by Will Henderson
For centuries, a coven of perpetually reincarnating witches has waged war against the all-male conspiracy known as “The Architects.” After killing the lead Architect, the witches should have been done – but they’re not, thanks to Hex Wives writer Ben Blacker and artist Mirka Andolfo. Seems the Architects aren’t quite done with the witches, and they wake up years later with no memories of their previous lives, mission, or even of the ties that bind them together.
Hex Wives, one of seven titles DC Comics is publishing under its re-launched Vertigo Comics line, is described as “a Stepford Wives riff on the witchcraft genre, featuring a group of powerful witches who are brainwashed into becoming suburban housewives by their evil husbands.”
But thanks to reading an early copy of the first issue of the book, The Beat can say with certainty that the title is far more than just another take on dominating men and the women who – foolishly or not – love them.
Blacker and Andolfo spoke with The Beat during NYCC about why they’re the perfect team to tell this story, what readers can expect, and just how well the title fits under the Vertigo imprint.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
The Beat: What makes you the right creative team to tell this story?
Ben Blacker: I’ve been asked a lot about – this is a book about women, this is a book about powerful women – and I am a white, straight men, and as much as I try to write with empathy, the fact of it is that I still have my point of view, I have the 40 years I’ve lived and my experiences, which can translate or not, which is why it was very important to me, and I’ve said this from the beginning, that I have as many women’s voices on the book as possible, and that everyone has a voice on this book. That’s the only way to make it honest; that’s the only way to tell this story without shortchanging the truth of it, really.
Mirka Andolfo: This book is amazing because it balances dark scenes and normal scenes that creates a disturbing mood – but in a good way. Because those girls are under control by those men, and they are housewives to bad seeds, and I try to balance that.
Blacker: One of the things that Mirka brings to it – from our first conversation, she said she likes to draw sexy ladies.
Blacker: And sex was something I was really scared of exploring in this book, because it’s real complicated, but because she brought that up I felt like – well, one, it’s a horror book, and I have to do what scares me. If it doesn’t scare me, then it won’t be upsetting as it ought to be, so it really forced me to get into that, and I think we’ll see stuff in the second and third issue that explores that and makes the book much stronger in every aspect.
The Beat: And how did your partnership [on this book] come about? Did you seek each other out? Were you paired together, kind of like a blind date?
Blacker: I said I was looking for a female artist who was awesome –
Andolfo: And unfortunately they found me.
Blacker: Shut up. I was sent the Shade the Changing Girl book that Mirka had done, and I saw that and I was so knocked out by that book, and I was like yes, absolutely, I don’t have to see anything else. Get her on here, and that was it.
The Beat: (To Andolfo) Did they have to talk you into it?
Andolfo: They asked me if I wanted to make this super-cool book, because the story is really interesting, and I really like this kind of stuff, the magic. The book is interesting because it’s fun and entertaining, and it’s also fun to read.
Blacker: Kind of like a horror movie is fun to watch.
Andolfo: Yeah. But it also will make you think of the situation between women and men, and when I look at this project, I immediately fell in love, and I’m very happy to work with this team.
Blacker: Yeah, we want to work together as a team for years, so I hope people buy the book.
The Beat: Comparing the finished product to your initial ideas, how has it changed? Is it pretty much what you set out to create?
Blacker: It’s better. I often talk about the relationship between a writer and an artist in comics as being very similar to the experience I’ve had writing for actors. You give them this thing, and you think you know what it is and how a line will be said, but they give you something entirely different and better that you never could have thought of yourself, and that’s absolutely how it’s been. Even just on the character design, I thought I knew what these characters looked like, and I sort of had ideas that they were based off of pop culture witches, and I sent these crazy ideas to Mirka. And then when I got the designs back, I thought, these are real, human people, and I have to give them my A game, because everyone on this team deserves it, including the fictional characters.
The Beat: How does this book fit in with the overall Vertigo imprint of comic books?
Blacker: What this Vertigo relaunch has is not just the incredible amount of talent involved but also the passion of everyone involved – and the passion to not just tell the story but to say something about the world with the stories. And I think Vertigo has always done that. [Vertigo books] have always said something about the world we live in. All of the new titles have something to say about the world, and it feels like we’re part of a very large tradition. That opportunity doesn’t exist anywhere else.
Hex Wives is out on October 31 from Vertigo Comics.