PopCultHQ received a review copy of THE FEAR DIARIES #1 from Alterna Comics. Available on Thursday, February 16th, the creative team for this series features writing from Garrett Gunn, interior art by Nicolas Touris, with letters from HdE. Here’s our spoiler-free review of the premiere issue of THE FEAR DIARIES.
PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
FEAR DIARIES #1
Pt.1: Rise of the Dark Mistress
When I was a young child, I had a large toybox/bench in my closet with Raggedy Ann & Andy on the front of it (don’t judge, this was the 70s). While it was a friendly, cutesy sort of look from these rag doll images, when the lights went out at bedtime, they were the creepiest things ever. I always made sure my bedroom closet door was closed all the way before I went to bed or I couldn’t sleep. Now at 43, I still cannot sleep with my bedroom closet door even cracked open a bit. Not that I still live with that same childhood fear, but it became instinctual to close it at night (plus that’s really something for me and my therapist). The reason I mention that particular part of my childhood is because it is that fear, that feeling of being scared and the need for protection (be it from a comforting parent or a stuffed animal), that’s what THE FEAR DIARIES stirs up, addresses, and takes a look at just what happens when we fall asleep. Turns out the stuffed animals or dolls given to children to put their mind at ease at bedtime offer a lot more protection than we may realize.
The Dark Mistress of the Nightmare World sees an opportunity to launch an assault on children everywhere darkening their dreams. But fret not, young ones! For the very stuffed animals who make you feel protected in the physical world are fighting to protect you in the dream world.
There are a couple of moments where I wondered how receptive this would be to “all ages” but since I don’t have any kids and I’m an idiot, I could be looking too much into it. The violence that occurs, if you can call it that, is done in an almost animated fashion. Remember, these are toys and stuffed animals going at it. Expect some to get the stuffing kicked out of them.
I have to point out something I loved, though this may not have been the intention, when we are first introduced to the villainous Stitches, it had a strong Indiana Jones: The Temple of Doom “Mola Ram introduction”-like feel. For me anyway. But who is this mysterious Dark Mistress whom even Stitches exalts? The threat is real and its up to Theodore “Teddy” Bearsly (lol) and his rag-tag group of dream defenders. Help us, Teddy Bearsly. You’re our only hope.
Writer Garrett Gunn is carving out a name for himself in the indie comic community. Coming off his futuristic western series GO WEST, Gunn switches up the pace and delivers an intriguing narrative geared towards an all-ages audience. I could see a parent truly enjoying to share this type of story with their child(ren) because it creates an engaging element of reassurance and of safety. Telling your child to snuggle their toy or stuffed animal tight because they’re protecting them, keeping them safe at night, always. I think there’s something special in that. I’m curious to read other reviews because I’m sure there’s at least one who’s a parent and could give a better perspective. I’d read it to my kid for sure.
Nicolas, or Nic for the ladies, brings a gritty, jagged look to the stuffed animals in the dream world and it comes off spectacularly. As much as I love Gunn’s story, it’s Touris’ art that will gain the appeal to the younger audience. What will be great to watch in this series is how Nicolas gets to let loose his creativity in this dream realm where anything is possible. So many possibilities. The characters have a sharp look to them and when combined with the personalities Gunn is creating in them, these could very well wind up as actual stuffed animals and toys for your kids (*shameless marketing plug). I will say that though these dolls are engaging in battle over a great cause with casualties expected, the violence characterized by Touris is light-hearted enough to seem appropriately fitting, not too gory, not too cartoony.
HdE, the fontslinger supreme, continues to show why he’s among our top five letterers in the game right now. His ability to adapt his technique to the artist’s work, in this case Touris’ gritty feel, shows his commitment to any project. We highly recommend you check out more of his work by following him on social media (links at the end).
PopCultHQ’s overall assessment:
I love the premise of THE FEAR DIARIES. Though I mentioned above about a parent reading this to a child, I don’t mean to label as such. It does have a larger audience. It’s not too childish for your tweens/teens, the words are fairly simple for most I’d guess 6 and up (“ominous” was the only word that stood out to me), and for adults it’s just wholesome fun. I’ve never rooted for a My Little Pony before, but this comparable one is jacked-up and bad-ass and ready to rumble!
With a price tag at $1.99, THE FEAR DIARIES is a steal. Compelling story, fun characters, beautiful imagery, and an overall great output from all the creators involved. Alterna Comics is continuing its streak of hit series with THE FEAR DIARIES.
FEAR DIARIES #1 can be ordered at ComiXology on Thursday, February 16th!
Be sure to follow the creative team!
Garrett Gunn – Writing
Nicolas Touris – Interior Art/Colors
Jim Callahan – Cover Artwork (Front/Back)
Ulises Grostieta – Cover Colors
HdE – Letters
Alterna Comics – Publisher