Wes Craig Discusses The Landscapes And Half-Siblings Of His Upcoming ‘Kaya’

by Rachel Bellwoar

Deadly Class may be almost over, but you won’t have to wait long for artist Wes Craig‘s next project. The first issue of Kaya drops the week before Deadly Class‘ final issue. Kaya and Jin are half-siblings who grew up under very different circumstances. There’s a prophecy, a robot empire called the Atrians, and lots more fantasy goodness for readers who take the plunge. With colors by Jason Wordie and letters by AndWorld Design, find out what Craig was willing to disclose over email (and what secrets you’re going to have to read the series to discover).

Rachel Bellwoar: Kaya and Jin are the kind of half-siblings where the “half” part can never be left unsaid. What made you want to center a series around siblings (and more specifically, half-siblings, with all of that baggage and built-in conflict)?

Wes Craig: I think part of the answer is in that question: there’s a lot of baggage and built-in conflict, which makes for a compelling story. If we think of the average 13-year-old girl and her 8-year-old little brother in real life, that’s already a pretty tense relationship! Now add in that they’re half-siblings, one raised as a lowly hunter, one raised as a prince. They barely know each other and now Kaya has been tasked with protecting Jin on this dangerous journey, the weight of the world on both their shoulders…

Yeah that’s a lot of tension, and a lot of directions that it can go, which I think is needed for an ongoing series like this.

Bellwoar: Given that this series is so much about their relationship, why title it Kaya, and not Kaya and Jin?

Craig: I think that was more a decision of commerce over art, honestly. At one point it was gonna be Kaya & Jin, actually. But I thought if it was just KAYA that would be bolder, more simple, and I could make the logo REALLY big. And when you’re fighting for attention on a comic rack or book shelf with hundreds of other titles, that’s important.

Bellwoar: Remembering how you behaved as a child can be a very cringe-inducing experience. What made you want to add that component into this story with having Jin narrate the series in retrospect?

Craig: That’s exactly it. Looking back on what you did as a kid, most of it you go “what an idiot I was” but also there’s those moments where you can be proud of things you did and marvel at how you had some bit of wisdom back then that you’ve lost now. One influence on the series is the narration from the old Conan movie (the Arnold Schwarzenegger one), and another is the movie Stand By Me where it’s narrated by one of the kids as a grown up. I like how narration can round out the story, it can tell you more about what it FELT like – how it smelled, how hot or cold it was, it can also give you an ominous (or hopeful) glimpse of the future. For me it helps give the story more dimension.

Bellwoar: There’s something about seeing robots in the desert (where they’re so out of place) that’s an absolute joy. On the art-side of things, any regrets about setting this series in the desert?

Craig: It’s not actually set in the desert. That’s a misunderstanding I’ve seen a few times, but it’s not really a problem for me, since I think It’ll be that much cooler when readers get to see all the different settings Kaya and Jin will pass through. It starts off in the desert and scrub that surrounds Kaya’s home (now ashes thanks to the Robot Empire). But soon they move into more fertile, but no less dangerous, terrain. I feel like different environments, different extreme forms of weather, will be a big part of the visual fun of the series.

Bellwoar: Eyes are emphasized a lot in the character designs for Kaya (there’s even a cyclops robot in the zero issue) Is there any significance to the markings around Kaya and Jin’s eyes?

Craig: Yes, but I’m not sure if I should say what the significance is. My instinct is telling me to keep it a secret for now so that’s what I’m gonna do. Gotta play it mysterious with some things. Haha. But yeah there’s definitely a meaning behind that.

Bellwoar: Other than the threat of Atrians hanging over their heads, Kaya and Jin spend most of the zero issue on their own. Can readers expect that to be the norm in this series or will there be other characters who show-up in the future?

Craig: I’d say that I’m gonna try to make sure there is no “norm” for the series. Kaya and Jin (and therefore the readers) will have to constantly readjust to ever changing landscapes, threats, and even allies. Sometimes it’ll be just the two of them, sometimes they’ll be in a gang.

Come to think of it, I can’t even promise the TWO of them will always be together…

Bellwoar: Thanks for agreeing to this interview, Wes!

Craig: Thank you! They’re great questions. I hope everybody can contact their local comic shop and let them know they want KAYA on their pull-list. That really helps comic shops gauge reader interest and can have a huge effect on how many copies they order. It’s thirty-one pages of story plus extra content at the back for $3.99.

So if you’re interested, let your shop know. It’s order code AUG220055. The last day to order is September 12th, and it’ll be in comic shops on October 5th.

The zero issue is available to read online here. Kaya #1 goes on sale October 5th from Image Comics.

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