Review: Deep Dark Fears, by Fran Krause

This title was provided to me at no cost for review purposes by the publisher.

Fears seem to share some properties with dreams, as both spring from similar irrational, twilight corners of the mind. While it’s practically axiomatic that among the most boring things one can discuss is the weird things seen while asleep, I’ve long found discussing fears to be far more interesting and instructive. Unless one subscribes to the notion that they’re somehow prophetic or expressive, a dream is easily dismissed as random in origin and meaningless without some kind of post-hoc rationalization. A fear, though, whatever its murky provenance may be, is important. Fears shape the way we act, which shapes the world. They can also be illuminating about their owner, as one’s fear may be another’s fancy.

Krause explores 100 fears in all, each a tidy first-person narrative expressed in a handful or two of panels. The linework is soft and casual, colored as with watercolors, pairing well with the somewhat shaggy but never violated panel borders and narrative captions. Overall the effect is to help crate a rather creepily accessible setting for the gleefully strange and horrible vignettes. Some end in humor, others in irony, most in disaster. I found that my favorites involved cause and effect at work in the young mind: the boy who thought his departed grandfather would be flushed away just as his goldfish had been, or the child beset by nightmares of huge grasping robot named Dracula, knowing only that Dracula was something too scary for her to be allowed to watch. Among the hundred, though, there are many which adhere to common tropes: loss of teeth, things in the dark or otherwise unseen, and social mortification. The ones which hit home were those that I thought were unique to me. The blurb mentioned that Krause based the strips “on idiosyncratic and universal ‘deep dark fears.'” It would seem that among my fears is that my fears are not entirely my own.