|WYTCHES No. 1, October 2014|
Selling an impressive 67,996 copies upon its release in October 2014, this very ‘personal childhood journey’ by writer Scott Snyder is a decidedly disturbing comic book. One which despite containing strong sexual references, profanities and gore, actually owes most of its quite considerable ‘fear factor’ to the threat of it's narrative taking the reader out into the woods, alone at night, looking for the tell-tale signs of “witches and warlocks.”
However whereas such ‘fright-fests’ like “The Blair Witch Project” gradually build up to a spine-chilling climax, this magazine’s plot, inspired by the American author’s memory of a terrified friend seeing “something peeking out from behind a tree” at them whilst playing in the forest, throws the reader straight into a traumatising tragedy from the very first page. Indeed the memory of a facially mutilated mother, finding herself trapped within the trunk of a great tree and calling out to her nearby infant son for help will literally haunt any bibliophile for the rest of their read. Especially when her terrified desperate pleas are answered by the child giving their parent a dizzying blow to the head with a rock because “pledged is pledged.”
Fortunately Snyder’s storyline does somewhat calm down for a brief period, allowing the “Batman” scribe a little time with which to fill in some background details to his story’s main protagonists, Charlie and Sailor Rook. But before long, their family home has been invaded by a crazed tongue-biting wild deer and the perverted High School bully Annie makes the fatal mistake of going into the woods and getting far too close to a certain tree; “Help! Help! Hel--”
Arguably the biggest contributor to this periodical’s aura of awfulness and dread though has to be the unnerving artwork of Mark “Jock” Simpson. The Scottish penciller’s admittedly rough-looking illustrations, seemingly inked upon canvas, provide this comic’s darker moments with a sharp perturbing edge and whilst his sketches are somewhat amateurish-looking, there is no doubting that his panels depicting bloody mutilation don’t hold the attention. In fact the former “2000 A.D.” artist seems especially talented at depicting moments of physical dismemberment as well as making trees appear especially sinister and creepy even in the daytime.
|The variant cover art of "WYTCHES" No. 1 by Francesco Francavilla|