Editor Rachel Gluckstern talks THE COVEN with Rex Ogle and Ted Naifeh
The best thing about the co-features that's we've been doing is that we get to give characters and creators a chance to shine that schedules and availability might otherwise prevent. As the excellent Ravager feature in Teen Titans started to wind down, the need to find a new one with an entirely new voice arose. Fortunately, my esteemed colleague Rex Ogle had one in development, and it was an instant get. Take three magical teens of the DC Universe and throw them against each other, add demonic meddling and conflicting motivations, and you have a recipe for a story that is both high adventure and deep personal struggles. All we needed was an artist, and I knew just the one. Ted Naifeh (COURTNEY CRUMRIN, DEATH JR.) and I have been taking for a while now about doing a project together, and it was my pleasure to bring him aboard for something that so clearly played to all of his strengths.
But enough of my yapping. Let's see what the talented team of Ogle and Naifeh have to say!
Rachel Gluckstern: Rex, what was your inspiration for Coven? And why did you pick these characters in particular to work with?
Rex Ogle: Inspiration came easy with Coven. I’ve always been drawn to stories of fantasy and magic. Magic touches on the most important, and darkest, things underlying our world. Plus, I love DCU’s heroes and villains in all their forms, but what I noticed missing was a group of darker teenagers. The JSA kids and the Teen Titans always have this happy, positive outlook‹and of course they do, they have each other! But what about kids who have these amazing powers, and have to deal with their hardships alone?
As for Coven’s cast, I love Traci 13 and Black Alice. Each is so intensely unique and powerful, and hello, witches! Both ladies and Zach Zatara have all this potential for great stories, but they’ve taken a backseat because I think it’s hard to write about magic. You want to say, “Aww, man, look, she’s a witch, so she can do anything,” but what I want to do is teach these kids about what it means to play with the fabric of the universe. When it comes to magic, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
RG: Ted, what attracted you to the project?
Ted Naifeh: I've always had an interest in the occult side of the superhero world, ever since I started reading Swamp Thing back in the eighties. Gosh, that's ancient history now. But it opened a world of pulpy dark magic that I wanted to see more of.
The other thing I like about these characters is that they're not costumed heroes in the traditional sense. I find that costumes can sometimes be a drag. To start with, what girl would wear the same exact look day in day out for years on end? That's what I love about Black Alice. Her look changes from scene to scene. Endless possibilities. Zach wears a tux, and Traci just wears street clothes. In short, they wear outfits rather than costumes, which offer more variety.
RG: What do you hope the readers take away from it?
TN: I'm always drawn to stories that speak to the isolation of adolescence. As Rex commented, the Titans have each other. These characters are utterly alone, a feeling I suspect comics readers can relate to. The Titans shows us where we want to be. I think The Coven speaks more to where we are. I hope readers can take away the understanding that they're not alone in being alone. For what it's worth.
RG: And Rex, how about you? What do you hope readers take away from the Coven?
RO: First and foremost, I want them to enjoy the story. The best way to do that is to touch on something all of us understand: the unfairness of life. We’ve all had those moments where we feel alone and wish we could change something in our lives. But what I want Traci and Alice and Zach to realize, and maybe our readers, is that the universe deals us a hand, and we have to play it. Wishing things were different never helped anybody. Even witches apparently.
The Coven starts running in Teen Titans #83, and it's going to be an excellent read. Be there!