I think it’s high time that we check in with my favorite online entertainment empire. Let’s all take a deep breath and head back to Little Fears!
Peter Edwards – Grey Moon (2017)
Grey Moon is the FIFTH collected Little Fears book, and this one was released just a few months ago. I have previously reviewed one other Edwards’ collection (Spiders, which was great!), but in case you missed that review, here’s the low-down on the Little Fears and what Edwards is doing with this project. He has a Little Fears site that just about every day (or maybe several times a day?) gets a new post (or more than one new post—sometimes with VIDEOS!) Most of these posts are little, illustrated, flash fiction pieces that end with a pun for a punchline. Sometimes, though, they’re Little HORRORS, and they end with some blood and a funky chill down your spine. Either way, I enjoy them, and in fact, Edwards’ Little Fears is the ONE blog/site type thing that I regularly check to see what’s been going on. (I’m even a subscriber to the blog, which means I get an email whenever anything new goes up!)
So, as I mentioned above, Grey Moon is the fifth collection of Little Fears content, and this one leans pretty heavy in the “jokes-and-groaners” direction, and I have no problem with that. I love a good-bad joke, and Edwards, apparently, knows a million of them. HOWEVER!!! Though this collection starts with some classic puns and low-down groaners, it rather quickly moves off in a strange, and seriously creepy, direction. (Regular readers will recognize the high praise I’m giving here: “strange” and “creepy” are two of my favorite qualities for a story.) While the cast of characters, several of them regulars, are spending time in a pub, throwing back drinks and swapping painful puns, out of the blue, THIS little conversation happens:
“‘See outside there,’ said Yuffie. ‘The road this pub sits beside. Ever notice people only travel up it one way?’
‘I hadn’t,’ replied Reala, furrowing her brow.
‘That road goes to the afterlife,’ said Yuffie.”
And POW!!!! Shit gets real. (Real SPOOKY.) Suddenly, instead of harmless characters swapping stories over a few pints of beer, now we (as readers) discover that we are actually in some kind of purgatory or spirit dimension. The characters, still making jokes of course, mull over some deep and disturbing ideas, like the possibility that they might just be thoughts or dreams, or even the remnants of human (or even prehumen) concepts that are trapped in this shadowy spirit world of pub food and half-jokes until they are “forgotten entirely!” It’s a dark, creepy, and genuinely thought-provoking section of the book—which leads directly into an invasion of penguins and then an overload of alpacas. All the while, Edwards hammers us, unrelentingly, with groaners and puns and wonderfully bad jokes. Something about this tone shift, however, this odd departure into the realm of purgatory and ghostly concepts, really hit me. Maybe it’s just because I was reading it late at night, but whatever the reason, I loved the overall feel. It’s extremely creepy, if you stop to think about these kinds of things (I’m a lover of cognitive theory and a dabbler in metaphysics), and this strange aside takes the book out of the realm of “just jokes” and drops it (however intentionally or unintentionally) in the terrifying territory of PHILOSOPHY! (Sorry Peter, but that’s not a BAD thing!) And that’s all without even mentioning Edwards’ unique art style, yet.
Again, for those who missed my last Little Fears review, Edwards’ primary method of illustrating the Fears is to take a public domain (or is it Creative Commons? I can’t recall) photograph and DRAW on it with paint pens. His line is scratchy, sketchy, and rough, but ultimately charming, and he produces humorous little animals and monsters (or are they ghostly thoughts?) and, occasionally, a truly horrifying image—frightening in the same way that a Japanese No mask can be, with that simple, almost empty look that you just KNOW is hiding some secret horror beneath the simple lines.
To sum up, this collection is fantastic. It’s funny and kind of creepy and just about perfect for a weirdo like me who loves humor and horror and bad jokes, all at the same time. The book is a very quick read, has some truly remarkable artwork in it, and is available in both paperback and digital forms! I should mention that, although MOST of Edwards’ illustrated stories are fairly harmless, this one does have a section towards the end that gets a bit into “adult” territory, although there’s certainly nothing too explicit—more innuendo than raunchy. I can’t remember for certain, but I think there might have even been one or two cuss words in this book, but not too many. I’m going to say, middle school and up should probably be safe—high school for sure.
In addition, if you haven’t yet checked out Edwards’ Little Fears site, and subscribed to his YouTube channel (where he does animated videos for his stories), or thrown some cash at him on Patreon, then DANG IT, go do those things already! I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll say it a million more: SUPPORT THE INDEPENDENT FOLKS!!! As much as I love those big budget blockbusters and professional comics and such, I think those folks make plenty of dough already, and it’s the people like Edwards, who are out there making something unique, unlike anything else in the world, who survive off the good folks willing to support the LITTLE guys!
—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Supreme Bunny Lord of The P.E.W.)
SUPPORT INDEPENDENT FOLKS WHO ARE JUST MAKING STUFF BECAUSE THEY LOVE IT!!!