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The Magicians #1: Brakebills welcomes its first class of Hedge Witches in comic preview

By Jeff Spry
Magicians Variant

The world of Lev Grossman's The Magicians is enrolling in a new era of sorcery next month as Boom! Studios opens the admissions records on a controversial class of self-taught wizards in The Magicians #1 — and SYFY WIRE has an enticing look inside the debut issue along with a chat with its architect.

Arriving on the scene beginning Nov. 6, this original five-issue miniseries reunites series creator Grossman with award-winning writer Lilah Sturges and acclaimed artist Pius Bak after their successful outing on The Magicians: Alice's Story graphic novel earlier this year. This fresh series set in The Magicians' fantastical universe showcases the primetime academic appearance of the next generation of magic practitioners headlined by the rogue Hedge Witches.

Magicians Cover

The storyline unspools several years after Quentin Coldwater and his friends have graduated from Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy, as Dean Fogg welcomes a historic group of students to the prestigious university — the first-ever class of hedge magicians who perform unsanctioned forms of magic. But the student body of classical magicians isn't exactly thrilled to have the rule-breaking outcasts in their cherished classrooms, and tempers ignite as both sides clash to prove their superiority, not realizing a menacing new evil force has emerged to threaten them all. 

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"Obviously it had its genesis in Lilah and my work in Alice's Story," Grossman tells SYFY WIRE of how this latest adventure evolved. "It's interesting sharing The Magicians universe with other people and collaborating in it. That was the whole process with the TV show and I learned about doing it all over again with the comic ... It was very clear that Lilah as a writer can improvise in The Magicians world in a way that feels very authentic and integral with the books. Once we all realized she could do that and Pius could be there right with her, it made total sense that she would start creating her own characters and stories."

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His and Sturges' story starts at Brakebills with Dean Fogg still there presiding, so they haven't strayed too far from the timeline of the books.

"Circumstances have conspired to create a few openings in one of the classes, and Fogg decides to fill them with Hedge Witches," Grossman explains. "He brings in these people, which have always been the kind of [the] underside of the magic world, messy and chaotic and anarchical, where Brakebills is this fastidious, orderly ivory tower. Obviously, the combining of these two opposite worlds is instantly harmonious and nothing bad happens at all as a result. [Laughs.] This clashing together provides an opportunity to explore tensions that we never really got into in the books."

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Grossman believes Pius Bak's riveting art on this project reflected the added freedom of the team.

"The first time I saw pencils coming from him, I got a sense of that greater freedom — the characters are so expressive and I noticed a change especially in the way the magic looks," he recalls. "It's very striking and it has that realness that Pius can do. Supernatural or unreal things, when he draws them, have this texture and weight which make them feel very real and you really see that in these pages."

Seeing The Magicians move beyond the novels, to the small screen, then into comics and graphic novels has been a rewarding experience for Grossman.

"I'm a huge comics fan," he reveals. "It's kind of what I came out of as a creator and was never able to do comics before, for lots of reasons. I had not been very successful as a fiction writer up until The Magicians. It was a new thing for me and I really found my voice with it. To see it keep going like this is incredibly special and quite moving to me."

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Check out our exclusive peek at the premiere issue in the full gallery below. The Magicians #1 is presented with a main cover by Qistina Khalidah, along with the first in a series of special tarot card variants by artist Alexa Sharpe (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) spotlighting a brand-new magician as the Hierophant. The first issue arrives Nov. 6.