Manaburnt Podcast – Episode 12: Horror Part 2

Podcast time! We return to a topic for the first time, and Surprisingly its horror!

You can listen through Spotify below, or find links for all other places to listen at

We carry on our discussion of some of the themes from last time, mainly on zombies and vampires, almost turning this into another RPG episode near the end!

We are joined once again by our friends Mike, Tasia and Michelle, and are blessed with the extra appearance of Nick, who was last seen in episode 2!

Manaburnt Podcast – Episode 8: Horror

Here comes another episode of our podcast! This one is all about horror!

You can listen through Spotify below, or find links for all other places to listen at

We are joined by our friends Mike, Tasia and Michelle to chat about spooky stuff!
Both Lilly and Alex are horror noobs so our guests today are all fans and experts of the genre!

The surprising history of ‘Zombies’ ( REAL and FICTION )



Let me ask you this; have you ever seen a real zombie?
Most of you will say No to such an outlandish question, but what if I told you there are many in history (and even the present) who can actually say they did meet a flesh and blood Walker?

If you are among the living you have probably read or watched a zombie story at some point. Befitting of their infectious nature the undead have infested every corner of popular culture with nowhere to hide! But there’s more to our shambling friends than what we’ve been given in the early twenty first century. What we see now is just the modern interpretation of a creature that has existed in various forms for millennia… but maybe we have more reason to be afraid of it now than we ever did before.

If we jump back as far as possible to where zombies might have first been discussed we’d slip quickly into the realms of mythology, and its rather shocking how many influences probably went into building our modern day Zeds.
The oldest example being the Arabic spirit creature known as a Ghul, or more commonly known as Ghouls today, which were a type of djin (or genie) who inhabited graveyards and were known to consume the flesh of the living! Similar beasts of lore can be found all over the world, with an eerily familiar example being old English ‘Revenants’ which were described as walking corpses that rose from their graves to terrorise the living as far back as the 10th century; probably inspiring the setting for the 1992 classic Evil Dead: Army of Darkness. Also consider the beast known as the Wendigo said to haunt the great lakes region around the US and Canada, described in folklore as a spirit which corrupts human vessels in order to make them commit acts of murder and cannibalism.
So already we have feasting on human flesh, rising from the grave and corrupting living hosts- sounds like a pretty good blueprint for our modern zombie doesn’t it? There’s no denying these ancient tales, along with the more romanticised beasts like Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster, inspired much of the horror imagery that would later establish the undead. But what about the more true to life inspirations?

To understand where reality may have gotten a little too close to fantasy we need look no further than the 1932 depression era horror ‘White Zombie’, a black and white feature starring Bella Lugosia (of Dracula fame) and yes, this is where Rob Zombie got the name of his band. The movie depicts Lugosi’s mad-eyed mastermind creating a legion of zombies to do his bidding using… what else? Voodoo magic! This was the 30’s after all and America was facing the spectre of cultural integration and all the delightful superstition that comes with it.
But how much of it was based on reality and how much was fearful fantasy? First of all it’s important to know that Haitian faith and many Carribean cultures insist on the existence of magic, both good and evil, and include the stories of dead men being resurrected as killers or slaves. Zombie magic however has never been established as a central part of Haitian practice by their priests (known as Bokors or Houngan). That is however until 1980 when researcher Wade Davis revealed his discovery of a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxi in powder form used by societies of Bokors who would take living people and put them under a ‘curse’ with the powder, in actuality causing significant brain and nerve damage, in some cases rendering them suggestible and of sub-human intelligence. These findings were written by Davis in his book ‘Serpent and the Rainbow’ in which he describes the process and how he came upon its discovery.
Davis’ book and his theories suffered wide criticisms to this day however he remained steadfast in his proposal that Haitian belief in zombie witchcraft was based on the poisoning and mental servitude of Bokor prisoners and this is where the ‘voodoo zombie’ concept originated… something which he claims was real, not myth at all!

Despite this, after White Zombie the undead menace disappeared from the popular culture for decades. Why? Because World War II was raging and almost put horror media as a whole into extinction. It was after the war that a series of events occurred which transformed the ‘zombie’ into a distinctly American cultural product.
It started with a bang as Russia began testing its nuclear weapons in 1949, which began the arms race that defined the decades to come. This sparked a whole new cultural boogeyman; the Atomic fear. Not long afterward the novel ‘I Am Legend’ was published and became the first zombie apocalypse story! While the book set into motion many of the zombie tropes we still see today its undead were much closer related to vampires than any of the ghouls or revenants of the past, being afraid of sunlight and allergic to garlic, even being able to speak.

It wasn’t until 1968 that George Romero stepped up to the task of building all the famous traditions of the zombie mythos in his landmark indie film ‘Night of the Living Dead’. While the various sequels would go on to be bigger commercial successes, with Dawn of the Dead 1978 arguably being the most influential zombie film of all time, the true success of his original masterpiece wasn’t so much the zombies themselves- It was something that made the zombies much more frightening and that’s the human element. Prejudice, distrust, betrayal… all things that are present in these stories and show something even eerier than walking corpses, it shows what people are willing to do to each other when the status quo breaks. What makes this truly horrifying is that we know human beings are capable of doing such terrible things, bringing most of the fear in the scenario out of fiction and landing it square in the realms of reality.

All that said, surely this is where reality must stop? After all as influential as the shamblers are, if we’re honest with ourselves, they don’t really make sense. How would a body move without flow of blood to the muscles and nerves? Why do zombies ignore each other but can always detect human beings? Why would a creature with no need to eat be compelled to gorge on flesh?
Of course the reason behind this is simple; because zombies are a work of fiction. At least most people are convinced this is the case- but there are more cases of real life ‘zombies’ than those previously mentioned from history. Many exist right at this moment, just not in the form you’d expect.

Let me introduce you to something called ‘Ophiocordyceps Unilateralis’, a fungus discovered all the way back in 1859. This parasitic lifeform is known to infect a huge variety of insects and turns them into very real zombies. Infecting the brain and altering their behaviour the fungus will often compel the host to remove itself from the nest and into a higher elevation- growing unpleasant protrusions from the victim’s body until the host becomes entirely consumed by it. The fungus will then dispel its spores down on the rest of the nest, effectively transmitting itself through an entire population, or leave the host in such a vulnerable spot to be consumed by larger predators (including birds or sheep). The reason behind this secondary behaviour is still uncertain, though the fungus can and often does continue to exist inside the predator’s body.

It’s rather unsettling to consider parasites have evolved to have such abilities over other lifeforms, creating a very real zombie disease. You might wonder, could such a thing ever affect humans? And are we doing anything about it?

Actually, the answer is yes. Two of the most powerful control bodies in America, the Centre of Disease Control (CDC) and the US Pentagon itself have released reports on what to do in the case of a zombie apocalypse, including a full military training protocol outlined in Pentagon paper CONOP 8888 of the U.S. Strategic Command.  In case you were curious, this official pentagon paper for prepping world-leading military personnel has an image of a shambling undead persons on the front cover. It’s everything you might have imagined.
The paper includes a disclaimer which explains the plan is NOT a joke, however it also shouldn’t be taken at face value. As it happens the hyperbole involved in an ‘end of the world zombie outbreak’ was just outlandish enough, but also tactically conceivable enough, that it provided military planners with excellent practice in critical analysis. For this reason the plan was fleshed out to a complete official paper and is still used for training purposes today.

Reading this you might be thinking that zombies are as old as dirt and form part of the background noise of popular culture. While that might be true I want us to understand that we’re living in the ‘Zombie Generation’, where not only is our media saturated with undeath but the genre has a creepy familiarity with our everyday lives. Why? Possibly because we’re not a communal species anymore.

When it comes to zombies both the satisfying elements and the terrifying ones come from the same place- we ARE them. The undead are just human beings who no longer have their capacity to reason. We can harm them and they will harm us and morality plays no part in it. In their best forms zombies are used as commentary, ranging from the brainwashed human condition to the inhuman extent of our treatment to each other- this is why zombie media has exploded in the USA, where cultural consumerism and the plight of the individual vs the masses are bigger concerns than ever.
As Romero once said the undead represent some kind of “global change” which could reflect any of our modern societal fears, because regardless of what the fear itself is caused by the human animal responds to fear in the usual way- by banding together or breaking apart through blame and cowardice.

Instead of fearing whether the undead will truly rise from their graves to eat us, perhaps we should be more concerned that as a society we’re relating each other more and more with the faceless horde with every passing year.

The Best (Worst) Director for Halloween Movie Night !

If I told you writer/director James Wan built a career off incredibly cheesy low-budget horror would you be scared? If I told you Mr Wan launched a marathon of terrible Hollywood sequels would you hide under your covers? What if I told you James was at the peak of horror monsters that are more silly than scary?

And what if I told you James Wan was the only director I recommended for you this Halloween?

Though the man often changes jobs between productions his name keeps cropping up on movies that have struck my interest this year, and I don’t just mean recent films either. Anyone who knows me understands that I Love my horror films- with a capital L. So what happens when all horror on the silver screen and the small screen is mulched for the masses and watered down until it’s barely recognisable? What happens when ‘Ouija’ is the current standard for scary movies?
I get very upset. That’s what happens.

So imagine my surprise when I dipped my toes into some flicks I’d overlooked in the past, only to be taken on quite a ride! When I sat down to watch Insidious (2011) I expected nothing more than a poorly constructed mass-market horror… and at first that’s exactly what I got. Typical family home setup, the usual creepy angles and long moments of silent tension. Eventually the film deciding it’s time to switch over to jumpscares at the one-third mark. Usual stuff. That is until the film decided to get weird. The usual spooky, atmospheric moments were replaced with oddly comedic exchanges. Side-characters the likes you might see in a Marx brothers comedy start popping up. The big spooky ghosts actually get revealed in quite vivid detail, and were so bizarre I actually laughed out loud. And most important of all? I was having FUN.
I don’t wish to spoil Insidious in particular so believe me when I said the first two films really do go in directions you would never have expected, and you haven’t experienced true horror film making until you’ve seen the devil himself dancing to jolly music and doing his nails.

What else has Mr Wan done you might ask? What else might you have heard of?
Well SAW, for one. Yes he was the writer for SAW (2004) and invented the creepy Puppet everyone recognises, even from the terrible sequels. Looking back on it some of his colourful touch was seeping into that movie too before they drained all the fun out of it.
Personally? I recommend his movie Dead Silence instead, a picture much closer to his later experiments and an incredibly fun watch. Especially if the aforementioned creepy puppet was one of your favourite things about the SAW movie.

This year for Halloween I really have to highlight this man’s work as being the ‘Best of the Bad’. Meant with all the tongue in cheek enjoyment that it entails. Where his actual scares and monsters can be more comical than actually frightening I do find his characters and their on-screen relationships to be consistently great, probably the one thing that made Anabelle a decent movie in my eyes (and that one elevator scene, my god). It’s rare to see the slow moments in horror treated as anything but a checklist that the director needs to fill out before he’s allowed to apply the next pop-out screamer. It’s refreshing and very pleasant to see writers willing to make use of this downtime. Not to say his films don’t have their share of creepy imagery or atmosphere when the time calls. The smiling family in the Conjuring, the elevator in Annabelle (my god) or the dog scene in his latest Conjuring 2, these moments show a genuine understanding that actual scares are not born of loud noises but from something much deeper. That is, until you see what’s actually causing the scares. Bearing in mind we are talking about a man who’s ‘horror’ features no less than a dozen tacky looking puppets, an old man with dentures and a little boy dancing a jig to an old-timey radio.
Once you realise you’re sitting on a carnival spook ride and most of the baddies are indeed people in rubbery looking masks it gets SO much more fun. Kind of like the festive season itself, no?

Whereas other directors who rely on their cheese-factor like the great Sam Riami haven’t delivered on their signature styles in some time Mr Wan has perfected the corny spookhouse horror… so much that it takes half the movie to realise that’s what you’re in for. I think this is why so many people are luke-warm on his films, because the first third usually follows all the common rules of Hollywood horror, framing it to be exactly what we expect- Bad jump scares and being way too serious. That isn’t what we receive however and a part of me wonders whether being up front with his goofy kind of horror would increase their notoriety, or land him back making SAW sequels?

Speaking of which, SAW: Legacy, Insidious 4, The Nun (Conjuring 3) and…. Aquaman?… will all be hitting cinemas soon. So while the Hollywood sequel machine keeps burping them out, take some time this Halloween to enjoy a real spook-house. I recommend Insidious, Dead Silence and Conjuring 2 for a couple of scares, and a whole lot of giggles.

Happy Halloween.

What Makes Great Horror?

What Makes Great Horror?


With Halloween just a few days away I’ve indulged in one of my favourite pastimes- Thinking about stuff that scares the crap out of people.

I’ve given thought to some of my favourite scary books, movies and campfire stories. Which of course led to the obvious question… why is so much of our horror media so bad?
You’ll hear it all the time from scary movie buffs and avid readers. Horror is an incredibly difficult thing to balance, often falling flat especially around the October season where terror becomes the flavour of the month. So why do we still hold it so close to our adrenaline filled hearts?

Because horror lets us explore a part of ourselves we keep locked away. It celebrates the part of us we hide away. But first, let’s first address the elephant in the room…

When we experience something scary in the comfort of our homes or a crowded cinema we do so expecting two things- to be at least startled in the moment, then to walk away from the experience. Probably forgetting it soon after. That is because modern horror is built to make us feel ‘safe’. There is always a moment to relax behind the scares, a time to cool off and laugh at what makes us jump. Horror contains comedy relief, fake-out moments and the opportunity to feel distanced from the art when we walk away. Sadly blockbuster movies and videogames do not want their audience feeling disturbed by what they’ve seen, and funnily a movie that is perceived as “too scary” will be watered down before release to a wide audience (see; ‘Event Horizon’ 1997 for a great example). This approach does not leave anything that sticks with us on a psychological level, and allows us to feel safer about the world we live in- rather than the possible world the story alluded to.

If that’s part of the issue, what are some of the essential building blocks of true horror?
Well just as important as the scare itself, perhaps even more so, is the tension cycle. This is the point in a movie or book where our minds are led into a vulnerable place. The creaking of doors, the rustling of windows, the sound of a running tap. Between the point where our expectations are made and the fright is actually delivered is an incredible stretch of time where our brain’s cannot feel safe- every small thing becomes a possible threat. Shadows on the walls, images in mirrors. It is here where horror geniuses will do work.

I give a classic example of The Exorcist (1973), which not only paced its tension across long periods but also snuck haunting images and unsettling things out of sight. If you pay attention to the shadows behind doors and furniture in this movie, you’ll see faces hidden in the dark watching the audience- now THAT is well done.

The tension cycle is also what allows us to feel that sense of dread even if we’ve already been startled. After enough build-up the payoff of a scare will actually relieve some of that stress, making us feel relaxed despite ourselves. That’s when the pace can begin building up all over again.
The scare itself doesn’t always need to be a jump scare- despite what some movies would have you believe- but instead a slower payoff can add to the creeping feeling. Like the girlfriend rising in the night to watch her partner sleep in ‘Paranormal Activity’ or the dog that isn’t really a dog in ‘Conjuring 2’. Watching that uncertain threat open before our eyes instead of just jumping out at us is not only more subtle, it makes it impossible to find that feeling of rest. We are still trapped in the unease.

Limiting perception also plays a part in the emotions of the audience. As viewers we should never see everything that’s going on, because knowledge breaks the tension. Uncertainty is a weapon of horror, and lots of movies fall into the trap of letting us see too much. Effective horror will often use restricted viewpoints- cameras, hallways, darkness, even just showing an image for a fraction of a second only gives us a limited idea of what’s out here.
Possibly one of the greatest lessons of horror is tied to this very fact- People will always scare themselves worse than you can scare them. Showing only pieces of the greater whole and letting the audience or reader fill in the rest, whether they want to or not, will always be more powerful than showing something on screen.

Outside of the terror itself there are three pillars that determine how much we are willing to care about the scares presented to us: Setting, Mystery and Character.

Setting sounds like a simple concept, simply what spooky place these events are happening in. But creators should never limit themselves to letting a setting be a backdrop; some of the greatest locations in film are the places where horror takes place. The Overlook Hotel from ‘The Shining’, the spaceship Nostromo from ‘Alien’, even the mall from ‘Dawn of the Dead’ are iconic landscapes for cinema. Why else is setting important? Because it builds toward a core element of Horror…


The isolation a setting can create is an incredible tool for making us feel disempowered and vulnerable. Humans are a societal species, as a group capable of overcoming any problem no matter how immense, but alone we are fragile. This is why stories often have characters alone in hospitals, cabins, mountains or abandoned towns. These places make psychological connections. Places like asylums and prisons all have negative images tied to our psyche that just the word alone, let alone the visuals, can invoke. By stirring the shared fear of these places the superstitious part of the human mind will fill in a lot of the horror just from the setting.

There are also locations like space, the ocean, the Arctic or even jungles and lost villages; these are great for horror because a primal part of us knows we aren’t supposed to BE there. That the area around us is hostile, sometimes even immediately fatal, and only a thin barrier of security is keeping us alive and safe. A setting like this can create horror without even needing an antagonist, such as in ‘Gravity’ (2013) where the threat of the Where far surpasses that of the What.

So what then of Mystery? As I’ve stated already the unknown is a terrifying place. It’s the part of horror that allows us to fill the gaps and build expectations. The unknown is always scarier, and this is why many horrors lose their edge after the monster/killed is exposed- fading into the mediocrity of sequels. For a master class of mystery I raise you the master of the macabre; H.P. Lovecraft.

Most Lovecraftian tales revolved around a simple concept, the unknowable.
Not the unknown, something we have not yet come to grips with, but forces which cannot be understood. Stories like the Music of Erich Zann and The Shunned House revolve around frightening elements that not only aren’t displayed in full, they are portrayed as being impossible for the words on the page to convey, making it very difficult to frame in movie format (which accounts for very few good Lovecraft movies). But even in his more subdued pieces mystery was core to his work. There was always a question present that rarely- if ever- got a complete answer. How can this effect be used to narrate good horror? That is the work of the Uncanny.

The uncanny is the creeping sense that something is not as it should be. Even if we can’t put our finger on it. This type of mystery can help construct a world around our characters without a single word of exposition, and leave the audience with the question, “”What is wrong here, and why?”
M. Shyamalan conveyed the uncanny to surprising effect in his 2015 film ‘The Visit’ where the suspense came not from blatant danger, but simply the sense that something was… off.
Stephen Lynch is the celebrated master of uncanny with shows like Twin Peaks relying on strange imagery and unnatural speech to convey unease when everything should otherwise seem safe. This makes us question our understanding of what we’re so sure the world is, and how it operates.

This sensation goes even deeper when it comes to human beings. Ask yourself, why are dolls so creepy? Why does the idea of a smile with too many teeth freak us out on such a basic level? Because we have a base understanding of what a human being is. So when faced with something that brings our understanding into question we feel unsettled, unsafe. We’re no longer as certain of ourselves as we once were, meaning anything becomes a possibility.

Any time a horror story leaves us with these feelings of doubt we are victim to its mystery.

The final pillar of our investment comes from the Character. These are not just the buffet of faces we will see offered to the monster over the course of two hours, they are our vessel into the story. How much we engage with a work is largely down to how much we are willing to invest, emotionally, in what we’re being told. Like in all storytelling a character is key to this- but what’s special to horror? What do characters do best here that no other medium can brag?

Characters in horror allow us a proxy. A chance to explore a darker, more fearful part of ourselves that our minds shy away from. The space between what we believe ourselves to be and what we actually are is a terrifying place that horror has always taken advantage of. To use Jung’s psychological term this place is The Shadow. This is where the illusions we put up around ourselves, as a person and as a society, are broken down. Our honest thoughts, true fears and most basic (and horrid) desires? Those are all found in The Shadow.

So these characters allow us to explore that darker side of ourselves. The monster that reflects the worst parts of human nature.  When in horror, either by the threat or the actions of the characters within it, we are faced with the reality of being human.  Some of the deepest horror can make us face these questions we’d rather hide from. This is what made ‘SAW’ (2004) so engaging- what would we do in that situation? Are we so noble to give up our lives, or would we commit atrocities?

Perhaps the best example in popular fiction is James Sunderland from ‘Silent Hill 2’. During the characters plight the town and all the residents met within reflect some element of James’s psyche, mirroring parts of his past and alluding to the mystery of why he’s there. Even the spotlight monster- Pyramid Head- is a representation of his violence and sexual anger. Having every element of the world reflect the conflict of the main character is a very difficult thing to pull off, hence why there aren’t many examples of it, and most stories will simply use characters as a relatable vessel for the audience to hide behind. Both these methods are acceptable, it largely comes down to one question: what are we really meant to be afraid of?

Too many fall into the trap of thinking the threat of the spooky monster is all horror can be. Consider a moment, are zombies all that scary? As a monster themselves, no. They are slow, rotting bodies with ugly faces. We might not want to be trapped in a room with them but comparatively they are much less dangerous than actual humans! But change the focus for a moment- what if it’s not the zombies we’re supposed to shy away from. What if it’s the realisation that the seven year old girl we’ve gotten to know as the audience has been bitten? There is no longer need for creepy hallways, moving shadows or jump-scares from the dark. Just a quiet moment of a parent cradling a 9mm pistol and all the true horror that represents.

So if there are so many options for good horror, why are many scary stories today so weak?
At a purely business level; Hollywood doesn’t want to scare off its paying customers. Movies trying to cater to broader audiences with PG-15 sell in much larger numbers than R-rated, and relying too much on jump scares for that ‘screaming audience’ effect has led to a generation of horror cinema that feels very one-note. Ultimately, it comes down to copying the tropes of spooky stories without understanding the essence of what makes them stick. That horror isn’t just about things that go bump in the night but questions that go much deeper.

Ultimately there are many root issues that unsettle us as animals; Sexuality, insanity, parental issues, racism, even loss of control in our lives. When these issues are brought to the surface they create a genuine unease which is a blanket for horror. One of the most popular horror films of the last few years, ‘The Babadook’, spent most of its run time establishing a painfully uncomfortable relationship between a mother and her disabled child before bringing out the scares.
Why? Because these issues claw at us and make us more susceptible to the basest fear- death. If we’ve already been forced to face issues that so many of us shy away from as human beings we can’t help but experience everything that comes along with it. Which is when the greatest of horrors will present us with a fear for life itself.

That is where terror is found.


Happy Halloween.


Stranger Things – Because You Should

Once again, Netflix has proven that the reason why they are owning the TV industry of ou day an age is because they are able to produce high quality shows that engage with people in a very deep level. The latest hit is the fan favourite, viral hit Stranger Things. You haven’t seen it? You re in this blog, therefore you ought to watch it. It will not let you down. Why? Because Stranger Things is a show for geeks – amongst others who may just suffer from 80s nostalgia.

I did not have Netflix until recently, so I heard about it from my friends collective who really encouraged me to get on to it because: “it is totally your thing”. Well, they were right. But first, let me tell you about some of the ways the show had been described to me, and maybe then you will get why this is cool. “Stranger things is like playing very trippy DnD with your friends, but stuff actually gets real, like , for good, and super quick”. “Just imagine DnD meets Silent Hill, in the 80s”. “I mean, it is Winona Rider”. “Just so many references to absolutely everything, ever”….I am sure you get the picture, right? Well then, in the very best ManaBurnt style, I’ll give you my piece as to why this is a great show and why i liked it -and don’t worry: no spoilers, just in case.

First of all, let me tell you that the acting is SUPERB. There is not a single character in the entire series that is not well delineated and well established from their first appearance. Winona is particularly amazing, and more importantly, credible. The children are seriously relatable: if you play RPGs, you know straight out each of them play their role in the party to the core. Moreover, they actually struggle with real problems everyone can relate to: being bully at school, being misunderstood, ignored, or underestimated…and of course, lets not forget the deep connotations the show throws at you about depriving children from their childhood, child abuse…Violence –  and not just guns or weapons, but the brutal reality of events that can just creep in at any moment of your life, suffering…All these things are very real and well transmitted by the entire cast. Period.

Continue reading “Stranger Things – Because You Should”

Wytches & Scott Snyder’s Magical Narrative

Today I come back with a comic book that has really marked me and which I would happily considered one of the best written comics of the 21st century. It is interesting too because it is the type of story I wouldn’t normally read – in fact, horror/thriller comics are a pretty niche subgenre in general. Personally, though, you’d never see me going nearby scary things – I don’t do spooky very well. Yet here I was reading Wytches in one go as I could not find the courage to actually stop reading. For those of you who have read it, I hope you agree. But for those of you who haven’t, please let me tell you that this will completely change your perspective of horror comics.

First things first – everyone knows Scott Snyder is amazing. American Vampire hit the market like a bomb, and has been a great long running series since its release in 2010. We are currently on the second cycle of the story, and the intensity of the writing has not changed at all. Simply great, thrilling and refreshing. Snyder and King make a fantastic team, and their styles compliment each other like bread and butter. I remember buying a serial magazine that is now out of print in the UK just for the promotional poster in my first year of university. It was vampires made new, and made right, with a touch of Western – thank you for thinking of something new! Now, I must admit, I lost track of Snyder for a little while, perhaps I was too concentrated on other publications at the time, and to my shame, I almost forgot about it. Then I was at Waterstones’ one good day and to my surprise I see volume 1 of Wytches – who did this escape me?! I read the premise and my first thought was “Nuh-Huh. I don’t do Scary”. Here I was presented with the idea that the Rook family move to a deeper part of the American woods after the daughter, Sailor, is accused or suspected of having murdered this girl who used to bully her at her previous school. Dad – Charlie is a writer, a man who seems to be trying to do the right thing for his family and that ultimately you know he is scared and terrified of what the change, the possibilities and his capability to deal with the situation. Mum – Lucy is currently on a wheelchair due to an accident, seemingly a car crash. And a deep, dark broody witch cult runs in the background. Then I opened the book and Jock’s amazing artwork just compelled me to perhaps reconsider. I have seen few such good matches of narrative and art style like this one. The flashes of colour, the gradual change, moving from psychedelic to the darkest type of new gothic, bleak yet bright. The colour was the work of the fantastic Mark Hollingsworth. It was amazing. Then I notice it’s written by Mr Snyder…And how I could not take it home?

Continue reading “Wytches & Scott Snyder’s Magical Narrative”