Dogwitch Season One: Direct to Video
by Daniel Schaffer
“Dogwitch.” Saw the title on the shelf and thought, “Oh no, not another goth comic.” Granted, JTHM and Lenore were fun and all, but let’s face it – most goth comics are grap. Crapity crap crap crap. The humor’s generally too “inside” or the lettering’s too annoying to look at or the art just plain sucks or any number of things when you try to translate a music genre into a comic book.
Fortunately, Dogwitch is not a goth comic. Sure, it’s main character wears skulls, fishnets, latex and leather, stripy tights, and way too much eye makeup, but that’s just the visual design. Violet Grimmm is, simply put, just a horror-movie occult-nympho fetish-freak wet-dream centerfold – simply put, the girl you don’t want to bring home to mom. You know the chicks who hang out in vampire covens, spend everything they have on Religious Sex, go to Convergence every year, and think Voltaire is a poseur? Yeah, Violet’s the girl they want to be. She’s five parts Crowley, seven parts Charlie Manson, and a whole lot of slutty. In other words, my kinda girl.*
The series is based around Violet’s home in the Banewoods and the magick/horror-porn video business she runs with her animated dolls. Most of the stories revolve around her need to get laid, and strange things she’ll do to get laid, and the weirdness that generally results from said strange things. “How weird?” you ask. Let’s see – conjuring up a Barbie version of herself (and then decapitating it); giving birth (yes, via her vagina) to a horde of ultra-violent mini-Violets that turn on her; bondage-voodoo demons posing as a magick-makeup salesman; and a ultra-kinky demonic version of Barbarella’s Excessive Machine. All the while, she’s dressed like the girl you’re looking for when you step into Cambridge’s Manray on Friday night.
Would it be telling if I admitted that I really, really liked this?
The thing is, is that Dogwitch, in addition to playing up to my foibles, is just a well-written, well-illustrated book. The stories are engaging because, underneath all the strangeness, is often a really human element. Violet, despite being the girl that Jason, Freddy, and Leatherface would gangbang, has authentic feelings. She’s insecure about her image; she’s lonely and looking for love; and she has enough self-esteem to dislike being used (violently so). Although the dialogue’s a bit wordy, there’s enough snap and personality in the bubbles and characters to keep things fun and flowing. Schaffer’s design is rather baroque in its busy-ness and exaggeration, but he knows enough to keep it just reigned in enough so that things are tolerable and clear. Schaffer jumps between cartoonish weirdness and photorealism with ease, knowing exactly when and where to employ what. And on the plus side, the man’s got a sense of humor that I highly recommend.
*No, I’ve actually dated women who would love to be Violet Grimm. I don’t recommend it. They usually have to be broken several times over to get that way. The kinky sex just ain’t worth that kind of craziness.