Rest in Dreams

Written and illustrated by Mia Jose

Dreams may be one of the last true mysteries of the world. For a phenomenon that every human participates in, at least once in their life, we know frighteningly little about them. So many questions remain unanswered: Why do we dream? Where do these characters and the worlds within them come from? What is their purpose?

Growing up, I didn’t think too much of my dreams. Though I’ve dreamt of resurrecting terrifying monsters, straight out of the slasher film that I watched after my parents went to bed, and have been convinced that I was an alien trapped in a human body—dreams didn’t take up much real estate in my mind. Their influence was limited to the few minutes after I woke up with a start.

However, as time went on, and I started sketching and telling my own stories, I began keeping a dream journal to jot down new ideas that my dream-self conjured. It was around this time that, like a cruel joke by the Sandman, I stopped having them altogether. As the months dragged on, my groggy and overwhelmed mind began to recognise that there was more to dreams than meets the eye.

Rest in Dreams is an exploration of that dreamless time, using the return of colours to that bleak world as a device to meditate on the many ways in which dreams are as important to our reality as our waking actions.

This comic was first showcased at Gaysi Family’s 2022 Zine Bazaar.

Note from the Artist

For the longest time I thought dreams were just a reservoir of ideas. But in 2020, during the pandemic, I was isolated for several months, stuck in a place where I didn’t feel safe. As a result, I just stopped dreaming. I acutely felt the effects of this in my waking life, so I did some research.

The reason we see elements of our lives—things, people, memories—in our dreams is because it’s a way for our subconscious minds to sort out the emotions and unresolved feelings that our conscious minds are unable to. There are four stages of sleep. We need all four, especially the REM stage when all dreaming occurs, in order to wake up refreshed. Because my mind didn’t trust the physical space I was in, I was never able to let go completely. I wasn’t able to sleep deeply enough to dream.

I felt pulled to create Rest in Dreams as a way not just to tell a story, but to process my reality at that time through my art. This was a project of many firsts. Apart from the length and details, the style and the imagery are different from everything else I was doing at the time—which was centred around horror and folktales, very detailed work with darker tones. Since I was portraying dreams as refreshing, I needed to go with something lighter—pastel shades and a crayon treatment. It was also my first time incorporating my writing into my art.

About the artist

Mia Jose (she/they) is a non-binary illustrator, art director, comics artist and devourer of all things camp and horror. Having been trained as a lawyer, she left her legal career behind in 2022 to pursue her art practice under the name Lines By Jose (@linesbyjose on instagram). Graphic narratives have always been Mia’s way into art and her own identity, and she considers Alison Bechdel, ND Stevenson, Satoshi Kon and Neil Gaiman as spiritual influences in her work. Informed by her identity and roots in Kerala, her work navigates the intersections between gender, queerness and personal narratives.