Little Nightmares #1 (Titan Books)
I talk a lot about narrative structure here and pretty much everywhere else, too. Narrative and story are my thing, my over-riding passion and obsession, and a good chunk of where I cut my teeth learning about these things was in horror.
Horror as a genre is often ignored by anyone not involved in creating it. This allows creatives in that genre to explore with relative freedom and often talk more about the social structures of the times in which those stories were crafted. Even then, however, there are different types of horror and different kinds of fear. Most creatives settle in for cheap and easy jump scares, which are startling rather than scary. They’re easy. Anyone can do them.
There’s better kinds of fear to try and invoke, better and more complex flavors, and the stories that use them are the ones that stick with us. It’s why American Mary lingers in the public consciousness when the last Friday the 13th movie is something no one remembers. The former spoke to the world in which it was created while the latter was a dull echo of a time gone by, lacking meaning and, therefore, an audience.
One of the most difficult types of fear one can hope to inspire through story is dread, the sense of creeping fear that comes from knowing what’s out there and knowing that it cannot be reasoned with, cannot be plead with, the knowing that you are helpless and if that power ever stops hurting you it will not be because that power cared.
Little Nightmares is all about that. It’s a video game about a little girl named Six who wears a hooded yellow rain slicker and has a lighter and is trying to escape a disquieting placed called the Maw. You’re introduced to the antagonists quickly and know what they can do to you but you have no way of fighting back – all you can do in the face of them is hide and pray that they do not notice you. It’s terrifying and nerve-wracking and perfect.
So, naturally, there’s a comic adaption.
Alex Paknadel and Dan Watters know their way around a video game license – they’ve been doing some impressive work with the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Alex’s work with Arcadia was stunning and deeply complex, and Dan converted the equally good video game Limbo into another stellar comic. The two of them will nail the pacing here, but this is a comic that really is only going to be as good as the art: thankfully, they have Nick Percival handling the artistic duties and he’s a killer choice, what with his prior work with Judge Dredd, Hellraiser, and Dark Souls. His aesthetic blends perfectly with the disquieting world of Little Nightmares and should result in something amazing.
Just don’t expect to sleep after reading this comic.