Thursday, May 28, 2015

Flask of Eyes Characterization #4: Which Witch Is Magda?

In my various travels, and my intended attempts to peddle "Flask of Eyes", people have inquired about the story's insightful witch, Magda: which witch or witches in literature and/or cinema inspired her? Most folks are confident they can guess from whom the influence best stems, and some are, in fact, at least quasi-correct in their inferences. 

First off, the character was named after a coworker, who wished her name used for one my story leads. "Flask" was in its infancy at the time, but the real-life Magda is far too lovely to resemble a witch, or at least the type most of us associate with the term.

In this regard, Margaret Hamilton of "Wizard of Oz" became a most obvious inspiration for the character. Hamilton's Wicked Witch of the West isn't only a pop-cultural icon, but she sports an appealing shade of green, which I wished to apply to my own mystical entity. 

In a similar way, I suppose Billie Hayes' Witchie-poo, of "H.R. Pufnstuf" fame, also contributed to Madga's look. Even though Witchie-poo isn't green, the two have crossover appeal. After all, Hayes and Hamilton did appear together in "Paul Lynde's Halloween Special" in '76. Remember that one?

In other respects, EC's Old Witch (a companion host to the more noted Crypt Keeper) lingered somewhere in the back of my mind when I composed "Flask". There's something about the Old Witch's bulging-eye stare that I couldn't quite shake when my fingers tapped the keyboard. 

When it came to Magda's quirky, prophetic attributes, two famed trios crept into the mix: those from Shakespeare's "Macbeth" and the Stygian variations in "Clash of the Titans '81". 

In another childhood-based way, I owe much to the Aurora Salem Witch model kit. Though my least favorite among the series' monsters, it was nonetheless an item I often stared at (and tinkered with) as a kid. In truth, this sculpture holds a long-haul key to Magda's traditional witch design, and that brew she's stirring ...well, let's just say that Benjamin's genesis can certainly be traced to it. 

The most fascinating (and intuitive) attribution by a "Flask" reader is that actress Maria Ouspenskaya was an inspiration. Now, I must point out, the Ouspenskaya character my friend, Jim, had in mind isn't a witch, but rather a gypsy: Maleva, to be exact, who's prominently featured in the Universal classics, "The Wolf Man" and "Frankenstein Meets...".

This acknowledgement jives, for I do believe that on at least a subconscious level, the Ouspenskaya's character dictated much of Magda's maternal nature. Magda doesn't interact directly with the story's werewolf, "Lon Jr.", which would have made the link more evident, but all the same, Maleva's gracious disposition is very much akin to Magda's. 

Yeah, the theory is quite astute, and if you don't believe me, take a taste of "Flask" and see for yourself! Magda, for one, would be most pleased!

(A little reminder: "Flask" is still available for purchase in paperback and e-book form through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Damnation Books, as well as other fine, on-line sources in the U.S. and abroad!)

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