We had a chance to talk with writer Jim Zub about his comic series Wayward, which follows the story of a group of teenagers in Japan taking on mythical monsters. Issue #11 will be released from Image Comics on November 18th. Here’s what he had to say:
Wayward is a book that takes a lot of cues from Japanese manga. What are some of your favorite manga books, or the ones that influenced Wayward the most?
I’m actually going to disagree with you there. Wayward takes most of its cues from Japanese mythology and the real city of Tokyo. Many manga draw upon the same historical source material, so there’s understandably a lot of crossover, but we’re not trying to make a manga.
That said, I do enjoy manga and have read a lot of titles over the years. Some of my favorites, and ones that probably do influence me a bit as I work away on Wayward, include Blade of the Immortal, Video Girl Ai, Pluto, Akira, and Mai the Psychic Girl.
Have you spent time in Tokyo? How did you go about doing your research for the book?
I’ve travelled to Tokyo several times, including for my honeymoon. Steven (the artist on the book) lives in Yokohama, just outside of Tokyo, so between the two of us we came into Wayward with good working knowledge of the city. Having Steven right there in Japan is invaluable and he’s constantly making suggestions in terms of locations and cultural elements we can include.
I dug into quite a few books and websites about Yokai and Japanese culture. Funny enough, one of the websites I really found helpful when I was putting the story together was hyakumonogatari.com run by Zack Davisson. After the series was announced Zack came on board our team to write the Japanese mythology essays in the back of each issue. Between Zack and Steven I have a real wellspring of Japanese history and cultural lore to draw upon while figuring out the story.
Wayward is a comic about a team of teenagers with magical powers. There is an obvious parallel to teenage superhero comics, like Young Avengers and Teen Titans. Are you a fan of teen superhero books, and is Wayward influenced by them?
The closest parallel is probably X-Men or New Mutants since our teens are misunderstood, hunted, and unsure of their powers or where they fit within society. I grew up reading a slew of Marvel books, including the X-books, and I’m sure those bounce around my subconscious as I’m working away on Wayward, but I’m not trying to copy them outright or anything like that.
Issue #11 is coming on November 18th, and with it a brand new story arc. How has the status quo changed in Wayward, now that the characters of the book have risen as “the new gods of Japan?” What exactly does it mean to be a god of Japan?
The stakes have definitely been raised in the story. Rori’s actions at the end of issue #10 have thrust things out into the public eye. The people of Tokyo can’t ignore the strange things happening around them anymore and that creates all sorts of different pressures. The Yokai and our wayward teens are on a collision course and within those two sides there are a lot of inner politics and strife to be dealt with.
In terms of godhood, I don’t want to tip our hand too early so all I can say on that front is to keep reading! 🙂
Do you have a plan for the ending of Wayward? How many issues do you expect to produce?
We do have an ending planned, but I don’t have an exact issue for when that will be happening. The ending is pretty set but the middle is variable. We have lots of ideas where the story can go and, if our readership stays stable or grows then we’ll be able to indulge a lot more of those possible pathways before the big finish.
At Word of the Nerd, we love to talk to creators about their process, and how to get started as a comics creator. What advice do you have for new creators just starting out?
No one is going to hire you to write/draw comics for them until you prove that you can do it on your own at a professional level. Create your own comic stories. It’s a lot easier to start with short stories so you can complete them more quickly and critique your own work to see where the gaps are on your pathway to delivering publishable/professional quality. Like any skill, practice and perseverance have a big role to play in reaching that goal.
On my website (www.jimzub.com) I have a bunch of different tutorials about writing comics, including script formatting, pitching, finding artists, working with publishers, and the economics of creator-owned comics.
Wayward #11 will be released from Image Comics on November 18th. Wayward is written by Jim Zub and illustrated by Steven Cummings and Tamra Bonvillain.
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