|HARROW COUNTY No. 2, June 2015|
Grotesque in both its deeply dark themes as well as Tyler Crook’s graphic illustrations of mutilated corpses, Issue Two of “Harrow County” is undeniably not a comic book for the faint-hearted, and definitely lives up to Jeff Lemire’s front cover promise of the narrative being “disturbing and genuinely brilliant at its core.” In fact its doubtful many of this title’s 9,295 collectors in June 2015 didn’t feel somewhat uneasy as soon as they opened the twenty-two page periodical and spied the storyline’s opening panel disconcertingly depicting a bloodied Emmy tearing through a claustrophobic wood with the still murmuring skin of a young boy tucked tightly between her arms; “Be still I said. Or I’ll wrap you around a stone and chuck you in the creek.”
Chillingly however, the eighteen year-old girl’s fearful flight from the forest and subsequent realisation that all her thorn vine scratches have miraculously healed is only the beginning of this magazine’s journey into the truly macabre, as Cullen Bunn pens an especially disconcerting plot which involves the youth’s own father agreeing with the rest of the local townsfolk to kill his daughter on account of her “showing signs” of witchcraft. Such an unnatural discussion and decision, eerily relayed to Emmy by the ghastly yellow-eyed corpse of the skin she keeps stored in a bedroom drawer, genuinely proves a horrifyingly unsettling development. Especially when the parent, seemingly believing that his unforgivable betrayal is for the best, earnestly chides his child for running for her life on account of his having to now ‘hunt her down’ only making matters “worse.”
Somewhat interestingly though, once the teenager has flown from her father’s farm and ‘escaped’ into a nearby coppice, there is a noticeable shift in the Cape Fear-born novelist’s pacing for this “backwoods horror”. One which allows the reader to dwell upon the enormity of the frightened girl’s parental perfidy, whilst simultaneously demonstrating that just because she can cope with talking bodiless spirits and fleshless abominations, doesn’t mean the "child" can’t still become frightened of a familiar place “in the dark.”
Conjuring up images of “ghosts and goblins haunting secluded places” and “plenty of encounters with ghostly forest denizens” within the mind’s eye, Tyler Crook’s artwork for this second instalment of Bunn’s “Countless Haints” story-arc is simply breath-taking, right down to the American cartoonist utilising twigs, rocks and a cooperative snake in order to create the title ‘Harrow County’ for the comic’s inaugural double-splash.
|Script: Cullen Bunn, Art and Lettering: Tyler Crook, and Pinup Art: Joelle Jones|