There’s no shortage of surreal, questionable, and plain uncomfortable comics out there. In fact, there’s an entire dedicated group of people out there who enjoy these things, and it’s not a small number of people either, it’s a massive fanbase. For the life of me, I don’t understand it, because merely putting together this set of images left lasting impressions on me that I don’t think I’m going to be able to shake off easily.
Hunter Scheiderer is a 24-year-old artist from Los Angeles who enjoys giving his comics something surreal, something unusual, and something absolutely messed up. His dark humor, or whatever you might call it, is fully emboldened by his ability to capture images in an uncomfortable and creepy way. I wouldn’t call his comics scary, but I would definitely label them all levels of creepy.
The Atlantic questioned why some brains enjoyed fear.
Not everyone enjoys being afraid, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that no one wants to experience a truly life-threatening situation. But there are those of us (well, a lot of us) who really enjoy the experience. First, the natural high from the fight or flight response can feel great. There is strong evidence that this isn’t just about personal choice, but our brain chemistry. New research from David Zald shows that people differ in their chemical response to thrilling situations. One of the main hormones released during scary and thrilling activities is dopamine, and it turns out some individuals may get more of a kick from this dopamine response than others do. Basically, some people’s brains lack what Zald describes as “brakes” on the dopamine release and re-uptake in the brain. This means some people are going to really enjoy thrilling, scary, and risky situations while others, not so much.
#3 Peeping toms
#4 Bee careful
#5 Perfect wipe
Lots of people also enjoy scary situations because it leaves them with a sense of confidence after it’s over. Think about the last time you made it through a scary movie, or through a haunted house. You might have thought, “yes! I did it! I made it all the way through!” So it can be a real self-esteem boost. But again, self-scaring isn’t for everyone, and there are lots of psychological and personal reasons someone may not enjoy scary situations. I’ve talked to more than a handful of people who will never set foot in a haunted house because they went to a haunt at a young age and were traumatized. I always recommend parents thoroughly check out the content and rating of a haunted attraction before bringing a child. The chemicals that are released during fight-or-flight can work like glue to build strong memories (“flashbulb memories”) of scary experiences, and if you’re too young to know the monsters are fake, it can be quite traumatic and something you’ll never forget, in a bad way.
#12 Praying ant
To really enjoy a scary situation, we have to know we’re in a safe environment. It’s all about triggering the amazing fight-or-flight response to experience the flood of adrenaline, endorphins, and dopamine, but in a completely safe space. Haunted houses are great at this—they deliver a startle scare by triggering one of our senses with different sounds, air blasts, and even smells. These senses are directly tied to our fear response and activate the physical reaction, but our brain has time to process the fact that these are not “real” threats. Our brain is lightning-fast at processing threat. I’ve seen the process thousands of times from behind the walls in ScareHouse—someone screams and jumps and then immediately starts laughing and smiling. It’s amazing to observe. I’m really interested to see where our boundaries are in terms of when and how we really know or feel we’re safe.
#13 Beautiful butterfly
#14 Blood bag
#15 Aloe Vera
#16 Peter Pan
#17 Hanging in there
#21 Pretty cream
#22 Big dog
What about you? Do you think his comics are creepy or scary? Tell us down in the comments!