The following is an interview with Cara Ellison and Sally Cantirino regarding the upcoming release of the five-issue series, The Final Girls, with ComiXology Originals. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Ellison and Cantirino about the shared creative process in bringing the story to life, the impact that The Final Girls may have on readers, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your creator-owned series, The Final Girls, through ComiXology Originals! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the series’ premise?
Cara Ellison: It’s kind of a bad girl drama. Part dark comedic superhero drama, part dystopian political thriller, 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?
BD: How would you describe your shared creative process in bringing this story to life, and what (or who) were some of your creative influences in terms of the characters and tone?
CE: My influences were definitely the grittier UK comics writers, like Moore and Morrison – Ennis was a later influence on the process as I read through The Boys. The series was ultimately born while I was watching Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake. The way the New Zealand landscape flowed into discussion of how human bodies are part of that landscape was what interested me, as well as how Campion’s particular feminism seems very Celtic in culture to me: folkloric, mythologic, primal. Something that cannot be changed or trifled with. Something that must be present. The Final Girls is about how women have an intimate knowledge of how terrible the world is and how trauma must be borne; how survivalism was born in women, how traumatic it is to endure. In the end, I thought about that trope of the Final Girl in horror movies, and about how it’s completely innate to women to not only be survivalists, and to know where all the bodies are buried, but also to anticipate trouble. To almost smell trouble. Women are planners and predictors: Cassandra was a seer after all.
Sally Cantirino: My first exposure to superhero comics as a teenager was also primarily Morrison (especially Doom Patrol, Flex Mentallo, Animal Man) and Moore, as well as Milligan’s Shade the Changing Man. I know I was drawn to them, because, stylistically, many of them just looked different than the superhero aesthetic I was expecting to see at that time. Love & Rockets has also been a long-time influence on me. Another subconscious influence was probably all of Naoko Takeuchi’s Codename: Sailor V and Sailor Moon manga that I read as a pre-teen!
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that The Final Girls’ story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
CE: Stories are really important, because they provide a way out you might not have been able to see before. If you can imagine a better society or a better way, then it is possible to make it.
Ursula LeGuin obviously has the monopoly on that outlook, but I want to emphasize this: it isn’t enough for a society to call out the things that are bad. The accusation of wrongdoing may seem as if it were the end of the accountability process. And in a perfect world, it would be. But shame or incarceration sadly doesn’t motivate change. Many grassroots organisations such as the US Life After Hate or the UK Hope Not Hate go further: They have a plan as to how to change people and how to bring them around. This should be a society-wide job! It should not be left to only the people immediately affected. It should not be falling to individuals to pursue transformative justice. But currently the failures of Western society mean these fall to underfunded grassroots community projects and not those who are career-bound to protect us.
It is absolutely imperative that we imagine new ways to deal with those who hurt us. The Final Girls attempts to illuminate how damaging it is to have no ready structure of transformation – when the only thing to hand as part of accountability is violence, we turn to violence and escaping violence, and nothing changes.
BD: What makes ComiXology Originals the perfect home for The Final Girls?
CE: They took a risk on unknown kids from the weird part of town. And they really supported us weirdos. From 2015 to now, we got an extraordinary amount of support from ComiXology for this run. It’s been my first experience with a comics publisher, but they absolutely never wavered in their faith in us. And it really did take us that long.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
CE: Nothing immediate on the comics front, although I have a couple video games up my sleeve. I hear there’s this Cantirino comic called I Walk with Monsters right now, though…
SC: I’m working on a horror comic at Vault right now called I Walk with Monsters, with Paul Cornell, Dearbhla Kelly, and Andworld Design. I’m starting to notice a pattern where I keep working with people across the pond…
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about The Final Girls?
CE: Look at the incredible art and cover art and buy the damn thing! It’s a bargain for five issues, and it only gets more relevant the more gnarly the world gets.
SC: Even if we’re starting to get vaccinated, you probably shouldn’t be out partying just yet. Stay home, sit outside if the weather’s nice, and read a comic book (or five) next weekend.