If you've been on the Internet within the past decade, there's a good chance that you've experienced the work of Corey Lubowich, Joey Richter, and Brian Rosenthal, also known as the Tin Can Brothers. The trio initially gained fame as members of Team StarKid, a musical theater company founded out of the University of Michigan that released viral full-length musicals through YouTube, including the A Very Potter Musical franchise, Starship, and Holy Musical B@man!. In the years since the trio got their start with StarKid, the Tin Can Brothers have continued entertaining fans with stage productions, short films, animated musicals, and even a Brooklyn Nine-Nine activation at San Diego Comic-Con. And next month, fans will get to experience the Tin Can Brothers' next project, a genre-bending digital series titled Wayward Guide for the Untrained Eye.
Wayward Guide, which will span both audio podcasts and live-action video episodes, follows Artemis (Mary Kate Wiles) and Paul (Steve Zaragoza), twin siblings who work at a podcast network. After uncovering a secret race of werewolves living among humans in the small town of Connor Creek, Artemis and Paul must decide who to trust and the price they’re willing to pay for a juicy story. The series was initially announced in 2017, with a Kickstarter account that raised over $120,000 from fans. The series' trailer - which premiered on ComicBook.com earlier this week - showcases what a wild ride Wayward Guide is sure to be, as well as the ensemble supporting cast that includes fellow StarKid alums Darren Criss and Carlos Valdes, and even Stranger Things and Lord of the Rings star Sean Astin.
In celebration of Wayward Guide's trailer premiere, ComicBook.com got a chance to chat with Lubowich, Richter, and Rosenthal about bringing the ambitious and binge-worthy new series to life, the enduring legacy of the StarKid fandom, and so much more!
ComicBook.com: How have you guys been doing amid the pandemic?
Brian Rosenthal: Aside from the hellfire in our very divided country, as good as anyone could be, I think. We talk about a lot how grateful we are to have a project like this to work on, because it keeps us sane.
Joey Richter: Yeah, it's been very nice having this purpose to our lives and getting this kind of wrapped up. We've had a lot of post-production and finishing elements literally through the course of the entire pandemic thus far. So once we hit the holiday season, then we'll have our own existential crises about how to proceed from there.
Corey Lubowich: We're grateful that the parts of the project that involved having to be in person, that work that was already done. So a lot of what we've been working on, the schedule hadn't changed that much, actually, due to the pandemic. So we're grateful for that.prevnext
How did the idea for Wayward Guide come about? It feels so on-brand for you guys, but it also feels so unexpected at the same time.
Brian: In 2017, we were just finishing up a live play in LA, and we wanted to pivot towards something that was more like a filmed project. And at the time, we were also very into podcasts, like Serial and S-Town. We had a list of ideas and we were like 'Is there a way to combine all these things we're into right now?' And thus, Wayward Guide was born.
Corey: It came out of that, the investigative true crime podcasts that sort of blew up. But also thinking about 'Well, what does that mean?' How the reporters are affecting the subjects, and with a big listener base like Serial, how that starts affecting things, and how you realize real life isn't super tidy. So, what did they leave out?
Joey: Yeah, there were elements in specifically S-Town, where they would talk about how an interview gets cut off and they're like 'Wait, he told me to get this off the record.' And we're like, 'Oh, it'd be so fun to see what that is, what that side of the story is.' And then of course, for us too, it was like, 'How do we also put like a high concept spin on this and make this a multiyear genre piece?'
Brian: While not losing the sort of quirky character-driven stuff we like to do with pretty awkward characters.
Joey: Being able to have a project too, where the ensemble is so big, where we can have all these different people that populate this town and bring in all the talented people we usually work with, and beyond, to create this ensemble was the perfect opportunity. Because every episode, they can interview six people and talk to all these fun people.
Corey: I think that's the natural heightening of the comedy of it. If we're talking about these stories of murder and crime, how do you escalate beyond that? And the answer is werewolves, naturally.prevnext
Outside of Serial and S-Town, were there any other podcasts that inspired Wayward Guide during this process, or ones that you have found yourselves enjoying?
Brian: That Marvel podcast on Stitcher Premium, the Wolverine one with Richard Armitage, was one of the first narrative podcasts I listened to. I'd been used to listening to all these investigative journalists podcasts, interview podcasts, that sort of thing. And [Wolverine] got me so psyched about the sound design elements, the idea of creating these worlds just for your ears, just for your ear holes. And our sound designers have done such an excellent job during the pandemic of taking people recording on different coasts, and then creating this world and inhabiting the characters in it. It just feels like this totally alive environment.
Corey: And I think in the work we've done, we really love playing with the genres and formats and really diving into it. So when we were like, 'Okay, it's a podcast. What does this look like?' We could have this all play out like a radio play, because everyone's filmed in the studio. But for us, it was just way more fun to get into, 'How can we tell this story through interviews they do in the field, with a narration they have scripted for the studio, and phone calls, and recordings of a TV ad?' And ways to play with all of that to make it less perfect, but sort of fill out the world a little more.prevnext
I really loved the decision to tell the story of Wayward Guide through two separate mediums. How did the decision behind that come about? Because I feel like it really elevates the story.
Brian: I think it speaks to what Joey was talking about earlier. When you listen to a podcast and it kind of fades out and you're just like 'What happened off the record?' It was just this dichotomy of -- what happens in real life is so messy. And then after the events of the show, how do Artemis and Paul, the protagonists, choose to tell the story? And I feel like that's just very telling of them as characters, in a way that you wouldn't get with just one medium. Because the podcast is the show they're making in the show. So they're making decisions as characters and then you're getting it through that.
Joey: There's this line that they're towing on in both mediums throughout the whole series, both in the podcast and the series. And that was what was fun about working on the podcast too, taking the whole timeline of the show and figuring out how, retroactively, they would create this podcast based on the timeline of the show. So it was a fun narrative challenge in all aspects of the project, which we always like.prevnext
There's a line in episode one about how, in the universe of the show, the Wayward Guide podcast is a sort of anthology series. Are there plans to continue the idea of Wayward Guide beyond this season, or is it just kind of a one and done?
Joey: Oh yeah. Six seasons in a movie. Yeah, I think the way we've been pitching it, both outside of us and within our own minds too, is this fun idea like American Horror Story, where as Artemis and Paul move to new towns, the actors that they're running into are the same actors playing new characters in a different town with a different whole set of things. So there also is this strange sense of deja vu.
Corey: Yeah, basically everyone at [the podcast network] would stay the same, and Artemis and Paul have new mysteries to discover and solve.prevnext
How do you think that you three have grown as creators since you got your start in StarKid?
Brian: I started as an actor primarily, and over the last decade StarKid - which is a company that's about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and creating your own opportunities in a very DIY way - has led all of us to discover new parts of ourselves when it comes to the entertainment industry. We all started writing together. When we first started, we all had our own specific niches in the group, and as time has gone on, we've truly become this three-headed beast where we all do a little bit of everything. I guess it's been trial by fire in that we've gone 'Let's make a hundred sketches!' 'Let's do a short film!' 'Let's do a musical!' 'Let's take a play off-Broadway to New York!' And in each of these instances we level up, and we just find out what we're capable of, and just learn a lot along the way.
Joey: Through StarKid and through our work together as a trio, one of the mantras we always put upon ourselves is the idea of being a little bit in over your head. Like, just a little bit. Just being in the deep end enough where you're like 'I know I just have to figure out how to make this work.' And Corey had mentioned this in a video we made recently, the idea of backing into a lot of things in constraints is something we've gotten really good at. Creating these structures for ourselves to operate in, and always kind of expanding them a little bit, and giving ourselves all these little markers to hit, and then just making it work within those parameters. It's a good way to learn, and grow, to just keep challenging yourself a little bit more each time. This proved to be a pretty big challenge, but we're happy with how it all turned out.
Corey: In terms of the actual creative content, I think we've learned a lot from Starkid. We started as a direct parody of very specific content, and over the years, I think we've gotten really good at analyzing that. It's not necessarily a direct parody of a specific podcast or specific property, but sort of breaking down those elements and remixing them and combining them in a new way, both in terms of form and genre.prevnext
On that same note, what has it been like to have the StarKid fandom follow you guys to your other projects throughout the years?
Brian: An insane gift.
Joey: An amazing thing. An amazing gift. That is something we consider ourselves incredibly lucky [to have]. Because the idea of getting an audience, in general, is something that proves to be very difficult for anyone trying to make anything. So the fact that we have an audience who is like primed and raring to go for what we create is such a huge gift.
Corey: They're large in quantity, but just the depth of that fandom is something we don't take for granted. Like in this project, in the fundraising of it, we were definitely able to punch above our weight class in terms of the support of it. It's been really incredible, over the last eleven years, to maintain those relationships, and see the audience grow up as we have matured as creators as well. That's amazing.0comments
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.prev