Interview: Tom Scioli Talks WITCHMAN

If you follow cartoonist Tom Scioli on his various social media, then you know the man has what seems like a limitless ability to create clever and cool concepts. One of them, WITCHMAN, is now going to be the focus of Scioli’s next comic and his first-ever Kickstarter campaign, which goes live on October 13, 2023; yeah that’s Friday the 13th! The ever-busy artist to some time to talk with us and cast a spell all about Witchman.

Monkeys Fighting Robots: Tom, why don’t you start by giving us the origin of WITCHMAN as a character? What’s the elevator pitch?
Tom Scioli: A superhero who dresses up as a witch and uses magic to fight the forces of evil.
MFR: Are there any specific comics, books or movies that inspired Witchman?
TS: It came out of a lot of time reading and thinking about Golden Age comics in the research for Jack Kirby: The Epic Life and I Am Stan. I wanted to make a dark avenger character like Batman and The Shadow. I was even thinking about Spider-Man, the Hulk and Spawn. I was thinking about how the superheroes who really capture the imagination aren’t cut from the Superman mold, it’s the ones that have a little bit of a fright element to them. Even Spider-Man, who as Peter Parker is the ultimate everyman yet the theme and visual presentation of Spider-Man is classic Halloween imagery.
MFR: How much of the world have you thought up? Like history, rogues gallery, ensemble cast; things like that. 
TS: I’ve been working on it for a while so there’s a lot to draw from. I’ve got all that stuff, but I’m still refining it every day.
MFR: This is your first-ever Kickstarter campaign. What made you choose Witchman as your first crowd-funded book?
TS: The timing was right. I wanted to launch one in October, and Witchman was a perfect fit.
MFR:  Was Kickstarter always the method, or did you think about other ways to publish as well?
TS: My first choice is always to have somebody else publish it. I love superheroes. When I was a kid it was so exciting to learn about a new superhero you never heard of before. It’s what I got into this medium for. At the time it was the one place you could tell superhero stories on a regular basis. I want to do original superhero comics but the traditional marketplace isn’t looking for that. I’ve been able to find a home for my non-fiction graphic novels because that’s what publishers are looking for, but nobody’s looking for new superheroes, particularly Golden Age-style heroes. If you want to do that, you have to self-publish. The beauty of the time we live in is that with crowdfunding it’s possible to create exactly the kind of thing you want, even if the industry has moved on from that paradigm a century ago.
MFR: What are your thoughts on crowdfunding in general as a method of comics publishing?

TS: I’m all for it. I’ve seen a lot of great projects come into being as a result that would’ve had a near-impossible uphill climb 15 years ago.

Witchman by Tom Scioli
MFR:  Witchman is one of a number of concepts you have played around with on your Patreon and on social media. What made Witchman the one you wanted to pursue as an actual series?
TS: The people spoke. It seemed to get a really strong response out of the gate when I’d post images and pages on my Patreon and on social media. I think it has a high chance of success, because of the superhero aspects of it. It’s my first Kickstarter campaign, so I want to stack the deck in my favor and choose something that even though it’s a little out there, still has a high chance of being successful. Also, even though I’ve done a lot of work on Witchman, it’s still not quite finished. I like the idea of using crowdfunding as a way of helping me bring an in-process project to creative completion, rather than just bringing something I’ve already finished into print.
MFR: Are you approaching Witchman differently than other projects creatively? 
TS: The Kickstarter campaign is part of the creative process. It’s giving me a framework and a set of incentives to complete it. It’s kind of similar to the way I worked on Transformers vs G.I. Joe or Go-Bots. I daydream and doodle and write and draw and revise until it’s time to turn in the finished work.
MFR: What’s the specific process for creating Witchman stories?
TS: I’ve been writing and drawing and putting the pieces together. There’s a soft-focus version of the story that’s slowly coming into focus. I’m a relentless editor. I’m willing to keep working and changing things up to the last moment. The best idea, and the best sequence wins. I draw the initial first draft very fast and then redraw and refine it until I’m happy with it.
MFR: Are their big, long-term plans for Witchman or is this a one-shot?
TS: It’s a one-shot for now. I want to tell a complete story. But I would love to do more with it. I think the character and the world of Witchman has legs, but one taking it one step at a time.
MFR: Any final words on Witchman or anything else you want to mention?
TS: I just want to thank everybody for their kind words and encouragement for this particular project. It’s made all the difference.
Manuel Gomez
Manuel Gomez
Assistant Comic Book Editor. Manny has been obsessed with comics since childhood. He reads some kind of comic every single day. He especially loves self-published books and dollar bin finds. 'Nuff said!