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Interview: Scott Snyder Reveals the Origin of WYTCHES

Find out why you'll want to read this comic

Scott Snyder and Jock are teaming up once again to scare the crap out of us. We first talked to Scott about WYTCHES back in January when it was first announced. The book will be released on October 8 and you need to tell your comic shop today to order you a copy. We've had the chance to read the first issue and it is freaky, disturbing, and something you'll want to read during the day.

We'll have an early review posted tomorrow. You can also expect to see something else related later today.

We talked to Scott to find out more about the series, what we can expect, and where he got the dark inspiration for this series.

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COMIC VINE: When did you first get the idea to re-invent the concept of witches?

SCOTT SNYDER: I guess it was about a year plus ago. I was up in Pennsylvania, my folks have a house there. They’ve had it since I was about five. When I was a kid, I used to be terrified because I thought Pennsylvania was Transylvania. I was convinced the area was full of vampires. I was up there where I used to go as a kid, I used to go exploring in these woods across the road from the house with my friend. We would go monster hunting. We had developed big stories about a Satanic family and all this stuff. One of the things we would do is go witch hunting.

I was just walking past after having gone running and I was looking at the trees where the woods were, where we used to go hiking. A lot of the area had been cut down to make room for a school. I remembered thinking how scary it would be if that…thing, hiding in the trees, that we sort of imagined there, was still there. The sense of time and how it could’ve been waiting there all along and this chilling sense of something that knew you’d come back eventually. It was very patient and would wait back there, for you to come to it and give it what it wanted so it could give you what you were after. That sense of this timeless evil really really appealed to me. I realized I hadn’t really seen a lot of things with witches. And witches were sort of what we were always afraid of in these woods so it seemed very organic. What if we tried to create a new iteration of witches, a new interpretation, that brings them back to this notion of something really really monstrous, primal, bestial, and animalistic, that’s worshipped by people because they have these incredible abilities. They have a sense of natural science that surpasses the capability of modern medicine. They’re also these incredibly vicious, cannibalistic creatures that live deep in the woods. No one ever lives to talk about them.

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CV: Where did you dig out the inspiration to for your dark take on witches?

SS: The inspiration comes from some of that stuff in my childhood but the design and the sense of them as this bestial/animalistic things is more something of our own. They’re predatory and pretty vicious. But they’re also waiting for you to come to them. There’s also the idea of paranoia. There’s the idea of witch hunts and the idea of witches being out there plus the sense of fear around your neighbors. There’s the worry that they’ve turned evil and they’re going to do something to get you. They might have these secret identities as these Satan worshippers.

In some ways, this story played on those fears in certain ways where someone could pledge you to these creatures without you knowing it. You could be promised to them without realizing it. That idea of who would you give them to get what you want? Would you give them someone you hate to save the person you love? Would you give them someone you loved to get something you’ve always wanted in your life? What is it you would do to get what you want from them? There is a sense of paranoia in the book around, “Did somebody pledge me to them? Am I promised to the witches? Are they going to come into my house and get me in the middle of the night?”

CV: That would suck.

SS: I know. You definitely better know your neighbor alright.

CV: I always ask, has the idea of the series changed at all from when you first started this to where you’re at today?

SS: No, this hasn’t really changed at all. This one’s been pretty set. Let me think. The only thing that really changed about it was a character that I thought would die and now I think is going to live. [laughs] But I might still kill her. I don’t know. We’ll see. She might make it out. She might. She’s actually somebody who had experiences with the witches in the past and barely came out alive. She kind of knows what she needs to know them to help the family.

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The story really focuses on this family, the Rooks family. They’ve moved away from the town they were living in because of a traumatic thing that happened to their daughter. There’s a father, mother, and teenage daughter, Sailor, who’s thirteen. The story’s pretty set from what it was going to be in the beginning. As for the peripheral characters, their fates are still undetermined.

CV: How’s it feel not having anyone (editors, etc) to report to while your working on this?

SS: It’s interesting. It allows for a different kind of writing for me. I’m a little bit more exploratory with it. It’s partly because there aren’t the same pressures. You’re making everything up as you go along. There aren’t expectations around the characters like there are with licensed characters, like Batman or Superman, obviously. You’re building interest in the characters from go. Also, these books are a place to go to explore your really darkest fears.

For me, it’s a horror book. I like to meander and write a little differently where I do scenes longer, conversational, exploratory when it comes to the characters. I think you’ll see right away, as a reader, that it’s a very very different book that AMERICAN VAMPIRE or BATMAN. Those books have different degrees of drama and muscularity, I think, to the plot. This is a more intimate, claustrophobic, creeping dread. It’s a psychological exploration of this family going through this horrifying experience.

CV: How many issues will the first arc be?

SS: It's five issues.

CV: You’ve mentioned taking little breaks between the arcs. Do you have an idea how long?

SS: We’re shooting for maybe three months right now. Sort of like the SAGA format. Where we do a bunch of issues, the trade, and then come back. That’s really our goal right now.

CV: Didn’t you recently take a little field trip to research the area?

SS: Yeah! We went back to the woods where I used to go as a kid. One of the hallmarks of the woods, we used to go exploring, like I said, I had pretty bizarre stories in my head about this Satanic family that lived back there.

Photo by Scott Snyder
Photo by Scott Snyder

One of the things we actually found one time, there was a smuggler’s airport. I didn’t know about this, my father told me years later. There was a smuggler’s airport for bootlegging, I guess. There was like a small airstrip back there from the 30s. We found what was essentially a car. It was a meat truck, I guess. It was a really old antique car out in the middle of nowhere, in the woods by this broken down trailer. There was no road out there. It was just in a ditch. It totally freaked us out. Plus there was the creepiness of it being a meat-packing truck. We used to go hiking out to this thing and that would be the beginning of our exploration. We would always start at this car that we had found. We thought we were the first people to find it, and all that.

I went back recently to see if it was still there. I had not been back to it in at least twenty years and it was still there. The funny thing is it didn’t seem like a lot of people had seen it. There were soda cans around it, like kids had gone out and found it too but they were all like from the 1980s. It was like Tab or the old Diet Coke can, that looked like the Max Headroom kind of whole thing. I was pretty excited to see not only was it still there but it was relatively undisturbed.

CV: Will the arcs contain the same characters or shift to another set of characters?

SS: They will contain some of the same characters. They will. Not all of the same characters. Characters from this arc will reappear in other arcs.

CV: Okay. The ones that survive, right?

SS: That’s…exactly. The ones that survive will appear. I’m thinking, well, maybe more than one will. We’ll see. We’ll see how generous we’re feeling, I guess, as we get to the end. Jock and I, we’re from different sides. I’m a little more evil about it than I think he is. I’m more like, “What if we go this way?” and he’s like, “You can’t be that black.” Then I go, “Sure, yeah we could.” So maybe one more person will survive. We’ll see when we get there.

WYTCHES #1 (AUG140523) by Scott Snyder and Jock is on sale October 8. Let your comic store know today you need a copy. Be sure to check back later for something cool related to this and tomorrow for our advanced review.

UPDATE

Check out Cliff Chiang's variant for issue #1 HERE.