SDCC '10 | <i>Charmed</i> is back, and Zenescope's got it

Zenescope is best known for horror/cheesecake combos like Grimm Fairy Tales and Return to Wonderland, but their latest property should have much wider appeal: Charmed, a comic based on the TV show about three sisters who must balance jobs, family and the demands of being the most powerful witches in the world. The show ran for eight seasons on The WB network, from 1998 to 2006, and the characters went through a number of changes during that time, including the death of one of the sisters and the appearance of a new half-sister.

Issue #1 is being launched at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend, and writers Paul Ruditis and Raven Gregory are there to do signings and a panel. I talked to them beforehand about their plans for the series.

Brigid: How did this property come to you? Did you have a prior relationship with the producers?

Paul Ruditis: For a brief time I oversaw the Charmed publishing program for the studio producing the show. Then, later on, I wrote for the licensed book line that Simon Spotlight published. When Zenescope was looking for someone to write for the series, my name came up because I had a history with the show. That’s really helpful when you’re about to take on a mythology built off eight years worth of television episodes.

Brigid: Who do you envision as the readers of this new comic? I would guess the original show had a mostly female audience, but this comic seems to be pitched to men. Is that your intention?

Raven Gregory: Not really. Zenescope has been truly lucky to have both a large male and female fan base already so we were definitely aiming for both groups versus focusing on one or the other. But if anything we really wanted to do right by fans of the show and tell a story that we ourselves would have liked to see had the show continued.

Paul: I would say we’re approaching the series in very much the same way the production and the network approached it. The stories we’ve been writing are hopefully accessible to all audiences.

Brigid: Are you reaching out to fans of the show in any way, or are you looking to bring in totally new readers?

Raven: We developed the comic with both sensibilities involved. Something for fans of the show and something that new readers can pick up and enjoy at the same time.

Paul: We would love to bring in new fans, but there is no way to do a licensed comic book without being true to the core fan base. What would be the point? We’ve packed a lot into the first arc that I think the fans will love, but we’ve tried to do it in a way that brings in new readers as well.

Brigid: Will the characters have evolved and changed since the end of the show, or are you going to keep them consistent?

Paul: Their lives have definitely moved forward, but they’re still very much the same characters we know and love.

Brigid: One of the things I find interesting about the show is that there are always three lead characters. What sort of tensions do you expect to set up between them?

Raven: We definitely have plans for addressing this up the road but for now we're really focusing on getting to know the girls again, seeing where their lives are, and what this new threat is that is coming to intrude into their lives.

Paul: As the series evolves we’ll be looking more at all aspects of their relationship, whether it be the tensions between sisters or the ways a family comes together in crisis.

Brigid: How long will this initial story arc last, and what sort of adventures can we expect to see?

Paul: This first arc is five issues long but my hope is that it will lead us into a much larger story. We’re bringing in a lot of familiar elements and growing the Charmed universe in some interesting ways. While this initial arc does focus on a major threat to the Charmed Ones, we haven't forgotten those smaller moments in each of the characters' lives that were at the heart of the series.

Brigid: Do you plan to allow the characters to continue to grow and change? Would you consider something as drastic as another death, or a new sister, for instance?

Raven: I think it's essential for the characters to continue to grow and change and develop as the story continues to move forward. But at the same time, you want to please the fans so it’s a thin line to walk and hopefully we pull it off.

Paul: But I can promise you that we have no plans to bring in a new sister. It’s hard enough to write for all the members of that family as it is. The long-range plan includes some big emotional stories for each of the sisters, but you have to be very careful of “drastic” changes. If the story doesn’t support that kind of thing it can come off as gimmicky.

Brigid: What are your marketing plans for SDCC and beyond?

Raven: We'll be hosting a CHARMED panel on Thursday at 3:30pm as well as debuting the first issue at the show where both me and Paul will be signing throughout the weekend.

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