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Interview with Jesse Reklaw

By Thomm Quackenbush

Jesse Reklaw has spent ten years of his life illustrating your dream with his comic Slow Wave, which has gone on to be featured in newspapers, his book Dreamtoons, and, once, in a psychology text book. His secret is his mind control beam, so he can see and alter your dreams long before you submit them to him.
While conferring with others for this interview and researching the man behind the myth, it was decided that he is the sort of person one lines up to save from a burning building and that umbrellas should be held for him. I do not imagine these two honors are intended at the same time.

  1. For the benefit of our readers, could you explain why did you decide to begin this project?
    In 1995 I was really into comics, dreams, and the internet. So I guess it came together naturally. But I was also into music, drinking, and card games. Why I didn't make a musical card game for drunks, I'm not so sure.
  2. What is the weirdest dream you have ever had sent to you?
    After reading 10,000 dreams, it's hard to pick out the weirdest or best or anything like that. I'm more inclined to remember one of the last few I've read. Like, the other day, this kid sent me a dream about being an orc on a rampage in a mall. He described human blood as having the consistency of manure. This is why I don't go to the mall.
  3. What is the weirdest dream you have ever had?
    So, I was an orc, right? And I was at the mall... Ha, ha, just kidding. I have weird dreams too, but I don't have much time lately to write them down.
  4. Do you think that dreams are meaningful into the human psyche or that they can be used to predict the future?
    Dreams usually involve things you're thinking about, so that could be meaningful, but not more meaningful than real things or waking thoughts. Everyone knows that deja vu predicts the future.
  5. What advice, if any, do you have for aspiring cartoonists?
    Some people are naturally gifted and do great work without a lot of meddling advice. But if you're like me, you think you know everything, but you actually have a lot of bad habits and room for improvement. Listen to criticism; don't necessarily follow what other people say, but try to figure out what it is they're telling you. Also, read a lot of comics and figure out why they succeed or fail. And spend about 20 hours a week writing, drawing, inking, lettering, and designing.
  6. What is the strangest reaction you've received to Slow Wave?
    I'm always amazed by people who don't get the concept, like the guy who sent me a letter saying: "Draw my dream. Two college cheerleaders making out."
  7. Do you really believe we landed on the moon and what would you say to those that disagree with your opinion?
    It's probably best to let people believe what they want.
  8. You seem to have a predilection for cats, particularly talking ones. Why is that?
    Some things are just really funny to me, everytime. Talking cats, sad Hitlers, smoking babies, etc.
  9. It has been said that one can discern themes in the dreams you illustrate. Do you see any common themes and, if so, what do you think they mean?
    I really like surprise turnarounds. It's usually an opportunity for humor, and it adds narrative weight to the short strips. Someone pointed out to me that many of my strips involve some kind of deflation, like when you think something is going to be threatening, but then it isn't so bad. Or it seems like something is cool, but then it sucks. I guess I see life as a kind of deflation.
  10. Looking back after a decade of this project, are you at all surprised at what you have achieved?
    I guess so, but not as surprised as I thought I'd be.
  11. You earned a master's degree in computer science from Yale. What was the best part about attending this university? The worst?
    That wasn't really the right program for me, which is a good thing, because I think I'm happier as a cartoonist than I would be as a scientist or programmer.
  12. Do you think your schooling has interfered with your education in anyway?
    That's a great loaded question. Dropping out of school has always been very educational for me (I was in the PhD program, but exited with a Masters).
  13. Can you reveal the details of the scoring system you use to rate the dreams sent to you?
    The dreams are rated from 0 to 50. I've never given out a 50, but there have been a few 45s when I was in a good mood. A zero is for fake dreams or things that don't qualify. Insipid dreams about cute boys, killing sprees, and TV shows score less than ten. Everything else gets at least ten, and more if they're interesting, funny, or have cool things to draw. Then there's the talking cat bonus: +10.
  14. So you draw and have been featured in a psychology textbook, can get scientific with computers, and sing with the band Superstring. Exactly what do you see as your weakness?
    I've got a lot of shortcomings; it would take a whole other interview. Lately my health has been pretty bad. I need to exercise more.
  15. If you had a comic book superpower, what would it be and why?
    When I was a kid I really wanted to fly or be invulnerable. Now I just want to get more done.
  16. What was your favorite book as a child?
    "Frog, Where are You?" by Mercer Mayer was pretty cool.

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