TAKE 10! Zawa + the Belly of the Beast

TAKE 10! Zawa + the Belly of the Beast

BOOM! Studios: TAKE 10! is a brand new interview series asking writers and artists about their new series or graphic novels.

GLAAD Award-winning and Eisner Award-nominated cartoonist Micahel Dialynas (Wynd, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) crafts a charmingly macabre eco-friendly fable about nature, greed, and good food shared with better friends in ZAWA + THE BELLY OF THE BEAST, available November 2023.

Trapped for eternity inside her mountain by pollution-spewing factories, the ancient guardian spirit Zawa only has industrial run-off to eat, leading her to a bitter existence of paranoia and destruction. But when two siblings from a nearby village, Bandit and Thatcher, help her escape, they’ll quickly learn that the way to calm Zawa’s heart is through a well nourished stomach!

Print copies of ZAWA + THE BELLY OF THE BEAST #1 will be available in comic shops November 8, 2023. Digital copies can be purchased from content providers, including comiXology, iBooks, Google Play, and Kindle.

1. What was the most challenging aspect of working on this series?

Michael Dialynas: Well, this whole beast! Being my first time ever writing, drawing and lettering a whole series was the biggest challenge for me. Before starting work in the US market and being kidnapped by James Tynion IV for the past decade, I used to make short stories, zines and small press single issues in the Greek comic scene, the longest thing I ever wrote was 30 pages, so stepping it up now to do a 5 issue mini-series was daunting to me but I’m very happy to have tried and I feel like I’m getting more experience every day working on Zawa!

2. Could you explain the title?

MD: Funny that you ask! Zawa was a placeholder title that I had for the protagonist based on the Japanese yokai, Zashiki Warashi, taking the Za and the Wa and making ZAWA. The story I had originally set out to do was going to be about a hungry ghost but as I developed the pitch it became a whole new beast, but the name stuck, so I kept it! And the Belly of the Beast subtitle has a lot of hidden meaning that are tied to the fact that Zawa eats a lot for story reasons. That’s all I can say for now.

3. What is the elevator pitch for the series?

MD: This is a story about a hungry mountain deity that discovers the magic of friendship and a tasty homecooked meal after being chained up by the overbearing mayor of a vending machine riddled city. Zawa will have to decide if she should destroy humanity for enslaving her or help her new friends stop the greedy mayor from killing their mountain. It’s a what if Guillermo Del Toro made a Miyazaki story kind of thing


4. What does your writing and drawing space look like?

MD: It’s a mess! I have books and stuff all over the place! We recently moved this year and I’m still working on emptying boxes! Here’s some hot workspace photos. 

5. What was your biggest inspiration for The Space Between?

MD: As I mentioned before, I think Guillermo Del Toro and Hayao Miyazaki are big influences on this book. But I’ve also noticed that this has become a bit of a “smoothie” project where a lot of my favorite things have made their way in, like the Goonies, Beetlejuice, close friends, parts of my life and tasty treats! And sadly, a lot of real-world problems that have been plaguing the world lately like disasters against the environment, climate change and the struggle people have to get naturally sourced foods.

6. What are you reading now and what’s on your pull list?

MD: Oh that’s tough! So many things! Hmmm, I recently got the first 5 Otomo Works collections, I’m up to date on My Hero Academia, going to start Goodbye Eri by Tatsuki Fugimoto, Murder Falcon by Daniel Warren Johnson and have been re-reading PSTD by Guillaume Singelin and Sam Bosma’s Fantasy Sports series. 

7. Describe your ideal way to sit down and read a comic or graphic novel.

MD: When I have the time, I’ll plug in my headphones and lounge in my trusty armchair, unless I get inspired and then I’ll take my book to the office and start jotting down notes!

8. What is your favorite writing/drawing snack or drink?

MD: I generally have multiple coffees throughout the day starting with a quadruple espresso that will graduate into a drip coffee pot. I always forget to eat and end up rummaging the fridge like a racoon after!

9. Who would you cast in your dream movie or TV adaptation of the series?

MD: Oh, another tough one! I don’t know who I would cast but I know that IF we ever got to make an adaptation then I would love Zawa to be stop-motion animation or the new scratchy 3D style that was featured in the new TMNT movie. The main cast are teens so I have no idea who would be ideal but Zawa needs a soft voice, except when she’s angry! Then she’s all the monster noises!

10. What piece of advice would you give to the main character? What about the villains?

MD: Zawa. Take a deep breath. Follow your heart… and your belly 🙂

Main Antagonists. Run if you see her coming!

ZAWA + THE BELLY OF THE BEAST #1 will be available in comic shops on November 8, 2023!