Horror stories can be tricky to get right in comic format, because a lot of the elements we love from horror movies – such as jump scares and sudden reveals – are impossible to recreate. I’ve found that the best horror comics tend to build-up layers of creepiness, until you’re awash in a perfect storm of inescapable dread. Harvest is typical of this sub-genre: a clever and decidedly disturbing horror story that leaves you guessing until the last few pages.
Set in a small community in the English countryside, you can probably guess the broad sweep of what’s coming. Under the pastoral idyll lurk dark secrets, scratching away at the fringes, desperate to reveal themselves. A young woman longs to escape the boredom of everyday life, but not in the way that unfolds here. With elements of psychological horror and good-old, drug-induced witchery, there’s plenty to keep a horror fan entertained.
Julian Payne’s art fits the genre well. There are times when the lingering landscapes are begging for a splash of colour but it’s clearly not essential – this scene setting isn’t where the main action lies. Instead it’s a character driven piece and this is handled well.
As usual in a Grovel review, I’m not going to go into that much more detail here, for fear of spoiling the plot. A book like this is as much about the unfolding journey as it is about the conclusion, and I really don’t want to spoil that for anyone. Suffice to say that the book isn’t necessarily going to drag those who aren’t interested in horror into the fold but, if you like a good yarn that’s certainly going to put a chill down your spine, Harvest should hit the mark.
Harvest is presented in two books, both self-published and only available through Pyjama Cardinal Comics. I’ve read both and there’s little point in treating them in isolation – you’ll either want both for the full story, or none at all. I’d recommend fans of spooky British indie horror comics go all-in.