Michael Walsh’s THE SLEEP STORIES is currently available on Kickstarter, and if you aren’t already afraid of things that go bump in the night, you will be after reading this comic.
THE SLEEP STORIES is a webcomic that Walsh writes, draws, and independently publishes; it’s a series of black and white vignettes based on his own nightmares (and, as he puts it, “occasionally, the unreality of [his] waking life”). The Kickstarter is funding a physical collection of the webcomic, plus an all-new, exclusive 5-page story.
“Welcome to my rotting dreams.” – Michael Walsh
The vignettes are presented in a sort of “stream of consciousness” kind of way. Each sleep story barrels directly into the next, without any sort of breaks or markers. Sometimes, you can’t even really tell where one story ends and another begins, and this presentation has a few different effects. First off, it adds to the overall tension. The reader feels trapped in this series of nightmares; there is no escape. There’s also a surreal poetry to it. Even as the stories change, they all retain the same eerie tone, connecting them and making this feel like one beautiful whole instead of a bunch of different tales.
Walsh’s art ranges from unsettling, to creepy, to downright horrifying. His use of blacks and greys generates this aura that sucks you in and causes your heart to sink. He highlights the little moments of horror — like pulling on a strange string of hair, or a child standing in a dark hallway calling out for his parents — as well as the big monster reveals. Describing a horror story as “chilling” can be cliché, but the fact of the matter is that there were several times where I felt a literal chill go down my spine while reading this comic.
The writing is equally macabre and haunting, again feeling like little horror poems placed over the art. That’s one of the (many) cool things about THE SLEEP STORIES: both the writing and the artwork are equally striking and frightening in their own right. If you separated them, they would both still send shivers down your back, but together they elevate one another and create a spectacular spooky synergy.
Walsh may be drawing from his own nightmares, but these sleep stories are ones that we all can relate to. Who hasn’t seen a shadow shift in a dark corner, or held their breath as they walked to the bathroom in the middle of the night? The “corner man” will forever haunt my hallways and keep me from drinking water right before bed. It’s this kind of raw truth and relatability that makes these brief vignettes so impactful.
Michael Walsh’s THE SLEEP STORIES is currently funding on Kickstarter, and it’s essential reading for horror fans, sure to give you even more reason to be afraid of the dark.