Vertigo Comics is back! As part of the new wave of the DC mature reader imprint, Vertigo will launch a book perfectly made for the label. Hex Wives comes from writer Ben Blacker (Thrilling Adventure Hour) and artist Mirka Andolfo. Let’s let the fine folks at Vertigo describe this daring and progressive look at the world of dark magic and gender conflicts:
For hundreds of years a war has been waged between a coven of perpetually reincarnating witches and the all-male conspiracy known as the Architects. After the death of the lead Architect in 2005 it seemed the witches had finally defeated their foes.
Now, 13 years later, waking up in a perfect cookie cutter home at the end of a cul-de-sac in a sunny corner of suburbia, Isadora has no recollection of her past life as the leader of a witch coven, nor her soulmate Nadiya, let alone the centuries-old war she has waged in defense of the soul of America…
It was our pleasure to sit down with Blacker and Andolfo at New York Comic Con to discuss Hex Wives, the legacy of Vertigo, politics, DC TV and film, and the potential for Hex Wives cosplay.
Den of Geek: So how does it feel to be part of the new Vertigo?
Mirka Andolfo: I am very happy to be part of Vertigo. I have been working for Vertigo, but now I am happy to be on this project with Ben because it has such darkness.
Ben Blacker: I grew up on those Vertigo books. Y, the Last Man, Fables, Preacher, those were my go to.
Vertigo is 25 years old. The way they’re bringing Vertigo back, it feels like the old Vertigo in so many ways. I’ve gotten to read six of the seven books that are coming out, and all of them feel like stories that the creators are compelled to tell. They have something to say. That’s something the old Vertigo did, but the new Vertigo has a modern social awareness that feels very contemporary. You can’t just tell a story anymore. You have to have something to say, and all the books are doing that. From Mark Doyle to the editors under him, Vertigo is giving us that opportunity.
For Hex Wives, it’s very much Fables… we do a similar thing where we play on familiar tropes. Pop culture characters you’ve seen before, in Fables‘ case it was fairy tales, in Hex Wives, it’s witches. We’re playing in a similar sandbox. Border Town has a lot in common with Preacher. American Carnage has a lot in common with 100 Bullets.
In the old days, Vertigo was very progressive, but there really wasn’t much of a push back. Now, politics becomes the story rather than the real story. Is there ever a time you are afraid politics might become bigger than your story?
Blacker: No. Like I said about all the Vertigo books, they are all books the creators are passionate about. It’s something I care a lot about. I’ve spent the last ten years seeing my wife, my mother, my sisters, my female friends being minimized and ignored in the workplace and social circles. It makes me angry. My father taught me we are all people. That shouldn’t be controversial or in question. I think there’s a lack of empathy in the world…even if you disagree with someone, you still have to try and understand the world from their point of view. To Kill a Mockingbird is a book for white people. It’s a book so white people can understand that we are all equal. If there’s pushback on that, I feel bad for people pushing back.
So Miss Andolfo, where are you from and what have you enjoyed about Hex Wives?
Andolfo: I’m from Italy. And I love drawing the suburban houses in the book…so different. They don’t exist in Italy. I did a lot of research. Many TV shows are an inspiration of these stories. I got to see old TV shows.
Blacker: There’s a very interesting effect in the first arc. It’s accomplished by Mirka, an Italian artist, translating these 1950s tropes. What it results in is this uncanny feeling which is exactly what we wanted in this book. The feeling that everything looks perfect but something is very wrong. It just happened to work out perfectly.
You recently revealed that this book started as a Mod Witch (an old 1960s DC character) project. Talk about that.
Blacker: The project was around a long time. The image from the first issue, which is a nine-panel grid of our main character getting ready in the morning, was the jumping off image in this book. This innocuous image and the way Mirka drew it, it evokes the uncanny feeling. That was always the jumping off point. When I went into DC, we were pitching different characters and as I was leaving I said, “I have this witch thing; it could work for an existing character.” I knew they had Mod Witch…Gaiman used her…maybe it can be that. We heard back, “We love this; it’s great. We’re relaunching Vertigo, we didn’t tell you, take away Mod Witch, we’ll make it Vertigo.” I was like, “This is happening very fast!” Since then, I have a hundred stories I want to do.
You live in a world of constant DC media. I know no one writes a comic pitch to be a TV pitch. With that being said, with DC streaming, with CW, with all the platforms exploiting DC properties, is there a thought that Hex Wives could be repositioned?
Blacker: Absolutely, I write TV. That’s my real job. When I conceived the idea, it was always comics. It’s also part of that I knew what type of story I wanted to tell. To have so few collaborators, not having millions of dollars in budget means you get to tell the story you want to tell. Now that we’re doing that, absolutely, this should be a TV show. I hope I get hired.
Andolfo: Yes, absolutely. Gal Gadot should be in it. Call her! I tried to create realistic dresses for the girls so it could look awesome on TV.
Blacker: Mirka has done Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman, but Hex Wives is a realistic book set in our world right now. So all the clothing was designed to be practical. We want people to cosplay.
Andolfo: We wanted it to be comfortable and cool.
Blacker: I remember I had a conversation with a prose writer. He was talking about his novels sold to TV studios. He was having issues because he wanted it written it into his contract that things like half the extras would be diverse. That’s not a thing you can build into a Hollywood contract. In Hex Wives, we created a diverse cast, so if we’re made into TV, they have no choice but to hire a diverse cast.
This is the most classic feel Vertigo book of the new wave…
Blacker: What does that mean? I’ve heard that a bunch.
Witches and fairies and horror.
Blacker: I don’t like fairies.
Like the early Vertigo books, the Gaiman, that started it. The dark fantasy, the horror. You had Sandman, Books of Magic, The Dreaming.
Blacker: Yeah, Vertigo does horror, fantasy, and crime.
But it started with the dark fantasy of Neil Gaiman and things like WitchCraft with James Robinson. Did either of you think, “Let’s go with the classics?”
Blacker: No, because in part it was a story I was thinking of before taking it to Vertigo. I think if I had known from the start it was a Vertigo book, I would have leaned into it a bit more. I love horror. It’s something I don’t really get to explore. We got to do a comedy version in The Thrilling Adventure Hour, but to approach this stuff that scares me has been the best and most terrifying part of this book.
What do you love about Ben and what do you love about the book?
Andolfo: I love that he’s so nice and that the story is great. When I read the script, I want to know what happens next…I can’t wait to see this comic in shops. It’s also great for Halloween. I really like the strong female characters. They are so strong.
Blacker: That’s what I love about what Mirka has brought to the book. I had an idea in my head what these characters looked like, how they dressed. What I got back was even more. I often talk about artists and it’s really like working with actors…you give them this thing and they put them through the machine and it comes back as something even greater than what you expected. That’s what I’m getting from Mirka. She made me love the characters, so when I’m writing, it makes me want to dig in even deeper.
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