One of the hardest parts about creating this class is honestly going to be deciding what materials to use for the class. Being a student myself, I have definitely felt overwhelmed by the amount of work I have had for one course which is something I definitely do not want to do to others. For that reason, I decided early on that I didn’t want to use both Harrow County and Wytches. As I’ve stated in a previous post, part of this class will focus on not just the different portrayals of witches, but the medium in which they’re portrayed. Novels, as the longest standing form of entertainment that I’m considering, will be more prominently featured, but I still want to be able to watch movies, or TV episodes. So, one of these needs to go.
Here’s the problem: which one?
Harrow County is a backwoods horror story steeped in the “old lore” surrounding witches, haints, and all sorts of nasty things. The powered beings in Bunn’s work feel like cold winds, crunchy leaves, dead trees, and muddy water. Yet, there is also a small current of sunshine running through everything. Bunn allows enough room for hope that perhaps these things can become new come the spring.
In contrast, Wytches is grabs ahold of you like pitch. Synder’s story revolves around a girl named Sail who is being hunted by dark things who live in the woods and quite possibly some of the townspeople.The creatures in the trees are ancient, hungry, and downright the stuff of nightmares; the people who serve them aren’t much better. And despite the fact that Sail “makes it out” at the end of volume one, there is no sunny undercurrent to the story.
Something I found to be very interesting is that both authors have tied their creatures to the trees. Now, to some that might not be too surprising. Things that go bump in the night have always headed for the shadows under the trees, but both authors connected the trees to something personal from their childhood. Each of them remembers a tree that as a child felt off and bad with mystery swirling around it, and I think it is pretty interesting that so many years later both made that a focus of their horror stories.
So now we’re at the point where it is time to make pros/cons lists. Harrow County’s first volume is shorter, making it slightly easier to assign to students. The graphic novel has very traditional roots combined with very interesting new ideas. I find it extremely fascinating to watch newer publications go back and work with older prejudices/perceptions.Yet, does that actually make it stand out and apart better than the other? Wytches makes a few small illusions to the traditional myth and lore about witches, but for the most part, it is something entirely new and terrifying. However, I feel that in some ways this first story is not entirely about witches. Of course, it doesn’t have to be, but I feel that the story has a lot more to do about family and traditional horror with the wonderful creation of “wytches” being a plot device.
In summary, I honestly have no idea which one of these graphic novels would be better to use. I flip-flop about every two minutes.My plan is to watch The Witch by Robert Eggers and then decide because I have a sneaking suspicion that there will be a lot of overlap in themes between these three works. It may turn out that I decide not to use the witch at all and go with both graphic novels, but I won’t really know until after I watch the movie!