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DF Interview: Mike Wolfer finishes a miniseries after 19 years with Widow: Progeny
By Byron Brewer
A tale he began 19 years ago will soon know conclusion by writer/creator Mike Wolfer. The title is Widow: Progeny, but we understand his horror classic character Widow will not be a major part of the storyline herself.
To learn more about this near-two decade story hiatus, Dynamic Forces sat down with the scribe.
Dynamic Forces: Mike, for the uninitiated, tell us about your character, Widow … Emma.
Mike Wolfer: Emma is a character that I created in 1992, the star of a string of miniseries titled Widow. I self-published the series, which was later also published by London Night Studios and Avatar Press. Widow tells the tale of a woman who is your classic laboratory experiment, conducted by your classic mad scientist, on a typical, secluded, tropical island. It was just my fun, little homage to 1970s horror films, but it generated quite a following, probably due in part to the graphic violence and nudity. Emma is the result of an experiment in genetic manipulation to accelerate evolution, conducted by Professor Landford Harrow in the basement of his creepy, Caribbean island mansion. Yes, Harrow’s experiment to create a new breed of human can be considered a success, if you overlook the fact that Emma’s genetic structure contains both human and arachnid DNA, and she can transform into a spider-like creature, with the cravings of her eight-legged progenitors. As if that wasn’t enough of a downside, Emma also carries what the characters call the “spider virus,” which is DNA-warping and is sexually transmitted, and that sends this story into territory not usually explored in the comic book medium. Anyone with whom she is intimate will contract the virus, transforming them into a monster like her.
DF: Why, after so long a time, did you choose to pick up those long-ago threads and complete the Widow: Progeny story started so many years ago?
Mike Wolfer: I originally began self-publishing the Widow: Progeny spin-off series in 1997, with Karl Moline drawing the first of the three issues. It was shortly after Widow: Progeny #1 hit the stands that I signed a deal with Avatar Press, for them to become the new publisher of Widow, but Progeny got lost in the shuffle, and the two concluding chapters were never drawn or published by Avatar. With my return to self-publishing in 2015 as Mike Wolfer Entertainment, and the great support I’ve gotten from both retailers and from Kickstarter backers who have made self-publishing possible for me in a very tough market, I figured that now was a great time to finally finish this story for the readers who have been waiting 19 years to find out what happened after Progeny #1! The new Widow: Progeny series will be in stores in July, August and September, and I’m currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to cover all of the production costs for all three issues. So far, the Kickstarter has been doing really well, with our funding goal of $5,000 reached in only 18 hours, so it’s a huge relief to know that the readers are out there, and they’re ready for more black and white, spidery, erotic horror.
DF: My DF sources tell me Emma is not in the miniseries?
Mike Wolfer: That’s true. I think we’ll see her in a brief flashback, but this isn’t her story, it’s the story of a woman named Katy Wilder. I have endless stories that I can tell about Emma, but what I want to do with Progeny is to show the ramifications Emma’s existence has on the lives of others, without her even knowing it. I explained the terrible curse that Emma carries, and how dangerous it is to others, but we’ve only seen the story from Emma’s perspective, as an active participant in the action and the interactions with those she’s encountered. That “spider virus” is a horrible thing, and can infect anyone, so she’s terribly conscious about her contact with others. But Progeny makes the case for “What if;” what if she was careless, what if she made that one, horrible mistake that resulted in the virus spreading, and that’s just what we see happening in this new story, and how it affects Katy.
DF: So tell us about Katy. Who is she and what does she have to do with Emma?
Mike Wolfer: Katy has nothing to do with Emma. In fact, the two have never met. Back in the very first Widow series, “Flesh and Blood,” we saw that Professor Harrow had dealings with a man named Captain Stein, whose ship carried supplies to Harrow’s island. Stein also supplied Harrow with kidnapped men and women for the scientist’s terrible experiments. Katy was one of those captives, but before she could be handed over to Harrow, Emma infected Stein with the “spider virus,” after which he fled the island in the face of an oncoming hurricane. Katy was aboard that ship, and we last saw her confronting Stein at the wheel of hurricane-bound ship, and he was transforming into a human/spider monstrosity. Progeny picks up several years later, as a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter is investigating the report of a sunken ship near a small island in the Caribbean. After their helicopter is brought down by mysterious circumstances, they find Katy, who has been living on the island, awaiting rescue. But also on that island is the corpse of Captain Stein, and the jungle is crawling with dozens of terrifying, half-human/half-arachnid monstrosities, among a few other surprises who I call “The Triplets.” So now, it’s a race to see if the rescuers can survive long enough to get Katy off of the island. We shouldn’t be worried for Katy -- she’s tough as nails, and has had to adapt to the harsh island environment or die, and of course, she’s had to fend off those spider creatures for years. But the Coast Guard crew, they’ve never encountered anything like this.
DF: You mentioned that Karl Moline did the art for the early, unfinished Widow: Progeny. Who will be picking up the artistic reins for today’s three-issue tale?
Mike Wolfer: The artist for issues #2 and #3 is Roy Allan Martinez. I first became familiar with Roy’s art from a Kickstarter for a book called Blood and Dust, and I thought, “Holy crap, this guy knows how to draw horror.” In fact, his work, particularly his inking, very much reminds me of many of the European and Filipino artists who contributed to the Warren horror magazines in the ‘60s and ‘70s (Eerie, Creepy, Vampirella) that I had read when I was a kid, and have always loved. Fortunately, Roy had room in his schedule for Progeny, and I think this story is going to really excite a lot of people, and gain Roy some well-deserved recognition in the horror comic community.
DF: Elephant in the room: Is Emma – Widow – still around these days? If so, is there anywhere we can see her?
Mike Wolfer: Oh, certainly she’s still around. A few years ago, we saw Emma as a supporting character in the War Goddess series published by Boundless Comics, but that was really outside of the continuity of the character. When I was asked to write the book, the idea was to group together all of the “bad girl” characters that had been published by Avatar Press back in their early days, so I wedged Emma into the story, making her Head of Security for Pandora’s corporation. How she got there and why wasn’t really important; I just needed to stick her in there, so I did. Truthfully, it’s probably best to consider that appearance as an alternate reality version of the character.
DF: Didn’t you just reprint most or all of the old Widow stories in trade paperback format?
Mike Wolfer: I have, under the title Widow Archieves. There are five volumes in all, reprinting the entirety of the stories that constitute her official continuity, and the reason I’m putting all of that material out now is to prep a new generation of comic readers for her return in new adventures. I’m not going to say exactly when that will be, but it’s going to be in the pages of my Daughters of the Dark Oracle series.
DF: Mike, what else is coming forth soon from your kinetic keyboard?
Mike Wolfer: Mostly Daughters of the Dark Oracle. That’s really the Mike Wolfer Entertainment flagship title. It’s a string of gothic horror miniseries featuring my Ragdoll character, but also a whole slew of female horror antagonists. Currently, Daughters of the Dark Oracle: Orgy of the Vampires is in the middle of its 5-issue run, and that will be followed by another miniseries, Dotdo: Beast from the Brine, which will begin in late summer. Many of my readers have asked if the different “universes” that I’ve created will ever cross over with one another, and I’m happy to say that all of my characters -- Widow, Ragdoll, Brandi Five-One, Countess Bathory, Rissk -- all of them share the same universe, so we’re going to see some outrageous match-ups coming in Daughters of the Dark Oracle. I’m also writing a series for American Mythology Productions, which has been officially licensed by Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. and hitting stores in July. I can’t reveal the title just yet, but it’s being illustrated by Giancarlo Caracuzzo and it features dinosaurs. Lots of dinosaurs.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Mike Wolfer for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Widow: Progeny #1 hits stores in July!
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