Despite what the title may say, Jim Zub and Steve Cummings' Wayward looks to have found its way quite well.
Described by some fans "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer in Japan," Wayward just finished its second arc with #10. And with a second collected edition due out later this month an an all-inclusive deluxe edition in October, Wayward's co-creator and artist Steve Cummings spoke with us about the end of the second chapter, a holistic look at the series, along with the mythological elements it pulls from and his adopted home of Japan.
Newsarama: Steve, how does it feel to have Wayward #10 on shelves now?
Steve Cummings: It feels great! We have been working on this for a while now but at the same time it still feels like just yesterday when we started producing pages. Seeing our story's issue number go to double digits is just amazing given all the work that goes into it and it really adds fuel to our working fires as we are currently working on the third arc.
Nrama: What led you to sign on to do Wayward with Jim Zub in the first place?
Cummings: He and I had been talking off again and on again about doing a project together but schedule-wise it never seemed to work out. Just as soon as we would start talking we would realize that our line-up of work would keep us from being able to begin planning something and the discussion would get shelved for another day. That other day finally came a few years ago when we both managed to have a hole in our work loads and started talking again about what kind of creator-owned fun we could do. So it was a very slow burn build up to get to the point where we could start putting ideas on paper (or in Jim's case on the computer screen) . But during that time when schedules were not clicking to let us work together I enjoyed seeing all that Jim was working on and was especially impressed with the way Skullkickers was growing, not just as a story but also as a model for doing creator-owned comics. That really kept me hoping for the day we could work together on something.
Nrama: How do you think Emi Ohara has grown over the series so far? And have you changed the way you approach drawing her?
Cummings: Well Ohara makes her first appearance in Wayward #6 when we shift the focus of the story for a few issues. She starts out as a very good/proper girl going to school and home and back to school again. We change her by showing how she starts to open up and experience the real world (you know, of monsters and freaky powers!) and we slowly start to bring her out of her shell. Art-wise in the first few issues where she makes her appearance I don't really change her up too much. While she is coming to grips with this new world she is a part of she is still trying to play the role of proper obedient daughter so I don't deviate her appearance too much. That will all change in the third story arc though when we see how the world is changing for our characters.
Nrama: Her powers seem right up an artist's alley to be able to draw different things. Is her powers and the diversity it allows a boon or a curse for you drawing every day?
Cummings: Her powers manifest in her body changing to mimic man-made objects in the world around. All she has to do is touch something man-made and she can shift her body to look like it. So by touching glass she can change part of her form to be glassy and see-through. It really makes her a fun character to draw since it means I can go all out and show no restraint when I am doing a scene with her utilizing that power.
Nrama: Wayward delves deep into Japanese culture and mythology, but that's something you've shown yourself interested in over the years in your various work. Do you think being a fan as much as you are fo those is necessary to draw Wayward?
Cummings: It definitely helps. I don't think we could do Wayward the way we are doing it if I weren't a fan of Japan and its culture and rich folklore. From a visual standpoint this is a detail rich environment so you have to be kind of crazy for it to try to get the look and feel right. It helps me suggest things to Jim too. Some of the little things I tell him are so obscure that no one would really know about them if they were really interested in Japan and its culture.
Nrama: One of the easy ways people have used to describe Wayward has been "Buffy in Japan." Do you think that analogy holds, especially as the series has developed?
Cummings: That is a hard question to answer. It was a very apt way of describing the series when it started but Wayward has definitely become its own animal over the last 10 issues. And the arc we are working on now that starts with #11 really take the story in a new direction!
Nrama:After Wayward #10, the book is taking a three month break to prep for new issues. How does having that break help you in terms of scheduling, but without the series roping in a guest artist?
Cummings: I am already working on #11 but thanks to the break I was able to take a short break and take care of some things that needed handling. One of the issues I deal with is that Wayward's pages take a long time to draw most of the time. While there are some shorter pages that I can nail down in about 6 hours all of the detail and background involved can take the art creation up to 12 hours. And that's for a normal page! So there is no time to do all the little errands and handle the things that come with living life. So once Wayward #10 was done we took some time to fix up the house and get out and enjoy living in Japan as a family. That kind of breathing space helps me stay energized for each new arch! By the time the next issue hits the stands I will probably be on #13 or 14 and the end of the arc (for me) will be in sight!
Nrama: The Vol. 2 collection comes out this month, but there’s a deluxe edition of the first 10 issues in October. What can you tell us about the additional material in the deluxe edition?
Cummings: There are all kinds of extra goodies in that book. Around 70 pages or so of extra material that is not in the normal trades. The deluxe edition contains both the first and the second arc in a hard cover binding that has a new cover and includes the backmatter from the individual issues as well as some new musings by Zack Davisson and sketches, character design work, all of the covers used in the first 10 issues (there were a lot!!!) and a poster insert of the covers from issues #6 through #10 which connected to form a giant super-illustration. Even the covers to the Japanese edition doujinshi are included in there.
Nrama: Looking ahead, how far ahead are you for Wayward #11 and beyond?
Cummings: I am in issue 11 right now and expect to be here for until mid August. Hopefully I can keep up this pace and we can get this all wrapped up by January or so. Only time will tell!