Welcome to the Harrow County Observer, Multiversity Comics’ dedicated “Harrow County” column. That’s right, we’re back! “But,” I hear you say, “didn’t “Harrow County” end in 2018?” Yes, it did, however there are still more stories to tell in this world, so in this latest installment we’ll be talking about something new coming in December from writers Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook, and artist Naomi Franquiz: “Tales from Harrow County: Death’s Choir.”
In December you’re kicking off “Tales from Harrow County: Death’s Choir,” and while it is a welcome surprise to see more “Harrow County,” I can’t exactly say this came out of nowhere—you’ve hinted you had ideas for spinoffs in this column before. Even the idea of telling other “Harrow County” tales has been baked into the concept since the first issue with the ‘Tales of Harrow County’ back-up stories.
Cullen Bunn: Yeah, we’ve been talking about doing some sort of spinoff series for at least a couple of years—well before the original series wrapped up. It was just a matter of figuring out what that would look like. There was discussion of a book focusing on various ghost stories without featuring any of the characters from the first series, sort of an expansion on the one-page tales we used to publish. There was discussion of introducing new ongoing characters that we’ve never seen before. And we may still do those kinds of books in the future. But I thought it was important to do something with strong connective tissue to “Harrow County” in this first outing. I wanted this to be both a sequel and something that first time readers could sink their teeth into. That inspired me to come up with the idea of revisiting Bernice and see how she’s been fairing in Harrow.
Tyler Crook: I think we started talking about how to do a “Tales from Harrow County” book as soon as we nailed down the ending of the first series. It was like, as soon as we could see the end, we wanted to find a way for it not to end. Haha.
Tyler, you’re co-writing ‘Death’s Choir.’ What’s it like for you to step back from illustrating and join Cullen scripting?
Tyler: Well, I’m not really scripting anything. Cullen and I both own “Harrow County” so we obviously talk about where we want to stories to go and what we want to do with the world. But outside of throwing out a few ideas here and there, I just trust Cullen to write some cool stuff. It’s pretty much how we worked on the first series too. I’m still lettering the book and doing some covers but mostly I’m just doing what I can to support Cullen and Naomi.
Cullen: You stay away from my scripts, Crook! Stay away, I tell you!
But… yeah… for this first series, Tyler and I kicked around a bunch of ideas until we landed on this one. I loved so many of those ideas, though, it’s likely we’ll tell some of those other tales in the future. Tyler may co-write some of those with me or—gasp!—he may write them all by his lonesome! Suffice it to say, there are a lot of great stories ahead… assuming readers want them.
‘Death’s Choir’ is a four-issue miniseries set during World War II, ten years after the end of “Harrow County.” What inspired this time jump?
Cullen: There were a few reasons for the jump. I thought it was important to put some time between the events of “Harrow County” and the beginning of this tale. I wanted to show readers that life in Harrow has “normalized” a bit. Reset. I also thought it was important to see Bernice as an adult. She’s not the same teen she was in the original series. This gives us a chance to learn about her anew, to see some of the many things that have changed in her life. Again, this needs to be fresh for new readers, but it also needs to give something new and interesting to longtime readers, too. Setting this story in WWII gives as a lot of rich soil. In fact, I don’t know that I could tell this particular story during any other time period. As we do more “Tales from Harrow County” we might do other time jumps—to the past, maybe even to the future—if it suits the story.Continued below
Naomi Franquiz: As a reader and a fan, I really appreciate Cullen and Tyler having Bernice’s adult story take place during the height of WWII. Historically, that period was a rise of women in previously male-only workplaces, gaining their own agency during a time of crisis (WAC and WASPs, being a few military examples). I think it’s a very fitting and poetic parallel for Bernice’s own rise and growth as she faces these supernatural challenges.
I’m a huge fan of Bernice—she’s my favorite character—so as you can imagine, I was thrilled to see she’s the protagonist in this series. What’s it like to have Bernice take centerstage for “Tales from Harrow County: Death’s Choir?”
Cullen: Bernice quickly became one of my favorite characters, too. In a lot of ways, I think she’s much more interesting than Emmy at this point. She’s not a magical being. She’s essentially just like you or me. But she has this great responsibility. She’s watching over Harrow, protecting folks from all manner of supernatural threat, but she doesn’t have the godlike power that Emmy had. It doesn’t come as naturally for her as it did for Emmy.
Tyler: Yeah, Bernice is rad. The challenges that she faces and the ways that she has to approach them are a lot different than they were with Emmy. Emmy I think solved a lot of problems with pure force, but Berniece has to deal with things on a much more human level.
Naomi: Joining in on the Bernice fan club! She was the most relatable character for me reading the main series. I felt the most for her, facing something so huge and impossible so bravely. Her complicated friendship with Emmy was very poignant, and she’ll always have a solid place in my swampy li’l heart.
Naomi, your art was what initially drew me to “Misfit City,” so I’m very excited to see what you bring to ‘Death’s Choir.’ How did you get involved?
Naomi: Thank you! I was very excited when Tyler messaged me out of the blue one day to ask if I’d ever want to create a comic in watercolors, my absolute favorite traditional medium. I’ve been a huge fan of his since I saw his work online, and actually “Harrow County” was my first real introduction to his sequential work. Suffice to say when one of your favs recommends you for a job, it’s hard to say no. I’m super glad I didn’t, because “Tales from Harrow County” is giving me a whole new direction to stretch artistically and narratively in a genre I love.
Tyler: I’ve been a fan of Naomi’s work for a bunch of years now. I think I first saw her stuff on Tumblr or someplace like that. Her watercolor work is just stunning, but I think the thing that attracted me to her art is how amazing her character work is. Naomi is so good at capturing and expressing character emotions and that is the root of all good storytelling. I’m super grateful that she was available to draw and paint this series!
Cullen: When we first started talking about doing “Harrow County” stories without Tyler drawing and painting them, I was skeptical. I could only imagine a handful of artists who could really sell the world of “Harrow County.” Then, I saw Naomi’s work, and I was much, much less skeptical. And THEN she sent us some character designs for Bernice and I was simple blown away! I’m so excited for what Naomi is doing here. She’s not just carrying the torch of “Harrow County;” she’s lighting a massive bonfire and making it her own!
Naomi: I’m just happy to be trusted with matches again, honestly.
Watercolors are such an iconic part of “Harrow County,” so Naomi, I’m happy to hear you’re taking on that aspect of its legacy and I can’t wait to see you bring ‘Death’s Choir’ to the page. It’s so wonderful to return to this world.
“Tales from Harrow County: Death’s Choir” #1 (of four) will come out December 18, 2019. Final order cut-off is November 25. For the full press release from Dark Horse Comics, see below.Continued below
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
HARROW COUNTY IS BACK
The Award-Winning, Eisner-Nominated Southern-Gothic Horror Series Returns with a Brand-New Story.MILWAUKIE, Ore., (September 10, 2019)—The Eisner Nominated series is back in Tales from Harrow County: Death’s Choir. Return to the acclaimed horror series with this new story written by Cullen Bunn (Manor Black, The Sixth Gun) and Tyler Crook (Manor Black, The Stone King), and illustrated by series newcomer Naomi Franquiz (Misfit City, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl)!
Ten years have passed since Emmy exited Harrow County, leaving her close friend Bernice as steward of the supernatural home.
But World War II is in full swing, taking Harrow’s young men and leaving the community more vulnerable than ever—and when a ghostly choir heralds the resurrection of the dead, Bernice must find a solution before the town is overrun in Tales from Harrow County: Death’s Choir.
Tales from Harrow County: Death’s Choir #1 (of four) goes on sale December 18, 2019, and is available for pre-order at your local comic shop.
Praise for Harrow County:
“Deftly written, beautifully drawn, thoughtfully imagined—Harrow County already feels like a classic.”—Michael Chabon (The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay)
“A rare thing—both wonderfully charming and genuinely disturbing.”—Mike Mignola (Hellboy)
“One of the best horror comics I’ve ever read. Super creepy!”—Josh Williamson (Birthright)
“If you like comics at all, you should order that Harrow County.”—Phil Hester (Green Arrow)
“A necessary purchase for any self-respecting horror fan, the series is hauntingly gruesome, visually stunning, and downright creepy… This is illustrated horror at its best. The world of Harrow County is dark, dense and deserves its status as a modern horror classic.”—Rebecca Booth, Big Comic Page
“This is one of the best horror series I’ve ever read. It goes beyond the typical horror stereotypes, and brings a deeper, more sophisticated kind of terror to the audience. This is definitely a series for all horror fans.”—Huck Talwar, ComicWow!TV