Underneath the Juniper Tree is back, and just in time for Halloween! The Fall 2013 Issue is Halloween themed, from the cover by comics master John Rozum (DC Vertigo, Milestone, Marvel) to all the spooky stories and creepy art inside.
My story in the issue is “The Ghost of Grammy Goneril” with awesome art by Rabble Boy Ken Lamug (see above). The story? Well, it’s All Hallow’s Eve and Mab Ipswich is grounded and alone at home. Then her dead grandmother comes visiting from the afterlife and things get weird…
It’s the newest (and best, in my opinion) Mab Ipswich story. It’s also the first Mab story written from Mab’s point of view, and in the first person perspective (also, the first story to reveal Mab’s middle name and ethnicity)!
I’ve actually been trying to write from Mab’s POV for a while now, but struggled to find her voice. Mab is… different. She’s 11, a girl, a witch, socially awkward, and kind of evil… which are the qualities that make her a fun character to write from other perspectives (her friend, her teacher, her classmate, the school bully) but make it hard to get her voice right. I tried, but could never sustain it beyond a few lines of dialogue.
I was thinking about what kind of Halloween story I wanted to set in Mab’s world for this issue of Juniper Tree, and decided to do something inspired by the Japanese Obon holiday and the Mexican Day of the Dead (in which the spirits of the dead are welcomed home and honored). I had a vague idea of the witches having a holiday where their dead ancestors physically return, but couldn’t quite find a through line for the story. And, as always, I struggled to find Mab’s voice.
Then one night I woke up to pee at 3:00 AM and this line popped into my head: “Dead grandparents give the worst candy.” And then I had it. I had Mab’s voice: sardonic, sharp, unsentimental. The story flowed out from there, a flood of words my fingers could barely get down on paper fast enough. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed writing a story this much, and I’m looking forward to getting back in Mab’s head (or is she getting in mine?) soon.
You can read the story here: http://issuu.com/underneaththejunipertree/docs/october_2013/56
Ken Lamug also has a blog post about how the illustration for the story came together. You can read that here: http://www.rabbleboy.com/digital-painting-for-mab-and-free-source/
Enjoy, and happy Halloween!