Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #219: The Creeps by Fran Krause

I debated whether to categorize this post as "Horror." At the moment, I haven't, but maybe I'll change my mind as type. Let's see how that goes.

Fran Krause has been making a comic called Deep Dark Fears online called 2012, working from the submitted worries and fears of mostly anonymous contributors. (He's also an animation teacher at Calarts.)

There have been two collections of the strip -- the first one was Deep Dark Fears (unsurprisingly) in 2015, and a second book, The Creeps, came out in 2017. I've been reading the strip for a few years -- I'm not sure exactly how long -- but I missed the first book, and just read the second.

Each comic is generally four panels in a grid, with text underneath each panel -- he's illustrating the fear, in something like the words it was submitted to him.

And everything here was the worst fear of at least one person in at least one moment -- something that person needed to share right then, when prompted. Not all of it was scary to me, not all of it will be scary to you -- and none of it is designed to outright frighten you. There are no jump scares here, no fake-outs. Krause is illustrating things that other people are scared of...and seeing that, or thinking about that, may turn your mind down those paths.

So the title is is a good choice: these are comics more likely to "creep you out," to make you feel uneasy, to make you think, than to actually on-purpose frighten you.

The Creeps also includes a couple of longer stories, also based on fears and stories about fears from contributors. They're laid out with more flair, taking advantage of the full book page here. (I suspect the format of Deep Dark Fears is partly driven by how the individual panels will appear on various social platforms, especially on mobile. [1])

Krause has a simplified but sophisticated art style for these stories: people have dot eyes, limbs are close to rubber-hose quality, ears and noses are mostly geometric shapes with blocks of color, and backgrounds tend to be minimally sketched. He pulls it all together with blocks of subdued colors -- I think primarily watercolor, and occasionally has a larger page-like structure underlying the four panels -- but, usually, they're designed so each one can stand alone in a string. (And, in fact the book plays with that: sometimes having two strips on facing pages, sometimes having one strip on the right and the title on the left, and sometimes running one strip across a spread, two panels on each side.)

Deep Dark Fears is an interesting and diverse crowdsourced comic, focused by Krause's art, his selective eye, and the relatively narrow subject matter. It has the pared-down simplicity of the best comics or Zen koans, a sense that these are the fewest, most precise words to express this particular feeling. And it is quite likely to give you The Creeps.

[1] Can I be a Luddite for a second and mention that mobile has blown up a lot of good, sophisticated design on the web? There's no going back, since you have to go where the users are, but a desktop window is a better platform for many media -- any video with a decent quality, long-form text, comics with any kind of page design, etc. -- than a mobile screen is. Oh, well -- grump, grump.

No comments:

Post a Comment