Fear and Fantasy

You know one of those creators who you follow and you just have to pick up their work at every opportunity? I sure do. For me one of those creators is Julia Gfrörer. Julia crafts stories that combine horror and eroticism, resulting in a unique and artful reading experience. To my knowledge Julia has two trades under her belt, the medieval plague tale, Laid Waste, and an eerie story of a man adrift in Black is the Color, both published by Fantagraphics. She has also released some incredible minicomics that introduced me to her work. Let’s talk about a few:

In Pace Requiescat is a team up between writer Sean T. Collins and Julia that takes Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” in which one man gets offended by the jabs of another. Whereas the original story featured our “protagonist” getting revenge with terrifying narration, this reimagining of the story sees him getting his revenge, but also leaving his offender with something to remember him with what time he has left. The tension in Poe’s story may shift in this version, however it is given new form as the two rivals of the story exhibit a dark but erotic farewell to one another. While this story takes place in one location and we only see one character we are able to ascertain the bizarre connection these two men have as well as the foreboding atmosphere that makes an actual Poe story so compelling, and an erotic Poe story absolutely fresh.

The Dark Age may be my favorite of Julia’s comics. This features a young androgynous couple who are performing rites and rituals with their peer group, though what they are meant to do and whether they are sacred or profane is all pretty ambiguous. The couple soon breaks off and find themselves exploring an intricate cave system… and their sexuality. The fun ends when one of them gets stuck deep in a tunnel. For me, this is when an already enthralling story becomes something better, but I don’t want to reveal why. Suffice it to say, this story has a way of introducing you to an incredibly detailed cave environment only to take it away and the effect is very powerful. As I read this the first time I couldn’t foresee what the end of this story could be, but it was beyond satisfying.

Too Dark To See is the most contemporary setting of Julia’s titles and it starts out with a bang. Quite literally. During the night a shadow descends from the wall and has intercourse (to completion) with a confused fellow named Jamie, while he’s lying next to his partner, Lauren. This event begins to drive a wedge in Jamie and Lauren’s relationship, with him knowing what happened but not even being sure how to explain it and her knowing that something has shifted. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t seem like the type of couple that was peaches and cream to begin with, but a shadow coming into your house and having sex with you is enough to make you question anything. In my opinion this story is a commentary on relationships, using the shadow(s) to give one more hit to an already existing weakness. Oh and just for the sake of noting, the shadow sex is illustrated in a really cool way.

Through these minicomics we can see a few of the realms that Julia Gfrörer has introduced us to. With books that delve into gothic eroticism and vulnerabilities in our lives we get introduced to enthralling, visually stimulating situations. The beautiful thing about this is that there’s a whole mess more to read. Over at Study Group Comics you can read her short River of Tears. You can also check out Julia’s Etsy here or check out her apparel here.

Cover of The Deep Ones

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