Wytches is no ordinary comic book. In fact it is a story that speaks on multiple levels and above all else, it is a story about Scott Snyder. Quite often I read a comic and wonder what the book is trying to really say and where it has come from conceptually. This is the tone and in depth analysis you may have grown accustomed to on this blog because this is how I like to review. As inquisitive as I have been whilst reading Wytches, the answers came at the end of almost every issue. Scott writes openly about his deepest thoughts, motivations and fears in the letters pages. All of a sudden it came together, and I realised how intimate a story this comic actually is and how honest Scott has been to all of us. And that was when I saw Wytches in a completely different light.
The concept of this book is just frightful and from the very first page, Jock provides an image that incites nausea. You can’t tell if it is real or just a nightmare, but secretly you are hoping it is the latter because you don’t want to imagine it actually happening. Over the next few issues you realise that it is true, and that there are monsters out there sucking you into trees. These ghouls require a pledge of life otherwise you will never escape them. In return they do provide some solace because they will make you forget the pledged person ever existed, so it’ll all be okay in the end. This leads to the absolutely harrowing panel in this issue where Luce packs up her daughter’s possessions, ready for her to be forgotten. This isn’t just a book about terror and horror; it is about forsaking your loved ones and giving up on those you hold most dear. This is a story about falling.
Jock brings out the biggest fears with the creepiest and ugliest creatures imaginable. They drool, they crawl, they have giant gnashers and empty white eyes but worst of all they create a noise that’ll make your teeth grind…chit…chit…chit. In classic Jock style they are exaggerated and deformed taking inspirations from so many classic beastly tropes. Where the artist plays a very clever juxtaposition is not just the visualisation of monsters but the monstrous visualisation of humans. Seeing Luce reveal her pledge to her husband, Charlie, sends a shiver down the spine. It is the realisation that the terrors approaching outside are nothing compared to the ones already inside. The disappointment and determination of a father in grief resonates through the issues and Jock has an uncanny ability to subtly exaggerate expressions to his whim. This is even the case when those faces are cast in shadow leaving their tortured visages to our imagination. His sense of imagery and page composition brings the height of emotion and action to the reader. This may be a close up of an honest man or the fighting away of monsters. It seems whatever Jock turns his hand to, he is able to bear out the most pertinent of reactions.
Hollingsworth isn’t just colouring this comic but he is heightening the feelings on every single page. Jock often leaves backdrops quite sparse and in this case allows the colouring to provide additional context to the story. This may be the blotted colour exposures around the monsters, or the speckled yellow background to Charlie’s sales pitch. It provides additional texture and accompanies the exaggerated pencils of Jock. I particularly like Sail’s yellow tinted glasses that seem to permeate past their designated borders. It is an effect I have rarely seen in a comic but put to such a phenomenally good use.
As the story ends we are left feeling emotionally wrought, unsure whether there is any comfort to be found. The story is told with some well-timed twists and very uncomfortable imagery but the art that revels in these moments. As you delve deeper into the ghastliness, you can just make out the very real themes of being a good father, overcoming fear and managing your own failings. The monsters may be scary and heading to your door, but the ones you have trying to take over your mind are all the more real. Sadly it is these thoughts that are not amenable to physical blows or burning flares. Snyder has managed to fictionally manifest human and paternal frailty into a story about bargaining loved ones and running away from monsters. That is where the true creativity of this writer lies in the development of a metaphor. If he hadn’t written so humbly at the end of each book, then you may wonder where the ideas even came from. For some may just think it was great horror story like so many others, but if you really think about it, I am sure you would deduce that the love of your family and fear of letting them down is something very personal to Scott Snyder. You may not even be able to emphasise or understand this story but the honesty that has been poured onto the pages is there for everyone to read. I feel honoured and humbled to be allowed into the mind of Snyder and feel all the more close to a man I’ll never get to know. For that I am extremely thankful.
“At least we won’t remember her”