In the continuation of Brooklyn Witches, Brooklyn Witches: What the Hex ?! through Sophie Escabasse, Carlota, Effie and Selimene return for more magical adventures in the weird and fanciful realm known as Brooklyn! Both graphic novels are available now from RH Graphic, and with the spooky season quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to dive into this wonderfully wizarding world!
To learn more about the world of Brooklyn Witches, The Beat met Escabasse by email and asked him about building a wizarding world, the complications that arise when you write about a place you have lived in and no longer live, and find out what is going to be a witch!
AVERY KAPLAN: After reading just a few pages of What is the Hex?, readers will find that you are taking the basics laid by the first book and expanding them exponentially! How did you go about building the world of Brooklyn Witches?
SOPHIE ESCABASSE: To me, it’s a bit like when your favorite cousins, or a very close friend, introduce their friends to you. You love your cousin, so there’s a good chance you love his friends and his favorite restaurants. There is the excitement of discovering something new, knowing that you would probably really like it.
I’ve been hanging out with Selimene, Carlota and Effie for quite a while and it’s natural and easy that their world has expanded. There are directions in which I would like to steer the boat, but above all I follow them.
KAPLAN: In addition to revisiting our favorite characters from the first book, we meet a new set of exciting characters in the second book. Was there a particular character that was particularly important for you to introduce in this book?
ESCABASSE: I love Aunt Ma, this is the ultimate original. She, like legendary witches, was tempted by the idea of ââtaking a tree as a form of retreat but couldn’t imagine being lost in the woods. Instead, she opted for a bonsai. You must respect a Bonsai witch.
I also have a weakness for Garance. She’s strong-willed and fun to be around, and she doesn’t let Effie impress her in any way. The two girls together make a great pair that I hope to take on many more adventures.
KAPLAN: On the copyright page, you reveal that you used blue pencils for the initial sketches of the first book and red pencils for the first sketches of the second book. Can you reveal the colored pencils that you will be using for the initial sketch of the third volume?
ESCABASSE: I went back to blue for the third volume. I realized that this was the color I was most comfortable with drawing. I find it more peaceful to look at blue than red.
KAPLAN: The setting is obviously important for Brooklyn Witches, and book two gives the characters a better chance to explore the world outside of Selimene and Carlota’s house. What was it like telling a story about Brooklyn? Is it more or less difficult to write about a place when you live there, or after having moved?
ESCABASSE: I can only speak for myself, but I found it easy to come up with ideas and develop stories that took place where I lived. I would not have had the idea of ââthe plot for What is Hex if I didn’t pass by that corner of Park Slope at least once a week. Same for Ditmas Park, the neighborhood where the Witches live is the neighborhood where I lived. I like the spontaneity and the ease of drawing my neighborhood.
That said, there are also benefits to telling a story in a place where you don’t live, as it forces you to research, discover things that you probably wouldn’t have if you lived two blocks away. . We tend to lose our curiosity after living in the same place for a while.
Because I’m no longer a Brooklynite, maybe I’ll get more adventurous and take the witches further, who knows, maybe we’ll venture into Manhattan!
KAPLAN: The first and second books of Brooklyn Witches Point out that many of the stereotypical assumptions about witches are incorrect! What defines a witch? How do they relate to their communities?
ESCABASSE: This is an excellent question. I would say everyone probably has their own idea of ââwhat a witch is or could be, depending on what they read on the subject or what anime they watched as a kid, things like that. â¦ In my case, it is true that I tend to move away from the caricature of the obligatory old woman, ugly, with warts, all dressed in black, wicked witch.
There is no physical requirement to be a witch. A witch is a strong, independent, generous and imaginative soul. Great connoisseurs of human nature as well as Mother Nature. In my opinion, a witch’s magic is an ancestral thing that runs down the lineage, but sometimes some people with powers can be born into a family that never had one. In this case, there is a good chance that their power will be dormant all their life, although surprises do occur.
There is no hippocratic oath in the case of the witch but naturally most witches tend to get involved in their communities and help others (you would be surprised how many witches are involved in Doctors Without Borders). and other similar organizations for example). I’m not saying a witch can’t be bad, it happens sometimes, and it’s a terrible thing to see. In those rare cases, the situation has to be handled by other witches, obviously.
Having a black cat or a familiar isn’t a requirement either, although it’s true that most witches often end up living with certain creatures. Life is funny like that.
KAPLAN: In What is the Hex?, one of the topics covered is the prevalence of the witchy aesthetic on social networks! Can you tell us why you chose to include this delicious detail? Who can become a witch – only certain people or anyone?
ESCABASSE: I thought it was fun to imagine a group of serious and hardworking witches acting for the good of their communities, finding that witchcraft was now a growing trend. That there were podcasts, snacks, private lessons and dinners on the subject. How would they react?
Having said that, I believe that the status of witch is for anyone who would identify with it. I think words have power, and there are days when I need the extra push of calling myself a witch, so I certainly won’t deny that to anyone.
KAPLAN: Acknowledgments include this line: âYour work with raccoons made this book possible. May I ask if this is a literal statement?
ESCABASSE: Totally literal, although the raccoon represents children;)
The two Brooklyn Witches and Brooklyn Witches: What the Hex ?! are available at your local bookstore or public library.