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Hair has meant abounding things beyond abounding belief — for Samson, strength; for Rapunzel, escape; for Gretchen Wieners, secrets.
In the apple of Ariel Ries’ Witchy, beard represents bewitched abeyant and, for its advance hero Nyneve, ancestors trauma. ComicsAlliance batten with Ries about magic, the sociopolitical ramifications of beard in her banana and the absolute world, and abolition brand expectations.
ComicsAlliance: What was the alpha for Witchy? And what genres and inspirations does it body from?
Ariel Ries: I started developing Witchy appear the end of aerial academy and in my aboriginal year of university. I was Skyping with my acquaintance Vivian at the time, and I was bouncing account off of her about an outcast witch in a baby apple area beard was axial to the ability structure. A few months after we were talking again, and she said article like, “What was that abstraction you had? Witches area their beard breadth determines the backbone of their magic?” and I was like, “Nope, but that’s a abundant bigger idea!” So absolutely all acclaim for the abstraction goes to her.
Witchy was originally meant to be abundant abate in scale, but the implications of such a apple concluded up actuality too dank for me to accumulate to such a baby story!
Despite Witchy actuality a fantasy comic, I’m absolutely not absolutely a fan of the western fantasy genre. But, I anticipate anyone accustomed with Ghibli will recognise the access it’s had on me and Witchy. In the aboriginal canicule Witchy was additionally heavily afflicted by shonen manga, alike if it’s allegedly absent a bit from that aisle since. Aback it comes bottomward to the fights and some of the abominable artlessness of the dialogue, I anticipate that’s aback my shonen roots are best clear.
Media influences aside, it’s appealing bright that altered Asian cultures acquaint the architecture of Witchy. Half of my ancestors is Muslim Indonesian, so Southeast Asian and Islamic architecture is a big allotment of the visuals in Witchy. Hyalin, the ambience of Witchy, is a melting pot of Asian cultures though, so I casting my net as advanced as accessible aback attractive for architecture solutions. Best of my admirers lives in the west, and I anticipate it’s important to accent to my readers that Asia is so abundant added than aloof East Asia.
CA: What’s it about?
AR: Witchy is set in the above hair-powered abracadabra land, area adolescent witches advised able abundant are affected into the Witch Guard, an army-cum-police-force with a lot of abiding amusing benefits. However, if your beard is too long, you’re arresting an adversary of the commonwealth and killed. (Also accepted as a witch burning.)
Nyneve, our protagonist, absent her ancestor to a witch afire and, abashed that she’ll accede his fate, she hides her beard from anybody but her mother Veda. To accord you a aftertaste of the aboriginal arc after abasement anything, Nyneve has agitation applicable in at school, acceptance looms about the corner, and Nyneve’s mum has some answer to do.
CA: Who is the advised audience, and do you advance any age restrictions or agreeable warnings?
AR: Witchy is for anyone who’s absorbed — I’m not absolutely authoritative it for a specific admirers in mind, I’m aloof authoritative what I’d like to read. Whether you like beeline fantasy, slice-of-life, action, or politics, all with women of colour at the helm, there’s allegedly article in Witchy for you.
I’d acclaim Witchy for ages 10 and up, if you’re accomplished with balmy swears and balmy violence. Also, appear the end of affiliate three, there’s some baleful ideation, if that’s abashing to any abeyant readers.
CA: What about eastern fantasy were you accurately acquisitive to embrace and what about western fantasy accept you been aiming to avoid?
AR: Added than alienated aspects of western fantasy, I appetite to abruptness my readers by abolition their expectations of your archetypal fantasy plot. Honestly, boilerplate fantasy isn’t a brand that’s decidedly affable to bodies from best marginalized groups, and I appetite Witchy to be a abode for those bodies to feel included. I’d say Witchy has a lot of accustomed elements, but I try to drag them about abundant to accumulate the adventure activity fresh.
Likewise, I wouldn’t necessarily say giving Witchy an Asian ambience was an attack at battling Asian fantasy stories. Actuality a alloyed chase kid in a mostly white neighbourhood, I mostly acquainted alienated from my heritage, or advised it embarrassing, so I concluded up behindhand a lot of it growing up. Witchy has been an exercise for me to appoint with the cultures I appear from in a way that I never was absolutely able to as a kid. There’s acutely cultures I’m not a allotment of that access Witchy, but a lot of it is me aggravating to apprentice added about my roots. I talked a bit about the Asian access on Witchy from a architecture angle before, but I appetite to accent that I accede the cultural aspect of it to be aloof as important.
CA: What’s your access to utilizing or synthesizing Witchy’s assorted Asian ability inspirations?
AR: While I absorb absolutely a bit of time accomplishing analysis and absolutely award advertence actual for the kinds of things I’m aggravating to address or draw, absolutely accumulation elements from altered Asian cultures isn’t the difficult allotment of the process. There’s no such a affair as a caked “Asian” ability by any means, but historically, there’s been barter and acquisition all beyond Asia for bags of years: altered Asian countries accept their own alone cultural identities and sets of aesthetics, but there’s already a lot of bisect there.
I’m additionally appealing advised about which characters/places accept which real-world cultural equivalent, alike if it’s a admixture of sorts, so I accept a abode to alpha analysis from. I’m far from absolute though, and sometimes aback my analysis turns up bald I’ll accept to accommodation and accomplish an accomplished guess, or use references from altered cultures. That’s the affluence of autograph a fantasy, I guess.
I do my best to analysis and be admiring as addition autograph from a western perspective, but I apperceive I’m careless and am consistently accessible to appraisal with commendations to my autograph and architecture choices.
CA: Hair, in fiction, has a continued allegorical history with commendations to ability and, in comics, it can additionally a absolutely arresting beheld architecture element. Could you allocution about why you centered beard as a key aspect aural Witchy?
AR: Actuality a woman in our association agency that there’s consistently a cogent accord with you and your hair. What you accept to do with your beard as a woman is politicised, everywhere, admitting to differing degrees depending on who you are.
Black women get denied jobs for cutting their beard naturally; Muslim women get attacked in the artery for allotment to adumbrate theirs; there are a lot of parallels amid the backroom of beard in our apple and those in Hyalin. Hyalin’s bearings is a lot added acute though, obviously.
I’ve consistently been absorbed with how my beard affects people’s acumen of me, and I anticipate that’s ultimately area the apriorism for Witchy came about. I anticipate the backroom surrounding beard in Witchy are appealing credible akin appropriate now, but I dive a lot added into them in after chapters. It’s additionally air-conditioned to analyze a ability area there’s no feminine or adult connotations to beard length!
CA: Abracadabra is a absolutely complicated, sometimes bulky aspect to advance in a story. Can you allocution about how you developed abracadabra — in agreement of its rules, uses, beheld design, etc. — in Hyalin?
AR: Honestly, there are a lot of things I didn’t appropriately plan afore diving into Witchy, and I anticipate the alignment and architecture of the abracadabra arrangement is allegedly the best credible one, ha ha.
The attending of abracadabra as you see it in the banana has acquired now into article I’m blessed with, but I absolutely bethink accepting to a folio with abracadabra in it for the aboriginal time and actuality like, “Oh s—, how do i draw this?” Aback again I’ve ample out added area I appetite to go with it. Abracadabra in Hyalin is actual abundant fatigued from the accustomed world, in the aforementioned way that a lot of arrangement and bolt architecture assignment is. So to me, at least, it fabricated faculty to absorb that arrangement assignment into the abracadabra design.
For the abracadabra arrangement I looked into altered Asian religions, decidedly animistic ones like Shintoism and Mun, and additionally into the rules and techniques of several altered ball styles and aggressive arts. Abracadabra in Hyalin is a antecedent of activity and a backup for some forms of technology, so its uses appear up appealing allegedly as I’m writing.
I anticipate the aphorism arrangement of abracadabra in Witchy is still appealing messy, though! I accept a lot of account that I appetite to incorporate, but I absolutely charge to adapt those into article added concise. I mean, I apperceive the genitalia that are best important for the story, at least!
I’m aerial by the bench of my pants with a lot of aspects of Witchy honestly… I’m aloof advantageous I haven’t accounting myself into a bend yet, ha ha.
CA: How has both your artistic access and the webcomic itself afflicted aback inception?
AR: It’s afflicted a lot! Both in access and story. On the abstruse ancillary of things, over the years I’ve switched from acceptable inks, to Photoshop, and now to Clip Studio Paint, although I still use Photoshop for lettering.
The appearance has confused about a lot too. Actuality my aboriginal banana project, aback I started Witchy I told myself that I’d consistently let myself be accessible to experimentation, and I anticipate I’ve kept that affiance to myself. Attractive aback at the pages and seeing the art appearance and my methods gradually shift, I anticipate it’s air-conditioned to see my change as an artist. I started action academy center into affiliate two, so alteration Witchy for me is like attractive at a blueprint for how advantageous my ancestry has been, ha ha.
The way the adventure has afflicted is article that will never be apparent by the audience, but assurance me aback I say it’s acquired a lot. The bald basic of it are still there, and there are still above artifice credibility that I’m aiming toward, but what happens in amid those, and the antecedence i’ve accustomed to appearance advance are actual different. And, I can say with authoritativeness that the artifice of Witchy that I accept in my arch appropriate now is activity to be altered to how it turns out in the end. That’s allotment of why I adulation accomplishing a account webcomic, fan acknowledgment and my own advance consistently improves Witchy as a story.
CA: What drew you to webcomics and the belvedere you currently use?
AR: I’ve been account webcomics aback I was about eight or nine years old, so I’ve developed up with added acquaintance of them than allegedly best people. A lot of my art idols growing up were publishing webcomics on the belvedere Smackjeeves aback I was almost a teen, and basically aback that time I’d consistently been absorbed in authoritative a webcomic. There’s not abundant of a book comics ability in Australia actually, so allegedly I spent added time account webcomics than book comics as a kid. (Also, my parents wouldn’t let me buy manga.)
Ultimately, I absitively it was a acceptable abstraction to accomplish a webcomic because (having a adventure to acquaint aside) I capital bodies to be attractive at my art, and I consistently begin it easier to draw aboriginal agreeable rather than fanart. I capital to breach into some array of artistic industry, and this was the best way I could anticipate of to get eyes on my work, and advance a lot in the process.
CA: What’s your action like?
AR: I don’t absolutely accept a bright outline of the accomplished adventure of Witchy accounting down. I accept lots of confused addendum lying about but annihilation chronological, and again the blow of it is aloof aerobatics about in my head. Aback starting a new affiliate however, I do address an outline. Because Witchy has a lot of belief that I appetite to advance out through the banana as abundant as possible, aback autograph an outline I accept to be like, “OK, what important apple building/exposition credibility do I accept to accommodate in this affiliate for the blow of the adventure to accomplish sense?” and I’ll baptize those elements throughout the affiliate in a accustomed way that doesn’t feel like you’re consistently account a bank of exposition.
Another account of alive so abuse boring on a adventure is that my academician has time to assignment out artifice holes or advance artifice credibility affectionate of in the background. I’ll apprehension a botheration in the plot, and again a brace of months after as I’m falling comatose or aggravating to do some academy assignment my academician will aloof be like “click! I apparent it.” Aback I’m a bit added beneath the crunch, I like to booty walks and accept to music — best of the adventure basic of Witchy came up while I was walking and alert to added of the How to Train Your Dragon soundtrack than I’d like to admit.
Other than that, I don’t anticipate my cartoon action is decidedly agitative to apprehend about in accounting form, It’s mostly aloof inks, flats, and a few gradients!
CA: Do you anticipate self-publishing this adventure accepted you abandon that you ability not accept had elsewhere?
AR: Absolutely! I anticipate the comics industry is aggressive to change and risk, and I feel like on cardboard Witchy — commutual with a boyhood with no acquaintance autograph or cartoon comics, allegedly would accept been too big of a accident to booty for any publisher.
On top of that, I’ve been in action academy the accomplished time I’ve been authoritative Witchy, so I absolutely can’t do added than one or two pages a week, but at atomic I’m still chipping abroad at it, you know? I’m in my final year of school, and it’s been abundant to accept the adaptability this accomplished ages to booty a abbreviate aperture and aloof get important deadlines met.
CA: Which added webcomics would you acclaim to readers who like yours?
AR: There’s a lot of absolutely admirable webcomics that I apprehend that can be begin on my website in the links section, but actuality are three webcomics that I’ve been befitting up to date with afresh admitting my active year:
Cucumber Quest by Gigi D.G. is a admirable all ages banana about a adolescent (rabbit) boy who gets bent up in a thousand-year-old legend, and has to save the apple admitting his wishes and admitting the actuality that his sister is a lot added ill-fitted to the job. (Fortunately, she tags forth for the ride.) It plays a lot on video bold tropes in a way that’s way added beginning than what anyone abroad is doing, and has absolutely admirable and nuanced appearance dynamics!
Peritale by Mari Costa is agnate to Cucumber Quest in that it aims to deconstruct the actual affair it pays admiration to, and in Peritale’s case that affair is bogie tales. It follows a magic-less bogie godmother who, admitting the objections of bogie society, goes out into the animal apple to accomplish the fairytale she’s been given… behindhand of whether or not the bodies appetite her help. If the artifice arbitrary doesn’t accomplish it clear, Peritale is cool absorbing and cool funny, and I’m absorbed to see area it goes!
Mare Internum by Der-Shing Helmer is one of the best agreeable sci-fi comics I’ve read. It’s about a depressed scientist on Mars who, while analytic for a absent analysis drone, ends up in Mars’s underground sea, and let’s aloof say he finds a lot added than he bargained for. Der-Shing’s affection for analysis and absorption to appearance absolutely makes Mare Internum angle out from added sci-fi comics.
You can chase Witchy on its website and abutment it on Patreon. Find added from Ariel Ries at her art blog and Twitter. If you accept a webcomic you’d like to advance for an accessible Webcomic Q&A, accelerate a tip to jonerikchristianson[at]gmail[dot]com with the accountable band “Webcomic Q&A.”
Throughout Women’s History Ages we’re putting the spotlight on some of the best comics by and about women. Check out added accessories at our Women In Comics page.
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