Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Harrow County #5 - Dark Horse Comics

HARROW COUNTY No. 5, September 2015
Rather enthusiastically described by “Nailbiter” author Joshua Williamson as “one of the best horror comics I’ve ever read”, Cullen Bunn’s narrative for Issue Five of “Harrow County” is arguably far more akin to a piece of fiction penned by child-friendly J.K. Rowling than a Bram Stoker Award nominee, as the title’s protagonist simply goes about her daily duties of fixing supper, chatting with her friend Bernice, and negotiating the co-habitation between her town’s superstitious population and the plentiful ghosts and goblins who lurk “in damp cellars… crumbling and abandoned churches… [and] the muddy bottoms of near-stagnant fishing holes.” Indeed the American author’s scariest moment within this twenty-two page periodical is not the young girl’s meeting with “some kind of screeching devil” housed within Mefford Brothers grain house, or even the teenager’s confrontation with the four-eyed demonic bull sheltering in a derelict cabin. But actually turns out to be Jim Webb’s deeply disturbing request that Emmy permanently maim (or kill) a man called Cribbets, just because “he’s got his eye on my wife… Celia…”

This apparent abandonment of everything which previously has caused the Carolina-born writer’s work to be a “super creepy” experience, such as setting the entire book’s narrative during a bright sunny day rather than a haint-haunted night, must have undoubtedly disappointed many of this “Dark Horse Comics” publication’s 8,706 readers in September 2015. It certainly seems odd that Tyler Crook’s short story “The Bat House” can prove an infinitely more disconcerting read with its single-page tale of Earl Henry braving a vermin-stuffed attic, than the magazine’s lead feature “Twice Told”.    

Mercifully, Crook’s “art and lettering” for Bunn’s apathetic script are first rate, with the artist seemingly trying to use the setting’s brightness to highlight both the loving relationship Emmy’s father has somehow managed to re-establish with his daughter since trying to throttle her, and the young blonde’s valued friendship with Bernice; “Sorry I’ve been a stranger. I just wasn’t sure what to even say to you.” Sadly however, this opportunity to focus upon exemplifying the cast’s varying emotional states to the reader does mean that the “Petrograd” penciller’s cover illustration of Emmy and her twin sister seemingly being menaced by Hester Beck’s black-furred horned beast is in fact, regrettably, the book’s most sinister-looking piece of artwork.
Script: Cullen Bunn, Art and Lettering: Tyler Crook, and Publisher: Mike Richardson

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