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  1.  (853.1)
    Witch Doctor is a forthcoming medical horror comic from writer Brandon Seifert and artist Lukas Ketner. Witch Doctor combines horror archetypes and really sick shit from the real world. This is the book's workblog. For more information, read the first entry.

    Yesterday I named one of the central elements in the backstory of Witch Doctor: The Red Queen War.

    The Red Queen is a character in Through The Looking Glass. When she meets Alice, the Queen takes her on a frantic run -- in which they fail to move at all. "Here, you see," the Queen tells Alice, "it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. " In biology, the Red Queen's Race has become a metaphor for the evolutionary arms race between a parasite species and a host species. Every time our bodies evolve some helpful new adaptation that makes it easier for us to fight, say, malaria, the malaria parasite Plasmodium finds a way to adapt too. Both species are fiendishly working to come out on top, only for both to usually end up in the spot they started.

    In the cosmology of Witch Doctor, the universe itself is a living organism, and the creatures of myth and folklore are its parasites. The supernatural evolved in a greater spectrum of universes, and initially found our single, isolated world and its quaint little creatures easy prey, the same way rats and crabgrass that evolved on a continent finds it easy to take over an island's ecosystem. But over time, our realm's immune system has gotten ever more adept at locating and destroying the supernatural... which just leads to supernature adapting new tricks to fool our realm's scouts and overcome its soldiers.

    Take Bram Stoker's Dracula. Dracula is famously unable to enter someone's home until he's been invited in. If Dracula was a character in Witch Doctor, that'd be because humanity as a whole, as the primary unit of the universe's immune system, has adapted an unconscious psychic defense that prevents vampires from entering their homes. So Dracula's ancestors evolved a countermeasure -- Dracula's mind control. It doesn't matter that his mind control is a brute force assault that shatters the sanity of his victims, leaving people like Renfield locked in asylums; it gets him in their houses, and for the vampire species, that's the part that matters. So what adaptation will humanity evolve next to counter the countermeasure?

    The world's mystical community calls this The Long War. Our protagonist Dr. Vincent Morrow, he's recognized it for what it really is. He calls it the Red Queen War.

    (The most interesting thing about the Red Queen arms race in biology, to me, is what happens when the host species no longer has to deal with its traditional parasites. There's that adage about old soldiers and dying, and it's the same thing about weaponized adaptations... But that'll have to wait until Part 5.)

    Previous Entry: 3: Lukas Ketner rocks your flip-flops, all winter long | Next Entry: 5: Meet the good doctor
    • CommentTimeFeb 5th 2008
    I'm continuing to look forward to this. The critical factor is whether you'll be able to weave together all these cool elements into a compelling story - but then, that's exactly what you're asking yourself so let's both hope the answer is yes!
  2.  (853.3)
    Thanks Luke! I haven't heard much feedback online since I started posting about Witch Doctor, so it's good to hear you're looking forward to it!

    That is indeed the question that remains, though based on the responses I've gotten from the people who've read the first script or heard the plot of the story I'm pretty confident about the answer. But we'll certainly see. By the way, if you haven't already, go check out the first pin-up for the book!