The Westwood Witches #2
Written by El Torres
Illustrated by Abel García
Lettered by Malaka Studio
Release Date: June 26, 2013
Cover Price: $3.99
I’m sure that I’m not alone in the opinion that indie comics usually fall at one of the extreme ends of the quality spectrum. Sometimes a writer or an artist seems to come out of the ether with a jaw-dropping creation while others tend to feel like sophomoric attempts at best. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I picked up The Westwood Witches #2 by El Torres (The Suicide Forest from IDW) and Abel García from Amigo Comics. I feared the worst, honestly thinking that much would be lost on an American audience, but I held out the hope that this Spanish team would give the 4-issue horror series the same careful attention that has been shown in the horror film industry in Spain in recent years.
They completely blew me away.
The first issue establishes the story’s main character, Jack Kurtzberg, as the very successful author of Walpurgis Passion—a novel of witchcraft and romance that has millions of teen girls buzzing. Jack feels increasing pressure from his gold-digging wife and clingy agent to deliver a sequel to the book before the film rights can be sold and they can all rest comfortably on Jack’s paycheck from the deal. It should be an easy task, but a serious case of writer’s block brought on by the sudden death of his brother brings the sequel’s process to a complete stop.
Jack decides that a change of scenery is what he needs to revive his writing. He leaves Los Angeles and moves with his wife back to his East Coast hometown of Westwood. Before he’s even settled into his new house, he meets a group of suburbanite neighbors that bear an uncanny resemblance to the characters in his novel. Thrilled that they have a “famous author” in their midst, the neighborhood clique’s leader invites Jack to be the next guest speaker at their upcoming meeting.
The first issue concludes with Jack agreeing to a book club dinner date. That’s when things start to get really weird…
The Westwood Witches #2 thrusts the reader immediately into the surreal world of this suburban witches’ coven, complete with their catty bickering and (literal) backstabbing tendencies. This is when both Torres and García really begin to shine. Torres is more than generous with the three things that shape powerful modern horror—sex, violence, and gore—while García compliments this character-driven story with truly haunting images.
It’s clear that Abel García pays homage in this series to Francisco Goya (best known for his paintings “The Witches’ Sabbath” and “Witches in Flight”) by recreating several of the artist’s classic works in his own style. Instead of coming across as an imitation, the odd familiarity of these images adds to the growing feeling of unease the creators have established in the reader’s mind.
García’s illustrations are incredibly kinetic (there’s not a single flat background to be found) and he captures the lines of the female form in a tasteful way—a talent he gets to show off to the fullest thanks to the ample nudity in this issue. Most impressive, though, are his depictions of the scenes in which magic is invoked. I’ve never encountered any other artist in the horror genre who uses white and light-colored ink splatter as powerfully as García.
El Torres leads readers on a story path that’s so precariously balanced on the line between fantasy and reality that you can’t help but feel that there’s much more to be revealed about Westwood in issues three and four. With our protagonist Jack finding himself in an even more peculiar situation at the conclusion of The Westwood Witches #2 than he did in the series launch, I’ll be eagerly awaiting those future installments!