Interview: Talking Coyotes with Sean Lewis and Caitlin Yarsky

Recently Rogues Portal had the chance to chat with writer Sean Lewis and artist Caitlin Yarsky about their upcoming series Coyotes:

Women are disappearing. A legion of wolves roam the border, hunting them down, and a band of survivors have come together, ready to wage war. Detective Frank Coffey is struggling to wrap his head around this mythic-level bloodbath when he meets Red, a little girl with a secret—and a sword. 

Now that the synopsis has your interest peaked, check out the interview with this talented team below!

Rogues Portal (RP): For readers who might not be familiar with some of your other works, how did you get your start in the comicbook industry?

Sean Lewis (SL): My background is in theater. I had met an artist named Ben Mackey while working on a 

play and we brainstormed this idea called SAINTS- about re-incarnated Catholic Saints who fight an apocalyptic war, etc.

We started just making the comic, top to bottom… when we had the first issue done we didn’t know what to do with it. I saw Image had an email address on their website and I sent it to them. 6 months later Eric Stephenson called and asked if we wanted to publish it. It was a fairy tale. It rarely happens this way as I’ve learned.

The fact Eric was gracious enough to publish my second book, THE FEW with Hayden Sherman, was dumbfounding and, now that I am doing my third with Image, it’s just humbling to be publishing with the company I grew up admiring.

RP: What made you decide that you wanted to pursue making a living in the comicbook realm?

SL: I don’t know if I thought about making a living doing this. I really wasn’t sure how you even got the chance to do this. Honestly, I’ve wanted to write comics my whole life and never had a single idea of how you got to do it. I’m very lucky. All I can say is, if you want to do this, go MAKE the comic. Don’t wait. Just do.

Caitlin Yarsky (CY): I’ve always loved sci-fi and fantasy, and I wanted to illustrate the books I read. I realized after years of pursuing everything from mural painting to concept art and animation, that the world of comics is where I belong.

RP: Where did the idea for Coyotes first originate?

SL: I had been obsessed with stories of women going missing in Mexico, and I was really stuck on the word Coyote– meaning a human trafficker who moves people across the border–and the literal meaning of the word: a pack animal, a scavenger…

I started thinking, what if you exploded the literal into something larger. A metaphor. This became a werewolf. I already knew of so many stories of women who go missing across the world… the story started to develop from that and get filled with some of my big obsessions: Tarantino, the desert, Kurosawa films, Female singers, created families versus real families, Tank Girl and so on.

RP: Coyotes opens up with a brutal scene, and then works its way into the past and then back to present day. What was the reasoning behind that particular style?

SL: Gut. I mean, I like throwing people into action. When I sit down to write I often get obsessed with the big image first, the shock, the thing that makes me lean in. Once the story grabs me by the throat then I’m willing to listen to details. It’s how the story unfolded itself to me, so I just followed it. It made it like a big story book for me, which fit Caitlin’s style incredibly well.

RP: How difficult was it to find that balance between the brutality mixed with the beauty of the environment?

CY: The desert and abandoned places in the story have this desolate, harsh, and unforgiving feel that works really well with the accompanying plot, so honestly it kinda fell into place for me.

RP: How did stories of women going missing or being attacked in real life effect the ideas for the story?

SL: Heavily. I got really obsessed with the story of a woman in Mexico called the Blonde who was going on bus routes where women were disappearing in Mexico, and she would threaten the bus drivers. That type of action was fascinating. I also had read a lot about the Trail of Tears in Canada and read Oral histories of women who had been trafficked in Eastern Europe and Asia. The prevalence was astounding.

RP: We hear about the City of Lost Girls, will we be introduced to more girls from the city?

SL: The first arc will focus on Red, for certain. But more of the girls in her tribe, the Victorias, will definitely emerge. And going forward in future arcs you will meet many women connected to this chaos.

RP: We see Analia welding a sword and becoming an expert fighter. In the future will you continue to explore her training?

SL: Hers and others. Each issue will actually have some back matter going into the pasts of each character and how they came to be who they are–these will be in black and white and they are gorgeous. It’s a big world we are weaving, so it’ll be fun to delve deeper. I also love books that are experiences, that change my reading as I am in the process of it.

 RP: What is the creative process like? Do the two of you send notes back and forth often about what dialogue works better with the art? Do you have music playing? Movies?

SL: I always write to music. This had a lot of Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill and Le Tigre), some Runaways, some old soul like Aretha Franklin, a little Dolly Parton and Diamanda Galas.

Typically, I write the issue in the form of a short story with extensive dialogue within the story. Caitlin reads and tells me: it’s good or it sucks. She asks me great questions for sense and arc and then I do a revision. At that point she does the pencils. Once I see the art I make notes and then I drop the text in. We keep giving each other notes throughout.

CY: When we need to work something out we’ll reach out to each other. We’ll exchange thoughts on the story or art, and then we’ll bounce ideas back and forth. It’s a really fun way of working, a mutual respect and sense of excitement at creating this world together. Personally, when I work, I have podcasts or reruns of tv shows or movies on in the background. Occasionally I’ll listen to music but the kind of music I listen to has words and melodies that would just distract me.

RP: Those first four pages have about four lines of dialogue total. Was that planned from the beginning or was that a decision made between the both of you to let the art tell the story?

SL: Ha. Is that all! I don’t know. Probably, the natural progression. It’s a visual medium and I like to trust both my artists and the audience. I think with a great artist it’s exciting to see the panels explode and carry that much of the story.

RP: As you have worked together, have you found that you can anticipate what the other’s ideas are?

SL: I’ll be so curious what Caitlin says. For me, no. I am always surprised and blown away by the art when I see it. It’s an amazing Christmas present each month.

CY: Not quite. It’s intriguing to see where the story is going every time I get a new draft from Sean. It’s usually unexpected and creates a richer, more mysterious world for me.

RP: What types of things should readers be looking forward to in future issues of Coyotes?

SL: More blood. More bad ass women. More myth. It’s definitely not gonna ease up.

RP: What current shows, books, or music are you binging, reading, or listening to and just can not get enough of?

SL: I’m obsessed with the movie Good Time by the Safdie Brothers. I’ve been reading The Dregs and Unholy Grail. Rediscovering Y The Last Man. For some reason I’ve been listening to a lot of Run the Jewels and a lot of The Misfits.

CY: I’m not a big fan of musicals but I’ve been really into Hamilton for a while now. I also love to read Philip K. Dick short stories when I have time, and I’m obsessed with Black Mirror.

RP: What are some of your past or upcoming projects?

SL: I did Saints with Benjamin Mackey and The Few with Hayden Sherman. I have a book called Betrothed with Steve Uy coming out with Aftershock Comics, and Hayden Sherman and I are working on a new mini series called Thumbs.

CY: Past projects include the beginning of an idea really, about a Changeling girl that I hope to come back to and flesh out. For now though, it’s Coyotes all the way, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

Coyotes #1 will be available in stores on November 8th, 2017.

Greg is a teacher, a life long student of all things pop culture, and an avid sports fan. When not spending time with spending time with family you may find him arguing the finer points of if Magneto was right, or who the best pro athlete is. He can be found on twitter @comicsportsgeek

Gregory Brothers

Greg is a teacher, a life long student of all things pop culture, and an avid sports fan. When not spending time with spending time with family you may find him arguing the finer points of if Magneto was right, or who the best pro athlete is. He can be found on twitter @comicsportsgeek

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