BWS on "THE BEGUILING"

“All told, this story took an average of 5 weeks per page; not a money making project, I can assure you. I wrote the script as a freeform poem, taking the cadence from a Swinburne work. Or was it Strindberg? I’ve forgotten now. I recently found my original plot scribbled out on a sheet of pencil designs for the cover picture. That version was less personal, but I changed the course of the story after going through a crisis with my lady of that period. In that regard, the story is reflective of its time, and also prophetic.

"The scene of the snakes and fish wriggling out of the stone wall is very strange. I almost cut it out, thinking that it was just too weird, but my editor, Archie Goodwin, convinced me to keep it in. ‘It’s weird,’ he said, ‘but it’s a really good weird.’

"By following his ideal woman, the young knight is submitting to a leap of faith, symbolized by walking through the solid wall as if it were immaterial. His turning to stone implies that the woman is really the Medusa. My Medusa, that is, where behind the facade of her beauty lurks something unknown and unknowable. This is the only time I’ve used the turning to stone thing, yet the woman looks nothing at all like my other Medusa images. We see her the way the knight does, as an angel. Although the man becomes nothing more than a trophy, he continues to have faith in what he believes to be his true love. You know, ‘blissfully unaware.’ It’s not that apparent, and I really should have reworked the scene a bit, but in the last three panels his once- outstretched left arm is broken off, and the ivy has become overgrown, swallowing him up over the long passage of time. Yet still his entire focus is on his imaginal life, and the angelic soul-mate of his dreams. It’s a bitter ending for one so idealistic.”

 

Above: A detail from "The Beguiling" (1982)