Every writer has heard that question “where do ideas come from?”. Some have answers, clever sayings they’ve whipped up especially for such occasions. Some even believe their answers. But for most writers, ideas just sort of happen. Fearscape Vol. 1, written by Ryan O’Sullivan, illustrated by Andrea Mutti, colors by Vladimir Popov, lettering by Andworld Design and published by Vault Comics, presents a world where all ideas stem from the same source.
Beyond our world lies Fearscape, a supernatural realm where ideas are as solid as you or me. Shaped by humanity’s collective unconsciousness, the Fearscape is populated by our greatest dreams and most terrible nightmares. Fears grow in power in the Fearscape, until there exists The Greatest Fear. Powerful beyond measure, The Greatest Fear can only be defeated by an artist inspired by The Muse. Once in a generation, The Muse seeks out the greatest storyteller in the world, one whose imagination could conquer humanity’s greatest fear.
If that sounds familiar, it should. After all, as series protagonist Henry Henry would tell you, nothing is less original than the ‘Hero’s Journey’. A failed novelist who makes a living translating the works of others, Henry Henry spends his days narrating all the beautiful ideas he would write, if he ever got around to it. When translation doesn’t pay the bills, Henry finds plagiarism suits him just fine, stealing a manuscript from his ailing mentor to pass off as his own. But when that manuscript catches the attention of The Muse, Henry passes himself off as the world’s greatest storyteller.
Reading Fearscape Vol. 1 is simply fascinating. It’s a high concept fantasy that plays with the very idea of high concept fantasy. By all rights, this narrative makes more sense as a book than a comic since novels and their authors play a key role in the cosmic structure of the series’ universe. There’s no doubt that Henry Henry would look down his nose at the comic medium as beneath him. But one of Fearscape Vol. 1 ‘s greatest strengths is how deftly it manipulates the medium with its unreliable narrator. Henry Henry’s text boxes litter the page with the plagiarist’s musings. They obstruct dialogue, characters, and even entire scenes that Henry deems ‘unnecessary’.
It’s a shame that we miss these scenes too. As much as Fearscape Vol. 1 fills its pages with Henry’s Henry’s narration, its true heart lies in its art. Andrea Mutti seeds this volume with a host of key details our narrator never picks up on. Mutti’s art puts an emphasis on body language and scene blocking. This forces readers to analyze every scene for gaps between Henry Henry’s description and what we can see with our own eyes.
Simply put, there is much more to Fearscape than I can say in a review. Part character study, part dark fantasy, Fearscape Vol. 1 is a remarkable example of pure imagination at work. It teases the boundaries between literature and comic books, uniting the mediums in one twisted package. The fewer readers bring into this series, the more they can take away from a truly remarkable comic experience.
Fearscape Vol. 1 is available now in comic book stores everywhere.
Fearscape Vol. 1
There is much more to Fearscape than I can say in a review. Part character study, part dark fantasy, Fearscape Vol. 1 is a remarkable example of pure imagination at work.