Exclusive: Ron Marz and Laura Braga Talk Witchblade #175

It's nearly 20 years now since Witchblade debuted in comic shops -- and while next year will see [...]

It's nearly 20 years now since Witchblade debuted in comic shops -- and while next year will see that anniversary and the year after that will bring us Witchblade #200, Ron Marz and Laura Braga brought us the oversized anniversary issue Witchblade #175 last week, with two stories from the regular creative team and another backup from winners of Top Cow's talent competition.

As ever, Marz and Braga joined ComicBook.com to discuss the issue, the title's future and...their common love for Japanese culture? Okay...

Bear in mind that these commentary-style interviews are spoiler-heavy. If you haven't read Witchblade #175 yet, buy it here and read along with us!

So, as Sara approaches her Witchblade sisters, is she aware that this is a dream? She seems to take it all very much in stride...

Ron Marz: No, Sara really isn't aware that this is a dream, initially. She's met with the "Witchblade parliament" previously, so this isn't unprecedented, though we've never truly established whether this kind of a meeting is "real" or more of a subconscious thing.

How important is a good colorist to a sequence like the one where she wakes up and we get the two nearly-identical shots of her face, before and after the bonfire?

Marz: A good colorist is important to every sequence, honestly. Modern comics depend so much on color, both for the overall look of the art and for storytelling purposes. I think Betsy and Laura have developed a great partnership through their first six issues together. I'm truly thankful to be working with both of them.

Laura Braga: A good coloring in a comic is very important. People often underestimate the importance of a good colorist, but the color is definitely a key part to the success of a comic book. The coloring can give intensity and atmosphere to the pages, as well as can also distort the same page. It is interesting to see how the same page in black and white can be interpreted differently by different colorists and how the same page may be perceived by the reader in a different way with the coloring. Ultimately, a good coloring is certainly as important as a good art, must go hand in hand.

Ron, you teased last month the idea of "Does the Witchblade want her back?" and that's certainly explored in the big action set piece in this issue. Would you say we're finished with that particular element, or is that something that might pop up again down the line?

Marz: Well, I think Sara and the Witchblade have come to some form of detente after the events of issue #175. But that doesn't mean that the underlining issues are completely resolved. This is still somewhat of an uneasy partnership, with both Sara and the Witchblade itself wanting to be in charge. There's a pretty fair chance that the dissension could flare up again.

"Petulant" is a good word for the way the Witchblade is acting and talking here. Do you see Sara as kind of asserting herself as a mother figure?

Marz: That's interesting, I hadn't really thought about it in those terms. I think most often I view the Sara/Witchblade relationship as something akin to lovers who aren't really made for each other, but end up together anyway. They're probably not good for each other, but they stay together anyway because neither can quit the other.

Braga: As Ron says, I also thought of a relationship between lovers. In particular, in page 13 I wanted to suggest a complicated feeling of love, and I tried to make it clear from the way Withcblade surrounds Sara to point the knife at her throat, or how Sarah looks up to Witchblade.

What made you guys decide to go with three stories rather than an oversized story?

Marz: Part of it was simply a practical consideration. After doing five issues in a row already, we were running neck and neck with the deadline. We were also looking for a place to run the Witchblade story set in feudal Japan.

That was actually the first Witchblade story that Laura did, even prior to issue #170. When I suggested Laura be the artist on Witchblade when I returned to the series, Top Cow asked me to come up with a short story as a tryout. I had really liked some of the feudal Japan-themed art on Laura's website, and that's obviously a period that interests me as a writer, considering Samurai: Heaven and Earth and Shinku.

Obviously everybody really loved what Laura did on that story, she got the job. I'm glad we were able to finally get the story in print. It's also not an accident that Shiori appears prominently in the lead story.

Laura, was it fun to have a little room to breathe during that action sequence between Sara and the Witchblade? 

Braga: It's been very interesting to me to draw the sequence between Sara and the Witchblade. I think that Ron's idea of giving a lot of movement and action in the first two pages of this sequence and then stop the same scene in a sort of dream was really brilliant.

As for the art I have tried to emphasize this feature of the story, the first two pages are therefore very full, the tendrils cover the entire page, while subsequent pages are dominated by a kind of vacuum, especially in the backgrounds.

Ron, if that initial 20 pages were the whole book, it's hard to imagine getting quite so much widescreen action because it might feel a little lean in terms of the story itself, but does having an oversized issue mean you can let that unfold organically without worrying?

Marz: Certainly the oversized issue helps in that respect. I went into the issue knowing that we needed to address the relationship between Sara and the Witchblade, and I made the decision to really focus on that almost exclusively, to the exclusion of most of the other characters and any subplots.

This issue was a chance to get at the heart of Witchblade as a series, which is the dynamic between Sara and the Witchblade.

You know, Shiori reminds me that there used to be this other great Image comic featuring a samurai warrior woman. Any plans to revisit Shinku anytime soon?

Marz: Absolutely! We ran into some deadline issues after issue #5, so we've pulled back in order to get the next batch of issues completely done before we look at releasing them.

Shinku #6 and #7 are complete, and will be working on #8 soon. Ideally, I'd like to get up through issue #10 in the can before we release anything more.

Ron, what made you decide to set the backup in another time entirely, with a different bearer? Is that an element of the Witchblade that you're looking to explore some more coming up?

Marz: For the backup story in particular, as I said, I wanted to play to Laura's strengths so she could showcase her art. But in general, I love to "past bearer" stories. I feel like one of the great strengths of Witchbalde as a concept is the cyclical or generational nature of it. I'm a history buff anyway, so I'm always happy to have an opportunity to write some stories set in the past.

Laura, was it challenging to come up with a look for everything that felt consistent with the look and feel of the existing title but incorporated the period costumes and such?

Braga: I drew the story of Shiori long before Witchblade # 170. Just before I had drawn some pages for a personal project, with the same setting, the feudal Japan. So for me it was not so difficult to work on pages with this setting.

Talking with Ron in the early months, we found a common interest in Japanese culture and it was really nice and rewarding for me to be able to draw those pages.