Inside Look: Witchblade #151

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Inside Look is Broken Frontier's director’s commentary-like feature in which creators take you behind the scenes of one of their latest comics to hit the stands. In this edition: Tim Seeley on Witchblade #151.

So, imagine this. I get a call from Top Cow and they liked my pitch well enough. They want me to write Witchblade. You know, the book that's been around for 150 issues, half of which were written by one very revered guy. Now, I should be freaking out, and being all neurotic the way I am about every other thing in my life. But for whatever reason, when it comes to comics, I don't freak, call my mom, or ask my wife to slap me until I stop crying. I just DO.

Now, whether that's a good thing or not, I don't know, but it's the way I work, and it's how I jumped onto the first issue of Witchblade. The fact that I had an expert editor and the support of Top Cow and Image Comics behind me may have helped. Anyway, let's look at the pages, and discuss as I think about it more than I have since I first wrote it.

Page 1

I went through a number of possible scenes to begin the story, but it wasn't until I was out in LA, visiting the Top Cow studio that I decided on the way I really wanted to do it.  I was sitting in Filip Sablik's office with him and Matt Hawkins.

Matt was throwing out things they'd never done with Witchblade and one was "We've never put her in jail." He may have also said "We've never had her get gender reassignment surgery, change her name to Juan Carlos, and move to Florida" as well but that one didn't inspire me. The jail idea though...what better way to say "I'm not a cop anymore" than by having Sara in the clink? Add a sexy, torn up black dress and you've got comic book gold baby!

The dialogue on this page, via Sara's thought balloons is intended to invoke a "crime noir" vibe. It's the sort of hard-boiled stuff you might expect out of a Sam Spade or Phillip Marlowe, except it's coming from a beautiful lady with a magical metal gauntlet. Love it.

Page 2

This page was the first time I encountered the reality that Diego and I don't speak the same language. He's Brazilian (like the wax!), I'm Wisconsinese. So, not everything was going to translate exactly until I figured out how to write scripts geared to him. The description I wrote for panel 3 called for a subtler touch, as Sara quietly looked at the Witchbalde on her hand, hidden from any onlooker who might pass.

Diego drew this awesome, almost "splashy" super-Sara shot. But after seeing it, I realized Diego's version was superior becasue it makes for a balls-out, sexy, powerful, pure TOP COW shot. This is why Marc Silvestri picked Diego. This is why he was the man for the job. Subtlety has it's place, but it's not on the second page of the new creative team's debut issue.

Page 3

One thing that was really important to me going in, was that if we were going to set this in Chicago, it had to look like Chicago. In a lot of comics (and, hell, in a lot of tv shows and movies too) cities are portrayed as being basically the same. Denver is New York with mountians in the background, LA is New York with palm trees. But, as a guy who grew up in a town of 400 people, but has spent his whole adult life traveling from major city to city I can attest to each and everyone having a unique character.

I wanted a major theme of my story to be Sara's realization that Chicago IS NOT New York City. I wanted the city to be as much a supporting character as Big Woz, whose hand debuts on the bottom of this page. Go ahead and tell 'em you were there when the next WOLVERINE debuted. BIG WOZ! SNIKT?

I think Diego has done a great job translating the piles of reference I send him into cool drawing of Chicago.

Page 4

One of the toughest things to do after Ron's long run was to to come up with new things to do with the Witchblade and Sara. Ron's run was about tying it all together, evolving the Top Cow universe to what ultimately became the Artifacts event. So, my take had to be about unraveling it all. At it's heart, the WITCHBLADE comic has always really been about Sara, so what could I do to help us find out more about her?

That's when I realized, that despite all the crazy things Sara has encountered over the years, she's always had the support and comfort of New York. She had the job she always wanted, and she had the support of the NYPD. To shake up the book, all we had to do was remove Sara from her comfort zone. And that discomfort, that "imbalance" became the fitting metaphor for a bearer of "The Balance" in a post-Artifacts world.

Page 5

Since there's not a lot to discuss on this page besides how awesome the art, letters and colors are, let me expound a bit more on that "real" Chicago thing!

See, to me, the best way to make the "extranormal" stuff stand out and feel really fantastical was to pair it with the most realistic setting I could write. Thus, Sara's office is a real location.. the (currently) empty office above the Green Mill bar on Lawrence and Broadway. And the club she goes to? An actual place called NEO that I spent FAR TOO MANY Thursday and Saturday nights in when I first moved to Chicago at the ripe young age of 24. The guy in the chainmail dress Cain mentions? An actual dude who managed to make out with far too many women than was justified by his jangly armor-smock! GHAH!! Whew... flashbacks, man.

Anyway, thanks much for reading, and I hope you have, or do pick up Witchblade. We have some cool stories to tell, and I'm loving writing Sara. At the very least, let me show you that me have more in Chicago than snow and Kanye!

Witchblade #151 was released January 4, 2012 through Image Comics and Top Cow.

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