What are ghosts? Many ghost hunters on television and even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have very different opinions about what a ghost is, and what their intentions are. Some in the spiritualism movement believe that the spirit evolves beyond death; while others believe that ghost are the residual energy of those who experience immense violence during their life. You can hear stories of mass hauntings at Gettysburg and small sightings of beloved pets shortly after their passing.
I think it’s the reason the ghost is a popular Halloween costume. They can be cute and harmless like Casper the Friendly Ghost, or terrifyingly inspired by gruesome deaths. Plus, it’s an easy last minute costume for those of us last minute costumers who are willing to give up a bed sheet or two.
In some cultures, the spirits are connected to the land, in others they are tethered to the corporal body. Some honor their dead though monuments, while others dispose of the body by returning it, and their spirit, back to the earth without a trace of their existence remaining.
Dark Horse Comics has many horror titles under their belt including Hellboy, the October Fraction, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Cullen Bunn and Tyler Cook’s Dark Horse Comic Harrow County brings a new voice to the idea of ghosts and the spirit or essence of a living creature. Emmy lives with her father in the countryside of a Southern Gothic town in the 1920s experiencing an idyllic pastoral lifestyle. As her 18th birthday quickly approaches, bizarre things begin happening around the farm. Animals behave oddly, a hollow skin crawls out from the forest, and Emmy is the only person who can communicate with the ghost, goblins, and creatures of the town.
The ghosts/monster designs by Tyler Cook are haunting yet elegantly beautiful and the humanity is present in every creature in the book no matter how gruesome or horrifying. It takes delft writing and illustrations to create a balance between the malevolent and benevolent characters and every character has a different ratio of good and evil inside of them. What’s nice about Harrow County is that while it is a book for mature readers, the graphic horror is not inaccessible to those who do not enjoy the gory aspects of horror comics.
Head on out this Halloween and reflect on what you’ll do with your afterlife.