Southern-Fried Gothic Horror Returns With Tales From Harrow County #1

by Brendan M. Allen

Harrow County is back! The Award-winning, Eisner-nominated, southern-gothic horror series is back with a brand-new story. Ten years have passed since Emmy exited Harrow County, leaving her close friend Bernice as steward of the supernatural home.
But World War II is in full swing, taking Harrow’s young men and leaving the community more vulnerable than ever–and when a ghostly choir heralds the resurrection of the dead, Bernice must find a solution before the town is overrun.
In Tales From Harrow County: Death’s Choir #1, it’s been a decade since Emmy Crawford defeated the powerful hoodoo sorceress Hester Beck and disappeared.
In her absence, Emmy charged her best friend Bernice with managing the delicate balance between the mundane and supernatural residents of their beloved hinterland home.
Things have changed. Slightly. Bernice is older, relationships have grown and fallen away, and even this tiny backwoods community feels the deep losses of a world at war.

Cullen Bunn did such a fantastic job developing the lore of Harrow County with the first series that Death’s Choir feels instantly familiar to longtime readers, but the story flows so naturally that new folks can jump right in without feeling lost at all. 
There’s a similar dynamic in the town between the current resident witch and the former. Bernice is accepted by those who know and uneasily tolerated by those who begrudgingly admit that she probably does more good than harm with her… peculiarities. Time will tell if she commands the same paralyzing fear as her mentor and predecessor.

Naomi Franquiz pulls art duties, which was a little bit of a shocker. Tyler Crook’s art on the first series was instantly iconic. I had to wonder why anyone else would be working on this new series.I reached out to Cullen Bunn to ask him about the change. Here’s what he said:

We really struggled with finding the right artist for the series. After all, following in Tyler’s footsteps is no easy task. Naomi, though, was the perfect artist to continue the Harrow County stories. Her style is similar to Tyler’s in some ways, but she brings her own fresh approach to the characters and setting. 

I was skeptical, but my concerns were quickly put to bed once I had the book in my hands. Franquiz has a style that is similar enough to Crook’s that it almost passes, but even if that weren’t the case, it would work beautifully for the content. This book is set an entire decade after the other. Characters have aged. Buildings have fallen a little deeper into disrepair. Harrow County is still Harrow County, but the aesthetic is just slightly… older?
The palette is almost identical, which I’m sure was no coincidence. It cements the continuity between the series.

There’s a funny dynamic that Cullen Bunn played around with in Blossoms 666, where everyone in Riverdale is at least peripherally aware that something dark and twisted and evil is brewing just beneath the shiny surface of their idyllic little town, but no one wants to admit it, lest they have to face down the devil himself. 
There’s some of that same flavor here, with shades of a certain 1983 Stephen King novel. While it’s obviously a continuation of the original story, Tales From Harrow County is far enough removed from the end of the last book that new readers should have no issues whatsoever finding their way around. 
Tales From Harrow County #1, Dark Horse Comics, 18 December 2019. Created by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook, written by Cullen Bunn, art by Naomi Franquiz, letters by Tyler Crook.

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