JUST JOSHING: Witch Creek Road

Sometimes I just want to forget about men and women in tights and read something a little bit off the beaten path.  Somewhere a little darker, blacker than you know.  Perhaps a wrong turn down the road, or a quirk of fate and suddenly you find yourself reading a horror story.  Horror in my view is at its best that feels just familiar enough that it’s literally a world next door, but feels just wild and fay enough that anything and everything can happen.  Most importantly, you can see that it could.   Sometimes the monsters are out of this world, and sometimes the monsters are far more human.  In this case, it’s a little bit of both.

The Book

Witch Creek Road

Writer: Garth Matthams

Illustrator: Kenan Halilovic

Colorist – Amber

Editor – Dayna Broder

Publisher – WebToon

(Note: For the sake of brevity I’m only reviewing the first five episodes of this series.)

Witch Creek Road starts with a disclaimer about blood guts and violence and gets right to it with the next panel with a gothic-looking girl eating flesh.  No this isn’t zombies (at least I don’t think so.) but there are three very gothic girls eating flesh.  One of them is communicating with a very scared and traumatized girl named Sara.  She tells Sara that as long as she stays in the circle, she’s safe.

The story then flashes back to the events that proceeded this. Sara is a passenger in the car with two other girls named Abby and flashback to three girls Abby, Sara, and a nameless girl are going to gathering to party.  They take a wrong turn down the road thanks to some terrible instructions, and they find that some people are already there.

Abby gets out of the car and starts being rude to one of the girls in a leather jacket.  After being obnoxious for half a second, the first episode ends with the girl in the leather jacket punching a hole through Abby’s abdomen.

Episode two continues right into that scene and you get a sense in this episode that there is something otherworldly about the three girls there.  At this point, Abby is torn in half, and the two girls start devouring the lower torso like predators with a carcass.  The killer goes towards the car with the other two girls and make introductions.  The nameless girl dies by literally being sliced in half. And we catch up to the point where Sara is in the circle.  Sara mentions to the leather-clad trio that calvary was on the way, which only made them smile.

The calvary turns out to be some of the guys.  One of them is Dirk, who is a complete asshole.  He writes the directions that send the girls to their doom, and just, in general, is a prick. Out of all the characters in the first five episodes, he has the strongest voice and a surprising amount of direction.  They arrive, and Sara leaves her circle to join them.  Sara takes the wheel and tries to kill one of them.

She fails.

And then realizes that she broke the circle.

Episode Four is a flashback.  It shows that Dirk is a dick no matter what, but it also shows that in spite of being this asshole, there is a heart inside him. This episode deals with his history with Sara, what their relationship is, and how maybe, just maybe, there’s a little bit of humanity inside him.

Episode Five ends up being the most tropish, but also kind of horrifying.  The survivors are all gathered in the house and they are all trying to figure out just what happened.  A new, transformed version of Sara knocks on the door and makes a permanent impact when she enters.  She is now far more monster than human being and is now a problem for the survivors to deal with.

The rabbit hole continues.

This series is violent and gory and may not be for everyone.  Yet underneath all that layer of chaos and horror, this is about a bunch of friends in a small town each with some secrets, and maybe in the process of battling these monsters, have to deal with their own flaws in their own ways.

Garth Matthams has a very strong voice.  The mysterious monster in a leather jacket and Dirk are especially strong voices in the story so far, and you get the sense that there was a lot of world-building in this series.  Everyone has a story.  Even if the character is only there for a panel or two, there are stories.  Even if the story doesn’t fully connect right away, enough things happen, and the characters are engaging enough that will suck you in.  It’s a violent wild ride that definitely will engage the reader.

Kenan Halilovic is a very talented illustrator.  The world of witch creek’s look and feel is a great combo between his pencils and Amber’s colors.  Keenan’s style is perfect for this kind of horror as his style is just realistic enough that it makes the world feel familiar.  We’ve been down this small cabin in the woods.  We’ve seen that creek, we’ve driven that car, we’ve faced that firepit to have a few and forget about our troubles.  At the same time, there is no problem withdrawing monsters.  Sara’s new look feels akin to something you’d see from the Cthulu mythos.  There are claws, excellent psychology, and storytelling with the characters and how they move and act.

Amber’s colors definitely add to this and give Halilovic’s illustrations depth.  The colors are dark in the presence of the horror, but also there is a brightness in the flashbacks that give light to this very dark moment in time.

All in all, this is a great series to subscribe to on Webtoon.  Check it out.

The Business

I am officially moved in.  I’ve been working towards the future.  For starters, I’ve been getting ISBN numbers for my next release. The Cloud Diver excites me big time and I can’t wait to release it to the world.  I’m hoping March 21st.  I will know for sure in about two weeks.  Stay tuned.

This week’s podcast features Ron Bender and Ella Beaumont.  Ron is a writer of an excellent cyberpunk series New White Sands City, and he and Ella talk about how their original plan for the series went up in smoke, and how they evolved.  Also, this is the debut of the zoom mic.  Wow is all I can say when I heard it on the air.

I really enjoyed this chat.  Take a listen.

I also got…merch!  Yes!  In concordance with the Cloud Diver, I have a T-Shirt of a unicorn talking in wingdings and sparkles.  To check it out, take a look at my merchandise at https://jpantalleresco.redbubble.com

That’ll do it this week.  Got a comic you want me to review?  Let me know.  Thanks for reading.  I’ll be back next week with something cool.  Until then, stay inspired and keep going for what makes you, you.

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