Every so often, you come across something on the internet that genuinely chills you. Deep Dark Fears is one of those things. The comics created by Fran Krause depict the some of the strangest, most unsettling fears people suffer. Fran is an animator, currently faculty in the Character Animation Program at CalArts and creator of several cartoons, but he has managed to tap into the dark side of the human psyche with this series. Many of the fears are submitted anonymously by his followers.
We spoke to Fran to find out more about the series, the confessions people send him, and the response he’s had to his work.
Where did the idea for the series come from?
I lived in Brooklyn for ten years before I moved out to the west coast. There are unmarked white delivery vans that cut corners pretty close, and their rear bumpers are always at knee height. Every time I’d wait at a crosswalk and a van would turn the corner, I’d think, “This is it. That van’s rear bumper is going to scoop off my kneecap.”
What’s the most bizarre fear that you’ve had submitted?
I don’t think any of the fears are bizarre. Most of the fears are based on something that goes back to an odd thought from childhood, or a weird thing said by a guardian, so they usually have something at their core that I can understand and relate to. I don’t have people sending in things like “I’m afraid of doorknobs because they’re my house’s nipples.” or anything like that. But maybe now I will. Damnit.
Has anything submitted ever shocked you?
No. I read all the submissions, and people have been very generous with their stories. I’ve read a lot of fears. Sometimes it feels like I’m a therapist who only has to draw one response each week. I’ve read some very sad stories, and some very personal stories, but I don’t think I’ve seen anything that’s shocking. There’s usually some part of it that makes sense. For instance, I might think, “You’re not going to get your eyes gouged out that way.” but I can still understand the fear of loosing eyes.
Do you think confessing fears through art is cathartic or therapeutic?
For me, or for the audience? I hope it’s a two-way street. I like making something that people understand, and I like telling stories. I still don’t like when white vans speed around corners, so I wouldn’t call it a cure. It feels good to explain odd things in a way that other people can feel.
How have people responded to your pieces?
Mostly they’ve sent me their fears and ghost stories. I get nice messages every once in a while, or an occasional question, but most of the response has been fears. I think people don’t like to talk about their percieved imperfections, but they also don’t like to keep them secret.
Is it a difficult process to transfer dark fears into art?
I’d say that a fear has to have a visual component, but I’d just be proven wrong. Every time I think I have a formula, someone sends in something wonderful that goes against my rules. I try to make sure there’s something difficult in each one, making the comics would get boring if it stopped being tricky.
Looking through some of the pieces, I had a sense of ‘hey, I think like that! I guess other people do too!’. Is this a common reaction, do you think we all share similar fears?
I think most people have similar fears, but different triggers. I’m amazed when people can get their blood drawn without going catatonic. Needles freak me out. If you work for the Red Cross, I have no idea why you’re not passing out just thinking about needles. However, I think most people have something that makes them squeamish, or have some fear over their bodies or their health, and that’s the part we share.
Do you have any future projects in the works?
I teach animation at CalArts, and that keeps me pretty busy. I’m also working on a miniseries that Pat McHale is directing at Cartoon Network, it should be out sometime this fall. I’m starting a short animation based on my Skip & Vaxo characters. Hmmmm… also I’m trying to ride a bike more often.
Find out more and see the whole series at deep-dark-fears.tumblr.com