Today I come back with a comic book that has really marked me and which I would happily considered one of the best written comics of the 21st century: Wytches. It is interesting too because it is the type of story I wouldn’t normally read – in fact, horror/thriller comics are a pretty niche subgenre in general. Personally, though, you’d never see me going nearby scary things – I don’t do spooky very well. Yet here I was reading Wytches in one go as I could not find the courage to actually stop reading. For those of you who have read it, I hope you agree. But for those of you who haven’t, please let me tell you that this will completely change your perspective of horror comics.
First things first – everyone knows Scott Snyder is amazing. American Vampire hit the market like a bomb, and has been a great long running series since its release in 2010. We are currently on the second cycle of the story, and the intensity of the writing has not changed at all. Simply great, thrilling and refreshing. Snyder and King make a fantastic team, and their styles compliment each other like bread and butter. I remember buying a serial magazine that is now out of print in the UK just for the promotional poster in my first year of university. It was vampires made new, and made right, with a touch of Western – thank you for thinking of something new! Now, I must admit, I lost track of Snyder for a little while, perhaps I was too concentrated on other publications at the time, and to my shame, I almost forgot about it. Then I was at Waterstones’ one good day and to my surprise I see volume 1 of Wytches – who did this escape me?! I read the premise and my first thought was “Nuh-Huh. I don’t do Scary”.
Here I was presented with the idea that the Rook family move to a deeper part of the American woods after the daughter, Sailor, is accused or suspected of having murdered this girl who used to bully her at her previous school. Dad – Charlie is a writer, a man who seems to be trying to do the right thing for his family and that ultimately you know he is scared and terrified of what the change, the possibilities and his capability to deal with the situation. Mum – Lucy is currently on a wheelchair due to an accident, seemingly a car crash. And a deep, dark broody witch cult runs in the background. Then I opened the book and Jock’s amazing artwork just compelled me to perhaps reconsider. I have seen few such good matches of narrative and art style like this one. The flashes of colour, the gradual change, moving from psychedelic to the darkest type of new gothic, bleak yet bright. The colour was the work of the fantastic Mark Hollingsworth. It was amazing. Then I notice it’s written by Mr Snyder…And how I could not take it home?
So I did, and despite of having vol.1 of The Wicked + The Divine sitting right new to me waiting to be read, I found my eyes wanting to devour this thing . So I did. I was genuinely concerned I would have nightmares that day but, could have I been more wrong…I doubt it. Back to back. Prologue and afterword included. Wytches made me cry. The genius that was bringing back to life a topic as simple and perhaps overdone as it is the witches in the woods, but from a completely different perspective. From A Real Perspective. It was thriving with folk culture – which I investigate for academic research – and it was done so well and so subtly. The characters were just perfect. Little by little though I knew this was not just a spooky story. This was much deeper. This was about human psyche, about our selfishness and inner demons, and how these demons sometimes just take the best of us. This comic reminded me of that truth, or likelihood that perhaps there were never witches in the woods, but those that we created ourselves. But this is also a story of love, and sacrifice. And it is very personal. Of course, this is all confirmed in Snyder’s wonderful commentary at the end of the volume where he explains the root of the idea and the inspiration behind it.
He effectively shares a very intimate part of himself and his past with the reader. He creates a bond that somehow you feel without knowing where it came from, then you reach the end, keep reading and then you understand. And that’s how he made me cry. I had been in the verge of tears roughly since Charlie ploughs through the woods to rescue Sailor. Then I started reading about Scott and Disneyworld, and suddenly we were sharing a memory. A memory owed to Stephen King himself. Because I do remember exactly the time where I opened the Eyes of the Dragon as a child to be captivated by the dark story of the kingdom of Delain and its wicked magician Flagg. Was it possible? Was it a coincidence? I did honestly not know. Perhaps it wasn’t. Perhaps it was all part of the magical narrative this man had waved into the story, the same narrative and artistry that made me wash away my fear of “spooky”.
Now I am trying my best not to do spoilers – you know I don’t want to – but I would say that one of my favourite moments in the comic is Charlie’s phone conversations and the flashbacks. That moment in the ferry’s wheel with Sailor – if that is not the impersonation of parenthood I do not know what is. All that remains, all that comes out of these pages is the feeling of truly organic story, in the most unexpected way.
Therefore, if you have not read Wytches yet – do. You will not regret it. Join the thousands of unexpected fans who took a gamble on this comic and were rewarded with one of the bests stories you can buy for a tenner. Join the community of the lucky people who may be seeing this amazing tale in the big screen – produced by Snyder and Jock themselves, and some other big names such as Brad Pitt – yeah, I know! And please buy the comic quick…I mean, it is getting dark, I can see the wind moving amongst the trees, and a rumour…A pledge is still a pledge…and 2016 will show you more.