With Midnight Society: The Black Society #1 due out this week, we at Comic Crusaders had a quick word with creator Drew Johnson, to discuss influences, being a sole creator among other things:
CC: What is it that attracts you to the pulp style of adventures and who had been your influences from the genre?
DJ: I’m really attracted to the pulp genre’s sense of fearless imagination—its ability to put adventure and fantasy above attempting to force a story to fit into the real world.
I often feel that many comic books, movies and novels have fallen into an obsession with keeping the fantastic “realistic”. I worry sometimes that escapism entertainment has lost its way in its mission to create wonder for its audience. Sometimes it really is all right to sacrifice realism for imagination–to push the bounds of what is believable. After all, isn’t that the purpose of escapism fiction?
I loved Burroughs’ JOHN CARTER OF MARS stories, and the stories of THE SHADOW, authored by the various folks who wrote as Walter Gibson. In comics, Dave Stevens’ ROCKETEER and Mark Schultz’ XENEZOIC TALES stories stand as my favourite stories and biggest artistic influences. These are all stories that take you to other places the moment you crack their covers. They don’t try to prove their realism, they just bombard you with action and adventure. They take you as a reader to the grittier and most dangerous streets, to the joy of flying through the sky, to new worlds that stretch the boundaries of your imagination. I wanted to attempt to transport an audience that way as a storyteller when I created MIDNIGHT SOCIETY.
CC: What are the barriers and benefits of being the writer and artist?
DJ: It’s daunting to sit down to start a project and know that you’re responsible for creating a story from an idea that sounded cool in your head. I questioned myself a lot, and puttered around a good bit, trying to work up the courage to get started. One day, I just said the hell with it, and sat down and started writing. Turned out that was the way to do it.
One of my favourite things about writing for myself is that I can plan page designs in my head as I write. It’s helpful to be able to work out pacing in the script that’s friendly to the visual flow of the book. I played with a lot of visual storytelling in MIDNIGHT SOCIETY: THE BLACK LAKE. There are many panels where I wanted to let the art communicate the story, rather than add words to reiterate what the readers eyes are already seeing. There are also many seeds planted visually throughout THE BLACK LAKE that forecast future characters and stories in MIDNIGHT SOCIETY. My take away from the experience of writing and drawing my own project was that it’s a very three-dimensional thing to write and visualize your own story. You’re creating the sights and sound of your world and offering it to your audience in hopes that they find themselves completely immersed in it.
CC: You started out on Star Wars books, what are your thoughts regarding Marvel producing new books instead of Dark Horse following all the work Dark Horse put in, keeping the franchise in the public eye?
DJ: I’m extremely grateful for my time working on Dark Horse’s STAR WARS comics. I’ve always thought that their books were of wonderful quality, and were enthusiastically produced by STAR WARS fans for STAR WARS fans. Marvel’s books look like they’re getting similar treatment and respect. That’s fantastic news for STAR WARS fans who will continue to have fun and exciting comics to read.
CC: With the current crop of books crossing into other medium, how would you like Midnight Society to grow in presence, maybe movies or TV?
DJ: My first priority is always the comic books, but it would be exciting to see my characters cross over into other media. I’m a big fan of the idea of a TV series where characters can be introduced at the story’s own pace and be allowed to grow with an audience that follows the show. I think we’ve seen some great examples of how well comics can translate into on-going television shows this last season.
CC: What’s next for you?
DJ: I’m currently finishing work penciling and inking another chapter of DC Digital’s WONDER WOMAN ’77, and have signed on as the new series artist of THE SHIELD from Archie Comics’ new Dark Circle line.
Thanks for taking the time from your hectic schedule Drew to answer my questions. Good luck with the book.
Midnight Society: The Black Lake #1 is out this week at your Local Comic Book shop. Check out the reviews section for an advance review.