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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Webcomics I’ve been into lately

Oh gosh, blog, I’m sorry for ignoring you! I have a couple of things I want to blog about, but no motivation! Currently I’ve been awake too long and so I should probably step away from the keyboard, but I’m determined to get something written here!

I’ve been feeling some real comics love lately, but despite the fact I have months and months of my pull list to catch up on, I’ve been checking out webcomics instead! So I guess it’d be a good idea to let you guys know about some of the best, right?

 

Hotblood – what if centaurs existed in the Wild West?

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Art by Toril, Page from Hotblood

Reasons to love it:

1) Great character interactions – do you like snark? do you like one party being at 300% done with the other? do you like fun? If so, you’re gonna like Hotblood.

2) The art is fantastic! The colour palette is quite restrained, Toril’s style is fairly simple, but still expressive, engaging and very attractive!

3) Seriously, centaurs.

 

Minor Acts Of Heroism – what if the cutest kids in the history of ever were also the cutest superheroes?

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Art by K. Van Dam, from her website.

Reasons to love it:

1) OH. MY. GOD. The art. THE ART. T.H.E. A.R.T. GOD LOOK AT THE ART. ART! No but seriously, this is on the kind of level that professional comic artists should aspire to. It’s so, so, SO gorgeous, I defy you to look at it and not go, “Damn but that is some pretty, pretty shit.” I defy you.

2) Did I mention it’s cute as fuck? Because it’s cute as fuck! Partly that’s down to the art (WHICH IS SO GOOD Y’ALL, SO GOOD), but mostly it’s down to our main characters being amazing babies that I would read all the comics about. If they entire output of Marvel and DC suddenly morphed into chronicaling the daily lives of the kids, I would buy literally every single title. That is how endearing and engaging I find them.

3) Are YOU struggling to find a kid-friendly, diverse and inclusive comic? Well, did you want one for free? Because look no further than M.A.O.H. – it’s got the kind of diversity levels most Big Two comics would kill to have. You could sit down with your tiny human (ok, maybe 10 or 12+) and quite happily work your way through to the current page with nary a qualm either regarding content OR minority inclusion!

 

Nimona – the world’s worst fantasy supervillain OBVIOUSLY needs a sidekick, right?

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Art by Gingerhaze, from the Nimona About page.

Reasons to love it:

1) Well, it’s got actual awards? Like, people who are not me have objectively decided that this comic is fucking awesome, and I can’t say they’re wrong!

2) The plot! God, Nimona started off with a great idea and then got more brilliant as it went! I really dig the worldbuilding, the twists and turns of the plot and kind of everything about it.

3) The characters! Oh my gosh, I love Nimona! I love Ballister! I love Goldenloin! This comic has such great characters and character interactions, it’s really, really entertaining!

 

The Girl From Hell City – a really cute demon girl kicks butt in Hell City.

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Art by StrangelyKatie, from her website.

Reasons to love it:

1) StrangelyKatie’s art is super duper cute, so everything about this comic is super duper cute. It’s just pleasant and lovely, exactly the kind of thing you want to pop up regularly on your RSS feed.

2) The idea behind it is really cool! Humans and demons used to interact! And they built a subway between their cities! And shit happened! So now they’re cut off! And Wendy is a cute demon girl living in Hell City!

3) I really like demons, but I like even more reading them written in non-traditional ways and TGFHC definitely fits the bill!

 

Princess Princess – the cutest, queerest fairy tale of your dreams!

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Art by StrangelyKatie, from the Princess Princess comic.

Reasons to love it:

1) Well, no one can resist subverting tired old prince saves the damsel trope with badass WOC princess saves the super sweet princess, right?

2) It’s a self-contained short, so perfect for when you need a quick pick-me-up to revitalise your heart, soul and the squelchy thing that resides beneath your spleen (you know the one, it can’t resist kittens, baby hedgehogs and tiny otters).

3) It’s just so happy, ok? It’s like someone wanted to take a little piece of rainbow and craft it into this beautiful comic, just so there’d be this magnificent piece of art waiting to restore your faith in other people. Read it, and let the smiles burst forth.

 

So that’s it, for now! Some of my favourite webcomics, with increasingly garbled explanations as to why! Have you read these? Did you like them as much as me? Do you have any recs for webcomics I should be checking out?

 

Also, I wasn’t entirely sure how to use art for this post – I’m pretty uncomfortable just reposting artwork from people, but equally I’ve done my best to credit and link back, so I hope that’s ok? Er, if you want me to do something different, let me know!