s broken up by a text page. This method makes for a more pleasant read and helps the story flow from one page to the next.
It’s worth mentioning that Project: Starless Daydream is also for a good cause. All net proceeds will be donated to the Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people under 25.
Project: Starless Daydream is a well-executed jam comic, which plays to each of the collaborator’s strengths. While it could be chaotic in approach, it’s clear that a lot of thought has been put into the how each part fits into the larger narrative and as a result, there is a cohesive flow throughout. Altogether, it’s an enjoyable read. It makes wish you could’ve seen the rest of the episodes of this non-existent anime.
Project: Starless Daydream is available as a hardcover from Frankee White’s Gumroad. Speaking to the writer, he also mentioned that more news on the project will be announced sometime in February. I’ll give an update when it’s made public.