San Jose, CA - July 30, 2009 - This October SLG Publishing will release the first issue of Winchester, a comic book series about Sarah Winchester, heiress of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company fortune and architect of one of the oddest houses in the United States. Part historical fiction, part ghost story, Winchester will take the few facts known about the very private Sarah Winchester and try to provide a context for her building of the giant Winchester Mansion which is now an internationally known landmark and historic attraction.
“The place has always fascinated me,” said Winchester writer and San Jose native Dan Vado “I’ve lived around the corner from this place my entire life and it’s like the house has been begging me to write about it.”
After the death of her husband in 1881, Sarah Winchester took her twenty-million dollar fortune and $1,000 dollar per day tax-free income west to San Jose, California and bought an eight-room Victorian style farmhouse, which she immediately began renovating and adding on to. Construction on the house continued for 38 years nonstop until the day Sarah Winchester died. The popular belief was that Sarah Winchester built the house to appease the spirits of people killed by the Winchester Rifle.
“It would be easy to write Mrs. Winchester off as crazy, and to be honest that’s the direction we were taking with the comic series,” added Vado, “but then I thought about the tragedies in her life and the toll they must have taken on her, so I decided to make the Sarah Winchester in our series a more sympathetic figure.” Vado pointed to the number of patents Sarah Winchester held and the almost futuristic labor saving elements in the house as proof that, while odd, Sarah Winchester was not crazy or stupid. “The house was self-sufficient, one might call it green, well before there was even a name for it,” he pointed out.
The creative team wasted little time finding a new villain for the piece, deciding to make the ghost of Harry Houdini the new antagonist. Houdini had once visited the Winchester Mansion after the death of its owner and held a seance there. Later Houdini would spend his life debunking spiritualism and the supernatural, often debating the facts with Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. “I couldn’t resist the irony of making Houdini a ghost since he so clearly did not believe in them,” said Vado.
The Winchester Mansion in the series is not a tourist attraction but an abandoned mansion that locals all know to stay away from, difficult given its location right near a freeway and major shopping mall. A series of ghostly events are set in motion when a police detective gains access to the grounds to investigate a missing persons case. As the investigation unfolds bits and pieces of the Sarah Winchester story are revealed and we meet several famous spirits who have taken up residence in the old manse.
Winchester #1 is written by SLG Publishing president Dan Vado and Illustrated by Drew Rausch (Sullengrey and SLG’s Haunted Mansion). The first issue will ship in October 2009 and will be available at better comics shops and the companies own website (www.slgcomic.com).
A short preview of the art can be seen at the SLG website.