Harrow County by Cullen Bunn

This one has been on my list for a while. I think I saw it a while back and it was touted as the scariest comic ever written. Anytime anything is labeled as the blank ever, of course you have to check it out.

Cullen Bunn, goodness where to start. He has written for all the major publishers on quite a few different titles. He is probably most famous for his work with Deadpool, his The Sixth Gun series, The Damned, and this series (Harrow County). He has also written a middle reader horror novel Crooked Hills. He has been nominated for multiple Bram Stoker Awards, and won one. He has also been nominated for multiple Eisner Awards. He has quite the impressive bibliography and while he has written for most of the large publishers but his most famous works are his own. That is really cool! Bunn has tons of talent and I can’t wait to see what his future has in store for us fans.  

This one starts out in what seems like the early 1900’s with a small town farmer trying to raise his daughter, Emmy. The story also jumps back to the past where they apparently had some witch trials. So from the get go you see that the town has a brutal past. As the story progresses you see that
there is something mysterious about the town and its past will certainly come back to haunt them. Emmy soon discovers who she is and more importantly who the town’s people think she is, and she has to decide who she truly wants to be. Emmy is just a young girl trying to figure out her way in a strange world that she can’t quite figure out, not to mention that people are trying to kill her.

I liked this one, the story is pretty solid with lots of neat and interesting ideas. As I have said many times I am not much on ghost stories, but I enjoyed this one. As for the title “scariest comic” out there, I am not quite sure it fits that bill. I will say the story is well done and does have some cool elements.

The characters in this one are nicely done as well. I enjoyed Emmy’s journey through the story and her struggle to figure out what and who she is. I am not sure how I would have reacted to some of the creatures and ghosts she comes across. I think a great deal of us can relate to Emmy growing up, while we do not communicate with ghosts, but we
certainly can relate to trying to find out identity and more importantly who we are while growing up. I also liked how she quickly figure her identity out and is determined to be who she wants to be, not what everyone else thinks she is. That is a very difficult thing to do as a child and you can see that Emmy is certainly strong in more ways than one.

The ending of the story was really strange, for the most part it was making sense, then the last few pages really throw a curve ball into the overall story of the first trade. I felt like I was figuring things out and sort of thinking how the story would continue, then BAM, the story seemed to do a 180 in the final few pages. I have no idea what these pages mean or how they fit into the story. I kind of think they writers just moved the time-frame of the story up a few years, but I am not sure. Even if that is the case there are still a ton of questions as to what is going on. So I have to give props to the writers for certainly leaving the reader hanging and wanting to see what happens next, or at least throwing a ton of questions out there that desperately need answers.

I have to say that I was not a huge fan of the artwork in this one. The artwork itself is fine, but I guess the coloring technique is what bothers me. It is entirely done with water colors, which don’t get me wrong this took an incredible amount of time to complete, I am just not sure the style fits the tone of the story. I can certainly appreciate the artists’ skill no doubt, but in my opinion felt a different style may have helped set the tone of the story a little better. I also think the artwork itself boarders on the line of cartoony ever so slightly. Maybe cartoony is not the right word, but it is certainly stylized and less traditional, which is usually fine, but I still think this style messes with the tone and the dark mysterious nature of the story. The cover art is top notch and I kind of wish they had done the whole story in this style, but o well. As for the page layouts, nothing much to discuss here as they are normal nothing extraordinary. The artwork is fine and something you do not see everyday in a comic, but for me I think this story would have been a step up had they used a more traditional art style. For me that could have really maximized the tone of the story.

One thing I found interesting about this was at the end the writer talked about how he originally intended to release this story as a short story on his website. But later he met with a few people and decided to do a graphic novel or comic. He put the original script and first few chapters in the trade. I thought this was a neat addition, and as I have said many times the story behind the story is always interesting. There are also some character creations that are cool. You get to see how the artist created some of the characters as well as their explications on the changes they made. I always think these little additions are neat.

Overall I liked this one. There is a nice mix of characters and an intriguing and fascinating story sure to keep you hooked. I was not a huge fan of the artwork, but certainly do not let that stop you from checking this one out. A solid read that will leave you wanted to figure out what the heck is going on at the end.

Manik

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