Two children awaken in a mysterious land, with no memories of how they got there, and are pursued by a seductive but sinister voice, luring them to an unknown fate. This new series by writer/artist Todd McCollough operates on a dreamlike plane, and as such can't be elaborated on in much greater detail than the preceding synopsis, but as a work from a singular vision 'Land of the Witching Hour' is a pleasantly surreal escapade with professional artistic care. The book takes a loose fairy tale tack of storytelling, with a constantly shifting mood, playfully blurring whimsy and the sinister together as the heroes explore their world. While the results are pretty and often successful, the lack of grounding with the characters does make this initial entry a bit slight. Without any reality to ground our heroes in as contrast to their woozy nightmare, it makes the intended sense of urgency feel more like a suggestion without communicating what is at stake to be lost. Alice, Chihiro, and Dorothy all had a reality they were scattered from, giving a destination at the end of the dream. Here, we have to wait for future issues to understand the threat.
The art is the book's best feature, a style pulling from a variety of influences, both Western and Eastern. The rustic cartoon linework is thick and sketchy, better at the lush decaying scenery and hallucinatory monsters than the main characters. The book takes its time to let the art breath, not feeling rushed to get anywhere fast, which lends nicely to the dreamlike vibe. McCollough's care and attention to his own title goes all the way down to his lettering, a digital font of his own design rather than one pulled from an online font library. Reading self-published indies a lot gives you a proper appreciation for when a creator goes the extra mile to polish their title like this.
I wasn't immersed by 'Land of the Witching Hour', but I do admire it. Care and creativity is on display here, and the nature of the story allows it to proceed as unpredictably as the author sees fit. We may not get a promise as to what comes next, but what is on display here is strong enough to warrant the look.
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Land of the Witching Hour #1 Creator: Todd McCollough Self-Published Price: Pay What You Want or $0.99 on Comixology Format: Digital
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