Jim Zub is one of the best kinds of creators. He’s a fan of comics and he’s fantastic at interacting with is fans. Don’t believe me? Check out the blog that he updates on a regular basis. Another thing that is really fantastic about Jim, is that his comic Wayward is about to hit issue #6 and go into it’s second arc. The comic comes out from Image Comics and Jim was very gracious enough to chat with us over here at DFAT and give us a little more background his life, comics, Japanese culture, and more. Check out our interview below!
Casey: I’ve read a lot of comparisons are made to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. How did that parallel come into writing the comic?
Jim: It wasn’t something I thought too much about while Steve and I were creating the comic, it was really more of something I thought about once it was announced and we were trying to get the word out about our new series.
Wayward isn’t Buffy, but the core concept of teenagers fighting the supernatural while juggling their own high school-age problems is similar enough that I felt it was a good way to explain the story quickly to people who hadn’t tried it before. “It’s like Buffy in Japan” is a simple statement that can intrigue possible readers, who are then able to try it out and see how much more we have to offer.
Wayward is about myths in the modern world, the difficulty of starting a new life, the culture and history of Japan, and big action.
Casey: Action is a huge part of this comic and it’s so dynamic. I also loved the Japanese elements that are throughout the book and I especially enjoyed that you go deeper into the culture at the end sections of the comic. What were the most influential elements of the culture that shaped the comic’s creation?
Jim: Steve Cummings, my co-creator, and I are both big fans of yokai, Japanese folktale spirits and creatures, and they have a big part to play in the story we put together for Wayward. Japan’s monster lore is deep and varied and there’s tons of great material there to explore.
Casey: You guys do a great job of blending the Japanese lore with the modern setting that Rori and the others interact in. Without giving away future plot elements, where did the idea of the killer turtles and animals come from? I don’t want to sound insulting, because it’s actually a compliment, but all I could think about was samurai Koopas from Super Mario Bros.
Jim: Kappa are traditional foot soldier monsters from Japanese historical folklore. Steve made them look nastier than they’ve been shown in some artwork, but they’re based on the traditional stories. I expect the “Koopas” from Mario are a riff on the traditional “kappas” as well.
All of the creatures we introduce in Wayward are based on yokai from Japanese folklore, only we update them for a more modern world. We have lots of cool ones to choose from and I can’t wait for readers to see what we have coming in issue 6 and beyond.
Casey: I’m so excited for this next arc to start in March! The world you’ve created can only grow and get better. I know you do a fantastic job with writing the comic but I have to give credit to the other members of the team as well. The collaborates you have for Wayward is brilliant. Did Image put them together or did you get to decide who would help with artwork and lettering?
Jim: Thanks! As with most Image books, we put together our own team before we even pitched the story to Eric Stephenson (head of Image Central). Image creators are in complete control of their own production, though obviously the office helps out a ton with publishing-related needs like graphic design, printing, shipping, and advertising as needed.
Casey: It’s great that Image gives you that kind of freedom to create how you want to, and they just help assist. You’ve also been lucky to do creator owned comics with Wayward and your other comic, Skullkickers. What’s the good and bad of running your own comics?
Jim: It’s a ton of work and you have to pay attention and approve a lot of stuff that other people deal with in a work-for-hire situation, but I enjoy it. I like being a part of the process all the way through and knowing that the book is exactly what I want it to be, even if it can be exhausting sometimes. Image does a great job at leaving control in the creator’s hands while giving them support and a structure to work with.
Casey: Well, it’s apparent that you’re giving us readers the best comic that you can. Reading through Wayward makes me see it as an anime, any plans to make an animated version of the comic if it continues to do as well as it does?
Jim: It’s not something that’s imminent, but obviously I’d be thrilled to see Wayward expand out into other mediums like animation or games. That’s not something I have control of until we find a production partner who wants to make it happen.
Casey: As the comic continues to grow and the next arc comes out, I’m one fan who would love to see Wayward get out there to other mediums; so, I’m hoping it happens! Now, you have a lot of characters in the comic, out of the main characters in Wayward, who do you most relate to? Also, who would you want to be if put into the same situation as Rori?
Jim: I know it’s a bit cliché, but all the characters embody elements of me, though they’re almost all quite exaggerated or pushed into other areas. Rori’s the natural choice since she’s the main character of the first arc, but I don’t think I’d want to be under the kind of strain she’s feeling in those issues. We’re definitely putting the cast through difficult times as the story moves forward.
Casey: I’m sure all of our readers are in for a fantastic ride as things ramp up in March and only get crazier for the characters.