1. The idea for Wytches came from stories Scott Snyder and his friends used to tell each other.
Scott Snyder: Wytches really came about because my parents, when I was growing up, had a house in pretty rural Pennsylvania — and we had a neighbor who had a kid that was my age and we used to go exploring in the woods across the road from our houses … and we'd put nails in bats and make up these stories about evil Satan worshippers that lived deep in the woods. Then every piece of garbage was evidence these people were real — I remembered me and my friends used to talk about a family of witches living in the woods. My parents kept the house, and I was back there with my kids about a year and a half ago. I was going for a run back along the road where the path into the woods lead … but they'd built a school there since I was a kid, and as I was looking back behind the school to see the path, this tree kind of leaned out from behind another tree and spooked me out — it looked like a person peeking out from behind another tree. I remember having this sort of overwhelmingly creepy feeling — not that there'd be a monster back there, but that there'd been a monster there waiting for me this whole time, since I was a kid. That idea really spooked me out, and I remember knowing there was some sort of a seed of a story there. And it sparked.
2. Snyder's favorite kind of horror deals with darker aspects of humanity, not monsters.
SS: What if witches, instead of being the kind of green-skinned, cauldron-stirring, broom-riding, pointed-hatted hags, were, instead, these kind of very elusive awesome offshoots of humanity that lived on flesh and lived deep, deep in the woods and who waited out there for people to come to them? So, they don't come to your house and break in and drag you out to the woods — what happens is they have this incredible knowledge of natural science, their own sort of ancient private science. So they can make these mixtures — cure all sorts of ailments modern medicine can't. They can make you forget things, add years to your life. They come after you if someone marks you, pledges you to them. Marks you with this scent only they can smell and the idea really is these witches are really scary because they're extensions of the worst parts of us. They only come after you if somebody else pledges you — and, in that way, I knew I had a kind of story there. It would allow for a deep personal horror that I love the most — where it's not just a story of people pit against a monster, but about a monster that's sort of reflective of the darkest and most nightmarish parts of human nature.
3. This first arc will be about how terrifying it is to be a parent.
SS: This arc of this series is really about how terrifying it is to be a parent. Where you want to protect your kids from all these things, and when they're very little you're protecting them from accidents and shielding them from the silly fears they have about monsters under the bed — but then they get older and you realize it's much harder to protect them when they go out to school and walk around and have friends, and the thing you have to be most afraid of is human cruelty. And the witches in the story reflect that kind of cruelty and selfishness.
4. Sailor (the main protagonist) came about because Snyder wanted to write a smart, brave kid.
SS: My oldest kid is 7 — so he's about half [Sailor's] age but, that said, you realize how even at 7 he's a little adult. He asked me the other day about the tooth fairy and said, "So the tooth fairy, like, comes in my window at night? Like home invasion?" And I was like, "Yeah, like home invasion — exactly." And you realize they're always older or smarter than you think they're gonna be at this age. So I wanted, at 13, to make Sailor be someone who is smarter than her years and as brave as anyone my age and to try and write her up — if that makes sense. I wasn't trying to write a child, I was trying to write somebody who is a young adult in terms of things they'd been through and their curiosity and bravery and their fears.
5. The book itself is about human cruelty.
SS: I wanted to start it where I did, with Sailor being bullied and the family moving to a town in New Hampshire where Sailor was badly bullied in the woods by a girl who disappears — I wanted to start it there because for me, it was where, the point where the family thinks they've gotten away from the thing that has been terrorizing their daughter and feel some shred of safety, and it's that kind of hope that maybe things will be better that makes things that much scarier — which speaks to what the heart of the book is: There is no protecting people from human cruelty. There is no protecting people from darker parts of human nature.
6. There are numerous references to other famous witches throughout the series.
SS: I'm just starting to read Harry Potter to my son, my 7-year-old. I'm on the third book. So I saved it to read with him, and it's real a joy — so yes, we try and make some nods to famous books and movies that have witches in them throughout the series.
7. We will eventually get an explaination about the opening scene in issue #1.
SS: It's definitely coming — I don't wanna give away where it's gonna fall — the first arc is six issues. You will find out about it towards the end — you'll definitely find out about it, I promise.
8. Snyder plans his stories one arc in advance.
SS: I like to plan one arc in advance of where I am. I can tell you the second arc is going to be more about the people that hunt witches than this arc is.
9. Snyder coined the term "dick brusher."
SS: I just made it up. It's funny because everyone keeps using that to me now. They're like #dickbrusher to me all the time but — no, I didn't have a pervy teacher like that or anything. It's mostly I was just sort of imagining that Sailor was enthralled with this class and I wanted someone to be like, "He's actually an asshole" — it just popped into my head.
10. It doesn't look like Sailor or her family will get any downtime in this story arc.
SS: At the very end, if she makes it out OK, I promise to give her a few pages' rest somewhere. I'll put her somewhere with no trees. If she makes it out, she'll be in Arizona — somewhere with no trees in sight.
11. Snyder's favorite witches come from Harry Potter and Rosemary's Baby.
SS: I'm reading Harry Potter for the very first time with my kid so I have to say, Hermione Granger makes a great example. You're like, "See, she gets A's in everything — she's the best witch." But there are a few that are close to my heart. I would have to say Minnie Castevet from Rosemary's Baby, the old neighbor and head witch — there's something deeply terrifying about the idea of old, evil people creeping through your apartment when you're not looking. So, she scared me very much as a kid. The first witch I remember encountering was Madam Mim from The Sword in the Stone. She had a battle with Merlin where they changed into different animals, and I remember being terrified of her when I was very little. There are a lot, though, from Wicked Witch of the West to real witches from folklore, like the Bell Witch from the South.
12. There may be a movie.
SS: Plan B optioned it from us. It's still very early, but they've been so wonderful to us and they've been so enthusiastic about it. It's awesome and means the world to us. They've just been terrific about keeping us part of the conversation, and their enthusiasm is hugely inspiring.