I was born depressed, inherited by a group of Irish/Welsh immigrants that settled in middle America and managed to defy Darwinism to the extent that it got passed up my way. When I was a teenager I tried medication, hated the person I became on it, stopped taking them and then spent the next ten years trying to figure out how to beat my mental illness before going back to modern medicine. At a particular low point, when I was seeing a weird old therapist in the West Village who always asked about my sex life, I borrowed a book from the doctor about how positive thinking helped people be more successful. I wasn’t positive or successful so the premise made a lot of sense at the time. That book had possibly the best technique I had in fighting against depression, the power of positive perception. It sounds stupid but it’s actually a big part of beating depression 101. When depressed, you naturally distort your perception to skew negative. When your conscious of that, you can train yourself not to believe it. It’s weird but legitimately worked and helped me get through one of the most difficult periods of my lifetime. But it’s difficult because the truth is, when you are depressed, you see all the horrible things that others don’t. Eventually I couldn’t take it, I took medication and it worked, happy ending. Some people don’t go that route or do and it’s not enough. I don’t know enough about writer Scott Snyder’s personal life, I don’t know if he takes medication or if he has other coping mechanism’s. I do know two things; one is that he suffers from depression and anxiety because he talks about it very openly and two, that he’s managed to translate that into his work on Wytches in a way that is profoundly beautiful.
The best horror fiction is about uncomfortable truths, it’s metaphors and terror used as a means to show the worst aspects of ourselves. That’s the real horror, the extent that some people will take to survive in the face of an ultimate fear. Wytches #6 is a culmination of a story about witches kidnapping a young girl and her father’s efforts to save her but that’s not really what it’s about, what gives Wytches it’s power is the way it explores the fears of it’s characters, the way that they react when being pushed to their limits. And Snyder pulls no punches here, it’s brutally honest in it’s insights to the dark side of having a family, of the naturally exhausting and constant fear for their safety and how the mistakes of a families past will haunt them for generations. Wytches has always been a comic that was unflinching in it’s look at humanity but seeing the conversation between the two parents is tremendously heartbreaking. It’s a look at the type of loss and anxiety that every parent feels but never want to say out loud or admit and to Snyder’s credit, he manages to make you sympathize with a position that is morally reprehensible. There is a natural humanism to the issue at it’s core that is profoundly moving and for all of the writings power, it is it’s greatest strength.
On the art side, Jock is a master of visual storytelling that was sidelined for way too long before Wytches came out and he’s taken his skills to another level on this series. Issue number six might be his best work on the comic yet. Jock’s always been an expert in creating dynamic and vibrant visual story telling with technically precise pencil work and that’s all here on Wytches, but his art has a certain looseness on this series that’s distinguishes it from his past work and makes Wytches feel special. There’s points where he allows the art to be a tad bit uneven as a stylistic choice that adds so much to what’s already fantastic work on a technical level. The pages have an amazing dichotomy between the way he has the art do a free flowing narrative style with sharp lines in his subjects. That mixed with colorists Matt Hollingsworth brightly splattered color palettes creates a unique aesthetic to the book that defy horror cliche’s for a singular look and feel.
Ultimately, the beauty of Wythches #6 is it’s sense of balance, the way that it’s technical excellence works seamlessly with it’s artistic flourishes. It’s a book with it’s heart on it’s sleeve and no fear of showing all it’s dimension, no matter how disturbing it may appear on the outside. It’s so brave in it’s truth and for that, it transcends it’s genre conventions to allow the reader to feel something more profound and affecting. Depression makes you feel pain and for some it’s inescapable. But you can beat it, some people use medication, some people use art and perhaps best shown in Wytches, the greatest deterrent is love, it’s the only way any of us has gotten this far in the first place.