“I love stories where the marginalised people are really the heroes” Gary Chudleigh talks Plagued: The Miranda Chronicles Volume 3

Set in a world where witches are blamed for a devastating illness, Plagued: The Miranda Chronicles Volume 3 sees witch hunter Mackie, his talking dog and a rebel witch combine forces to reveal the truth about what is behind this dystopian world. With the final volume of this fantastic series from BHP Comics now funding on Kickstarter we caught up with writer Gary Chudleigh to find out more.

The third (and final?) volume of Plagued: The Miranda Chronicles is now on Kickstarter, for those new to the series can you give us a quick synopsis of what it’s all about?

Gary Chudleigh: Plagued is like Harry Potter meets Star Wars Rebels. It’s a story of magic and witchcraft in a futuristic setting – mashing sci-fi, fantasy, action and comedy all in one.

The story follows a rebel witch, a turncoat witch hunter and his talking dog, who formed an oddball alliance to cure a plague and fight an evil corporation that controls the world.

And for those who are existing fans, what can we look forward to in this new instalment?

GC: We’ve really poured our heart and soul into this volume to make it the best one yet. Ask Tanya, she was waiting on the script for ages while I fine-tuned it. In this volume, we get to really ramp up the action and show some really cool witch fight scenes. We also dive deeper into some of our characters and explore Miranda’s past.

The central premise for Plagued: The Miranda Chronicles is a world where ‘witches’ are blamed for pandemic, was this the initial spark for the series. Or was it the idea of a witch-hunter who is actually a witch?

GC: I love stories where the marginalised people are really the heroes, like X-Men. The idea was to have witches represent people of colour blamed for things like terrorist attacks or defunding the NHS. It’s not an entirely new metaphor but we tried to make it unique by wrapping it up in a very all-ages action with plenty of laughs along the way.

The bad guy realising he’s the thing he hates is a classic trope that I just couldn’t resist. I also wanted to show that people can change and its Mackie’s transformation from witch-hating bigot to witch-loving hero at the heart of the story.

Witches have a history of being blamed for societies ills, was that part of the basis for choosing them? And does it help give you a rich vein for story telling having a persecuted group fighting to clear their name?

GC: Yeah the historic prosecution of witches was a good launch pad for the story. But to be honest, Plagued was born out of an urge to tell a story I would have fun reading as much as it was intended to be a commentary. I love dystopian sci-fi and love Buffy… which has witches! So I just kind of mashed all my interests into one.

The book is all ages has quite an adventurous Saturday morning cartoon kind of feel to it, was it important to create a book that was accessible to all. You could quite easily have gone dark and gothic on this one, given the subject matter!

GC: Very true! And I went silly and fun because it entertained me. Also, serious sci-fi is well trodden and I wanted to poke fun at those stories. The opening of Plagued volume 1 is a direct jab at the lone man and his dog trope. Instead of being silent and stoic, he talks to him!

How did you connect with artist Tanya Roberts and did she help develop the look and feel of the book? Her artwork certainly helps to bring it to life and make it feel more action packed and exciting!

GC: Tanya is instrumental in Plagued. Her story suggestions, art direction and character designs have absolutely made it what it is. We have a really good relationship where we can just be honest with each other. I don’t even need to give Tanya many notes, she takes the script, changes stuff, then delivers the pages. Her stuff is just too good.

The book is being released by BHP Comics, who are really cherry picking some of the best Scottish independent titles to publish. It must be exciting to be part of this process as it feels like a really great time to be creating indie comics in Scotland.

GC: I think Scotland is a natural hub of creative individuals, and since our history is so steeped in comics, we’ve just built a really great, vibrant scene. The scene is now mature from when I started tabling back in 2008, so there’s new blood but some of the vets have really honed their craft from so much experience and are hitting pro-level quality.

Working with BHP is exciting because we’ve established distribution to the UK and now US book market. So we’re in the privileged position to present our Scottish talent to an international stage.

You can back Plagued: The Miranda Chronicles volume 3 on Kickstarter here. And order previous volumes from BHP Comics online store