Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wytches by Scott Snyder

Genre: graphic novel, horror
Pages: 192
Published: 2015

Everything you thought you knew about witches is wrong. They are much darker, and they are much more horrifying. Wytches takes the mythology of witches to a far creepier, bone-chilling place than readers have dared venture before. When the Rooks family moves to the remote town of Litchfield, NH to escape a haunting trauma, they're hopeful about starting over. But something evil is waiting for them in the woods just beyond town. Watching from the trees. Ancient...and hungry.

I had my eye on this graphic novel for a while.  When I finally bought it, after flipping through the first few pages, I had high hopes.  Creepy witches who stalk a family from the shadowy cover of the woods and cover art that reminded me of the art from the 30 Days of Night graphic novels--count me in!

While the concept is indeed a different take on witches, I was disappointed to find that the story is more strange and gory than scary.  As a horror fan, I am always on the hunt for scary, which is quite a different thing from downright disturbing or gory.  On the other hand, I enjoyed the writing and the characters, and grew to care about them enough that I feel certain I will read the next volume when it is released.  Sailor, who has just moved to a new house and a new school after being involved in a mysterious death, immediately drew me in as a character.  Though outwardly cool and hipster-ish, she has anxiety and is struggling with her past along with her fears for the future.

Her father, a goofy and eccentric man who writes and illustrates children's books, is also a great character.  His paternal love for Sailor is the driving force behind all of his actions in the story, and in many ways he is the real hero of the graphic novel as he undergoes a number of trials and tribulations in an attempt to save Sailor from a terrible threat.

The art, on the other hand, turned out to be less than brilliant in my opinion.  Many panels look perfectly decent, especially when it is daytime.  But other parts of the story, particularly the creepier parts which take place at night, look oddly blurred or just weird.  Sometimes I found myself squinting just to try to figure out what I was looking at.  While the style is definitely unique and the colors are striking, I prefer reading graphic novels where I can actually tell what is going on.  Part of that may be purposeful, since for most of the story it is difficult to even guess what exactly is happening, but overall I think the art just wasn't for me.

Scott Snyder also wrote a short piece at the back of the graphic novel that gave me a good shudder.  It turns out that the backstory behind Wytches is just about as creepy as the story itself.  When Scott Snyder was a kid, he and his friend would wander around playing in the woods near their houses.  Snyder, apparently already a story-teller at a young age, would make up these outlandish stories about the horrid witches who roamed the forest.  Years and years later, Snyder returned home and walked through the woods alone, heading towards this old abandoned meat-packing truck where he and his friend used to hang out.  Suddenly, he thought he saw a vaguely human-shaped blur moving from tree to tree.  Though he never found out who (or what) this figure might have been, Snyder developed the concept for Wytches shortly after having this eerie experience.

While the story isn't perfect and the art is not a style that I found appealing, I did enjoy Wytches.  I grew to care a lot about the characters considering the length of the graphic novel, and will definitely be eagerly anticipating the release of the second volume of this horror comic.

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