Cara Ellison’s Five Pop Culture Influences For ‘The Final Girls’ On ComiXology Originals
by Olly MacNamee
Out now on comiXology Originals, The Final Girls is a new dark humoured superhero series set in Scotland and imagines a world in which only a handful or superheroes still exist.
“The world’s most popular superheroes have come and gone. The year is 2030 and most of the glamorous American superheroes of the last era have been wiped out, leaving only a handful to deal with the world’s crises. Welcome to The Final Girls.
… The Final Girls is set six years after the hero collective the Scottish tabloids named “The Final Girls” — Kogarashi, Bavanshee, Selkie, and Ash — left civil service and disappeared into the less fraught alleyways of Scotland. When Scathach, the world’s most powerful working hero, asks her retired peers for help, they secretly agree to deal out punishment on another hero in the public eye. When the weapon of publicity is wielded, it threatens to kick up all of their personal traumas, past and present. What does justice look like when violence isn’t enough?”
Written by Cara Ellison, with art by Sally Cantirino, colour art from Gab Contrera and letterer Joamette Gil, Ellison was kind enough to share the five biggest influences, and in some detail, behind the new series with us below. A must-read for anyone who’s picked up the book or may he thinking about it after reading the following list:
1. Jessica Jones
“Despite the central theme of Season One of Marvel’s Jessica Jones being deeply bleak, one of the things I really admired about it was how sexuality, personal foibles and humour were woven into the writing. There was never a point at which we were invited to think of Jessica as one note – an outcast of the Marvel group, and handling it badly, is something that you rarely get to see a woman character embrace in pulp fiction. Her drinking and general bad-temperedness was understandable if not relatable, and the deftness with which trauma appeared metaphorically in everything – her front door was constantly broken in – was something I found opened my mind to how superheroes might work as a great metaphor for a number of things. The Final Girls is about a group of women who are all various stages of their Jessica Jones period (if you will).”
Top Of The Lake
“Jane Campion’s masterpiece, was a huge influence on the comic. The landscapes of New Zealand are used as a dramatic backdrop and reflect how ideas of ‘nature’ are often conflated with women’s bodies, even when that is dubious. All of the characters of The Final Girls are very close to the landscape and nature of Scotland, even if some of the characters are not native to Scotland, and they use Scotland’s landscape as a hideaway, a succour, a recovery. Osua’s superpower, a power over water, reflects Scotland’s temptation to hit people with a torrent of rain at any moment, but it also requires a huge amount of preparation and physical labour to keep it under control. Both Osua and Scotland have a tendency to be at the mercy of outside forces, as do many of the heroes in the comic.”
“Although the movie Trainspotting for many years painted Scotland as a place people associated with heroin addiction, it did do something for me as a kid: it made me realise that Scotland’s culture did not have to live in some twee tartan basket with bagpipes on top for the rest of its life. My experience growing up in Scotland in the 90s had always been a loud, brash, pop music-saturated good time, and Trainspotting was the first time I saw a fun, wild, modern Scotland reflected in pretty much any media I’d ever seen. I will always remember the first time I told someone from the US I was from Scotland and they asked if we had electricity. Well, yeah. We have electricity. We have Annie Lennox, Primal Scream and Belle and Sebastian too. We are very sorry about the accents.”
The legally shaky use of Queen’s ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ in Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s Sex Criminals #3
“The cadence of this silly lark, a whole song acted out panel to panel in a comic without the actual permission of the copyright holder, published with an apology, was the funniest thing I’d ever read as well as meting out a rhythm you could read the comic to. The way the song was used gave the panels a rhythm that you wouldn’t have given it if the idea of the song had not been evoked, and I started to think pretty hard about how pop music intrudes into our lives and gives it a rhythm and mood that otherwise might be totally different. Pop music intrudes occasionally into The Final Girls’ lives in the same way: the flavour of a song changes their experience of the world. Or provides a soundtrack for them to beat the shit out of someone.”
Gillen & McKelvie’s Young Avengers
“I had to think a little harder about the influence this comic had on me, because although this comic also features heavy usage of music within it, it is very much about youth and it runs at the pace that youth runs. It belts through every page, it doesn’t stop to contemplate or think much about consequences, it does instead of ponders, and that kind of pacing is hard to do. This is very much up to McKelvie’s deft way of planning movement and action from panel to panel, and the way that Gillen tends to give his characters real energy and exuberance. But The Final Girls is a little older, and in comparison to Young Avengers, I think I wanted to portray a group of women who remember what it was like to be those young heroes, but had to leave it because the work wore them down. Sally gives the Final Girls ensemble this really mature, complex set of expressions that creates a space to be able to think about legacy and being in the public eye and how they might have become disillusioned with the institution of ‘herodom’. Basically, I am saying that perhaps because I loved Young Avengers so much, I thought a lot about what the reaction of an older, more exhausted superhero might be to reading it. Probably ‘that spandex is up that wee scallywag’s buttcrack’? Or ‘back in the day I used to have abs too you know’.”
The Final Girls#1 (of 5) is out now on ComiXology Originals