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Erman, Sterl & Contreras Dive Into Vault’s Bombastic World

With Vault Comics latest supernatural title Witchblood #1, co-creators Matthew Erman and Lisa Sterle have crafted a well-received world full of witches, vampires, and other familiar supernatural creatures but with a unique flair to them.

Witchblood follows Yonn, a witch, who is trying to live her life by any way she can. She quickly finds herself wrapped up in problems that she didn’t really ask to be a part of but that is the nature of supernatural beings. She quickly finds herself on the wrong end of a biker gang of vampires, The Hounds of Love, as they search for the remaining members of her coven, as they search for the blood of witches. CBR spoke with the book’s co-creators Matthew Erman and Lisa Sterle along with colorist Gab Contreras about how they created the world of Witchblood and its unique colors and style.

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CBR: How did the idea of Witchblood come about?

Matthew Erman: Witchblood is inspired by a lot of things, like everything — we just both really wanted to do something obviously fun and exciting after working on Long Lost together. We’re both pretty confident in our abilities to expand into other genres and this kind of action-adventure, fantasy supernatural thing we had been tinkering with, really came to fruition after putting the pieces together into Witchblood.

Truthfully, Lisa wanted to do something about witches and that had been in the back of our minds for a long time. We might have had the name before the vampire part of the book came into it, and it felt natural to include them after naming the comic Witchblood.

CBR: As co-creators, how did you work building the world together? What was the process like?

Erman: We share the creative weight of world-building. Both the script has a lot of details in it for Lisa, and the art in turn has lots of details and additions that aren’t in the scripts that come from those details. I’m trying to get smarter at the craft of comic writing, which is not just about “writing good” but also considering things about the actual creation of the comic and trying to be better in the technical aspect of writing a comic book.

Putting my creative partners and their interests first in the creation of this is really important and I want to make it so that Lisa and Gab have as much as creative freedom as possible to do what they want to be creatively fulfilling.

CBR: Witchblood has some vibrant punk vibes mixed with almost a southern cowboy twang to some of the characters. Was this something you were going for and if so why?

Lisa Sterle: Both Matthew and I, we were really in sync for what kinds of styles and fashions we wanted for this world. Like music for him, I really draw inspiration from fashion and mixing it and making it my own. Each character I went through so many designs and iterations until I found what we both really liked and cliqued on it.

In both Witchblood and Terminal Punks, music is something always apparent. What part does music play into your creative process and storytelling method?

Erman: Music is a very big muse for me, in many ways. Frequently more so than any other type of thing. It is important for me to include or acknowledge the inspirations because without them, this doesn’t exist.

Related: Things Get Bloody in Vault’s New Series BARBARIC

Yonna has some boisterous dialogue and a way about herself, how do you approach writing her voice? Is there anything that inspired the character’s voice?

Erman: I try to think how she thinks. That is the most important thing, and to be true to what those thoughts are and what they mean. Sometimes it means making a hard choice you wouldn’t make, or that you disagree with and letting the story be informed by that, rather than what I originally would have done.

Did you do any research on magic for Yonna’s unique brand of mysticism?

Erman: Magic isn’t real. So no, I didn’t do any research. I make up everything.

Yonna has such a bright style to her, when creating her, was there anything you kept in mind for her style and fashion choices?

Sterle: The biggest thing is I always wanted her to stand out on the page.

I have to ask about the lead vampire Pax Paxton, please tell me about his design choices especially the bolo tie and his fringe coat. How did you design these fashion-forward bloodsuckers?

Sterle: I wanted all them to have a distinct look and I wanted them to look more than just a punk biker gang. There are for sure punk inspirations like Samson’s leather get-up. For Paxton, I was leaning to this Easy Rider Cowboy sort of look. Monkberry was more militaristic, while Hunger Child was more about Fetish Fashion. Jupiter of Blood is just grunge. They’re all punk-ish, with their own distinct vibe.

Related: The Plot Creative Team Dig Up the Secrets of the Vault Comics Series Finale

For the color palette of the book, was there collaboration on that for what aesthetic you were both striving for?

Sterle: Yeah, we had a very clear vision of this bright, southwest, neon atomic color palette. Gab had done work that really spoke to the highly saturated look that we were looking for and then brought that vibe to Witchblood, taking our initial idea and expanding and making it so much more.

Something that stood out in Issue #1 was the coloring of blood and the more violent scenes. They were still extremely impactful but never lost the aesthetics of the book. How did you balance the nature of blood with the color pallet you are using for the book?

Gab Contreras: I think the red color I chose — and red color in general — works beautifully on night scenes. That color helps to give attention to certain objects at the right moments, such as the last scene of Issue #1. That is a really powerful page and the colors needed to be just right.

Witchblood Issue #2 will be available on April 28th from Vault Comics.

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