Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Halloween Spotlight: Witch Comics

There are plenty more comics about witches than there are werewolves, so I've had to pick and choose a bit here. Now, there are characters like The Scarlet Witch (a mutant, not a witch) who are not mentioned in this list, for this list leans more toward comics featuring traditional witchcraft practitioners to weed out the hundreds of books that could make a case for using magic. Bear with me as I highlight a few titles you may find of interest in your quest for scares this Halloween.

Spellbinders: Signs and Wonders - This is how books in that "girl witch" genre should read. The opening scene: two boys are looking through a book on magic, one reading mockingly until, with a look of horror and a mispronounced word, he falls to the floor and shatters into thousands to tiny green lizards that spill out of his clothes. From there, this series doesn't miss a beat, but just keeps on thrilling. We follow a new girl in town, Kate, as she transfers to a school in Massachusettes (guess where). The series moves from creepy air elementals to a grand, larger-than-life battle against...well, you can see for yourself. Aside from the dreary magic atmosphere and haunting monsters, we are treated to an issue where Kate is pretty much huddled beneath a table in the dark, hiding from a man with a knife as he closes in on her location. It's a really suspenseful story overall, with plenty of heart-stopping moments and surprises. Mike Carey writes this little pleasant surprise, and Mike Perkins provides some very beautiful art as well. If you're going to get one book on witches, I recommend this one.

Witches - Marvel's mini-series, featuring Doctor Strange, that brings together three witches from its universe: Satana, Topaz, and Jennifer Kale. Unfortunately, this was about the worst thing I've read from the publisher.

The Witching - DC's Vertigo title about three witches that come together, featuring Elsa, Sooky and Kara, each of whom represent one of the three aspects of womanhood: the child, the mother and

Witchcraft - Also featuring three witches that represent different aspects of womanhood...this older Vertigo title sees the witches help a woman who has been wronged.

Sandman Presents: Thessaly, Witch For Hire - Vertigo's all about the witches it seems. This, of course, is a spin-off of the infamous Sandman title, featuring the homely little Thessaly.

The Books of Magic - Neil Gaiman's Harry Potter-ish title that follows a boy destined to wield powerful magic.

The Grimoire - An offering from the now-defunct Speakeasy, this comic follows a young woman on the run from her evil mother, using her mother's grimoire to defend herself with magic and strange creatures. A cute all-ages read.

Courtney Crumrin and the Coven of Mystics - Ted Naifeh's Courtney Crumrin is awesome and this book is the best of the series thus far. If you're looking for a good all-ages creepy read, this is your best bet. Featuring the sarcastic, glowering little Crumrin, one of the best characters of the medium.

Devil's Footprints - Dark Horse came out with this title a few years back, that follows a family and the misfortunes they undergo near prints left behind from the Devil himself.

Black Magic - Lasting from 1973-1975, this title from DC was illustrated by the late great Jack Kirby - writing chores by Joe Simon.

Witches Tales - A Harvey Comics horror title in the vain of Chamber of Chills and Tomb of Terror, telling various short stories.

Haunt of Fear - This was William Gaines' EC title, where a witch narrated the horror anthology, something frequently copied at the time.

The Witching Hour - From the 60's, this book had three witch narrators who reappeared years later in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman.

Wendy the Good Little Witch - A Casper-esque G-rated title suitable for children of all ages, and about as scary as a broomstick.

Sabrina, the Teenage Witch - A 1962 Archie Comic title about a witch with a double life, obviously made into a television series starring Melissa Joan Hart.

The Dark Horse Book of Witchcraft - An anthology featuring stories about witchcraft boasting top-notch contributors such as Mike Mignola and Jill Thompson.

Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose - The grotesque X-rated title that always stands out in Previews actually has supplementary material provided by real witches, with a lot of research gone into the material. I do not know this from first-hand experience, btw.

The Coven - A very superhero-ish take on witches from Image Comics. This title has several different incarnations.

The Covenant - This was recently a number one movie at the box office, but before that it was an Image title about a group of kids off to summer camp, who are surprised to find that their parents sent them to a camp that will teach them the art of witchcraft, as they are next in line to become the Covenant, the most powerful warlocks in the world. Unfortunately, something happens that summer that comes back to haunt them.

Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch - A manga title about six heroes who gather in an epic fantasy against the evil Grey Witch, from Ryo Mizuno, creator of the original Record of Lodoss War, with art by Yoshihiko Ochi.

Laya, the Witch of the Red Pooh - An Alice In Wonderland-type of book that follows cute little witch Laya and her zany adventures.

Good Witch of the West - This one's about a young princess and her unsuitable match, who are exiled, and her return years later involving a mysterious pendant.

Sugar Sugar Rune - This sounds really cute. This manga is a sugary cutesy title by Moyoco Anno, where two best friends, Vanilla and Chocolat, compete for the title of Queen of the Magic World by seeing who can attract more boys, and capture their hearts as little collectible jewels.

Artesia - This beautiful, lush title from Mark Smylie and Archaia Studios Press features a character who performs Pagan rituals and sex magick acts so the gods will favor her army. She also has a second sight that allows her to communiate with the dead. A very haunting war book.

And if you're looking for good witch movies, my favorites are all more light-hearted films, but they're all great. Hayao Miyazaki's Kiki's Delivery Service, following a witch in training, and Howl's Moving Castle are some of the best movies period. And I've always had a soft spot for Hocus Pocus with Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler and that guy from Scrubs.

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