#231: Harrow County

Folk horror and coming of age story, together at last

june gloom
3 min readFeb 19, 2024

This review was originally posted to Twitter on February 7, 2020.

Initial release: 2015–2018 (serialized)
Story: Cullen Bunn/Tyler Crook
Art: Tyler Crook

Horror comics have a long history, going back to the late 1930s with pulp horror elements in the burgeoning superhero comics scene, and by 1943, comics dedicated to horror stories had become a genre all their own. Which is why it’s kind of an irony, after all the genre’s been through, that a recent classic is set around that time too: Harrow County, by veteran comics writer Cullen Bunn.

It’s sometime in the 1930s in the American Deep South, and a young girl, Emmy, has just turned 18. Unfortunately, her father and neighbors are suspicious, afraid of her true nature as the reincarnation of the witch they killed 18 years ago. Over the course of 32 issues (first collected across 8 trade paperbacks and then again in four library editions) Emmy must come to grips with her legacy and how it affects the people, the wildlife, and the mythical creatures that populate her home of Harrow County.

Bunn has crafted a masterful tale of a county that could be almost anywhere south of the Ohio river, filled with ghosts and goblins, and through Emmy we get familiar with these living tall tales. Each story arc widens the universe a little bit, tells us a little more. This is a comic that’s sharp and smart, introducing new ideas that would make great standalone comics (the keyhole ghost is creepy as hell) but are weaved into the grim tapestry of the setting — a bit like Stephen King’s haunted-ass version of Maine. And though the plot begins to weave together some fantasy elements, Bunn never really lets us forget that it’s a horror comic first and foremost. As soon as we get used to one thing, he pulls out the rug from under us, aided in no small part by Tyler Crook’s master class artwork.

Beautifully done in watercolors, Crook’s art is soft and squishy, his characters real and human in that way only the best comic artists can achieve. The art style is true to the 1930s setting, reminding me of some of the better movie posters of the era. Those who know crook from his work on the Hellboy universe comics will recognize how he draws things, but it’s the watercolors that really make this comic pop. It’s the perfect medium for a comic like this; in a different world, this is how comics of the 1930s might have looked.

Although Emmy’s story has ended with issue #32, this is not the end for Harrow County, as a spinoff series called Tales of Harrow County (named after the short stories that appeared in most issues) also exists, though I have not read it yet.

There’s a lot of horror comics out there these days, something that might have given some amount of cheer to those who worked at EC Comics before the Comics Code was ginned up to shut EC down (mostly due to racism.) Harrow County is among the best of them.




june gloom

Media critic, retired streamer, furry. I love you. [she/her]