Webcomic artist and writer Emily Ree brings you ANARCHY DREAMERS, a colorful adventure about students who get a second chance at life - with superpowers. The characters have plenty of quirks, and the story has ambitious ideas. While the art is a wonderful ensemble of pinks, purples, blues, and greens, the expressions and anatomy don't always work.
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Imagine that life gives you a second chance. But instead of restarting everything normally, you’re reborn with supernatural abilities. In Emily Ree’s ANARCHY DREAMERS, Tabitha O’Malley and her friends return to the living with new abilities but no recollection of the tragedy that befell them and others at their high school. They collectively refer to the day as the “Incident” where a mass school shooting took the lives of Sacred Heart High School. But the problem is that there’s no gunman.

Embroiled in the mystery of their past, Tabitha and her friend embark to take down the physical manifestations of the students’ nightmares by the request of the Dream God. As long as they take down the hordes of nightmares, they’ll find out what triggered their deaths and remember their lost memories. In particular, they need their memories of the Hospital, a place that collectively unsettles our characters whenever it’s mentioned. The webcomic has plenty to offer to new readers. There are colorful and fun illustrations, queer elements, and a diverse set of characters from different backgrounds.

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Dealing with the Real World and the Dream World

Anarchy Dreamers
Image courtesy of Emily Ree.

Our heroes live in a world where death just means a second chance — this time with superpowers. Everyone knows with power comes great responsibility. Our main protagonist Tabitha (or Tabbi) takes it upon herself and her friends to liberate students from their nightmares. Despite stepping up to wear the cape, Tabbi and her friends can’t recall anything that happened to them prior to death. They’re apparently called by the God of Dreams who happens to be… a duck. A duck who likes to shapeshift a lot and wear glasses. Wild so far, isn’t it?

Anarchy Dreamers
Image courtesy of Emily Ree.

Comics that take an extreme fantasy degree aren’t my usual cup of tea. I prefer sci-fi, but ANARCHY DREAMERS is an exception. The mystery piqued my interest after the first two issues. Ree teases readers with small snippets of the characters’ pasts, but it’s never enough – in a good way! It keeps me waiting for answers without getting impatient. The idea of the nightmares takes on stranger twist and creepy turns. After a few issues in, readers still only know so much about things like the “Hospital.” That’s okay though; it’s all about the world-building and the steady rise in suspense. Ree’s a natural story-teller, so the build-up is definitely exciting. Besides, who wouldn’t want god to be a duck?

Cotton Candy Hues

ANARCHY DREAMERS has lots of glimmer and even more variations of pinks and purples to go around. It enhances the aesthetic of the overall story and characters. Each issue mesmerizes you with just the fashion alone: their outfits are always on point. Tabbi blends with the pastel atmosphere Ree visually structures for her narrative. The webcomic has that soft goth feel to it. You know those blogs online with the pastel pink background and cutesy designs bordering the webpage? But the actual content gets disturbing real quick? This comic is like that too, if that’s what suits your fancy.

After reading all the issues and the current update (April 9th), one thing that I would like to see improved are the characters’ expressions. Ree’s simplistic lineart allows for cleaner pages free of visual messes but doesn’t provide the ample freedom for the characters to emote fluidly. Every now and then, their poses feel rigid. Still, it’s not something that robs the webcomic of its appeal.

Anarchy Dreamers
Image courtesy of Emily Ree.

While this webcomic is filled to the brim with some leisurely good vibes and silly humor, the disturbing nightmares remind you of the darkness below the surface. Some of the nightmares range from your average looking monsters to some creepy looking angels and creatures with menacing teeth. The unease the characters feel when facing those nightmares… you start getting that creeping dread too.

Anarchy Dreamers
Image courtesy of Emily Ree.

Even the nightmares that haunt our protagonist’s school have their own eerie appeal. Cute as some designs are, the nightmares are no joke. They’re nightmare fuel (no pun intended). But despite being horrifying and unsettling, the creatures of ANARCHY DREAMERS are a sight to behold.

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Toughing it out Together

Anarchy Dreamers
Image courtesy of Emily Ree.

Friendship is very important. It can mean a lot to all of us and sometimes it can really hurt more than a heartbreak. Sometimes comic artists like to dismantle friendships to add angst in their stories or to serve as a catalyst for an arc. A lot of this is done in the name of the “plot,” but sometimes it’s just not done well. What happened to friends sticking together? Why can’t friends just be together and face the world without having their relationship face some internal or external conflict?

ANARCHY DREAMERS is one of those few webcomics that maintain the dynamic of friendship throughout its 200+ pages. Sure, they crack on each other, but that’s it. No unnecessary drama for the sake of dramatics. They try to work out their tragedy together and kick some nightmare butt, despite how reluctant some of them are. But they’re aware they’re stronger together. Instead of winging it solo, they can get rid of these nightmares in groups. It’s a healthy friendship and even healthier support group.

Anarchy Dreamers
Image courtesy of Emily Ree.

But more importantly, some characters who are usually toughing it out and staying positive eventually break. Tabbi has been our enthusiastic and headstrong heroine. However, the snapshots of her vulnerabilities supply an additional dimension to the comic. They’re complex characters who reminiscence of their former life, scattered as their memories are. Tabbi’s brave face breaks on a few rare occasions. This lets readers determine what exactly is haunting her and what memories we can parse together for her.

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Final Thoughts on ANARCHY DREAMERS

This webcomic is fantastically illustrated. The innocent art style made me unprepared for some of the grisly backstory, like the mass school shooting and the implications of self-harm. However, the surprise is welcoming. It kept me immersed in the rest of the narrative as the issues flew by in one sitting. The rapport Ree has garnered is incredible too. Her Kickstarter to fund the first volume of ANARCHY DREAMERS achieved its goal in record time. Don’t miss your chance to support Emily Ree on her new Kickstarter to fund Volume Two. There are still plenty of tiers to choose from.

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