Steve Heller Preys upon Richard McGuire’s Fear(s)

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“Who’s Afraid of Noir?” asks design god Steve Heller over at Voice: AIGA Journal of Design. The question is prompted by Fear(s) of the Dark, a series of linked, artist-created animated films, and specifically, the filmic contribution of designer, author, and illustrator Richard McGuire (see a clip here). Heller calls McGuire’s segment “a chilling masterpiece of graphic erudition that must be seen to be fully appreciated” and then dives in for a lively Q&A. What’s his film about? “A man confronting madness and the unexpected violence that can sometimes erupt from madness,” says McGuire, noting that he included “some direct quotes” from his own nightmares. And when Heller asks about the shift to a gothic, scary style for the film, McGuire reveals another interesting source of inspiration:

This film has another way of using abstraction [compared to his previous film, Micro Loup, which was shot vertically], by putting so much in the dark. Some scenes are so minimal that you need the sound to complete the image, otherwise you’re lost. In my research for designing the film I came across the work of Felix Vallotton, a Swiss artist from the turn of the century. In his graphic work he often did a trick of black on black, a person wearing black against a black background. I liked the way your mind would complete the image. I knew this was a key to how to approach the film.