Since they arrived on the UK indie comics circuit just over two years ago Quindrie Press have made a powerful mark on the scene. With a socially progressive publishing ethos, and an eagerness to push creators’ dream projects into print, they’ve been recognised with both a Broken Frontier Award and an Eisner nomination. It’s a measure of the quality of their output that with four new books currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter, and time as ever limited, I found it difficult to choose just one to review before the campaign ends. I have opted for Beth Fuller’s Witching Hour but would recommend checking out all the available books on the KS campaign page here because this is a truly inspiring line-up of titles.
Witching Hour has a Books of Magic-style aesthetic in that it roots the magical within the familiar, and integrates two worlds that should never meet without incongruity or contradiction. On a hill above a remote village there is a gateway, mostly ignored by the locals, that leads to the world of fairy. Esio has been well trained in the rules of the fae realm by her father and enters this otherworld with a distinct mission in mind. But on arriving on this mystical plane she encounters Ted, a lost and bewildered stockbroker whose last memory was of being on a tube train at Moorgate. Can these two unlikely travelling companions find what they’re seeking and make their way back to the mortal world?
Fuller’s storytelling is subtle and nuanced, economical with dialogue and exposition in favour of allowing her audience to feel the story more than necessarily read it. With that in mind long sequences are represented without words, allowing us to observe and discover this eerie new land Esio finds herself within alongside her. And it’s truly gorgeous in conception, both organic and magical in composition but with a beauty that hints at something perilous embedded in its majesty. Fuller’s use of colour is exquisite in building up that atmosphere, from ethereal woodlands to incredible abandoned temple-like structures, through to claustrophobic ruins.
To say more would be to give away far too much but the witching hour of the title may not be what you imagine it to be. Within all the stunning fantasy imagery here there’s a potent message about valuing our potential and living a life that brings fulfilment over one that brings gain. Carefully crafted and quietly powerful in delivery Witching Hour epitomises the calibre of work that has been coming from the direction of Quindrie Press over the last two years.
Beth Fuller (W/A), Eve Greenwood (L/E), Hari Conner (E) • Quindrie Press
Review by Andy Oliver