Jesse Reklaw’s deliriously surreal strip Slow Wave, is intense, satisfying stuff. These brief meditations on the dreaming world offer a glimpse of the realms in which humans spend the better part of our lives. Simple, yet also deeply complex, Reklaw’s comics mystify as well as illuminate the inner workings of the mind.
Every week, starting on the first minute of Saturday in San Francisco, a new installment of Slow Wave is brought to life. This dream diary is a collaborative effort between sleeping minds across the nation and the pen of Oakland artist Jesse Reklaw. From the roughly thirty submissions he receives a week, Reklaw ranks the dreams on a scale of one to fifty. The ones that rank at the higher end of the spectrum, frequently those which cause Reklaw himself to laugh, generally make it to print.
The only linking factor between each comic strip is Reklaw’s art and scripting, making for a great juxtaposition of themes and concepts in the archive. Armadillos speak to careless boys, snakes terrorize from unseen shadows, cats host talk shows, women bake hookers into cookies, an entire population grows on a patch of one man’s shoulder. Disparate dreamscapes, each linked by powerful line and shadow.
Reklaw has a deft hand and a keen eye. The detail in his work is amazing, as is his careful juxtaposition of light and dark. Each strip, rendered in a mere four panels, seems an exercise in careful balance. But what is most striking of all is the illusory quality Slow Wave creates, as if Jesse Reklaw is actually able to see the dreams as they are dreamed in the mind’s eye, and recreate them accordingly.
Reading Slow Wave can sometimes be difficult. Without the framework of the dreamer’s life, it is difficult to comprehend the full ramifications of the dream. The ambiguity of these miniature dream sequences is heady, though, and deeply enthralling. Ultimately, these strips prove riveting as they delve into the shadow thoughts of others, what is known behind closed eyelids, with everyone alone in the dark.
Alicia Curtis teaches history and special education at JLHS in the Bronx. She is currently persuing her Masters in Secondary Education at Mercy College, also in the Bronx. Her poetry and prose has appeared in several journals, including Blithe House Quarterly and Agnieszka’s Dowery. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her boyfriend and their hamster.