I struggled for some time with a strange question, something only writers of fiction ever have to consider: should I have the Huachucas talk?
So far in the course of the comic, they had been presented as a silent menace. Half-glimpsed nightmare figures, in their own way as frightening or more frightening than the zombies. That had been intentional. One of the original inspirations for them was the “Street Thunder” gang from John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, whose members remain eerily silent throughout their entire reign of terror on the police station and its surroundings. The name Huachuca is a loosely translated native American word for “place of thunder”, and just in case that wasn’t an obvious enough homage Suzie even noted that “Desert Thunder” was something else they were called.
There was also the thought of contrasting the very talkative antagonists we’ve presented so far in Muriel and “Mr. Clean” (as the fans have named our shadowy executive… and I kind of like that nickname since it not only applies to his bald exterior but his removed state from the dirty proceedings he oversees). But in the end, Dawn and I talked it over and decided that continuing the silence of the Huachucas and their Brujefe probably wasn’t as necessary or powerful a concept as we originally imagined.
For one thing, I think such a thing plays out with far more impact on film than it would in a comic. In comic panels, even when there are no words, our brains often fill in entire conversations occurring… a phenomenon we’ve actually made use of in the past. It’s what makes those comics that decide to have no word balloons or narration work and still tell effective stories to us as readers. We’ll even fill in all the necessary sound effects.
Given that, I’m not sure how many times we could have our Brujefe standing around smiling with her dolls before it ceased being eerie and people started making up pithy MST3k dialogue to fill the void. Perhaps it’s the wrong decision, but on the issue of silence, luckily there’s other examples out there of brutal outlaws who aren’t as silent but are certainly still menacing. You don’t get much more talky than Lord Humungus, for instance, but I don’t want to meet him in a dark alley, no matter how much some might have seen him as a reasonable man.
Keeping the Huachucas silent could have been an interesting gimmick, but I think in the end it would have been just that: a gimmick, rather than something that helped the story. In the minds of the average person I’m sure they remain figures of nightmare, but one of my most important credos with any villain is that they never see themselves as villains. The Huachucas may be brutal and capable of great cruelties, especially to those outside their circle, but they’re still human in the end. Communicating is something humans do.
I just have to remember, Hitler was human as well. He communicated quite a bit.
And with that invocation of Godwin’s law upon myself, I shall end here. The rest is silence.