This October, just in time for Halloween and ol’ Samhain, Dark Horse debuts “Spell on Wheels,” the first in a five-issue miniseries from writer Kate Leth, artist Megan Levens and colorist Marissa Louise.
Robbed of their magical possessions, young witches Claire, Andy, and Jolene take the off-ramp from the atsral plane to Interstate 90 and beyond.
“These are the last three naturally-born witches – meaning they inherited their power from other magic users – in the Western world, as far as they know,” Leth told CBR. “They’ve been brought together to find others who might have the potential to join them.”
Initially, the coven plies their individual trades shuffling tarot and reading fortunes under canvas at fair grounds in Boston. Things are pretty chill in the bespoke industry of bell, book, and candle. Quaint, even. But as you may surmise, there’s a lot of power under this story’s hood.
That all starts with three talented women. Six, to count the main characters.
“Claire’s magic is cerebral and spiritual, focusing on intuition and fortunes,” says Leth. “Andy is logical and creative, the best at spells and potion-making. Jolene is a technopath, a goth tattoo artist who infuses her work with blessings (or curses). All of them are self-possessed women in their twenties who wield serious power.”
“I definitely think Kate’s done a good job of establishing in this world that magic is a force primarily of positivity and light,” Levens said. “So when the supernatural comes into play, it’s more often something really visually beautiful and colorful — all credit to Marissa there for picking such great, vibrant palettes! We have scary moments but the world of magic that our heroines live in is a very bright, vivid one.”
“For me,joyous color is fundamental to this story,” Luoise told CBR. “I want to see women together enjoying themselves. When I am designing the color, joy is always forefront. There are scary elements and in my opinion those shine better if we know the world doesn’t have to be a miserable place. And I do think in a lot of ways a group of women being happy together outside marketing or men is still a very radical idea.”
No third wheels here; the witches enjoy a strong friendship. Or, as Louise quips, “Two’s a pair; three’s a coven.”
“I’ve compared the book to “Buffy” and “Charmed” for a number of reasons,” Leth says. “One of them being that they are, like Marissa says, joyful. Even when things get dark and scary, these kinds of stories are about magic, which is an incredible, brilliant thing. I wanted that to shine through in the art, and Megan and Marissa have done it better than I could’ve hoped for.”
Of course, with purloined potions and wayward wands, that happiness is set tumbling. The trio trade in their woebegone Scooby van for a jet black late 50s T-Bird, and, well… something wicked this way hums. The America that awaits them thrums with a vibrant mysticism inherited from numerous world cultures and traditions.
“A lot of my familiarity with magic and witchcraft is from Celtic and Norse paganism,” Levins says. “I spent a lot of time as a teenager hanging around a new age bookstore, and those traditions were always what come to mind when I think of practicing magic (from amulets of runes and Celtic knots, to bad glitter paintings of wispy fairies and red-headed women in capes). I even gave Claire a tattoo on the back of her neck that’s a Celtic knot.”
“The magic in our book lies somewhere between traditional practices and the supernatural of books and film,” says Leth. “We drew from urban legends and ghost stories, movies and fairy tales, all kinds of things to make the world feel unique. Marissa and Megan have both done an incredible job making it feel distinct.”
For the witches, the supernatural comes naturally. It’s little different for the creative team.
“I think there’s a powerful undercurrent of something just beneath the layer of the world as we see it,” says Levins, “and there’s lots of ways to describe that, but “magic” is the most fun.”
“Have you ever been to Ireland?” Leth asks. “There are ghosts and fairies in those parts of the world, I have no doubt. I have friends who practice witchcraft and I study tarot myself. I guess, to be specific, I don’t want to believe in a world without magic.”
Start hitchin’ with the witches in “Spell on Wheels” #1, out October 19.
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