This week, Top Cow releases the first trade paperback featuring Hack/Slash writer Tim Seeley's take on the Witchblade, with Witchblade: Rebirth, Vol. 1: Unbalanced Pieces. Though you may have gotten a peek at the story on Free Comic Book Day, the trade expands on the myth of the Witchblade, as well as transplanting its wielder Sara Pezzini to Chicago for a healthy helping of Deep Dish Horror! That's our words, not Seeley's.
Anyway, we chatted with Seeley about the book, his take on whether Witchblade is just cheesecake, and the possibility of Sara Pezzini meeting Cassie Hack:
MTV Geek: So this week sees the release of the first Witchblade trade... Looking back on it now, did you accomplish what you wanted to with your first arc on the book? I imagine there was a bit of nerves playing into there, coming into a storied franchise like this - or not?
Tim Seeley: Yeah, for sure. Fortunately, I have these sort of blinders doing stuff like this. I'm always aware of the pressure, the rabid fans, the potential for massive failure in the eyes of people who I respect... but, at least while I'm working, I pretty much never think about it. It's not until maybe a day or two after a book comes out that I go "S**T! I should've been nervous about that!" and then I collapse into a gibbering, trembling mass on the ground and can only be consoled by Mallo Cups.
Geek: Let’s talk about the first arc a bit, which really hit the grossness/sexiness dichotomy that I think is at the heart of any great Witchblade story... What was your idea here? What was the thought process?
TS: My thought was that we had to hit the ground running. Though there was a larger back story going on due to the effect of ARTIFACTS, the focus had to be establishing a new city with it's many new characters and a new vibe, and doing it fast. I think Ron's run really defined the character, and he built her up before taking her apart. I wanted to write about a Sara who was looking at a life in pieces, trying to figure out how they went back together. I think Witchblade has always been a sort of dark urban fantasy story with elements of horror and superhero genres, so I cooked up a tale I thought drew from all of those things. I first read Witchblade as a teenager, so I know how important the sexiness is to the story, and wanted to make sure I didn't avoid it!
Geek: Who is Sara Pezzini, to you? Other than a cop, and the bearer of the Witchblade, what makes her such a unique and enduring character?
TS: Sara is first a foremost a survivor. No matter what situation she's in, she just takes a deep breath, and figures out how to get through it. She's kind of zen that way. And, I think most importantly, she's a very moral person. To Sara, there's good and bad. She doesn't think of thinks in terms of moral grey areas, and she rarely doubts herself.
I think she endures so well, because she exists in this sort of sexy, scary magical world, but handles it in a way in which most of which we handled change: with our world views and morals fully intact. I also think it helps that a hot brunette with biomechanical armor is a strong visual.
Geek: There’s always been a bit of stigma to readers with Witchblade, that it’s “just a cheesecake book.” I think that hasn’t been true for a while, but what do you think about this reaction? Is it even valid anymore? And do you keep fighting against something like that, or do you embrace it?
TS: Well, it was NEVER just a cheese cake comic. I think there was a big general backlash against 90s comics by the current readership at some point, and they mistakenly tossed a bunch of books on the fire. Witchblade was always SEXY, but it had always been as much about characters and drama as it was about Michael Turner's nice drawings of pretty girls.
And I say that as a guy who would enjoy "just a cheesecake comic" with no shame whatsoever. I think Witchblade sits comfortably in a genre that also includes stuff like TRUE BLOOD, and the ANITA BLAKE Books. Witchblade is like that, but, y'know, more bad ass. When you're done with TWILIGHT, kids, come see us.
Geek: How about questions from reporters about the stigma of Witchblade being “just a cheescake book?” Are you tired of those, yet?
TS: Ha. Well, I'm the guy whose worked on HACK/SLASH for 8 years, so I'm used to it. In my experience, the only people who get uptight about sex, "sexism" in comics, and pretty people showing their pretty stuff are men. And, mostly, it's the kind of men that are so pissed that they aren't getting any that they'd rather pretend sex doesn't exist.
Geek: Witchblade has been embroiled in pretty massive crossovers for a while now... Do you see the book jumping back into all that, or is it more important it makes its own way for now?
TS: No major crossovers for a bit. It's all about setting up Sara's new world for now! Jackie has made a few appearances, but this is Sara's time.
Geek: When are we going to see Hack/Slash Versus Witchblade already? Jeez.
TS: Ha. I was gonna do one of those little non-crossovers where we have a street scene in both books...the same street scene, And we see Cassie walk by in Witchblade, and then Sara walk by in Hack/Slash. But, in the end, it was going to be some serious effort, and I decided to watch cartoons instead. I definitely have an idea for maybe a one-shot or a mini though that puts Cassie and Sara together.
Geek: What else is coming up for the book?
TS: The next few issues are where I feel like I hit my stride a bit, so there's some fun stuff! Issues 157 and 158 include some steampunk goodness and a guest appearance by a well known former bearer of the Witchblade. And 159 and 160 introduce Sara's new arch-nemesis... a hipster girl named Alisa.
Witchblade: Rebirth, Vol. 1: Unbalanced Pieces hits comic book stores on May 16th, 2012.