Andjelko Napijalo has a right to have fears. Growing up in Croatia during a civil war turned his once idyllic childhood into a nightmare filled with boogiemen. He described the daytime sounds of exploding bombs and gun fire in the streets. And, not knowing if his neighbors were alive or not.
After one month, Napijalo was afraid to go to sleep because of his nightmares.
Though the creative release of drawing a comic strip about a family of rabbits, he started sleeping again and had no more nightmares. He was 10 years old.
“Someone heard me and it stopped. I formed this story. Someone is in your dreams fighting nightmares for you,” Napijalo said. “To me it’s about overcoming fears a human being has. We all have demons. In order to survive we need a support system. You can be your own superhero or you can be a superhero to someone else.”
According to the Kickstarter campaign page, in “Nightmare Warriors”, readers meet a “young boy by the name of Gage Hunter whose parents were killed in a car accident. After his parents’ funeral Gage was approached by a mysterious man asking him to come to an abandoned lighthouse to learn the real truth about his parents.
Gage discovers that he belongs to the line of Nightmare Warriors, people of special pedigree that can travel into other peoples' dreams thorough their subconscious. Gage also learns that his parents got trapped in Dreamland, the place where all dreams occur.
Gage…meets his Dream Team, the team of nightmare-warrior assistants that live in Dreamland. The team consists of an intelligent but very attitudinal owl by the name of Hugo. Hugo is not just intelligent and attitudinal but is also scared of everything. Koala-San is another member of the Dream Team who tends to spend his entire time sleeping in his hammock or during very important missions. Koala-San is a ninja koala bear. The last member of the team is Doctor Klaus Notagan (pronounced: Not Again) whose inventions often fail, misfire or both. With the "help" of his Dream Team, Gage ventures into other kids dreams where he fights evil forces while continuously searching for clues about his parent’s disappearance.”
Napijalo wrote two books based on his idea for Dreamland, but he didn’t want to have those self-published. “I have one chance to show people what I envisioned in my mind.” In 15 or 20 minutes, readers can see the characters and the world he created and fall in love with them. “I love it so much. It’s like they are alive.”
None of the characters have superpowers and they must work together to defeat the bad guys in Dreamland.
He contacted local artists to get price quotes, but in the end found a familiar artist from Croatia, who Napijalo went to high school with before coming to the United States. Nenad Cviticanin was the artist Napijalo chose. English is not Napijalo’s first language so while working with Cviticanin, they communicated in Serbian because it was easier, he said. Napijalo found Russian Maksim Strelkov to add color to the art work.
“I’d never done anything like it before, hiring people. It was more complicated than I thought or imagined,” Napijalo said.
The comic book took eight months to perfect from the sketches, the dialogue and the art work. “It took so long because I was so picky,” he said.
The 40-paged glossy comic book is full of secrets beyond the story. Everything could have meaning, Napijalo said. “The clock or the time has some meaning. A lot of love went into creating it.”
For those who love a puzzle, there will be questions for kids that will require doing research or learning about some topic. They will also get cool prized for accomplishing the tasks. “It’s more interactive,” he added. “They might even need a spy glass.”
While perfecting the artwork Napijalo and Cviticanin used their shared knowledge to create art that spoke to them. “He actually experienced the same thing I did during the war. His heart was in the project as well. He put everything into it and that matters a lot,” Napijalo said.
The first comic book story of “Nightmare Warriors” is only the first part of a 10 book series that covers the two books Napijalo initially wrote.
“I have a huge imagination. If something comes to mind, I have to put it on paper,” he said. He created a board game called Switch, although it has never been sold, the dream team plays it in the comic book.
The comic book has not been printed yet. Napijalo has a Kickstarter campaign going on for the next week and a half to finish funding the publishing of “Nightmare Warriors”. Everything is done, including the prizes and incentives for the campaign. People who give to the campaign will receive items like T-shirts, puzzles, posters, copies of the comic book and more. This edition will be a special Kickstarter edition and he plans to print only 500 copies. Any extra money raised will go directly to the printing of issues two and three.
“The Kickstarter will pay for printing, cool stuff, fees, shipping and shows demand. It puts me out there,” Napijalo said. “The idea is to get it to more people.” He is hoping that a kid will pick up the comic book, read it and love it.
However, he doesn’t want anything for free. He doesn’t want people to give him money without getting something for that donation. “I want you to have something,” he said. “I appreciate it.”
The book promotes family values, compassion, love and friendship. “It empowers kids and adults to take control of their fears,” he added.
Napijalo is a voracious reader, who reads whatever sparks his interest. He came to the United States in 1999, when he was 20 years old along with his parents.
During the daytime, Napijalo is a detective for the Portland Police Department. He is married and lives in Windham.
For more information or to be a part of the Kickstarter campaign, visit Nightmare Warriors on Facebook or Kickstarter at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/34629306/nightmare-warriors