|HARROW COUNTY No. 1, June 2015|
If the revoltingly gory cover illustration of this “Dark Horse Comics” publication’s second printing was not enough to convince its 11,759 strong audience in May 2015 that the Cullen Bunn narrative before them was “a series that crawls under your skin and stays there” then the novelist’s opening scene depicting a witch who “had been shot, stabbed, beaten… and finally hanged by the neck” would surely have done so. For whilst this “horror/fairy tale set in 1930’s South Carolina” occasionally touches upon the innocent upbringing of seventeen year-old Emmy on a farm, its tone is frankly “as tender as it is twisted” and rather disturbingly predominantly focuses upon all manner of grisliness and subjects taboo like “blasphemous congress with heinous things out in the woods”, the feeding of babies to “vile companions” and children “participating in strange sermons and baptisms.”
Certainly the Cape Fear-born writer’s determination to imbue his storyline with a sinisterly chilling atmosphere of “ghosts and ghouls lurking in lonely, forgotten, and unwelcoming places” means it is hard to imagine another twenty-six page periodical containing much more biblical blasphemy than Issue One of “Harrow County”. An especially impressive feat considering the American author’s script achieves all this within the space of just a dozen panels; “But even as her flesh burned away from the bone… Hester Beck trembled and hissed.”
Equally as unnerving as his boldly blatant descriptions of unholy suffering and mutilation, is Bunn’s ample ability to additionally permeate the most mundane of Emmy’s daily happenings, such as the birth of two calves in the barn, with a disconcertingly dark and sinister undertone. Indeed even the simple visit of “old man Riah” and his daughter Bernice, something the blonde-haired teenager “always welcomed” is unhappily ‘tainted’ by the suggestion that the girl’s (prejudicial) father doesn’t like them on account of the wagon traders’ brown skin.
Ultimately however this comic book makes such a lasting impression upon the mind as a result of the “simply stunning artwork” by Tyler Crook. Whether it be the dead witch’s curses babbling forth from a burning skull-like face as the flesh literally bubbles and melts away, or the breathing sack of skin groaning at Emmy through “torn lips” from deep within the wood’s thorn bush, “the regular artist on B.P.R.D.” packs his water coloured pictures with a discomfiting abundance of lifelike detail and they are 'as beautiful as they are bloody.'
|The regular cover art of "HARROW COUNTY" No. 1 by Tyler Crook|