Middlewest is a new ongoing series written by Skottie Young (I Hate Fairyland) and drawn by Jorge Corona (Feathers). I had the opportunity to ask Young some questions during a Twitch Livestream and interview Corona while at NYCC. The following is a blend of the two interviews.
Tito W. James: Talk to me about Middlewest. How did this project come about?
Skottie Young: Middlewest is kind of my first jump into more serious fare. People who’ve been following me for years with Rocket Raccoon, Deadpool, I Hate Fairyland, and Bully Wars [will notice] that most of my books have leaned towards comedy. Middlewest is much more of a personal story. There’s a lot of snap-shots of my actual life woven into a magical realism world of the mid-west.
It’s about a young teenage boy named Abel who lives in a small town with his dad. The story starts with the struggles between these two characters. Eventually their relationship comes to a head and Abel decides to strike out on his own. From there Abel seeks to confront the monsters within his family and possibly the monsters that are within himself.
I think people who like old school Don Bluth movies, Miyazaki movies, or The Neverending Story–You know those darker coming of age stories will enjoy this book.
Jorge Corona: In Miyazaki movies, the environment is also a character. I mean it’s called Middlewest, so the land itself is a big part of telling the characters journey.
TWJ: What is it like to be an artist working with another artist has the writer? Is it different from other writer/artist collaborations?
JC: For sure, it’s different. We know what want visually in a more concise way. What’s great about working with Skottie on this book is that from the get go he let me go crazy with the esthetic of the book.
TWJ: Middlewest looks very distinctive from everything else out in comic shops. There’s a great sensual quality to it and a hand-drawn animation feel.
JC: I’ve always been influenced by movies and animation. Actually as a kid, animation was what got me into comics. So I always try to bring a little bit of that when I work on a project.
Our colorist Jean Francois Beaulieu, works magic! I adapted what I had to draw to make bringing the line-work and the colors together as seamless as possible.
TWJ: Middlewest has the potential to tap into the dark side of fantasy. How dark are we going?
JC: We explore the fear of the open field. It’s so vast, yet at the same time it feels like something is looking back at you. It’s so big and your so small in this environment. It always feels like you’re surrounded even though you can’t see anything.
I tried to capture that feeling in the book.The idea that even though the environment is very open it seems to swallow the main character.
SY: We are going to focus a lot on breaking the cycle of abuse in families. Sometimes there’s toxic masculinity that young boys need to deal with from generation to generation.
I am of an age where my grandparents were in WWII, and our parents would have been in Vietnam, and now there’s our generation. We are three very different styles of people and parents, siblings, and spouses. We’ve learned how to deal with our emotions and our baggage in different ways.
I think some generations dealt with it very physically. Some tried to drown their emotions with substances. And finally I think we are starting to see people try to talk it out.
Those are the underlying of themes that we are going to deal with during the story while taking Abel on a big quest. It’s in the same vein as a classic story like Pinocchio, where he goes on this giant pretty dark quest to try to figure out his humanity.
TWJ: What do you hope readers get out of Middlewest?
JC: Even though the story is clearly very personal for Skottie, it’s also very universal. We all go through that time growing up when we realize that we may need to break from what’s considered normal in our family. I think that “coming of age story” is universal no matter who you are or where you come from.
Even though I’m from Latin America, there’s an aspect to those open fields and that flat scenery that I remind me of road trips with my father. There’s a lot of folklore that comes with those flatlands. There’s a lot of that in this books. All the fantastical elements feel like stories you would hear.
When your a kid in an open field your imagination can go wild, a tree could be a creature and a rock could be hiding a whole civilization. It’s that kind of fantasy environment that I think makes this book special.
SY: I am dying for people to read this comic. It’s probably one of my favorite things that I have ever done!
I’d like to thank Scottie Young and Jorge Corona for taking the time to talk about Middlewest. Look for the book on store shelves November 21.