Three witches are trading in their broomsticks for stick-shifts for a supernatural road trip beginning this week in Spell on Wheels.
Writer Kate Leth is teaming with artist Megan Levens and colorist Marissa Louise for a story about a trio of modern-day witches - Claire, Andy, and Jolene - who hit the road to find their stolen magic possessions - and whomever stole in.
Newsarama spoke to the real-life trio about their fictional trio, the visualization of magic in comic books, and what the true heart of Spell on Wheels is.
Newsarama: Kate, Megan, Marissa, you have Spell on Wheels coming out this month just in time for Halloween.
Can you tell us a bit about each of the characters here and what kind of powers they possess?
Kate Leth: Sure! Our three sister-witches, so to speak, each have a specialty.
Claire's powers are mostly psychic/spiritual, with a focus on tarot and visions. Andy is the best spellcaster and potion-maker. Jolene is a technopath!
Nrama: Do we go into the girls' history or is their friendship simply an understanding going in?
Leth: We get to know a bit more about it as the story progresses, but they've been brought together as the last magical-born witches to try and find potential magic users to keep the "line" of witchcraft going, so to speak.
Nrama: Megan, you're no stranger to the supernatural having done both Madame Frankenstein and Buffy, what was it about Spell on Wheels that first attracted to you to do it?
Megan Levens: It's hard not to jump on board with a premise of "witches on a road trip"! But I was immediately drawn to the story of three close female friends going on an adventure together, and the chance to play in a slightly more light-hearted magical world than that of Madame Frankenstein or Buffy. I haven't had to draw any blood splatters in Spell on Wheels!
Nrama: Now this is the first time you've all worked together. Was there a transitional period of figuring out one another or did y'all come together easily?
Leth: This team has been a dream, honestly. Megan and Marissa are so good at what they do, I just try to keep everything clear and consistent. I've loved getting to nearly finish the series before it's printed, because it's allowed us to go back and tweak things, make it really solid. I couldn't ask for a better coven.
Marissa Louise: Things tend to be fairly settled by the time a colorist comes on board, but even so this team has been exceptionally responsive. Megan is open to a lot of my ideas and includes me on the pencil stages so I can show her ideas I have for lighting. Kate has made sure I get a few scripts ahead so I can plan coherent color story. Everyone has given really great feedback on the color and really wonderful.
Nate Piekos, our letterer, has also been attentive and let's just say everything ties in really cleanly.
Levens: I'd say we all fell into a good rhythm very naturally. By the third script I could tell Kate was directly addressing me in her writing, and Marissa and I have a great dialogue going where as I'm creating the lineart, she's throwing out ideas for color schemes and effects, so I can keep those in mind for a specific scene before I ever set pencil to paper.
Nrama: Speaking of which, Marissa, when thinking about color theory here, what were you going for with Megan's linework?
Louise: My personal hierarchy for coloring is 'Clarity>Mood>Accuracy.' Megan has designed beautiful distinct characters, so we don't need to rely on character palettes or secret colorist trickery to keep their characters clear. I'm very free to tell story with colors and to give the reader a lot of insight into unspoken parts of the story.
Since the majority of the color design is up to me I can create contrast with value, saturation, hue, and temperature. I use more desaturated colors when we are looking for a sense of hollowness. I use more saturated and complimentary colors to create a sense of joy around our witches.
Nrama: Kate, looking from these pages, you definitely played to Megan's strengths as a storyteller, so when constructing the script did you change anything along the way that you thought would enhance it visually?
Leth: I defer to Megan when it comes to layouts and design - we've changed things because of her suggestions--which are always better than mine. We all have a hand in design and costume - we have a Pinterest board filled with witchy fashion - but ultimately I know she'll knock it out of the park, so I try not to micromanage.
Nrama: Talking about design, how is magic visualized in Spell on Wheels? Especially since it seems that each of the coven here has a different talent.
Levens: From a linework perspective, I try to keep the magic elements soft, organic, sparkly...I think I might be the only one out of our team who didn't grow up heavily influenced by Sailor Moon, but somehow that sort of glittery bright magic seemed like the way to go. It's not quite the angular energy, or sickly greens or reds of some of the magic I drew for Buffy. In the Spell On Wheels world, magic is a source of light and life, so even the more sinister magic has a brightness and a vibrancy to it. Does this make any sense? I feel like I'm trying to articulate what for me, when I'm drawing, is just me scribbling wavy lines and whispering "yay! magic!" to myself in my studio.
Nrama: Lastly, what would you three consider to be the heart of the story? Life, magic, or something in between that crazy Venn Diagram?
Leth: It'll sound cheesy, but "friendship." These three girls go on a pretty wild adventure and deal with a lot of surprising and terrible things, but they always have each other to rely on. That's one thing I always loved about witch stories like Practical Magic and Hocus Pocus - girls who have each others' backs. It's just the best!
Levens: Absolutely friendship! Magic is what brought our three very unique characters together but their bond is what keeps them together and allows them all to go through the trials of their adventure and come out the other side. Like with any friendship, each person brings their strengths and weaknesses to the table, and sometimes in your group of friends one individual might be the only one who is equipped to handle one situation, so that strength pulls everyone else through.