Open Soapbox: Witches and Webcomics

There was a comic I used to read in the early 1970s called Werewolf by Night. Next to Batman it was one of my favorites. Werewolf by Night, first issued in 1972 by Marvel Comics, told the tragic story of Jack Russell, whom was plagued by a family curse and doomed to transform into a werewolf with each full moon. One of his later love interests was a beautiful blonde named Topaz. The twenty-something Topaz was psychic, could perform spells and could even tame the werewolf with her mind, but I don’t recall if she was supposed to be a witch in the comic. "Gifted" was the term I remember, however in 2001 the still twenty-something Topaz was teamed with two other "gifted" Marvel girls, (Jennifer Kale and Satana), in a book called Witches. They were more or less the good guys in that comic.

I’ll admit that Werewolf by Night had a healthy influence on my own webcomic, Clan of the Cats, but Chelsea Chattan didn’t hide in the broom closet like Topaz. Chelsea is a witch and proud of it. It may just be a sign of the times, but witches seem to be everywhere in webcomics.

Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan by Reinder Dijkhuis offers Kel and other assorted practitioners of the craft. Set around the year 1000 in the Kingdom of Clwyd-Rhan, ROCR has an old world feel about it that makes Kel a most "traditional" looking witch. Sitting on the other end of this magickal spectrum is Glych’s No Stereotypes, which has Atom as its main magick user, an atypical witch in an atypical comic. Set in modern times, No Stereotypes lives up to its name well by mixing modern city life and fantasy to bring a less recognizable, yet more realistic modern day witch to its readers. Tasha’s World by Rhea Halter also strives to portray the modern "everyday" witch, while PDI by Scott Maddix uses both fantasy and anthropomorphism to garner a very fantastical, magickal comic. Witches abound in other webcomics as supporting characters too. Sluggy Freelance has its Gwynn and even the late, great Cool Cat Studio has its Liz. Of course, more common is using occultism or paganism as a theme to direct a webcomic. Possibly one of the best comics to use paganism as a theme is Oh My Gods by Shivian Montar Balaris. A cross between an editorial and one-liner comic, Oh My Gods simply has fun with all religions. It also uses the template format better than most, in my opinion, but that’s another soapbox.

I could go on listing comics with witchcraft or pagan themes – hell, there used to be a list of them called "KeenCoven" – but a list is simply that, a list.

Instead, I want to ask a question. Are there any REAL witches in webcomics? While witches have come a tremendously long way in webcomics and comics in general, they are still a far cry from the real thing. Most webcomic witches are strong, sexy women with strange powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Some can not only bend steel in their bare hands, but can actually conjure it out of thin air. Most of them are women and quite a lot of them are bi- or even gay. Hmmm? Could it be these digital witches represent something more than magick? Could they be a way to empower that which is different and nonconformist, a way to fight back at normal society? Hell, isn’t that what all webcartoonists do?

Seriously, the witch in webcomics seems to bring a dark hero that is neither entirely good nor entirely evil to the front. They represent people just as they are, warts and all. Well, maybe I’m overanalyzing all this. Maybe it’s just a bunch of people who like to draw sexy women. Of course to see the real witches, go to The Witches Voice.

Oh, and here’s that list anyway, which is by no means complete: