Created by Adam Murphy
Format: A5 anthology – colour and black and white interiors
WARNING: [highlight]ADULT THEMES DISCUSSED BELOW[/highlight]
The Book (in Adam’s own words): “Fever Dreams is a collection of 14 short stories, created over the course of about three years, as part of an ongoing project to create by listening, without judgement or fear, to whatever was churning in my subconscious mind. Turns out my subconscious is full of sorrow, joy, sexual obsession and a constant wrestling with the nature of God. Much like most people I’d imagine. Anyway, some of that somehow made it onto paper – this book is the result.”
The Review: Adam is a contributor to the children’s comic Phoenix and the creator of the Corpse Talk series. I mention this to reinforce the fact that Fever Dreams is far from a children’s comic. This is the other side of the creator who has put together an anthology of 14 stories that represent the anxiety filled, sexual and disturbing dreams of an adult transformed into a comic medium.
I picked Fever Dreams up at my local comic book store as pretty much an impulse buy, based on the great cover and a flip through the interior art. It’s a combination of the sordid, sexual, violent, dirty, a bit pervy – and downright bloody brilliant. The opening image when you turn to page one is of a man sitting at his computer, surrounded by images of pornography and with his manhood in his lap. It’s almost like a Hunt Emerson single panel gag from a 1980s porno magazine.
Not everything is quite so seedy and (excuse me) in your face. My favourite story and, in many ways the most accomplished artistically, is called “Marine Biology”. It has a shaky colourful panel layout and starts by showing a cartoony diving bell making its way deep into the ocean. Encountering a mermaid in these depths the deep-sea diver attempts to make love with her in his submersible without luck and the two decide to masturbate in view of each other with just the glass of the bell window between them. This takes a strange twist that I suggest you find a copy to discover.
This story is sexy, nightmarish and because of the art stunningly striking all at once, using colour and light and shadow to incredible effect. Moments are captured outside or normal reality in strikingly unusual ways. The simplicity of the world is at once stripped away yet it retains the beauty of the single moment. Great stuff.
Not everything in Fever Dreams is as beautiful as the underwater mermaid masturbating. Moments of the comic are bordering on the funny yet, perhaps, politically incorrect. Adam twists our conceptions of image and plays on our feelings of stereotype and prejudice. Those intimate minutes are pulled apart for the sad, uncomfortable, self obsessed seconds that we all feel.
The art flips from beauty to scratchy and frenetic as you turn the page. All however have the memories of nightmares and dreams that haunt us for a few minutes upon waking (dinosaurs, I am looking at you – Jurassic Park has a lot to blame for).
If you think that nightmares, subtle human relationships, dinosaurs, demons, mermaids, Shakespeare and bumping uglies make for a great anthology (they do, by the way) then grab yourself a copy.
Many thanks for reading.