In April last year, Dark Horse Comics and GraphicAudio announced a partnership, which would see various Dark Horse comics adapted as audio dramas. At the time of the announcement, we asked our readers what Dark Horse series they’d most like to see adapted and more than a third of you voted for Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook’s “Harrow County.”
It looks like the folks at GraphicAudio agree, because they have just announced an audio drama adapting all 36 issues of the original “Harrow County” run coming this September. Joining us to discuss the adaptation are “Harrow County” creators Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook, and author Scott McCormick who adapted the comics into audio dramas.
Cullen, Tyler, when you were first told “Harrow County” was going to be adapted into an audio drama, what was your first reaction?
Cullen Bunn: I don’t think it’s much of a secret that I’ve pretty much always thought “Harrow County” would make a great audio drama. The format just fits the setting and the tone of the series so well. I think I even talked to Tyler on at least a few occasions early on about trying to do an old school radio show based on the book. This is like that, only a billion times better! So, I was completely thrilled by the idea, and once I heard some of GraphicAudio’s other productions, my excitement only grew! I love that people will be discovering “Harrow County” for the first time in this format, and I love that longtime fans will be able to experience the story in a completely different way!
Tyler Crook: When I’m drawing, I’m usually listening to audio books, podcasts, and radio plays. So my first thought was that I would get to listen to “Harrow County” as I work! And when I work on the comics, I’m always imagining what the characters would sound like. Especially when I’m lettering the stories, I’m thinking about accents and their cadence. So ya know, I’m just really excited to get to hear all that stuff in real life and not just in my imagination!
And Scott, how did you come aboard this project? What’s your history with the “Harrow County” comics?
Scott McCormick: I have been a comic fan since I could spin a metal rack at the local stationary store. Horror comics have always been a big part of that. When we began looking at comic book properties, I was sent the first four issues of “Harrow County” and I fell in love. It had everything I look for in a comic, whip smart dialogue, fantastic creatures and a beating heart. When the bosses asked me if this was something we should do I said absolutely. Then they asked if I would like to come on board as the adaptor and my brain went into overdrive, thinking of all the amazing challenges and opportunities that “Harrow County” would present.
In some ways, adapting “Harrow County” to an audio drama seems a natural extension of what the comics were already doing. After all, the narrator is a big part of the original comic. But in the comic, the narrator’s dialogue was juxtaposed against imagery, whereas in an audio drama it is juxtaposed against sound, and this becomes the foundation on which the story is built. Can you tell us about how you approach this particular challenge?
Scott: The beauty of the artwork has inspired me through the whole adaptation. As I crafted and expanded the story for audio I had the graphic novel open on my desktop, struggling to figure out how to bring those fabulous watercolored pages into an audio format. I worked very hard to make sure the color choices for the clothing, ghostly apparitions and even the colors of the sky made it into the expanded narration. There is something so special about the orange glow of the first ghosts we meet in the forgotten graveyard that to not include that in the audio description would have been a sin.Continued below
Graphic Audio’s audio drama adaptation isn’t just a narrator, but a fully fleshed out cast, and with sound effects and music too. I’m particularly curious about this last aspect, because I know Tyler composed musicscapes for the first two arcs of the comic, already toying with the idea of the comic having an audio component. Was this a source of inspiration on the project at all?
Scott: Absolutely! And the music that Tyler composed will serve as the basis for much of the scoring for the book. As the story grows we will of course need to bring in other music beds, but our sound designer Abby Rose Raetz, will be using Tyler’s music to inspire the other music in the series. He has done an incredible job of finding just the right music landscape so it is both sweet and tender, but creepy as hell.
Tyler: I was stoked when the GraphicAudio folks asked to use the “Harrow County” soundtrack. I started writing songs for the series kind of on a lark. At first, I wasn’t even planning on sharing it at all. But I’m really glad I did. A lot of “Harrow County” fans seem to enjoy it. A few have even told me that they like to cue up the soundtrack when they read a new issue of “Harrow County” or “Tales from Harrow County.” So I’m really jazzed that I can contribute to the audio drama in that way too.
Silence is also a big part of the comic. There are often times when Cullen strips back the dialogue entirely and trusts Tyler’s visuals to tell the story. Scott, when presented with moments like these, how do you break down scenes like these and reconstruct them with sound?
Scott: While having unnarrated passages of an audiobook is sort of the opposite of the medium, we do find moments within the action and especially the dialogue to place pauses. These pauses allow the character and the readers time to process what has been said or what has just happened. Also the beauty of a well rendered soundscape, is the sound can do the same work as a blank panel in a comic. If there is a storm happening or a snake attacking, you don’t need the narrator to tell you that those things are happening, certain sounds will and always will work on their own, allowing the listener to use their auditory detective skills to tell them what is happening in the scene.
I have to ask, who’s your favorite character to write, and who do you find the most challenging?
Scott: While I didn’t write any dialogue for the characters, all of that came from the authors, I did get the chance to write the new narration for the GraphicAudio adaptation.
Narration in GraphicAudio adaptation is based on the narration written for the book, the descriptions the author has written for the artist, what the artist has placed on the page and then what the adaptor feels is necessary to expand and explain the action or the emotions being expressed on the page.
I have been very lucky to be working with a talented narrator on this project, Dawn Ursula. Dawn has been able to take the narration that was created and bring it to life, making the narrator into a character both separate from and entwined with the story. An all knowing narrator who cares about the outcome of the story.
We’ve got an sample here with Dawn Ursula reading from the prologue of “Harrow County” #1. It’s an excellent example of the expanded narrative that the audio drama has, as her narration and the sounds are used to conjure up ideas previously captured in Tyler’s artwork.
The first of GraphicAudio’s “Harrow County” audio dramas will be out digitally September 26, 2022, with a CD release following mid October. You can pre-order both volumes now at the GraphicAudio website.
Continued belowBased on the comics by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook
Directed and adapted by Scott McCormick
September 26, 2022
The first half of the highly acclaimed, Eisner-nominated horror fantasy tale.
Emmy always knew that the woods surrounding her home crawled with ghosts and monsters. But on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, she learns that she is connected to these creatures—and to the land itself—in a way she never imagined.
Collects issues 1–16 of Harrow County adapted to GraphicAudio featuring a full cast of actors, immersive sound effects and cinematic music.
Based on the comics by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook
Directed and adapted by Scott McCormick
October 28, 2022
The second half of the highly acclaimed, Eisner-nominated horror fantasy tale.
While Emmy has been focused on dealing with supernatural threats from the outside world; a much bigger problem has been brewing at home, leading to an epic confrontation that will alter the fate of the entirety of Harrow County!
Collects issues 17–32 of Harrow County adapted to GraphicAudio featuring a full cast of actors, immersive sound effects and cinematic music.