Puss in Boots making pleading kitty eyes in Shrek 2.

Artists Are Sharing Fan Art of One of the Most Terrifying Representations of Death This Decade

You can run, but you can't hide.

If you’re on art Twitter (or certain parts of very-online-Twitter), you’ve seen this scene before. Someone will have some image with a call to action to share your art (or an image on your camera roll or in your portfolio). The replies and quote tweets will flood in. On April 15, Bahamian artist MuArt did this calling for art of Death from one of the best films of 2022, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. After Venezuelan artist Leisin participated, he took it one step further by sharing the post with Skipper from Madagascar cosplaying as this creature, and it took off!

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In the film, Death is one of three antagonists, really. While the other two directly conflict with Puss over a similar objective, Death “just” wants Puss’ last life. Death calls Puss “an arrogant little legend who thought he was immortal,” and he’s disgusted that a cat afforded nine lives has recklessly wasted eight of them. There’s no bargaining with Death; he’s coming for you/Puss. He’s also a God-like physical manifestation of Puss’ anxieties about his legacy and worth. That makes the creature among the most terrifying representations of death in ages.

“I just love the smell of fear!”

While I’m sharing a lot of ones that play with the fear this creature causes in its prey, there were plenty of cute ones, too. Artists are just drawn to how the character designers left us in awe in theaters. It’s not like wolves as “bad guys” are new. After all, Death feels like it’s playing on one of the most famous bad dogs, The Big Bad Wolf. However, between the whistling, piercing red eyes and dragging sickles, Death in The Last Wish is the stuff of nightmares.

You almost feel what Puss feels, except Death is focused on him and not the audience. It’s worth noting that it isn’t just the design and movement. The sound designers and voice actor (Wagner Moura) are owed respect for bringing this together, too.

Silly little dog

Using Flipnote on his Nintendo DSi or 3DS, one of my favorite artists, Kévin Gemin a.k.a. Kéké, joined the fun! Kéké participates in many trends with new work or by sharing older work that fits the prompt. Their super cute style brings a softness to this otherwise bone-chilling creature.

Every few hundred 2D digital and physical illustrations, someone will also show a 3D rendering, too. This feels especially special considering how textured the film felt. Like a handful of other animated movies in the last five years, The Last Wish featured a combination of animation techniques and styles—things like fluctuating frame rates and graphic lines over 3D-rendered images.

For the number of images I shared of an anthropomorphized wolf, many keen readers may notice something missing—the furry stuff. Trust … I saw a lot of washboard abs and bulges (in and out of pants). I just didn’t share that here. If you want that, go forth and enjoy. In the meantime, please note that Death is the embodiment of fear above all else.

CORRECTION 5/23/2023: Misread sickles for scythes.

(featured image: Dreamworks)


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Author
Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.