Every once in a while a really great, critically acclaimed AND accessible read comes along. Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook’s Harrow County from Dark Horse Comics was one of those. The story of a Deep South county haunted by its past supernatural horrors and contemporary protector, the reincarnated witch Emmy, was both a horror series and a coming of age tale. Full of the kind of Faulknerian characters and fictional backstory of Yoknapatawpha County, with a spooky bent, Harrow County delivered both complex characterizations as well as chills for a 32 issues.
I don’t make the comparison between Bunn's Harrow County and Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County lightly. Being lucky enough to chat with Cullen a few years ago at Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC, I remarked to him that I was really enjoying the Faulknerian influence in the comic book and that Harrow County reminded me of Faulkner’s fictional county to which he replied, with a smile, that that was his intention, i.e. to create a fictional southern locale that he could develop characters in and provide a historical background to. I thanked him for the book and wished it many years of publication.
Well, a little over two years is a decent amount of time in this day and age for an independent series to run. Perhaps Cullen intended it to only last a little over two years, but I selfishly wish for more. The whole concept is still rife with plenty of potential for some more great horror stories. Who knows, perhaps there will one day be more. For now though, I will have to be content with what we readers ended up getting from the series, and its powerful final issue.
In that final issue, Emmy finally confronted Harrow County’s resident reborn, and original, evil: Hester Beck. Their final showdown is part Matrix Revolutions style battle in the sky, and part quiet resolution. It’s not a spoiler to say that Emmy ends up victorious, but the way in which she does it also recalls Neo’s final victory, but with a twist. It’s a fitting end to Emmy’s story, that leaves the door open to that aforementioned hope that there is more story to tell.
Tyler Crook has followed Cullen Bunn’s story through to the end with the same type of unique artwork that made the comic book stand out from the other books on the weekly racks. A visual masterpiece that is both impressionistic color wise, yet beautifully detailed and emotionally vivid pencil and ink wise. His visions of Harrow County’s darkest horrors, as well as its most gentle folk, was nothing short of stunning month in and month out.
So as we say goodbye to the good, and not so good, citizens of Harrow County, I’d like to make my final public comments on this series a heartfelt thank you to Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook for one of the few rare reads that both inspired and chilled me at the same time. It will be missed.