Friday, November 11, 2011

Portland Questions 46: Joshua Williamson

Joshua Williamson writes comics, kids books in Portland OR.     His career as a comics writer kicked off the ground in 2007,  
Since then he has been published by DC Comics, Marvel, Oni Press, Image, Desperado, Kick Start and some others soon to be announced.   
Some of his all age books are Dear Dracula and Sketch Monsters Book 1.   He has written for Superman/Batman, Justice League, Yo Gabba Gabba and Hulk.    Recently he has written a story for Dark Horse's  Savage Sword  of Conan and new series video-game adventure Uncharted and  sci-fi mystery XenoHolics.  Some of his other OGN are John Monster, Mirror, Mirror, Overlook and Endangered

His previous series Necessary Evil was picked up by Cartoon Network as a live-action series and another comic series, Dear Dracula was also recently optioned. 
Joshua Williamson is my favorite up and coming writer. He's the future of comics-- you dummies just haven't realized it yet!"- John Layman (Chew)

IGN's 2011 "8 Comic Scribes to put on your radar."

Doug Dorr:   What projects are you working on currently?
Joshua Williamson:   A lot. XenoHolics, which is a new ongoing series with Image Comics. Sketch Monsters is a new all ages line of graphic novels with ONI Press, and I’m working on Uncharted, based on the Playstation 3 game, a 6 issue mini series for DC Comics, There are a few other things with ONI, and two other Image mini series I can’t talk about yet. I recently had a short story in Dark Horse’s Savage Sword #3 and am working to do another one.

Lots of pitches and outlines as well.

Doug Dorr:   What is your artistic Process?
Mostly I work out of extensive notebooks and my laptop. For the most part I come up with ideas and try to get them down on paper first. Eventually I start to type it all up.
Often, because of time and deadlines, I have to skip the notebooks and hit the laptop first. If I had my way I’d hand write out all my dialogue, that always seems to produce the smoothest sounding words. 

Doug Dorr:   When you are writing, what is your process working with the artist?
Ale Garza
With a lot of the larger publishers I just turn the script in, I don’t talk with the artists as much. With my creator owned work, I try to get them involved as early as possible to brainstorm, go back and forth on story, and gather notes. There’s two things I always ask first: “What do you like to draw?” and “What do you hate to draw?” I want to have an artist be interested and invested in the work, and have a say in its outcome.

Then once I hand over the script I really try to get roughs. I like to do the most nitpicking on the roughs. Really nail down the layouts and the overall packing.
 After the artist and I agree on the roughs, I let them ride on the pencils and inks.

I really try to get the artist as involved as possible. If they have any ideas or notes, I don’t want to hear “Oh, I thought of that…” a year or so later. I want them to share now.

Doug Dorr:   What Comic/ Trade would you recommend?
That’s a tough question as I read and like a lot… Scalped, American Vampire, Sixth Gun, Criminal, Northlanders, DMZ, Daredevil, Punisher, Thunderbolts, Unwritten, Chew.

I just started reading Locke and Key and love it.

What Comic/ Trade would you recommend to someone new to comics?

That would depend on the person. If it was a kid, I would recommend a shorter graphic novel, honestly something like Dear Dracula. But if they were older, teenaged and up I’d say ONI’s Sixth Gun. It’s self contained, there are two trades out, and you don’t have to know years of history to get into it. If they really wanted to get into super hero books, I’d say Batman Year One.

What skill would you like to learn?

I wish I had a better understanding of coloring comics. I went to school for graphic design, but color was always my weakness. I can see something and tell you if I like it or not, but I could never do it myself.

 Alejandro Aragon
Non-Comics related I’d love to learn how to cook.

What's the most important thing you've learned?

To be patient and understanding.

To be compassionate and understanding of the creators and editors around me.

Do you have a collection?   If so, what is one of the items you're most proud of?

I used to have a HUGE comic collection. Over 80 long boxes full of comics. And that’s not even counting the trades. When I moved from California to Portland I sold my whole collection and cut my trades down to about 1/8th what I had. In some ways it was heart breaking but also liberating. Selling everything helped me move to Portland and transition into a freelance career.

I still have a nice collection of trades and hard covers, I have some art pieces, a really nice green arrow toy and statue collection. It’s like a shrine to Oliver Queen in my office. I have a run of Detective  Comics and Batman dating back over 30 years. I still have my green lantern power battery… but the original ink cover to my book, Necessary Evil #1, by Dustin Nguyen is something that I’m very proud to have up in my office.

What is your favorite genre of Comics?

Is Vertigo a genre? How about just “Good comics?” Really, I like books that are with normal people thrown into extraordinary circumstances, with super natural elements. Honestly, I like it all: crime, super heroes, western, horror, romance, action, adventure, whatever. It’s funny I think genre’s can be hard to define in comics because there are some many mixes of things. Crime+horror is a great one.

Do you have an Ipad?   If so what do use it for the most.

Whenever I can get it away from my Wife playing words with friends…
For reading comics, emails, do art changes or notes and some thumb nails for cover and page layouts.  Play games. But really… probably reading comics.

What is your favorite TV show/ movie?

My favorite movie of all time is “ROCKY.” Favorite TV is a much harder question, but I’ll go with Dexter for now.

How does the Portland comics culture shapes your work?

For the most part just being around so many people working in comics has changed my style, my workload, and the projects I’ve moved forward with. The three biggest advantages to living in Portland for my work has been: Making friends with a lot of very generous creators who give me great advice and help; the closeness to Publishers to talk with, and taking Bendis’ class at PSU last year.

Really having some much great comic energy in the same place has been very helpful in shaping my work.

DD:   What was your first comic convention?

I’ve been going to conventions since I was a kid, but my first was San Diego Comic Con when I was thirteen and I’ve been going every year since.

DD:   What is your favorite part of comic conventions?

Hanging out with friends that I only see on the road, and meeting with other fans of comics. Not just fans of my work, but people who love comics just as much as I do.

DD:   If you weren’t doing comics what would you do?
Digging graves… no really probably working in graphic design or as a psychologist. But really I’ve wanted to work in comics since I was very young, and can’t imagine doing anything else. Maybe a film and tv director.

Keith Giffen once said “You act like I had a choice.”

DD:    Do you have a favorite restaurant that you would recommend?
I like to eat at the Bagdad Theater and Pub. Or 5 Guys Burgers.  Or Big Burger in Molalla.

Doug Dorr:   How long have you lived in Portland, what made you choose Portland?
I’ve been here for a bit over 3 and half years. We moved in March of 2008. After living in California my whole life I just started to get sick of it and wanted to try something else. My wife and I looked at a lot of cities, but really it was an article from Rick Remender on CBR about the Portland comics community that really made us look at Portland. After I took a quick road trip up here in 2007, we decided to make the move.

Doug Dorr:   What is your favorite part of Portland?
The comics community and the weather. There wasn’t much of both in San Diego, so the move here has been awesome. I can’t stand hot weather, so the colder, rainy weather works best for me. Rainy weather is perfect for staying indoors to write.

Doug Dorr:   Where in Portland/ Oregon would you most like to visit?
At this point I’ve seen most of what I’ve wanted to check out. But I love going to Mount Hood. It’s a great vacation place.

Doug Dorr:   Would you like to write/Illustrate for another media?   Or write a character from another media, for example, Dr. Who, James Bond?  What would you explore?
Not really. For the most part I just want to write comics. Occasionally, ideas with writing TV shows come up which might be something I’d like to do. I wouldn’t mind being a show runner and producer to hire other great tv writers to shape my plots into some entertaining boob tube. I have more pop culture sensibilities, so I’d probably look more at TV than anything. 

Robotech, Chuck, Castle, Dexter are a few shows/ characters I’d like to take a swing at. Writing Uncharted has been a lot of fun and I would write that book forever if I could.

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