Reportage

The Witches Cycle: Chapter Two

In Chapter Two of The Witches Cycle it’s October for Vera and Mary. The days are getting shorter and the leaves are turning red as the two witches continue their mission of using their powers to protect the natural world by bike. Find the complete pages of the manga in the gallery and read more from the author, Tony Concrete, on his intention behind creating the series below…

For a long time now, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of creating comics rooted in the world of bikepacking. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to tell bike stories, and I’ve asked myself this question: what can be told through a bike comic? And what do I want to say?

When you think of sports comics in general, it’s the stories of overcoming that come most immediately to mind. Especially stories based on competition, where overcoming others is the main narrative thrust. This narrative framework provides a perfect structure for emotionally rich, suspenseful, and dramatic stories. Over the years, the tournament has become a dominant model within shōnen manga, whether sports-related or otherwise.

The theme of overcoming one’s own limits is another popular narrative arc and one that provides fertile ground for the development of complex characters. While these stories can sometimes overlap with competitive narratives, in the case of cycling, they can also connect to the theme of travel.

The travel narrative is particularly compelling because it can encompass so many abstract concepts. But the dominant travel narrative is also very much about overcoming limits: whether they are personal, geographical, or cultural.

With The Witches Cycle, I tried to develop a vision of bikepacking that didn’t make the overcoming of limits its driving force. On the contrary, I wanted to express the power of cycling to enchant a limited world, to give a sense of adequacy to the tiny portion of the world we temporarily occupy. I have this feeling that an outdoor practice can be experienced as an inner process, but an inner process turned outwards? I wanted to explore this idea in my comics.

I read an article about the history of bikepacking that presented bikepacking as an intention. I was delighted to find the word intention here because it helps bridge the gap between outdoor practices and magical practices.

In magic, it’s generally considered that “it’s the thought that counts.” The ritual itself is less important than the intention behind it. A perfectly executed ritual, with the right gestures and words executed in the right order, will be worthless if the intention isn’t there. The practice of magic in general can be seen as the art of giving form, space, and legitimacy to an intention.

In The Witches Cycle, the commentary on bikepacking probably lays more in the characters’ relationship to magic than in the cycling sequences themselves. Having witches for protagonists opens up plot and staging possibilities to better show “the inner process gets turned outward.” In a sense, the magic sequences shed light on an invisible dimension of the bike sequences, to express the following idea:

When enriched by intentions, cycling becomes a transformative experience.

Maybe that’s really what I want to express with my comics.