Recently I had the luck of interviewing Antony Johnston, comic and video game legend. One of the minds behind Dead Space, CourtYard and author of Closer. You can’t peek into any genre of comic without seeing his name.
CC: Comic Conventions, AJ: Antony Johnston
CC: As a child, who was your favourite comic hero?
AJ: Tara Chace, from Queen and Country. (It took Antony a good while to come to this choice)
CC: Any advice for taking on the industry as a writer?
AJ: Write what you love to write, read a lot of everything. Never give up. And for both writers and illustrators, get a web comic. We live in a cyber age; a URL can go a long way. And don’t do it for the money, you can get paid more for half the work elsewhere.
CC: Do you have any inspiration on writing?
AJ: I find inspiration from everywhere, take an everyday situation and put it through your imagination and see what pops out. But also Alan Moore was a bit of an inspirational figure for me, he was Midlander like me (Antony is from Birmingham) and he’s not from “That there London”. It showed me anyone can achieve what they want, it’s not just location.
CC: Bit of a weird one, but you seem to love your dogs, what breed are they?
AJ: I have a lurcher greyhound cross, we adopted one who was found roaming the streets of Preston at 6 months old, he was taken in by a dog protection group, then we adopted him. I always enjoy telling that story.
CC: Any thoughts on Alan Moore?
AJ: Huge admiration for him I’ve been a fan since his work on 2000AD. He’s always been supportive and friendly. (At this point we got to chatting about how the industry has treated him), “If anyone has a reason to be pissed at DC, it’s Alan Moore. Big companies say “We lose our work and heroes” which is true, they sell rights, but they get paid 50X more than any comic creator ever will.
CC: Are you proud of your work? You take on lots of genres:
AJ: That’s just how it turns out! I write because I enjoy doing it. I seem to consume genres.
CC: Who is your favourite character that you have personally created?
AJ: Hmm, Abi. You’ll see why in the later issues. That’s a tough choice though!
CC: What are you working on at the minute?
AJ: I’m working on the second coldest city book, working on ZombieU, with Ubisoft. It’s looking really good, from a non-biased view – or to an extent non-biased, I’m not an artist or developer. I’m working on a web series, and a series with Image, as well as a screen play.
CC: Any comics your particularly proud of or not proud of?
AJ: I’m always proudest of my most recent work, but never not proud of any. I know looking back, I put in as much effort as I could. I did my best, nothing to be ashamed of – obviously it would be better now, that’s the point.
CC: How do you find the time? There’s a lot of work you’re doing.
AJ: You make the time, you keep office hours. It can look bleak, but work for your future, I spent 5 years as a designer, and I’ve been writing 10 years, this October. (His first written work was called “Sunday Morning”
CC: Any unlived or lived dreams?
AJ: Well, I have no complaints about who I’ve worked with in the game industry, but I would love to oversee my own gaming project. The only way I can see that happening is they turn one of my books into a film, then to a game, which is pretty – actually very slim.
But, I’ve done what I wanted, I’ve written a big, long epic comic (Wasteland).
CC: Have you considered starting up a Kickstarter to get a gaming project?
AJ: Well, it’s easily done if you have your own studio and you can code and design, but it’s as simple as I don’t, and I can’t. I wouldn’t be able to help people if they got stuck on something, all I can do is write. It’s a nice thought though.
Fun fact, all issues of Wasteland are named after a song, and about every 1 in 6 is a paradise lost song.