Short Cuts 64: Parasomnia; Stray Dogs – Dog Days; Tales from Harrow County Vol. 2 – Fair Folk

Parasomnia
Cullen Bunn, script; Andrea Mutti, art & colors; Simon Bowland, lettering
Dark Horse Books, 2022

This dark fantasy tale is about two worlds split between dreams and reality. The cover picture makes this clear, but the story is more ambiguous (at least at first). A homeless man braves a nightmarish dreamscape to find his missing son–and battles a ruthless cult that seeks to rule the land of dreams–but initially, we see him brutalized by fellow street people, then facing them in the dream world as a mounted highwayman. I found the transition confusing here, and it took a while before the shifts between the worlds made sense. The missing boy also has his mother looking for him: and in our world, the boy’s abductor is known as “the faceless queen.” The protagonist finds a way to restore the missing children to a town, despite not finding his own child. In the end, he and his indigenous friend go off in search of the missing son. It is clearly not an ending; and Parasomnia: The Dreaming God is scheduled to continue the story. This is not one of Bunn’s strongest stories, but Mutti’s art makes it real. The collection concludes with alternate covers, as well as a sketchbook.

Stray Dogs: Dog Days
Tony Fleecs, writer; Trish Forstner, artist; Brad Simpson, colorist; Tone Rodriguez, layouts
Image Comics, 2022

The original series was about a group of stray dogs living together in the home of the serial killer who murdered their mistresses and kept them as trophies. But it was told almost entirely from the perspective of new dog Sophie, who was able to remember her former life. This prequel presents a series of short stories about all of the other dogs. We see a bit of their former lives, often including their mistresses’ first (or last) interactions with the psychopath at the center of all of their stories. The final story includes a bit of resolution to the entire thing, and the Cover Gallery includes a number of very clever references to a wide variety of comics, books, television and movies: everything from The Exorcist to The Walking Dead to R.L Stine’s Goosebumps and Stephen King to Stranger Things.

Tales from Harrow County Vol. 2: Fair Folk
Cullen Bunn, script; Emily Schnall, art; Tyler Crook, lettering
Dark Horse Books, 2022

This story arc begins with Bernice telling her lover Georgia about the ritual she used to erase everyone’s memories of Emmy, other than as someone who had lived in Harrow County once upon a time. She did it to protect the town from haints, and this arc shows why. But the first order of business is rescuing her goblin friend Priscilla, who became trapped in the goblin realm in the previous installment. Georgia accompanies her underground into the world of faeries, goblins and haints, which the haints (who have taken over) use to force her to undo her memory spell. They worship Emmy, and want the townspeople to help them bring her back. All of this was completely unexpected, and things look bad for Bernice and her people. She manages to achieve a truce, but one that leaves goblins and haints above ground again–and the possibility of a future war with the faeries. Schnall is new to the series, but her watercolor art (that’s how it looks, anyway; I’m not sure of her process) fits right in. The collection concludes with a sketchbook of her character designs, plus a collection of variant covers.

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