The following is an interview with writer/creator/musician Travis Corwin on the recent release of the post-apocalyptic comic book one-shot, Finale. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Corwin about his shared creative process in working with artist Phillip Ginn to bring the story and characters to life on the page, what he hopes that readers may take away from the story, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of Finale! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the premise of this story?
Travis Corwin: Thanks! Finale is a post-apocalyptic tale about a woman named Ása on a mission to deliver a mysterious message after all the world’s technology has died simultaneously. As everything descends into chaos, what is it that people need most, and what difference can one person make? This story will appeal to fans of The Twilight Zone and the HBO series Station Eleven for its intriguing moral quandaries and twisty plot reveals.
BD: How would you describe your creative process in bringing this post-apocalyptic story and its characters to life alongside artist Phillip Ginn?
TC: It was a very satisfying collaborative process for me. Once Phillip had read the script and was interested in the project, we talked extensively about my vision for the world and what the tone of the book should be. We drew from common post-apocalyptic images and tropes, but the intention was to ultimately subvert what is expected of that genre. For that reason, it was really important for Phillip and I to be on the same page from the beginning. In our initial conversations, he had a lot of very incisive questions and quickly got to the essence of what I was trying to do with the book. After that I was able to leave a lot of the visual storytelling choices to him, knowing that it would all be in service of the story and part of an overall cohesive direction.
One example of this is how he used color throughout the book to convey mood and theme. Parts of this story are much more vibrant than you usually see in a post-apocalyptic setting, especially in the beginning. A less thoughtful artist could have easily leaned on the grimdark tropes of the genre, but Phillip understood Ása’s internal optimism at the start of the story, and reflected that in the visuals. But then, towards the back half of the story, things take a turn and the color gradually becomes desaturated in response. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to do that, but it’s a very effective way to convey the story we were trying to tell.
BD: In addition to the comic itself, you have also produced an accompanying song through your prog rock band, Antinode. What can you tell us about the complementary nature of the song and the comic book?
TC: My goal in creating both a song and a comic is to have two pieces of art that stand alone, but reward anyone who wants to dig into both. I think of them as showing two different facets of the same core idea. I’m not particularly interested in writing songs that give you the narrative, beat for beat, like a rock opera, because to me that would be redundant. The comic book is focused on the narrative aspects of the story, and the song delves deeper into the themes and the emotional truth. I also get more personal in the song, pulling directly from my own thoughts and feelings. In the comic the characters are speaking, but in the song it’s me speaking.
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 Ása’s story may impact readers, and are there any conversations that you hope that it might inspire?
TC: Contemplating the impact of stories is at the heart of what inspired Finale in the first place. I can trace the idea back to 2020, when we were all sheltering in place because of COVID. As a musician and a writer, I found myself thinking a lot about the value of art in the face of real, global crises. Ultimately, I think the experience strengthened my belief in the importance of art in all its forms, that it’s inextricably linked to what it means to be human. What I still don’t know is what type of art stands to do the most good in the world. For instance, do people need stories that make them happy and inspire faith in humanity, or ones that confront the darker realities of life? Is artistic integrity more important than giving the audience what they want? Those are the questions that Finale ultimately posits, and I would be very happy if anyone feels inclined to ponder those questions after reading this story.
BD: Do you foresee expanding the story into subsequent story arcs, if given the opportunity?
TC: I wrote Finale to be a one-and-done. I have a version that lives in my head of what could transpire next, but it’s my hope that each reader could imagine their own version of events, as well, and that theirs will be different from mine. To me, that’s beautiful. If I published my own head-canon, it would undo everyone else’s, and I don’t want to do that, especially given the nature of this story in particular.
With that said, all of the stories I’m working on are part of the same interconnected world, so there’s always the possibility of some crossover between characters or events; however, they would likely be more along the lines of a spin-off than a straight sequel.
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are working that you’re able to share with readers?
TC: What a smooth segue! Like I said, I’m working on building out multiple stories in a larger, interconnected world. My next release will be a graphic novel called The Canary That Named the Stars. It’s been in development since before Finale, so I am very excited that it will be coming out later this year. Just like Finale, it’s a self-contained story, but astute readers of both will start to see some larger connecting threads take shape. The music for Canary is already available: an album of the same name released by Antinode in 2021. You can listen to it here.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Finale?
TC: I can say that whatever you’re expecting, Finale is almost definitely going to surprise you. The best way to learn more is just to take the plunge and read it for yourself!