Updated: Jun 24, 2021
Writer: Ryan O'Sullivan Art: Andrea Mutti Publisher: Vault Comics
This review only covers the 3rd issue. Because of that, we're still getting insight into the full story arc, so this review might look a little different than my other ones of entire volumes. Also, this review uses a similar narrative to the FEARSCAPE comic, so consider reading it in case you're confused.
WHAT IS IT?
A moody horror fantasy where the narrator is an unreliable plagiarist who gets in way over his head.
It's a little like Dante's Inferno with a Twin Peaks aesthetic and a Memento narrative.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
This issue is ROUGH for Henry Henry, as he-
Dear reader, I'm going to stop this ridiculous "Comic Book Yeti" right here, as I, Henry Henry, can do a far better job at getting you up to speed on current events than he ever could.
You see, though I left that piteous "Fearscape" in my shadow, the events of that night led me to the manuscript of my once mentor. And, though I had steeled myself to make the proper edits so that it would be readable, I discovered that it had been written perfectly in mine own (there I go again with the olden speak, I apologize, dear reader) narrative voice. What a fortuitous finding!
It was only fair that I publish the book under my name instead of Arthur's, since he was the one who wrote it exactly as I would have. However, no one seemed to agree with me (it is always I against the world, as you are beginning to see). Arthur and his aggressive minx of a daughter interrupted my event at the bookstore because they were so desperate for their own attention that they must steal from what is owed to me.
To make matters worse, I must battle a fearsome entity from the Fearscape which has followed me back home like a lost puppy, and also have an unpleasant conversation with the annoying, irreversibly confused Muse.
Thank you, dear reader, for continuously rooting for your hero, Henry Henry, as I vanquish beasts both real and ethereal. I am certain that we are through the worst of it and everything will be just fine from here on out.
O'Sullivan's story is told in layers, what is happening vs what is told to us, which makes for a fun reading experience with depth
His style in this comic reminds me of Palahniuk, constantly challenging himself to write in innovative ways, often with protagonists we root for even though they may not be likeable
Henry Henry as a protagonist is like Breaking Bad's Walter White: I wonder how far he has to go before we stop rooting for him simply because he's our protagonist
He's a little like villains in the real world in that he makes things worse for everyone else while having few personal consequences of his own
There's a certain sadistic joy in watching a jerk like Henry get himself into a world of trouble
It's fascinating imagining the story without Henry's narration -- how we might give more credit to him, and how it may seem so much more like a traditional adventure story
Maybe we root for Henry Henry because he also reminds us of ourselves, just a little bit?
Mutti's art is ethereal, almost dreamlike when combined with Vladimir Popov's brooding colors, and feels inspired by classic fantasy illustrations or moody TV shows (see below for an example)
Deron Bennett's lettering is on-point, and his caption placements build the story and characterizations unlike any other comic-letterer duo out there right now
This may be misattributed, as the dialogue/narration boxes' placement could be built into the script, but the lettering in this comic is still highly effective nonetheless
The demonic entity in this issue speaks in the same mannerisms Henry Henry sometimes slips into, which I found fascinating
You're definitely going to want to read the back cover on this issue -- there's a delightful easter egg there
Also, Vault comics have been putting intros here on most, if not all of their titles, and I find it really helpful to remind me what's happened before and what to expect inside
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
Since it's only the first couple issues, it's hard to know if the series will be more on the side of frightening fiction or commentary on writers as creators
There's no one really likable in this story so far, so anyone who needs a character to stand in for themselves in order to enjoy a story may be disappointed
This title may appeal more to longtime comics fans, writers and people in touch with how they lie to themselves than your average person
Some of the things the Fearscape's entities say, I'm not sure how to weigh their significance -- they may make more sense or be paid off in future issues
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
FEARSCAPE is a novel concept by an insanely talented and thoughtful creative team. It may be a little early to say, but if you're a fan of meta fiction or horror, I really think you'll like this title.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
VOID TRIP by Ryan O'Sullivan & Plaid Klaus
The Sandman, Vol. 1 by Gaiman, Kieth, Dringenberg & Jones III
The Unwritten, Vol. 1 by Mike Carey & Peter Gross
If you like the art:
FEARSCAPE #1 & 2 by Ryan O'Sullivan & Andrea Mutti
Port of Earth, Vol. 1 by Zack Kaplan & Andrea Mutti
Swamp Thing, Vol. 1 by Alan Moore & John Totleben
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Ryan O'Sullivan – Writer
Influenced by Bukowski, Nobokov, Shakespeare, and Hunter S. Thompson
Outlander: He’s from Yorkshire, England
Part of the White Noise collective with other extremely talented writers
Andrea Mutti – Penciller & Inker
Outlander: Currently lives in Italy, and I'm super jealous of this fact
In the past, he worked on several detective titles for French publishers
His talent for drawing the noir genre definitely translates well to this title
Vladimir Popov – Colorist
Dream Team: Also worked with Andrea Mutti on the comic, Control
Seems to enjoy working in muted colors
Inspired by Moebius, Simon Bisley, Frank Frazetta, Robert Crumb, Alex Raymod, Wally Wood and Don Lawrence (according to BrokenIconComics.com)
Outlander: Lives in Serbia
Deron Bennett (AndWorld Design) – Letterer
Founded AndWorld Design, a lettering & design studio
Multitalented: Also wrote the comic, Quixote
Has a cool video where he talks about why he loves lettering
HOW DO I BUY IT?
FEARSCAPE issue #3 comes out Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. Pre-order issue #3 from your Local Comics Shop.
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