Interviews Writers

Ben Meares: Interview on New Series, Gretel

You’ve had an introduction to Gretel in the original Grimm Fairy Tales comics, and almost everyone knows the tale of Hansel & Gretel; but we’ve taken her story in a whole new direction. Ben Meares, author of Grimm Tales of Terror Vol. 2 #9, Grimm Tales of Terror: Vol. 4 #3 #6, and Grimm Fairy Tales: 2018 Halloween & Holiday Specials, is the writer behind our newest upcoming series, Gretel!

After a tragic childhood event, Gretel has been cursed for centuries and now must find purpose for her brokenhearted life. After gaining the gift of premonition in Grimm Universe Presents 2019 One Shot, she sees that danger is ahead and the world may soon end if she doesn’t stop it.

Read our interview with Ben below and mark your calendars for Gretel #1‘s release on March 20th!

1) Without any spoilers, can you tell us how you plan on tying the retelling of the original fairy tale story of Hansel and Gretel?

In a nutshell, I plan on retelling only the parts that really need to be retold because they differ from the source. While this Gretel’s origin certainly has some spots where it differs from the fairy tale, it still sticks to the basics (though, anyone who reads the first issue knows that the final part of her encounter with the witch is certainly different). I can count on the readers to already know the story of Hansel and Gretel by heart. We all do. It’s ingrained in us, so I can pick and choose which parts of the story I want to retell, and trust the reader to understand what’s going on. All that being said, we will definitely be delving deeper into the origin story in future issues.

2) Gretel is a dark and twisted horror story (including the gore of someone eating hearts to keep their powers), that the artists capture so well, what kind of imagination or script detail goes into a story like this?

I guess it takes a twisted and sick imagination (ha!). Really though, my scripts are usually fairly detailed (often times, far too detailed). Allan Otero is an incredible artist and a gifted storyteller, so I’m always trying to remind myself not to be dictate too much in my scripts (which, for me, is very hard, as I inherently want to explain every single aspect of a page when I’m writing it), because it’s really fun just to watch Allan do what he does with it. And then to see what Ceci does with the colors is a thrill unto itself. I honestly believe she is one of the best colorists working in comics right now.

3) What does Gretel have in common with other Zenescope female leads? How is she different?

What she has in common is fairly simple: she’s a badass. She’s a strong woman, who is up against impossible odds.

As far as her being different, that was really where I began when I started putting her together in my head. I wanted to find a thread that made her a bit different than characters we’ve seen before, and I ended up really focusing on the fact that she went through a very deep trauma as a child. No one would be emotionally sound after being abducted by a murderous witch when they were young. In that way, I really wanted her to be carrying the trauma from that with her. I wanted to show what happens when a badass has her only reason for existing taken away, and show that even someone with supernatural powers is not immune to emotional trauma. She’s also different because, y’know, most other Zenescope leads don’t eats hearts (ha!).

4) After having a vision foretelling the end of the world, Gretel is on a mission to stop it. Does this make her a hero, or does her past make her evil?

I certainly don’t see her as being evil. She’s not a “hero,” per se, but she is definitely out there trying to do the right thing (albeit, her version of the right thing). Now, while I don’t think that her past makes her evil, Gretel may have conflicting thoughts about it.

5) We know you, along with Ralph Tedesco, Joe Brusha, and Dave Franchini, created Gretel’s story; what did you personally add?

The skeleton and overall structure for the series was already there when they were kind enough to invite me on board for the series, so a lot of what I did was fill in the blanks. The biggest blank, really, was Gretel’s overall personality and point of view, so I was able to come in and flesh her out as a character. I’m also a bit of a history geek, so I really wanted her travels to fit in with real-world history, and to come up with a way to track her whereabouts over the last 300 years or so, up until the present, and be able to place her in the middle of real historical events.

6) A lot of the witches in this story have unique names; if you were a wizard, would what your name be?

There’s actually a fun little fact about most of the witches’ names in the series: they all mean something, though not in English. I think my wizard name would be Stultus Auctor. Anyone who can figure out what that means will then be able to translate all of the other witch names (shouldn’t be too hard), and they’ll see that the name I gave myself is pretty fitting.

7) We get a lot of background on Gretel in this issue, so tell us something interesting about your past writing experience.

Well, I’ve been writing for Zenescope for about a year or so, starting with a few issues of Grimm Tales of Terror and then moving onto writing on Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, as well as some other stories. During that time, I also worked as an Assistant Editor at DC Comics for a time, filling in for an editor who went out on paternity leave for a few months. And it was announced just a few days ago that a story I wrote will be in Heavy Metal Magazine’s Megadeth Anthology comic, Death By Design. Prior to all that stuff, I worked at Clive Barker’s company, Seraphim, Inc., for about six years, where I wrote and edited a whole bunch of Hellraiser comics. I’ve made a decent amount of comics, and am definitely eager to make more!

8) Will Zenescope fans see you at any upcoming conventions?

They will! I’ll be at Emerald City Comic Con starting on March 15th, and will be signing at the Zenescope booth on Saturday, March 16th. I’m really hoping to meet some folks there when I sign on Saturday, or at any point while I’m wandering the halls. And, if anyone reading this wants to say hi, but isn’t able to get to the Zenescope booth during my signing, hit me up on Twitter (@ben_meares). Being a writer means spending a whole lot of time by myself, and I’d love the chance to spend some time with folks who’ve been keeping up with the stuff I’ve been writing at Zenescope!

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