Harrow County is an American supernatural horror comic book, created by writer, Cullen Bunn and artist Tyler Crook. First published by Dark Horse Comics in May 2015, it was originally a serialised text-only work, only available on Cullen’s website, under the title, Countless Haints.
Harrow County tells the story of a seventeen year-old girl named Emmy whose tranquil life in a rural backwater (likely to be in a Southern state during the early part of the twentieth century) is abruptly shattered when she learns her father, Isaac, and the local townsfolk plan to kill her. Believing her to be the reincarnation of a witch called Hester Beck they burned and hanged from a tree near Emmy’s house eighteen years earlier, they are haunted by her final taunts that she will return to enact her revenge.
Emmy escapes their clutches and convinces them that she means them no harm, though recurring visions and a knack for healing suggest that she and Hester may indeed be in some way linked.
Visitations by various “haints” (a Southern colloquialism for “ghost”) and a peculiar friendship with the flayed skin of a young boy, which she keeps in her bag, reinforce the peculiar nature of Emmy’s background and, as the plot progresses, we begin to learn that the townsfolk may not be what they initially seemed.
A strangely slow-moving plot, often with the gentle sway of early American children’s stories and the Southern Gothic style of writers such as William Faulkner, Harrow County is also particularly notable for the water-coloured art by Crook, an unusual technique in an age when many comics utilise digital techniques. Though there are sequences displaying overtly violent acts, the story relies far more on general unease and the interaction of the characters and their untamed environment.
Each issue features not only the main story arc but also shorter pieces covering other aspects of the local mythology, under the heading Tales of Harrow County. The initial run of the comic sold out, prompting a second printing.
In December 2015, it was revealed that a television adaptation was being considered, with a collaboration between Dark Horse Comics and Universal Cable Productions being optioned by the SyFy television channel. Dark Horse Comics already has a significant track record in bringing their stable of off-kilter characters to the small and big screen from Doctor Giggles, to Hellboy and Sin City so any such adaptation seems promising.
Daz Lawrence, moviesandmania
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