Interview: Jarvis and Au Explore Worlds of Mythology with WANDERLUST

Mythology is often a touchstone of culture and storytelling. In comics, multiple characters, settings, and story-lines have been lifted from ancient tales. Wanderlust: A Mythology Anthology seeks to represent and re-imagine these mythologies from around the world.

Wanderlust seeks to not only touch upon our most loved stories, but to also give a more diverse and global perspective on stories that often are viewed through a limited lens. As a huge mythology fan, I wanted to get to know the editors behind the project, Mariah Jarvis and Zoe Au, and the inspiration which led them to create their beautiful anthology.Wanderlust is currently on Kickstarter!

Cover art by Rio Burton

Nadia Shammas: Tell me a little about yourself. What kind of comics have you read that led you to wanting to create your own anthology?

Mariah Jarvis: I’ve been reading comics for years, and I’ve been a huge mythology nerd for even longer. In the past I was mostly an avid Marvel reader (just to name a few, Iron Man and Silk were particular favourites), but in recent years I’ve been trying to explore more indie comics.

I was lucky enough to be introduced to Check, Please! and Joyride through Zoe, which both became instant favourites of mine. More than anything, though, I’ve always had a fascination with fantasy literature and mythology… I’d say that’s what led me to be inspired from the anthology the most.

Zoe Au: I’ve mostly been a Big Two comic reader in the past, and anyone who’s ever met me can attest to the fact that I’m a huge fan of superheroes, Star Wars, and other similar media. In recent years I’ve started to read more indie titles and webcomics – The Wicked + The Divine, Joyride, and Stand Still. Stay Silent have been some of my favorites. My foray into reading indie comics has been what really kindled a deep love of creator-driven stories.

Art by Kyra S.

NS: What was your inspiration for creating Wanderlust? As in, what happened that made you think, we have to make this project a reality?

ZA: It started as a random idea I threw at Mariah one day. I’d been seeing a lot of posts from artists I follow about their participation in anthologies, zines, and the like and I somehow always seemed to hear about projects just after submissions had closed.

So I said, “what if we made our own zine?” and since we’re both deep lovers of mythology it seemed like the perfect subject to tackle.

At first we thought we’d find maybe 10 contributors for a little zine, but the sheer volume of incredible submissions we had quickly made this a much larger project than we had anticipated. Looking back to when we thought we could wrap this project up in less than two months, it’s almost laughable.

Art by Kholoud Al-Ejily

NS: You have some incredibly talented artists and creators in your roster. Can you tell me a little about your submission process? What were you looking for when you started to assemble the collection?

ZA: When we first came up with the idea back in July, we put up a post on Tumblr to see if anyone would even want to work on or read something like this – people seemed fairly interested, so we put out an open call for submissions that involved sending in sample works and a short pitch for the kind of stories they might like to explore. We were expecting maybe about 50 people, only to be blown away with almost 250 submissions.

Our criteria for going through submissions was, first and foremost, the quality of the work and whether the tone fit where we saw the book going. We make an interesting pair since Mariah tends to be very gentle while I’m a much harsher critic.

But the next most important thing we were looking for was the diversity in the stories that people pitched us. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our encouragements to think outside of Greco-Roman classics was barely necessary at all — many people were excited to explore myths from other regions and even more wanted to give voice to the stories from their own cultures.

Art by Juliette GMM Lopez

NS: What are some of your favorite myths personally? Was there any one particular story or type of myth you had hoped to see tackled in this anthology?

MJ: I’ve been interested mostly interested in Greek and Egyptian mythology, which is actually where I drew inspiration from for my piece for the anthology (particularly from Egyptian myth). Recently, I’ve developed an interest in Indigenous myth. I’ve taken a few classes on Indigenous literature in the past year and that’s certainly been responsible for sparking my interest.

As for what I’d hoped to see in the anthology… well, I actually don’t think I had anything in particular in mind! I just remember saying over and over “oh I hope we get people wanting to do myths from all over the world”… which we did! And I’m still so excited about. I’ve learned about so many beautiful myths through our contributors’ works.

ZA: I’ve always had a strong interest in both Norse and Greek mythologies, which is why both my print and my illustration for the anthology are based on figures from Norse myth. I honestly didn’t have any expectations for what the contributors would be doing; it’s been such a delightful learning process as our creators have exposed us to so many new myths and legends that I had never heard of before.

Art by Cheryl Young

NS: If Wanderlust is successfully funded, do you know what’s next for you or the project?

MJ: Firstly, I’m going to focus on finishing up my undergraduate degree… also, hopefully I will have the chance to REST for a while after this project wraps up. This project has been insane (in a good way) and a lot of work… but totally worth it.

Even if we don’t get funded, I feel like everything that I’ve learned in the past six months is invaluable. No matter what the outcome, I’m so glad I got a chance to co-create this project.

After that, I’m going to focus on my own writing for a while. I have some short stories that I’ve been trying to get out into the world, so it’ll be nice to be able to spend time on that! I’ve considered doing some smaller scale projects similar to this one in the near-ish future, but for now I’m just trying to focus my attention on this anthology… I do have a tendency to get ahead of myself!

ZA: Our first priority if the project is funded is, of course, getting the anthology printed and delivered into the hands of all our wonderful supporters. Once that’s done, I think we’re both going to want to take a very, very long nap.

Beyond that, if we ever decide to take on another anthology project like this in the future, I think we’ll want to have a team to help things run smoother. This project has been a learning experience for sure. As for me personally, I’m hoping to start showing my work at local cons here in Southern California, so if you’re in the area you may see me in artist alley in the near future!

Art by Adrienne Valdes

NS: Do you have any final words for our Comicosity readers?

MJ: Well, I just want to say that I truly, truly appreciate every single person who has taken an interest in our project. Zoe and I had no idea how big this project would be when we started, and we watched it grow right before our eyes.

Of course, that meant we had to grow with it, and that’s part of why this project is so immensely important to us. We’re so proud of all our artists and writers, we’re so proud of the book, and we’re so excited for what the book could be if we’re successful. Every bit of support means the world to us.

ZA: I just really want to thank everyone who’s shown their support so far — whether they’ve pledged to the Kickstarter or shared one of our posts, every little bit helps, so thank you!

Pledge today to make Wanderlust a reality on Kickstarter!


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