Jack is a successful writer of bestsellers… which he hates. Suffering from writer’s block, he decides to go back to his old neighbourhood, not knowing that his neighbours are real witches, the kind of demonworshippers that kill anyone who could disturb Westwood.
We caught up with writer, El Torres to talk about his new title ‘The Westwood Witches’.
Horror News Network: How did you come up with the concept for The Westwood Witches?
El Torres: Witchcraft always has been of interest to me. Not the "real witchcraft", the Wicca and pagan beliefs, that's more of a personal religion. I mean the "false witchcraft", the one that some people believed it was real. Naked old women chanting in the night, attracting demons, hexing men… We're used to witches as we are to vampires nowadays. Suddenly they became cool and an object of desire. But in the origin, they were monsters. Monsters based on some kind of fear of femininity.
The idea came up when I met a kind of person that could be on the show "Desperate Housewives". Places where I played when I was a child are now lines of houses, with new neighbors with their hidden secrets.
The main idea is to explore these beliefs. How beliefs can become real because we believe them to be real.
Horror News Network: Tell us more about this main character, Jack Kurtzberg.
El Torres: The name is inspired by the master of comics, Jack Kirby, my little personal homage to the genius… but his personality is completely different. Jack is your really good but unnoticed writer. He wrote good books, he wrote good literature… and passed unnoticed. Then he wrote a book in the way of "Twilight", as a joke. He was bored and wrote it just to have fun with some friends… and it became a hit. Now he's rich, he has a beautiful wife, and he hates that book so much.
But the main trait in Jack is his affection for his past. The key to his behavior -and of the whole series, (and I'm spoiling a lot here), is his childhood. He grew up with his brother in Westwood when the place was little, surrounded by forests. Now when he's back, the place is bigger, his brother is gone. His past is gone. And it hurts. He doesn't like his present, despite the money and the fame and the wife… that's why he tried to come back to his roots. But they're gone, and something more sinister is in their place.
Horror News Network: Can you tell us more about the witches? I take it these are not the fly around on a broom type.
El Torres: They do fly around on brooms! That's what witches do, or I should say that's what we believe that witches do. They're beautiful, so beautiful that we can safely envy them. They do book club meetings, they taste good wine, they live the good life and kill people to offer their souls to the Dark Lords.
We have Martha Hibbins and her mild mannered husband, Tom. Martha is the “look-at-me-I-was-a-playmate” type. She displays cleavage, petting her chihuahua and all of that.
There is Sarah and Arnold Corey. Sarah is the executive-looking with a dominating personality. Her husband Arnold is… well, an "Arnold" type.
Then we have Bridget Bishop and her daughter Rebecca. Bridget looks like one of the Stepford Wives, home-loving, pie-baking. Despite her behavior of a perfect housewife, she's the leader of the pack. And her daughter (we believe she's her daughter), is following in her steps. No husband is known.
And finally, we have the lost member of the coven, Tricia. What happened to her, we'll know in following issues.
Horror News Network: What can we expect in this book in terms of scares and blood and gore?
El Torres: I have no problems with the publisher this time (laughs) so we'll have plenty of blood, gore, and nekkid ladies. The intro scene features a sacrifice that I wanted to be… gore. Chopping fingers with hand pruners, eviscerating with nails… This is a horror book, but this time I didn't want the gore to be fun, like in "Nancy in Hell", just for the sake of it. Every T&A, every splash of blood are into the thread of the story and they are needed for the story. I don't want stunning, but unrelated sequences. I want my gore with story.
Horror News Network: You are well known for your macabre tales which include the titles The Veil and Suicide Forest. How does The Westwood Witches compare to those classics?
El Torres: Whoa. Thank you very much for the word "classic"… Gabriel Hernandez will be happy to read this!
"The Westwood Witches" is a completely different game. In "The Veil" and "The Suicide Forest", even in "Drums", we tried to be subtle, letting the imagination of the reader work. Here, I'm not trying it in the same way. I want to depict the usual, false, general beliefs about the witches, updating them. That's why we have many pinups based in Goya's paintings and etchings, he captured what the people in his era believed that witches were. By updating and reflecting it, I don't mean they fly on vacuum cleaners or display purple rays like the Scarlet Witch. This is a horror book. Just take a look on Baphomet's depiction by Abel, and you'll know what I mean.
Horror News Network: Can you talk a bit about the art of Abel Garcia on this series?
El Torres: Better than that, Abel will talk about it:
"It's a dark artwork, full of textures and ink splashes for a dark story with dark, beautiful characters.
I usually work combining traditional and digital techniques, though my intention is that the artwork must transmit a pictorial feeling. I use a very toothy paper, later I ink directly over it, and then, in the digital color process, I try to use monochrome tones for every feeling. And the final outcome is always unpredictable.
When designing the characters, I tried to create "real characters", not just the Spice Witch Girls. We have the perfect wife, the temptress, the executive, the schoolgirl… but they have to felt real. They usually change their hairstyles, their clothes. They're so vain that they try to not repeat the same look. That change of look is important to me, to make the time pass. When we see Jack for the first time, he's letting his beard to grow, but it is gone in the dinner with the neighbors. Who doesn't shave before an important dinner? But as the time passes, he's got his five-o'clock shadow again.
The atmosphere is very important here. I'm trying to give each atmosphere a unique tone and feeling (the forest I enjoy the most, the childhood flashbacks, the life in suburbia, the Witches' Sabbath in issue #2). Though the Westwood in the book doesn't really exist, I Googled a walk in some Bostonian neighborhoods."
Horror News Network: In closing, what would you like to say about The Westwood Witches?
El Torres: This is a risky book. Risky because of the subject (it came to my knowledge that some "real" witches felt themselves offended when they read a preview). It’s risky because we're telling a gruesome, macabre story, full of twists. It’s risky because not everyone is going to like this book. And risky because it's going to be released through our own small publishing house: Amigo Comics.
So, if you like to take risks, pick up "The Westwood Witches". Please?
Horror News Network: Thank you for your time. This book looks to be another terrifying series to add to your growing catalogue of horror comics!
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