Cullen Bunn is as well known for his horror work as well as his superhero work at this point. With Harrow County though, Bunn stakes a claim to the type of horror that can only be described as a cross between William Faulkner and Stephen King in sequential art form. This book is going to be huge.
What's Happening: The townsfolk of Harrow County finally rid themselves of the local witch who practices a powerful healing magic, but holds congress with strange creatures in the woods and whose actions demand a deadly prid quo pro. As she finally burns to death after being shot, stabbed, and hung, she swears out her vengeance, which is to take the form of her return. Many years later a nervous farmer, who was one of the witch's kilers, keeps a close eye on his daughter, a daughter who has been having visions related to the the old gnarled tree upon which the witch burned so many years ago...
The Writing: Cullen Bunn does an excellent job of verbally recreating a semi-American Deep South dialect for his characters to communicate in. The setting is obviously intended to be of the southern gothic kind that William Faulkner utilized in so many of his Southern Gothic novels. Borrowing another page from Faulkner, (or more likely paying homage to him) Cullen Bunn has created his own fictional county for all of his tales to take place in much like Faulkner's county of Yoknapatawpha served as a setting for many of his tales. Bunn has definitely set the table, in the tradition of the greatest literature, to create his very own Faulknerian horror tales. The way he moves along the action of the tale, slow and steady, also ensure readers they are in for a long treat of a tale that will unfold at a masterfully plotted pace.
The Artwork: Tyler Crook's (BPRD) sketch like artwork is a perfect fit for Bunn's tale of haunted woods and burning witches. He captures the horror elements well, but it is in the quiet moments, when Emmy (our protagonist) is alone in the woods, or the dark nights where the old scarred tree appears to be speaking to Emmy through the dark distance, that Crook's talents are best used to their fullest effect to create a foreboding sense of dread. His use of shadow and silhouette is masterful as well. It creates an atmosphere of psychological dread that spellbinds the reader with each and every panel.
The Verdict: I'm in for the long haul on this one. A horror series that looks to build it's own literary world which is written by Cullen Bunn and drawn by Tyler Crook? Oh yes, what's not to love here?
Harrow County by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook is available May 13th 2015 and is available for pre-order.