When the Baltimore series began over a decade ago, it was meant to be property that could grow and expand over time. One such promising development was the story of Lady Baltimore, which was originally set to hit shelves in June 2020. Now, after a COVID-related delay, the latest entry in Dark Horse Comics’ excellent series finally hit shelves this week.
Lady Baltimore: The Witch Queens #1 sees writers/creators Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden (with art by Bridgit Connell and colors from Michelle Madsen) expand the canon amid WWII, with a new assortment of monsters, epic fights scenes, and, of course, witches.
I was lucky enough to ask Golden and Connell a few questions on the series’ development, how the delay changed the project for better or worse, and much more.
Lady Baltimore: The Witch Queens #1 is available March 24 at comic retailers everywhere.
AIPT: This story is set 13 years after the events of Baltimore, The Red Kingdom, and while Lady Baltimore can be read without picking up a previous collection, what is one or two details a reader might want to know going in?
Chris Golden: Lady Baltimore might have the title of an English Baroness, but she was originally Sofia Valk, a young Estonian woman married to an abusive husband who died and came back to inflict further terror on her. When she met Lord Baltimore, her life changed. He was engaged in a battle between good and evil, light and darkness, a war—if you’ll forgive me—for the soul of the world. Once her own horror had been defeated, Sofia could have built a new, ordinary life but instead, she joined Baltimore’s crusade and quickly became his most trusted ally and confidante. Before the final battle with the Red King, knowing he would die, Baltimore married Sofia so that she would inherit his lands and become Lady Baltimore, and now she uses the resources and privilege of that title to carry on the battle against evil and the new darkness rising across Europe as [WWII] kicks into gear.
Bridgit Connell: Sofia is out to kick major witch booty, and she’s got some new (and old) friends that assist her with said booty kicking. Think about her new title, how all of the resources granted to her in the will of her late husband Lord Henry Baltimore are now hers to use as she chooses. And she chooses to use them mostly, again, for booty kicking. (She is a very determined woman.)
AIPT: Originally scheduled for June, has the extra time changed the end product of Lady Baltimore, or helped or hindered in any way?
CG: Bridgit and Mike [Mignola] and I were really disappointed, of course, but also incredibly grateful that the first issue hadn’t already shipped. If issue one had come out before Covid shut it all down, we’d have been crushed. If anything, the delay has allowed us to spend more time thinking about the characters. This is a jam-packed miniseries, with so many ideas and characters that we’re dying to explore further. It sets up the Outerverse as all existing at the same time and place, which we haven’t had before. I think in the sense of us having time to really think it all through, the delay certainly improved the finished product, and now I can’t wait to see what readers think!
BC: I’m honestly extremely thankful we got the ‘pencils down’ order when we did. It was right before the first issue was scheduled to come out, and it would have been a bummer to release one issue then, and then the other four a year later. And it was right after the announcement of the series. If I would have had to keep that secret for another year?! I would’ve exploded like that ‘wafer-thin mint’ guy from Month Python.
AIPT: Bridgit, what has been the most fun to draw in this new series so far?
BC: I love Sofia so much. You don’t really get brawling female characters (without superpowers) often, and the way Chris writes her, she really packs a punch with both action and dialogue. So fun! The character mix, as a fan of the books, is really satisfying as well. There’s a new lady on the scene, too, and I can’t wait for you to meet her!
AIPT: The original press release promises witches and Nazis and vampires. Are there any other beasties we can look forward to?
CG: There are so many different kinds of witches in this world, all falling beneath three overarching categories. But this is the Outerverse—you can always count on seeing all kinds of monsters. Wait until you get a look at the invasion scene. What invasion scene? I can’t tell you that just yet. But there are ghosts and dead occultists and warlocks and lest we forget you’ll be seeing a few other major characters in these pages. I’d say more but I’ve gotten so used to avoiding Twitter on WandaVision Fridays that spoilers irritate the hell out of me, so I’m going to avoid them if possible.
BC: The monsters have been so crazy! I love the winged harpies we’ve done, that have a sort of crustacean influence. They’re coming up a bit later. There are some BIG BOYS later on that are pretty epic, too. There are some weird little porcupine monsters in the first book that are fun and oddly stretchy.
AIPT: Chris, was there anything you had in the scripts that Bridgit totally blew you away with and exceeded your expectations?
CG: Everything. From the beginning, there’s a scene that was released as teaser art where the witch is emerging from a doorway. I described it in the script, but the way Bridgit drew it was so damn creepy that I knew from that panel we were going to have a wonderful time together. We ask a lot of the artists on these books, particularly when it comes to the settings and backgrounds, and Bridgit hasn’t ever sacrificed a single detail. She makes everything I write better than it was in the script. I’ve talked a lot about how much her designs and ideas prompted me to think through the nature of witchcraft in this world. By nature, Mike is someone who thrives on the weird and the implied, and I tend to like to explain things. Bridgit pushed us to go further.
Her ideas for various types of witches were so fun, the designs so interesting, that I knew I had to figure out how everything fit together so that we could explain it all. I’ve worked with editors who challenge me to do that kind of world-building, to understand the work, but those are editors. Bridgit immerses herself like nobody else. Now I should said some awful things about her so other companies don’t try to woo her away, but I can’t bring myself to do it. The Outerverse has been blessed with incredible artists throughout its span—Stenbeck, Patric Reynolds, Peter Bergting, and Bridgit. We’ve been very lucky.
AIPT: We’re coming on the 14-year anniversary of Baltimore. If you could go back and tell yourself one thing about the future of this series, what would it be and why?
CG: Truthfully? I’d just say “keep it up. You’re gonna love where this takes you,” because I hate spoilers!
BC: “Keep drawing…you’re never gonna believe this…”
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