Dark Horse and horror are of course a good fit. Hell some people think it’s the only thing they produce which couldn’t be further from the truth, but it doesn’t change the fact that Harrow County is at home at the publisher. Writer Cullen Bunn and artist Tyler Crook are also a good pairing considering their Sixth Gun mini-series is also out now. Bunn seems to be on a farmland horror kick as well with his MonkeyBrain series The Remains having a similar setting. What I find particularly humorous is the fact that I just interviewed Tyler Crook (and Bunn read it here) and asked him about all his work on period pieces and here he is on another period piece.
Harrow County I imagine takes place in the early decades of the 1900’s and it begins with the hanging of a witch. Well the hanging and eventually the lighting on fire of a witch who of course curses the people present for her fire hanging. I mean who wouldn’t curse someone in that situation?
After that we move into a fever dream of sorts about the tree the witch was hung from and meet the girl having the dream. Her name is Emmy and she’s a pretty average farm girl. Later she and her father head to the barn and find that their cow has given birth to two calfs. One is horribly disfigured and the other looks sickly as well. Her father goes to get his gun to put the creature down, but after Emmy touches it… it’s okay. Pretty soon we start to see a lot of warning signs about Emmy that her father hasn’t picked up on.
There’s plenty more to this story, but the charm of the tale is reading it for yourself. Bunn manages to craft a story that is overall creepy. The story in the back also serves to make Harrow County a setting with a history of weirdness. It instantly opens the series up for more stories after Emmy’s, which is a nice touch.
The dialogue is pretty light in the story, but it’s all era appropriate and believable. What really works for the story is the narration which is third person omniscient; that isn’t used as much in comics currently. Bunn’s narration really gives the story that country vibe with its pacing and structure. Things like, “But Emmy always welcomed the company” give us insight to her personality, but then also help paint a picture of what our narrator sounds like. Of course for each person that will be different, but narration like that is where you’ll craft your own.
When you have Tyler Crook on art you have a good looking book. I’ve basically run out of things to say about his art overall because it’s always at the same impressive level. His style has never dipped and really all that changes is the amount of details and the colorist. His artwork is so good that I imagine many take it for granted and don’t give it its due respect. There isn’t a colorist listed on the series so I’m pretty sure that Crook also did the coloring which is all water color. My goodness it’s beautiful. It’s so damn beautiful that at times I forgot that I was reading a horror story.
Harrow County #1 is an interesting set up. It seems fairly obvious where the story is going, but then things that seem obvious rarely turn out that way in good comics. Also with this first issue Bunn and Crook show yet again that they work quite well together with how in tune the writing and art is and as most comic readers know, that makes for a great reading experience.