About The Maze of Dreams

Alex Bradley

My name is Alex Bradley, and I love puzzles. Even when I can’t always figure them out, I love facing enigmas and throwing my brain at them to tease out how they work, and feel the rush when an answer pops out. Maybe because life itself is an ultimately unsolvable puzzle, solving easier mysteries is deeply satisfying.

I also love creating stories with images, and as you’ll see, my style is all about an irresponsible amount of detail.

Maze of Dreams is an illustrated puzzle book where the reader becomes the main character in a recurring dream. You can explore the pages in any order without diving any deeper into the story, or solve puzzles that gradually reveal a deeper reality and an existential dilemma for the whole human race.

Temp Cover Page
Maze (Christopher Manson)

My chief inspiration for this project is Christopher Manson’s illustrated puzzle book Maze. Readers choose pages from numbers drawn into forty-five locations, attempting to reach the center of a labyrinth and return to the entrance in the fewest steps. Riddles and puzzles are built into each illustration to point the way, but to be honest, there are so many clues, it’s difficult to know which ones to follow. Instead of stumping readers with Maze of Dreams, I hope my puzzles are easier, offering some challenges, but ultimately allowing readers to know they have completed the story.

After describing an “illustrated maze book,” most people, not having heard of Maze, ask me “so, is it like Choose Your Own Adventure?”

The answer is “Kind of.” There is a story that runs through the book, and there are multiple possible ways to finish the story. But where the classic CYOAs often relished taking the reader through bizarre, unexpected twists, everything in Maze of Dreams serves the main story. Certain puzzles, if discovered and solved, lead to alternate paths, some good, and some quite bad!

Inside UFO-54-40 (by Edward Packard)
Up and Down (M.C. Escher)

I am inspired by many illustrators, and my personal style leans towards black and white pencil work with tons of detail.

I love classical illustrators like Gustave Doré, modern ones like Chris Van Allsberg of Jumanji fame, and comic book artists who pile in tons of detail, like Geof Darrow. But my main inspiration on this project has to be the inimitable M.C. Escher. His visual explorations capture dream imagery in an inviting and mesmerizing way that suits the subject perfectly.

(I guess he has to be somewhat imitable, since imitating is what I plan to do!)

Those who know my webcomic, Miskatonic U, know what a fan of H.P. Lovecraft I am. His Dreamlands stories are some of his strangest creations, owing more to early 20th century fantasists like Lord Dunsany, with lofty-sounding locations and gods who idly toy with humanity.

For fans, there will be numerous Easter eggs to look for. But no prior knowledge is required to progress in the story. I don’t want someone to see the words “Hazuth-Kleg” and run away before having a chance to enjoy this ominous yet inviting realm halfway between dreams and reality.

Map of the Dreamlands (Jason Bradley Thompson)
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