Image courtesy of Image Comics.
Some time after New York Comic Con, we were given the opportunity to speak with the creative team behind the popular Image comic, Wayward. It’s a comic series we’ve followed since issue 1 and the perfect blend of storytelling with heart and well thought art. If you have yet to read the series, writer Jim Zub, along with artists Steven Cummings and Tamra Bonvillain have created an intriguing world of monsters and characters with real pathos. Nancy of What’cha Reading originally wrote that “Wayward is a wonderful coming of age series that rings a little closer to truth than one might expect from a supernatural comic.” If that doesn’t sell you, then check out our conversation with the very people that have given readers a new comic series to get excited for!
What’cha Reading: Hello everyone. I’m Steven with What’cha Reading. First, I’d like to say how much we all enjoy the series Wayward. Right now, Wayward has been in publication for a little over a year. It’s a very different kind of title than most of Image’s other series. Jim, could you tell us a little bit about how you came up with the concept for the series?
Jim Zub: Back in 2010 Steve did a really cool black & white illustration for UDON’s 10th Anniversary artbook (called ‘Vent’) and it really grabbed my eye. I asked him what it was about and he mentioned he’d been wanting to create a supernatural story set in Tokyo but that he hadn’t had time to develop it. That connected really well with a supernatural story idea I had (that didn’t have a location nailed down) and was the springboard for bouncing ideas back in forth, figuring out what the core of this story could be and creating something we were both energized to work on. The original illustration that kicked the whole thing off was actually the cover to WAYWARD #1, beautifully colored up by Ross A. Campbell.
The heart of Wayward is looking at mythology’s place in the modern world. It’s old versus new, tradition versus progress.
What’cha Reading: Jim, that’s a great way to put it. “Looking at mythology’s place in the modern world.” Of course with that comes the development of the hero. And with Rori, she feels like a person you’d know, especially in how much she’s suffered in the real world. I’d like to ask you about the development of that character? Has she evolved over the time that it took you to write the first issue? And is her current story arc still on course with what you had originally envisioned for her? How much of a collaboration and idea did you have for this world going into the story?
Jim Zub: Rori’s definitely evolved a lot as the story has rolled forward. Originally she was just one character out of six, but once I started nailing down the first arc I realized her arriving in Tokyo provided a really strong structure to the story and gave readers a touchstone character, someone they could follow along with whether or not they knew anything about Japan or its mythology.
As the story has developed I think I’ve gotten more bold with where it’s all heading. Steve and I have discussed several times the fact that with a creator-owned series we can take bigger risks and Rori’s character development and her role as the “main” character has definitely changed because of that. Switching from Rori to Ohara as the focal point character was one of those big changes and there’s more to come.
Tamra Bonvillain: I had done some variant covers, but I didn’t come on for interiors until the last bit of issue 3, and from then on, so a lot of things were established already. Most of my contributions are in the look of certain characters’ powers, costume colors, etc.
Steven Cummings: Jim and I from the beginning have periodically talked about ideas, themes, characters, and locations/things about Japan and Tokyo. All things we can add into the story as it goes along to develop not just the characters but the world around them. A lot of my non-art contributions are in telling him about interesting locations in the city and local lore, for instance like the Goshikifudo (5 colored eye shrines that protect the city) and suggesting locations that either match where we are going in this tale or places that I really, REALLY, want to draw. And in that last case Jim has been kind enough to help place events in those locations which makes drawing this story a dream.
What’cha Reading: Steve & Tamra – “Wayward” has a very specific style and look. The art has seemed to change a little over the course of the series? Do you feel that visually the book or a story you’re working on needs to change and evolve over its run? Do you feel there are any challenges with a successful book in regards to actively wanting to try something different?
Tamra Bonvillan: Part of that may be due to the color change? I tried to remain true to what John had done, while still doing my own thing. Over the course of the series, new characters and locations have been introduced, so I’ve gotten to set the tone and look for that myself. I think you want to keep things fresh and interesting, so I try to come up with new palettes once we move into different areas, but still keeping it grounded in what came before so that it all feels cohesive.
Steven Cummings: If it has changed I can’t tell yet. Perhaps I am just too close to it as I draw pages every day. The coloring of course is different from the beginning now that we have Tamra on board so you could say that aspect is different but in a very good way. She has been nice enough to listen to all the direction we have about the colors and honestly there are a lot since we are trying to make sure the Tokyo in the comic is “right”. But whether a story needs to evolve… I can’t say that it has to beyond the characters evolving. I know that as I draw more and more pages/covers the way I draw the characters etc will slowly change. That is pretty much unavoidable but also a good thing.
What’cha Reading: Jim, we’re looking forward to seeing how the story unfolds. We’ve all enjoyed it since issue 1. Now I’m very interested in how it is for all you to work on a creator owned property. What has your experience been like working with Image on “Wayward” as opposed to working with Marvel, IDW, and Dynamite to name a few?
Jim Zub: Creator-owned is obviously a lot different than work-for-hire. The work I’ve done for other companies (Marvel, DC, Dynamite, IDW, Dark Horse, etc.) has been about bringing some of my storytelling sensibilities to an established property and making sure that I’m adding something to the mix without moving outside of the needed parameters of those IPs. I enjoy the challenge and it’s taught me a lot about solving story problems and delivering on spec. That said, the priority on those projects is about the property itself. The readership onSamurai Jack was formed by fans of the Cartoon Network series. The people picking up D&D: Legends of Baldur’s Gate played the video game or tabletop game. Me being on board can be a benefit but it’s not the priority.
Working on a creator-owned series at Image is a wonderful (and a bit nerve-wracking) experience because it’s all about us building something brand new from scratch. We get to indulge ourselves with story concepts and characters that please us, but we also don’t have the established structure to fall back on. Every Image project is a passion project that wouldn’t exist without that momentum built by the creators. I think that’s the biggest difference.
I really enjoy juggling both types of projects. They exercise different creative “muscles” and keep me growing as a writer.
What’cha Reading: I’d like to start by thanking all of you for your time. We greatly appreciate it and we’re also very excited to see where “Wayward” continually heads. In concluding this interview, I’d like to ask one final question of all of you. For those that have yet to read “Wayward”, why do you believe this is a title they should be picking up?
Jim Zub: Wayward has an eclectic mix of mythology and magic, filled to the brim with action and drama. Steve’s artwork is intricate and engaging, showcasing our characters and locations with incredible detail and Tamra’s colors enhance those pages with rich mood and lush special effects.
Steven Cummings: Rori’s adventure is just starting and the surreal and magical world we have created in Japan is only going to expand.
Tamra Bonvillain: We all put a lot of work into every page, and if you’re into magic teenagers fighting supernatural monsters, Japan, uh… cats? Then you’ll be into it.
What’cha Reading: And, in one word, how would you describe “Wayward” issue 11?
Jim Zub: “Unexpected”.
Steven Cummings: “Epic”
Tamra Bonvillain: “Magical.”
*What’cha Reading would like to thank Jim Zub, Steven Cummings, and Tamra Bonvillain for their time. Thank you for speaking with us. We’d also like to thank Briah Skelly at Image Comics for helping set this interview up for us.
Steven, of What’cha Reading, would like to thank Nancy Joyce, of OnWednesdays
, for her assistance in helping navigate through the world, mythology, and characters of Wayward
About WAYWARD #11 (release date 11/18):
It took some adjusting for Rori Lane when she moved to Japan—culture shock, sure, but there was also the dark supernatural underbelly of Tokyo to contend with. Now, the new gods of Japan are rising, and the world will never be the same. The question is: will the old myths survive?
WAYWARD TAKES OFF IN A NEW STORY ARC
Collect all five issues in this story arc to fit them into a massive WAYWARD illustration
Writer Jim Zub (SKULLKICKERS) and artists Steven Cummings (THE DARKNESS, Gene Pool) and Tamra Bonvillain (RAT QUEENS, Black Dawn) will launch a new story arc in their spectacularly supernatural ongoing series WAYWARD this November. WAYWARD #11’s cover A will be part one of five connecting covers—one per each issue in this story arc—that will fit together into a panorama illustration.
Previously in WAYWARD, Rori Lane faced some unique challenges settling into her new life in Japan. She and an eclectic band of other gifted youths battled the dark underbelly of the supernatural. The battle was not without its losses, and it continues to rage.
In WAYWARD #11, the new gods of Japan rise in Tokyo and the world will never be the same. The question is: will the old myths survive?
“Our second story arc ended with massive revelations and the repercussions of those will ripple across Japan and beyond,” said Zub. “The supernatural forces that hunt our teens have been thrust out into the open and a clash between the old world and new will push Tokyo to the brink of disaster. It’s big crazy stuff and I can’t wait for readers to see what we have in store.”
WAYWARD #11 Cover A by Steven Cummings and Tamra Bonvillain (Diamond code: SEP150583) hits stores Wednesday, November 18th. Cover B by Nick Bradshaw (Diamond code: SEP150584) and Cover C by Karibu (Diamond code: SEP150585) will also be availableWednesday, November 18th. Final order cutoff deadline for retailers is Monday, October 26th.