All good things…
Four years ago, Jim Zub and Steven Cummings launched Wayward at Image Comics giving readers a book title that came across as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer in Japan”, but over time has become much more, eventually even optioned for a television series. The lead character Rori Lane, along with her wayward crew, have defeated monsters from Japanese lore and from Zub and Cummings’ own creation, but now it’s time to start saying farewell to these magical schoolkids.
On Wednesday, Wayward #26 is the beginning of the final arc - the Wayward crew are reunited, but the Yokai haven’t stopped their path of death, with a great sacrifice coming into play that could change everything.
Newsarama caught up with Zub, Cummings, and colorist Tamra Bonvillain about the final arc, catching up fans, and what lies ahead for their final adventure.
Newsarama: Okay everyone, where are Rori and the rest of the Wayward club when we start this final arc here?
Jim Zub: Rori and the other wayward are trying to pinpoint the Yokai’s seat of power, a strange factory where fate and destiny are manipulated, called the Loom. At the same time, the Nurarihyon, a leader among the Yokai is willing to sacrifice anything to wipe out the threat the wayward represent to his kind’s continued existence. He’s used all earthly options at his disposal, and is going to go even deeper now. Put that together and it’s go-time for a final confrontation.
Steven Cummings: They are on the lam in a location I have been wanting to draw since the very beginning of the series. Without dropping any spoilers it's a very unique place in Tokyo and a great spot if you want to disappear from supernatural foes. I am very glad I was able to check this one off my list of places I wanted to set scenes in the series.
Nrama: Jim and Steven, this has sort of been your kid over the past four years, how do you feel about it finally coming to a close?
Zub: It feels weird but good. I think it's important we're able to finish it on our own terms and make a complete story that will hopefully satisfy readers new and old as they read it through. Finishing any kind of long term project like this feels a bit strange, like leaving an apartment and realizing you're not the same person you were when you moved in, but that the whole neighborhood has changed as well. All of us have grown and it'll be exciting to see what comes next.
Cummings: I am a little down about it. Rori and her voyage have been a big part of my life for the last few years and having to send her off is a little bittersweet. But at the same time we get to do it in a way that lets us wrap up the story as we see fit and I am thankful for that. It would have been a lot of fun to do more arcs and we definitely had ideas for them but this will be a solid wrap to the series.
Nrama: Tamra, talk to us about your color theory with some of these scenes here. Like, I think the scene with Emi and Shirai really pops here, what do you feel stands out the most and what was your thought process in it?
Tamra Bonvillain: Thanks! Usually I work backwards from what is required of the scene and accentuate from there. In the case of this sequence with Emi and Shirai, the scene takes place at night, and their character palettes are somewhat established. It's not true as much as it would be in some other comics where characters have uniforms, but I still try to sort of keep them coded by colors I associate with them when I can. So, in this case, that's a cool lighting scenario, and they're wearing coolish colors for the most part.
Since skin is warmer, it let's us focus on their expressions which are pretty key in this scene, and in the couple of spots that warrant really grabbing for our attention, I gave them more abstract, much warmer backgrounds to stand out from the otherwise cool backgrounds. I don't really go into the sequence this analytical about it, I mostly intuit it, and what works, what doesn't, but going backwards and examining it, this is why I made those decisions.
Nrama: Speaking of Emi and Shirai, how long has that been in the works?
Zub: It's something we started teasing around Wayward #13, so it's been slowly bubbling away in the background for a while. The series has so much angst and violence and I thought it might be nice to have some teen love in there too, even if it's fleeting in the face of everything they have to deal with.
Nrama: Jim, there's an essay about the death penalty in Japan that's a callback to the last scene in the issue, did you do any research yourself on the subject?
Zub: I did, because I wanted to make sure I got the details right, but for the back matter Zack Davisson stepped in as always to really flesh things out. I'm so glad we've able to continue that tradition of having the back matter essays every issue. I think it adds extra value to Wayward as a whole and broadens the context for the real world locations and myths we're working with in the series.
Nrama: What has the biggest thing you've all learned as creators since Wayward's first issue?
Zub: Using the real world as the basis of our fiction is a lot of extra work, but getting it right and having people notice the care we take is really satisfying.
Bonvillain: Wayward has been a very technically challenging book to work on, but I think ultimately that has pushed me to step up my own work. I don't know that I could point to A thing, it's just the experience overall has forced me to improve, and hopefully I've learned lessons that I carry with me to other projects as well.
Cummings: For time reasons we colored straight from pencils (which means they had to be tight and as complete as possible). So I learned how much I love inking by not doing it for so long!
Nrama: Do you feel like you've gotten to tell the story you wanted to?
Zub: It's a bit odd, because every project evolves from where it starts through to the end. None of my creator-owned series are what I originally thought they would be, but that's kind of the point. Stories evolve. There's an excitement to finding unexpected turns and making new decisions along the way. The ending we're heading to carries key elements of my original plan and it's the story that fits with the journey we've taken, and that's what matters. I'm excited for people to pick up the ending or read it all the way through.
Cummings: Absolutely. I am quite happy with what we have done and only feel slightly bad about how much hell we put Rori through in this adventure.