For me, October is the best month of the year. Everything gets a little bit spookier and darker in the run up to Halloween, and comics are absolutely no different. There are a lot more creepy comics coming out, and Wytches from Scott Snyder and Jock is the latest offering from Image Comics. It’s the epitome of what horror comics should be; eerie, creepy and subtle in its scares, not relying on ultraviolence or gore to get its point across. One of the best horror comics I ever read (The Dreaming, by Queenie Chan in case you were interested) stayed with me for so long because the art and story was extremely creepy and eerie. There was one particular panel I couldn’t get out of my head for days, and it always scared me, even though I knew it wasn’t real. That sense of being creeped out for a long time stays with you when you read Wytches, as Snyder and Jock capture horror comics perfectly.
After being subject to a year-long assault by bully Annie and following a violent confrontation, Sailor Rooks and her family decide to move. New school, new scenery, new start, right? Not quite. Sailor is a nervous young girl who’s main way of staying calm throughout the day is keeping to herself, and playing a silly game word game with her Dad involving the slaughter of mythological creatures. While Sailor is at school, her parents stay home; her mother is in a wheelchair, and her father is a graphic novel illustrator, struggling to complete his work. At school, Sailor is asked an awkward question which brings the bullying back up t the surface. Meanwhile at home, the Rooks’ find themselves with a strange visitor in their house… You’ll never want to go into the woods again.
Snyder is no stranger to writing dark comics (He’s been on Batman since the New 52 relaunch, and wrote the incredible 10-issue series The Wake) so Snyder is right at home in this genre. While horror comics are ten-a-penny at this time of the year and in general, Wytches stands out a mile. It presents what feels like a very real threat (who hasn’t been in the woods and felt scared?) and creates superb atmosphere. In one single issue Snyder effectively fleshes out the main characters, establishes the extremely scary threat and manages to throw some of his humour in for good measure. All of the dialogue feels extremely natural and well thought out, and the issue has some incredible moments. The scene where Sailor faces off against her bully is incredibly dark, but it captures how incredibly horrible and twisted bullies can be, and it also made me feel sick to my stomach. Snyder’s taken the kid gloves off with Wytches, and I can’t wait to see how it progresses.
Jock and Matt Hollingsworth’s artwork… What more can I say that hasn’t already been said? Jock’s trademark artwork which is a combination of broad, painted lines and minute detailed ones combined with Hollingsworth’s excellent eye for colour make this comic drop-dead gorgeous. Jock’s frenetic artwork works superbly during the actual horror moments of Wytches, and the two make the nighttime scenes look incredible. It gives off that feeling I haven’t had since I was a kid; it looks like there’s something out there, but I’m not sure what. That feeling of almost infantile fear at what may or may not be there is something that Jock and Snyder capture expertly and bring to the page.
Wytches is absolutely not for the faint-hearted. It’s a dark, dark story illustrated incredibly by Jock and Hollingsworth, allowing the world to come to life in more ways than one. With only one issue out so far and it successfully selling out in its first print run, expect something amazing from Snyder, Jock and Hollingsworth.