sees a fraudulent author picked by an otherworldly force to fight off the worst fears of humanity, and we loved the first issue. Here in the real world, the author of Fearscape
(and definitely not a fraudster!) Ryan O’Sullivan
discusses the themes in the story, influences and the beautiful artwork by Andrea Mutti + Vladimir Popov detailing the story.
A hero chosen to defend the world is a common concept, where did the idea of choosing an author to be that hero come from?
Of course it’s common. We are all forever defending our own personal worlds from those who seek to destroy them. Even in this interview your will to power is battling against my desire for secrecy. Internally I’m forever battling the desire to be liked against the desire to be truthful. To live is to defend.
As for authors-as-heroes; They say write what you know, and as an avid student of solipsism, I thought exploring certain aspects of authorial neurosis would be interesting, and resonate, within the current climate of comics writing. Do Henry Henry’s thoughts align with my own? I leave that up to the reader to decide. To some he is a smoke screen that allows me to vent vitriol upon my own personal petty grievances, but to other, more attuned, readers, he is simply a reasonable perspective taken to unreasonable extremes through dramatic hubris.
We got some Lovecraftian vibes and influences when it comes to the ethereal nature of the Fearscape, how much of an influence was literary horror on the story?
I tend to read quite widely, and anytime I notice my writing taking on the parlance of another, I quickly delete the line. For that reason, while Fearscape is a literary comic, I can’t say it draws inspiration from any one genre or author. (And, supposing it did, admitting it outright might defeat the purpose of the intertext or, even worse, provide the attentive reader with an indication of what is to come in later issues.)
While Fearscape does contain entities that could be considered Lovecraftian in a purely perfunctory sense (monsters with unknowable names, a dark world beyond our own, etc) to call the comic “Lovecraftian” would be wrong. If anything, the presence of the Fearscape, The Muse, and all these means by which humanity can prosper over evil via supernatural means, would actually put the book at odds with the Cosmicism that permeates all of Lovecraft’s writings.
I had initially considered a Lovecraftian approach. But soon dismissed it when faced with the realisation that the world already had Alan Moore and Junji Ito creating Lovecraftian comics.
THEY SAY WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW, AND AS AN AVID STUDENT OF SOLIPSISM, I THOUGHT EXPLORING CERTAIN ASPECTS OF AUTHORIAL NEUROSIS WOULD BE INTERESTING, AND RESONATE, WITHIN THE CURRENT CLIMATE OF COMICS WRITING.
The narration from Henry Henry is so self-aware of comics culture and styles, is this a critique that you’ve been pondering on for a while? It works brilliantly.
Henry Henry is a fictional character and does not represent my own personal thoughts or beliefs anymore than MacBeth represents Shakespeare’s.
The illustrations throughout the first issue are hauntingly beautiful, how did you approach bringing the Fearscape to the page?
Andrea Mutti & Vladimir Popov are the artists on Fearscape. We wanted the story to have that classical “through the looking glass” fairytale aesthetic. Fearscape subverts a fair amount of what you might call classical fantasy, so having a visual style that reflected that style of storytelling, but that we could also burlesque where necessary, is what lead us toward the inkwashed watercolours.
The art is thoroughly beautiful in both the fantastic and everyday environments depicted in the book. I think it’s a combination of Andrea’s inkwashes, Vlad’s watercolours, and Andrea’s uncanny ability to utilise both hyper detailing and minimalism that helps the comic maintain its beauty regardless of the locale of each scene.
Using The Muse to tell mini-stories within the main narrative provided a great peek behind the curtain against fending off the Fearscape, if there’s more of this to come – what can we expect to see? Can you give us a hint as to what Henry Henry will have to face during his time in the Fearscape?
Haha. Yes. The Muse is trying her best to tell a Hero’s Journey, despite all of Henry Henry’s efforts to the contrary, isn’t she? As for what’s to come; the first issue has enough hints for readers wanting to know more. If I hint at anything here I’m liable to give the whole game away. (We must be careful of readers. They have a habit of having read things.)