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Dredging its dread from the deep well of teenage anxieties and British folk horror, a new original graphic novel being published by Humanoids is an old-fashioned fright yarn that weaves a lasting spell on readers yearning for an intense murder mystery with a black magic flair — and SYFY WIRE is offering up an exclusive extended preview to bewitch your soul.
Arriving on March 10, Nicnevin and the Bloody Queen revolves around an unnatural force unleashed in northern England, where a modern-day druid necromancer commits a series of brutal murders in an attempt to summon the immeasurable power of the ancient gods of Great Britain. However, all hell breaks loose when his next intended victim, a young girl named Nicnevin “NISSY” Oswald, ends up having a family history of dark magic to counteract the vicious attack.
This is the debut graphic novel from writer Helen Mullane, who's joined here by noted artists Dom Reardon (2000 AD) and Matthew Dow Smith (Hellboy, Dead Kings), with acclaimed colorist Lee Loughridge and masterful cover artist Jock (Wytches, The Batman Who Laughs), all fashioning a disturbing coming-of-age horror story perfect for these complicated digital-age times.
"It felt great to flex my horror muscles again on such a great story after working on Wytches," Jock tells SYFY WIRE. "Any cover is important, but with horror the art really needs to nail the tone, and we went through a lot of different concepts before landing on the final. Helen and Dom are close friends, so I wanted to do justice to the great story they created."
In penning this grisly tale, Mullane hoped to funnel the feelings and attitudes she clearly recalls from her own own teenage years spending time hanging out with close friends.
“I’m a lifelong lover of folk horror, there’s something so mysterious and frightening about the primal power of nature, and fascinating about the old druidic religions," she tells SYFY WIRE. "In writing Nicnevin, I was intrigued by the idea of transporting a thoroughly modern teen into a world of quiet, atmospheric mystery. Stubborn and selfish but also smart and independent, Nissy feels so familiar to me as a former teenage tearaway in a way that more wholesome and altruistic heroines never have. Through the story she learns some really tough lessons, growing the only way she can, through her own experience and drawing from her own judgement.”
Artist Dom Reardon remembers a conversation with Mullane years ago, over a curry and several drinks, when they talked about their shared love of folk horror, rural settings, authors like Alan Garner, and TV programs such as Children of the Stones.
"Cut to sometime later and Helen had actually written the thing!" he tells SYFY WIRE. "I loved the script straightaway, it’s the kind of horror I like, the slow unnerving drip feed, the unseen threat. There is magic and fantasy there, but for me this needed to be a real-world story about a teenaged girl dealing with real-life problems.
"I knew that the horror needed to exist in the quiet moments, the gaps between the panels, the trees and the stones and the hills ... until the boundaries break down and the world that usually exists behind reality becomes very real!”
Now step into our exclusive peek at Nicnevin and the Bloody Queen in the gallery below, with its bucolic British atmosphere tainted with archaic spells and a heady whiff of black magic.