Peter Edwards – Spiders (2017)
Little Fears is a fantastic site with a recurring cast of regular characters and a GROANER sensibility. Each day, Edwards posts (at least) one cartoon, drawn with paint pens over a different public domain photo. Accompanying each cartoon is a short story, usually in the form of a dialogue, and often with a goofy pun or what my family would call a “Dad Joke” as a punchline, or if Edwards is in a spooky mood, the tale might have a gruesome or creepy twist. I’m fairly certain Edwards considers these posts flash fiction, but to me, they seem like cartoons with extra words. (Six in one hand, half-dozen in the other?) Between the simple but always cool images and groaner jokes, and regardless of what category this art form might fall under, Little Fears has become one of my favorite online destinations.
Spiders, which is the third Little Fears collection, contains 94 individual cartoons, and includes some of my favorite of Edwards’s drawings. The Spiders that he draws, and who appear frequently in this collection, are hilarious to me---so round, so sinister with their glowing red eyes, so six legged! Brilliant... There is also a red eyed squirrel with blood dripping from his fangs, and creepy clouds and creepy flowers and a creepy light bulb, etc. And although Edwards’ art style is composed of apparently simple lines, the style can be extremely expressive, even haunting...
As for the overall tone of this book, it’s mostly jokes and groaners, and that’s great. If you have ever grabbed a Far Side collection and just flipped through laughing at the (sometimes dark) humor, then this book will be right up your alley. The recurring characters, like Sprite, Red, Yuffie, Spectre, Fuen, and Cloud, each have their own personalities, which adds to the fun once you get a feel for them. (Also of interest, though not necessarily related to this book, Edwards has started doing little videos for many of his cartoons, and hearing him read the various voices is a real hoot! I recommend looking the videos up online if you want to add yet another dimension to your Fears…)
The book is fun, has a few recurring / running themes that make it more than just a joke a day collection, and has extremely cool artwork (of which I am extremely jealous!) There are maybe one or two jokes that some of the little kiddies won’t get or might find uncomfortable in here, but there’s certainly nothing worse than what they watch every day on YouToob! Something else to consider, it’s super-cool to support independent artists, and as Edwards has self-published each of the Little Fears books so far, you’ll get the satisfaction of having contributed to a NON-corporate form of entertainment! You should buy this book for that reason alone! But there’s also this to consider: you can pillage some spectacularly awful jokes from this book to break out at parties, guaranteed to make you the unforgettable guest of the evening!!! It’s a quick read, immensely entertaining, and with fabulous artwork created by someone who obviously loves what he is doing. Get it now!
---Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Grand Hoohaa of The P.E.W.)