Updated: Dec 10, 2020
Cartoonist: Ned Barnett
WHAT IS IT?
A full-length memoir/travelogue about the cartoonist's research trip to Oxford University to learn more about TE Lawrence, and how it changed his life.
It's Julie & Julia meets Lawrence of Arabia.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Ned Barnett quit his job to make comic books and study the British war hero, TE Lawrence.
This comic details what influenced that decision, plus his trip to Oxford, what he learned while researching TE Lawrence, and bits about Lawrence's life.
The hand-designed page at the beginning of the book adds a beautiful personal touch before the story even begins. It also hints at the recurring floral theme to the interior illustrations.
The quote from TE Lawrence at the beginning helps connect the title to the story readers should expect, in more ways than one. It also seems very in-line with who I imagine Barnett is from the little I know about him.
This is a less traditional comic — don’t expect word balloons or clear panels. It’s more like a guided tour through a story that's personal to him. The fact that it’s hand-lettered is impressive, and it gives it an almost “illustrated diary” feel. But overall, it just feels like a new take on the medium and a breath of fresh air.
The story is effervescent without being saccharine. It's bright and energized without feeling forced.
Barnett's narration is infectious and insidious in the best way. You don’t even know he’s captured your attention and then suddenly, it’s the end of the book and all you want is more.
Barnett also captures, accurately, how I felt traveling abroad alone for the first time.
I appreciate the way Barnett fills us in on the knowledge we need to know in order to give his story context. The information is presented to us in a way where we're delighted to learn it. It’s never dense or heavy — just enough to let us get our bearing.
The narrative jumps around, both between past and present and within T.E.’s own life. Sometimes, it’s so fast, it might leave your head spinning for a second before you realize the change has occurred. But I think it keeps your attention and interest this way.
As you can see on the page below, there's a lot of white space throughout the comic. It helps the narrative feel bright and airy and light. In contrast, the rare page set against a black background feels so heavy against Barnett’s bright style. You get that it’s serious before you even read it.
“OK thank Christ I found Jesus” was an especially humorous moment that I loved.
There’s so much about Lawrence I didn't know! The book was doubly fascinating, learning about him and also Barnett’s experience doing the same.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
The comic is in black and white only, if that bothers you, but I had no problems at all enjoying it without color.
There are a couple of small lettering issues, mostly to do with kerning and flow, with some spelling and grammar issues, but I don’t think they’re a big deal. You get what Barnett is saying, and it’s honestly difficult to be too confused by those things. Plus, the authenticity the hand-lettering provides is well worth it.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Part travelogue, part biography, part autobiography, yet more than the sum of its parts. Dreamers of the Day has heart and authenticity like no other. Beautiful, elegant, and honest, it's a joy to read.
I read about Barnett's journey while I, myself, was headed to England for the first time. Not only did it make a large chunk of that flight time seem like nothing because I was so engrossed with the comic, it made me care so much more about TE Lawrence as a person – more than watching Lawrence of Arabia ever did.
You don't see comics like this one put out by publishers, and it's a shame, because it's a lovely experience I wish more people could share.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Hallo Spaceboy by Ned Barnett
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Hip Hop Family Tree by Ed Piskor
If you like the art:
Dead Beats by various creators (including Ned Barnett)
Trotsky: A Graphic Biography by Rick Geary
Archival Quality by Ivy Noelle Weir & Steenz
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Ned Barnett – Cartoonist
His work focuses on heroes, health, and history.
He is particularly interested in the Arab Revolt during the First World War.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Find Ned at a comic convention or click one of these:
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