Read our awesome interview with Paul Ruditis.
A big thank you to Paul for accepting our questions this time too. Also another big thanks to Glenn Van Pestel for helping me choose/polish/mix the questions. Huge thanks to you too for submitting your questions and especially those that got picked P3nathan, JoshingAbout, Josh, StoryGirl83, power of three, Megawhatz123, Texan, Prudence, CharmedThree, L-L & ZmaXcharmvill3.
1. Starting a ‘’new season’’ of Charmed, you probably had a few possible storylines you wanted to tell. What prompted you to tell the storyline of the first witch?
It was the idea that came through the strongest. We wanted an antagonist that we’d never seen before on Charmed. We also wanted to create a storyline that gave us the opportunity to bring in the show’s history while allowing us to move forward into something new and different. It was also important to come out of the gate strong with a big story since it’s kind of hard to plan too far ahead on a monthly comic book. If I’d been told from the start that we were guaranteed to have eighteen issues—or twenty-four issues or however many issues—the story of Neena might have played out differently, but I like how we used her.
2. How do you feel, now that the first big story arc is finished?
Fine, thank you.
Oh, I guess you probably want more of a response. Okay.
As with any project, it’s a combination of emotions. I’m proud of the stories we told, regret some of the decisions we made, and look forward to where it will take us in the future. That’s true of anything I’ve written. The pride and regrets change everyday depending on how I feel at that moment. I’m glad that this project has given me such great insight into a style of writing that I’d never tried before, so that’s been particularly enjoyable.
3. How did you come up with the explanation Grams and Patty gave the girls of Prue’s absence in “Charmed Offensive”? Was it something you had thought of as a fan before starting the comic series?
Since everyone has been expecting Prue to return from the moment the comic book was announced I felt like I needed an explanation for Prue’s absence up to that point in case Issue 12 turned out to be the last issue. Also, there were logistical problems along the way with regards to the character that made it necessary to have an out with regards to Prue.
I never really thought about what was going on with Prue until I was working on the comic though. I tend to be a more passive television viewer. I know the Charmed community is very active online, theorizing and creating fan fiction. That’s a great thing for fandom, but it’s not where my interests lie. When I was writing the Charmed novels we used the series as a guide. Since they had moved on from the character we did as well so I honestly didn’t give her much thought beyond her being dead. That all changed, of course, when Zenescope hired me. There really wasn’t a way to relaunch Charmed without considering how to approach or not approach her character now that we didn’t have the constraints of an ongoing television series to contend with.
4. Which character did you find the most interesting to write about? What made this character’s storyline more appealing than the others?
I was surprised to find that Paige was the one that most interested me from a writing standpoint. I feel like her marriage to a mortal has the most new material to mine. We’ve seen many stories of the Charmed Ones trying to have relationships with non-magical humans, but none of them were long-term situations where they tried to build a family together. It’s not really the same with Piper and Leo since Leo has been part of the magical community for such a long time. None of this is new to him. Henry might have accepted who Paige is and who his daughters will be, but that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be easy for him to live with. Since Charmed has always been first and foremost about family, I think their relationship provides the most interesting drama in that respect.
I should also note that when I use the word “mortal” I’m just using it as a catch-all term for a non-magical person. I’m not suggesting that Paige is “immortal” for instance.
5. Neena has become a popular big bad amongst the Charmed-fans. What was your inspiration for the character? Did you initially have another storyline plotted out for her?
Thanks. It’s nice to know she’s been well received.
Neena actually started out as a minor character when I pitched my idea for the first arc. Once I was hired and started working with Raven on what the actual story would be it was obvious that we needed a “big bad” to carry beyond the first issues. I really wanted The Charmed Ones to have a female antagonist because they rarely had that in the series on a long-term basis except for The Seer. And she was usually working for someone else. Christy and Billie were more like pawns than actual “villains.”
Once I knew I wanted a female in that role, Neena fit the bill and we built her story from there. Mind you, all this discussion happened as we were working on issue 1, so it wasn’t like suddenly halfway through the first arc I had a brainstorm and said, “Wait! Wait! Why don’t we do this?” Raven and I went through a few different ideas for Neena, as you do when you’re coming up with a storyline. Many things were thrown out along the way, but I was pretty set on her being who she became from the start.
6. Neena’s mate was kept anonymous and hidden in a shadow; will it ever be revealed who this character is? Does he have a name?
Probably not. As a character his sole impact on the story was his relationship to Neena. Who he is beyond that was unimportant to the story, which is why I didn’t name him. Like Neena, he has many names (although not as many as her) so to randomly insert a name into the story and explain that it was just one of many names would have been unnecessary.
7. Would you call Neena a good witch or an evil witch? In a way she resembles Gideon, who had good intentions, but wrong actions.
I’m not really a fan of defining “good” and “evil” when it comes to witches. This is something that I think I differ from the TV series writers on, although the show was kind of vague on the whole good witch versus bad witch versus warlock thing. I prefer to think of witches as good beings that can do evil things. Does that make them “Evil Witches?” I don’t know. It’s not like anyone is handing out jerseys and assigning teams: “Oh, you’re a Good Witch. You get a blue jersey and are on defense.” “You’re an Evil Witch? Well, here’s a red jersey and go play offense.”
Just like we’ve seen that Warlocks can be good or evil, I think witches can as well. As for Neena, I would find it hard to consider a person that arranged for the deaths of Innocents, Whitelighters, and Elders to be considered a good person, no matter what her motivation. Then again, I haven’t experienced the kind of nearly immortal life she’s lived, so who am I to judge?
8. Can you tell us some more about the blue and red orb that Neena needed to combine the Upper Regions and the Underworld?
The Sphaera of Light and Dark are orbs containing magic related to the sides of light and dark (or good and evil if you prefer) that when combined together through a spell provided the power Neena required for merging the Upper Regions and the Underworld. Think of them as batteries that gave her spell a serious jolt with both positive and negative power.
9. Neena’s ethnicity has come into question. She started out as a brown woman with curled hair, to a white woman with sleek hair. Did you have anything to do with these changes? Or is it solely something that the colorists did?
She was described in the script for Issue 1 as being olive-skinned with long, curly hair. I would say that her skin tone in that issue was a bit darker than I’d imagined when writing it though. The change as the series went on with different artists and colorists was not intentional so much as a failure of continuity between the different people working on the issues. Some of the later artists/colorist were given that “olive-skinned, long, curly hair” directive while other times they based their work on the issue prior to theirs (or a combination of the two). I’ll take responsibility for that as the bulk of the artists were working under my direction as co-editor in the second arc. As for any changes between issues done by the same artists or colorists you’d have to ask them.
10. Rennek is a very interesting character, because he revealed to us a piece of Leo’s history that we didn’t know until now. Did he survive the battle from issue #12? If he did, will we see more of him in later issues?
Oh, I’d say it’s safe to assume that if a notable character literally disappears without explanation there’s a good chance we’ll see that character again.
11. In Morality Bites Back, Phoebe told Elise that she is a witch. Did she do this only to uncover Cal, or do you have future plans for Elise?
Elise is a prominent character in Charmed and an important friend to Phoebe, so I felt it was time she knew the truth. Whether or not that has an impact on their friendship or any future storylines is just something you’ll have to wait and see.
12. How do you come up with the new spells? Is it hard and do you enjoy creating the rhymes?
I kind of hate that part the most, actually. Spells just slow down the storytelling. You’ve got all this exciting potential for action and then your main characters have to stop, hold hands and recite a short speech. That’s something I hope to do a bit less as the series continues on, but the spells have always been an important part of Charmed so I don’t envision them disappearing completely since that wouldn’t be true to the world we all love.
13. What made you decide that Henry Jr. would be the adoptive son of Paige and Henry instead of their biological son?
The decision on who Henry and the twins would be was one of the toughest choices I’ve made for the series. The three of them really look to be about the same age in the brief flash forward at the end of the TV series. They also look very much alike, but I decided to chalk that up to coincidence in the interest of the story I wanted to tell. The decision to have Henry be adopted was because I wanted a character that, like Henry Sr., was not part of the magical history of the show. All the other major characters are either part of the Warren line or, in Leo and Coop’s case, magical beings that have existed for a long time. (Side note: How much do I hate that there was a throwaway line of dialogue in the TV series that indicated that Coop has lived for over 200 years? So freaking annoying.)
Anyway, as I indicated earlier, I quickly discovered that Paige and Henry’s relationship was one of the things I found the most interesting to explore for the reason that he’s mortal. I felt that giving them a child that was not biologically theirs would open up their story as the children age and Henry Sr. figures out his own place in the magical family. It also plays into the bond that both Paige and Henry share in that they were adopted and raised in foster care. I liked the parallel in that.
14. In the last two issues, we saw Paige moving on and return back to life. Can you explain a little more about this process, give us some more details?
Her soul separated from her body through magical means. She went into “the light” and she “moved on” or went into “the Beyond” or whatever euphemism you prefer. Her soul returned to her body through magical means. I thought it was pretty straightforward, but I’m guessing by this question it’s not. Unfortunately, I don’t know how better to explain it. Maybe if you consider it like a kind of forced astral projection? She wasn’t dead, but her spirit and body were no longer bound together.
15. What happened to Leo? Is he a Whitelighter again, or maybe some other type of angelic being? The sword and wings do resemble the archangel Michael.
You’re kidding, right? You don’t really expect me to answer that question outside of the story? I thought you knew me better than that.
16. Since the Angels of Destiny have erased future callings from the children is Wyatt no longer twice blessed or the Wielder of Excalibur? What about Melinda's whitelighter powers? Were they taken back?
Let’s start with Melinda because that’s the easier answer. I don’t believe that the Angels would have removed her active power as it’s now a part of her much like an arm or a leg. To remove an active power is like removing a body part in my opinion.
As for the other part of the question, the Angels of Destiny erased their callings so they would be safe from evil beings coming after them. Who they become is yet to be written. I mean that figurative and literally. It hasn’t been written yet. They can become anything. Only the Angels of Destiny can know for sure.
On a related subject, I get a lot of questions about the children and I do understand the fascination with them, but Charmed is the story of The Charmed Ones. While their children certainly play an integral part in their lives, they are not the focus—nor will their powers be the focus—of the comic book unless it impacts the story of their parents like how finding out about Melinda in Issue 7 told us more about Piper and especially Leo. That’s not to say their powers won’t be part of the stories. The kids will definitely come into play, but I’m not creating stories for the sole purpose of showcasing their powers.
Also, remember that we are talking about infants in most cases. There’s not much of a reason to focus on what they can and cannot do in the comic books. For example, several people at comic con and online have asked me if I was going to have P.J. inherit her mother’s power of premonition. It’s an understandable desire, I admit, but the last time we saw P.J, in the comic book, she was about six months old. While there are certainly visual ways we can show a six month old having a premonition, I don’t see a lot of story potential in that. Is she going to crawl out into the street to stop someone from being run over by a car? How does Phoebe know that her infant is having premonitions and then what does she do about it? I’m not saying that there’s no story in this development, but I don’t see a very interesting one yet with her being less than a year old.
Could P.J. develop premonitions? Maybe. Is the power she’s already revealed her active witch power or is it actually a Cupid power that doesn’t require a ring? Who knows? Will Wyatt wield Excalibur again? Will the Power of Three transfer to any of the children? For the Power of Three to transfer to anyone doesn’t that mean The Charmed Ones have to die first? Finding these things out is what makes for an interesting story. Just telling you this information—while I realize it would be useful for those of you interested in updating the Charmed wiki—does not make for compelling storytelling in my opinion. I’d rather hope that the Charmed comics go on long enough that we can tell as many of the stories of the Charmed Ones and their families as possible.
17. We only saw three Angels of Destiny, are there more? Or are it just these three angels?
Who can say for sure? Someday that might be answered in the comic. Someday it might not. We shall see.
18. There have been six artists on the first 2 story arcs, seven if you include the bonus story in volume 1. Each of the artists brings something unique to the drawing board. What are some of your favorite things unique to one artist or another?
What a great question. We’ve had some really wonderful artists working on the comic that have each brought something special to the line.
Dean Kotz is amazing with action scenes. I couldn’t even imagine Issue 12 without him. He manages to fit so much imagery into the action panels and really brings the pages to life. We always talk about how we can do bigger things in the comic book since we’re not constrained by a TV show budget and his artwork really exemplifies that. I also love the new characters that he’s created for us that you haven’t met yet. Each one is distinctive, which is something that I don’t feel like we achieved in the earliest issues of the comic where some new characters tended to look generic. I don’t always get very descriptive in the script with the “guest” characters. I prefer to let the artists create them based on their vision and Dean has really impressed me with the personalities he’s created. He’s also incredibly fast, which has been a massive help in meeting the tight deadlines of the comic book series. Now that we’ve got a teeny bit more breathing room in the schedule for the new arc, I’ve really enjoyed seeing what he can do with our more familiar characters and make them grow.
Reno Maniquis does spectacular likenesses, but the thing I love most about his likeness work isn’t just that he captures the lines of the characters’ faces, it’s the way that he fills them with life and emotion. He’s got two particular drawings of Piper in Issue 13 (P.5, Panels 4&5) where her expression and her pose completely embody the character we all know and love. It’s like he managed to get the essence of Holly Marie Combs directly into the page. This is especially impressive considering that being a comic book artist isn’t even his primary occupation. He’s also graphic designer, so I was glad that Zenescope was able to give him more time to work on Issue 13 than he had with Issue 10 so that he could really go to town on it without it cutting too much into his other job.
I can’t wait for you all to see Issue 13. It’s such a fun little stand-alone issue that really calls back to some of the craziness of the series, which is nice to visit briefly in between some of our deeper, more mythology-intensive arcs. The last stand-alone was so heavily dramatic. This one is more like a farce. And Reno visualized it beautifully, especially with Piper. I call this is our Piperpalooza, which I expect you’ll understand when you see it.
Tess Fowler’s another one that does great likeness work, but what I really love about her is her attention to detail. She fills each panel with so much that is both visually interesting and also expands on the world of the characters. Almost every one of her panels tells a distinct story of its own. On top of that, she is probably the most aggressive person on the entire comic series when it comes to research. Several times she’s surprised me with information on the minutia of Charmed that I never even noticed. My biggest regret as co-editor is that I’ve had to hold back some of that great passion at times because of the confines of the schedule. It’s my hope that Zenescope can maybe bring her back for a one-shot or a really special issue with a comfortable lead time so she can really go to town on the artwork. That would be one stunning piece of Charmed artwork.
Carlos Granda so impressed me with the way he moves a story from panel to panel. I love the way he lays out a page so that the eye is carried along with panels layered on top of panels. All of the artists have been particularly skilled at that, but with Carlos it was especially helpful when I stupidly wrote was is probably the most boring visual page in the entire series in his issue (P.12). He took a page that basically had nothing going on and made it interesting by really elongating the panels in a way that focused entirely on the characters allowing the dialogue to really push the emotion of the difficult conversation Paige and Henry were having. He could have just as easily focused that page on the two of them in the living room so the reader had a bunch of things to distract them from the moment, but he took what was a mistake on my part and hit it out of the park through his choice of layout.
I barely had the chance to work with Novo Malgapo who did our six-page extra story in the first trade paperback, but there was an innocence in the way that he drew the characters in that story that really fit beautifully with the emotions of the tale.
Marcio Abreau was such a joy to work with. I mean, everyone I’ve mentioned has been an absolute pleasure to collaborate with but Marcio really set the tone for the comic. He got that Charmed was more than just Piper, Paige, and Phoebe. The mere fact that he understood that the Manor is a character as important as any of the flesh-and-blood people was refreshing. I wish you all could have seen the excitement on my face when I saw the first page of Issue 4 come in, which was also my first time seeing any of his work. I might be wrong, but I don’t believe that he was previously a fan of Charmed, so the fact that he took the reference provided and worked with it in a way that really respected the material was very much appreciated.
I’ve also really enjoyed working with our colorists, our great cover artist, David Seidman (I never really interacted with the other cover artists), and Jim Campbell, our letterer. I could go on all day about everyone, but this answer is already stretching on for like three pages.
19. What do you enjoy most about the Charmed comics, besides writing them? And what has been the biggest obstacle in creating the comics?
As my gushing above has probably suggested, the best thing about the comic book has been all the wonderful people it’s given me the chance to meet. I’m referring to both my collaborators and all the great readers online. That’s been one of the most enjoyable elements of this project.
As for the biggest obstacle, well that’s obviously been the schedule. And that’s a real shame because it didn’t have to be that way. When Raven and I turned in the script for Issue 1 (Side note: I wrote Issue 0 after we finished Issue 2) there were months and months before it was supposed to go to print. You really need some lead time on a monthly comic book, especially a licensed comic book. To draw 22 pages in one month is a lot of work and that’s only part of it. Those pages have to be colored, lettered, and go out for approval almost every step along the way before going to the printer and then to Diamond Distributors so they can get the books to stores. CBS even approved the first script in one day, which is unheard of considering how busy they are. I think that really shows their commitment to the series. With few exceptions, they’ve been able to get back to us quickly on everything and keep things moving through the approval process.
Anyway, Issue 1 then got behind schedule and the next couple issues as well, which was quite frustrating. Especially for poor Milen who was forced to put in a lot of all-nighters and scramble to get the pages colored in time to get the issue to the printer so that Diamond Distributers could get the books into the stores.
Of course, as most of you know, we used different artists on the second arc to regain some of the time we’d lost. The schedule’s not quite where I’d like it to be, but we’ve got a bit more of a cushion for the issues right now that has definitely given us some breathing room.
20. Can you give us a spoiler about the next story arc? Speaking of the next arc, have you decided how many issues it will include?
Well, thanks for another great interview. I really enjoyed it.
Okay, fine … here’s a really big spoiler and the answer to the question you all want to know.
SPOILER ALERT. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!
At this point, I'd like to add a question that wasn’t asked. Normally I wouldn't answer this kind of question because I don't like to give spoilers and you were right to leave it out. However, I do realize how much anticipation is building and I want to be fair to the readers. That said, let's get to the question:
But seriously. Turn back now if you don't want to know.
21. Is Prue coming back?
Yes. And no. It was our hope all along that we could obtain the rights to draw Prue’s likeness. CBS was very much in favor of it and worked with Zenescope to see if it could happen. As those of you who know how long it took to get the comic books up and running in the first place will understand, this kind of thing is often a time consuming process. Unfortunately, I was told earlier this year that it was not going to be possible. Zenescope could not obtain the likeness rights to draw Prue as we know her.
Then it became a question of whether or not we should use the character in some other form or just continue to ignore Prue as they had in the series after her death. I felt very strongly that her story had more to it and we were able to get the approval to tell that tale within the constraints of the likeness rights situation. Please know that I have spent a lot of time working this storyline out to make sure that it has grown out of a genuine place within the mythology. I hope to give this beloved character the return she so richly deserves. Even though you might not recognize her physically, I hope you can still connect with her emotionally.
Oh, and the story arc will be five issues long, unless someone decides to make it six. So far neither of the arcs were the length they were originally planned to be so I wouldn’t be surprised if this one changes as well. Although since I’m almost done writing it, I really hope no one asks me to change it now.