Review: Wytches vol. 1

Today I’ve got a review for you all! I recently bought a few new graphic novels and thought it’d be cool to chat about them.

One of these new GNs is Wytches Vol. 1 by Scott Snyder (writer), jock (artist), Matt Hollingsworth (colours), Clem Robins (letters) and David Brothers (editor), published by Image Comics. It collects issues #1-6 and came out in June 2015. That means this review is practically timely!

 

I picked Wytches up because I’d seen friends talking about it on twitter, because jock is one of my favourite artists and I’d heard good things about Snyder as a writer. Overall, I’m really pleased I bought it – I’m not often one to grab horror comics, but this one grabbed me!

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The basic plot of Wytches revolves around Sailor Rook and her parents Charlie and Lucy – a family who have moved to a new town, Litchfield, for a fresh new start. This new start doesn’t go so well and the creatures who rule Litchfield are hungering to take Sailor. As Sailor tries to get over the horrific event from her past, she has to cope with being hunted by the wytches. Charlie is trying to prove he’s a decent father after a drunken outburst damages his relationship with Sailor and he is drawn in to the battle to defeat the wytches by one who has escaped their clutches.

 

As a horror comic, the scares are meant to come from two angles – the wytches themselves and the psychological horror of the choices humans make. Personally, I didn’t find the psychological aspect particularly scary – but then again, reading a comic where people ‘pledge’ others as sacrifices to the wytches, I can’t help but look at our current government and think the people of Litchfield possess significantly more moral backbone. However, for anyone not as cynical as me, or possibly someone who does hold responsibility for another, I can see the actions of many Wytches characters being very unsettling – particularly a twist near the end. The idea of a whole village being in thrall to evil is not a new one, but Snyder’s focus on Sailor, her anxiety and her struggles and his ability to build our sympathy for her means the retreading of familiar ground is a minor quibble.

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In terms of psychological horror, for me the scariest bit by far was a flashback scene where we see Sailor being tormented by her bully, Annie. The actions Annie threatens are truly horrific and the way in which she intends to hurt Sailor is particularly unsettling – because this is something that has happened to people, Annie’s bullying is a tangible, real-life horror that truly wrecks lives. In comparison, cult-like townspeople are hardly a daily threat, so their undeniably awful actions are too distant from reality to scare me.

 

Like the evil town, the wytches themselves are not a totally unique horror monster but I found them much more unsettling than the Litchfielders. Part of this is down to jock’s fantastic art style – he is very adept at creating tension and a claustrophobic atmosphere. He’s aided by Hollingsworth’s colours – well toned and chosen, with layer effects added which contribute to the feeling of the book without being overly distracting. So clearly jock and Hollingsworth’s skills help make the wytches scarier than they might otherwise be, but Snyder’s ideas behind them, the way they move and camouflage themselves are what made them scary to me. The human mind is very adept at seeing patterns and recognising faces and people where there are none – it’s pretty scary to think that instead of imagining things, you’re really seeing hunters waiting to pounce.

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Interestingly, as I actually read the comic I didn’t really feel the wytches were all that scary, but the idea of them has played on my mind during the night and today at work – which is not great when you’re going into pitch black rooms in an desolate mansion house with the requisite creaks, groans and feel of isolation. Walking into the dark, knowing you need to keep going to reach the light and feeling the fear creep up your neck as you imagine a hand reaching out to snatch you every second the dark lingers… yeah, I can see those wytches being pretty scary!

 

Wytches Vol. 1 is a self-contained story, although you are treated to a preview of the second volume at end of the book. There’s also a few pages of jock’s inked pages, colours only pages, some developmental stuff and a few essays by Snyder – the essay for #1 was particularly great.

 

Overall I have to say I enjoyed Wytches a lot! Snyder is a skillful writer, jock and Hollingsworth created beautiful interiors and I liked some of the ideas the comic explored. If you’re ok with violence or you’re interested in horror comics, I recommend picking this up! My local Forbidden Planet had it for £7.50, which I think was very reasonable!

 

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*taps* is this thing still on?

So uh, “At least one post a month” didn’t really work, did it? Yikes.

 

You know what else didn’t work?

“I have enjoyed my job with the NT and am genuinely looking forward to going back once the season begins!” (Me, January)

Weee-elllll. A combination of a weak application on my part and really well experienced candidates means I didn’t actually end up back with the National Trust.

I’ll be real, it was a shock and briefly upsetting. But hey, two years with a fantastic organisation, a lovely manager and a chance to work in beautiful surroundings, what could be better?

Well, a fantastic organisation, a lovely manager, a chance to work in beautiful surroundings – and a permanent contract! The day I got my rejection email, I started job searching and – taking on board the feedback from NT – filled in an application with English Heritage that very day (in fact the last day the applications were open!).

Didn’t I just get the job?

I’m so pleased – I loved working at NT, but my new role with EH encompasses elements of both the jobs I did at NT and more, so it’s really fulfilling and a chance to learn new skills. I get to move around the site a lot more and that involves toddling between a 19th century mansion and a 14th century castle via a Grade-1 Listed quarry garden. So it’s not bad really!

This shifting from one job to another goes to show you’ll end up where you’re meant to be, even if things don’t seem that way initially.

 

In other positive news – guess what I’ve done?

 

Sent in my very last essay with the Open University! Now, whatever result I get, I’m gonna be a graduate! After 5 years, I have a degree!

 

Just as anyone that’s undertaken formal education, a lot of what I’ve learnt has been about myself and my learning methods. I don’t think it’s been until this very last year that I’ve truly believed in myself and my academic abilities – despite doing very respectably at every level of education, I’ve fostered a massive impostor syndrome. I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated all the skills I’ve gained and the work I’ve put into learning, until this last course. In a way that’s sad – I don’t think I’ve gotten as much out of my learning journey so far because I haven’t seen myself as a ‘real’ learner. On the other hand, I have a degree!

 

One of the hardest things of this degree has been doing it at home – I found time management and motivation very difficult and it has been quite lonely, without many physical meetings with other students. However, when I did actually go to a brick and mortar university, I had those same issues – and was even more lonely because I was surrounded by lots of people but very few friends.

 

I am hoping to go to a uni for a masters degree, hopefully all the lessons I’ve learnt along the way will see me in good stead!

 

I have plenty more to say (it’s been 6 months after all!), but I’ll save it for another post! I’ll end with a photo of a bluebell that I took earlier, since it’s so gorgeous!

 

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