AICN COMICS Q&@: Russ Sheath chats with writer Jonathan Ross about his new Image Comics series REVENGE!
@’s by REVENGE’s
So, as a fan its a true thrill that this week sees the launch of REVENGE the new book from Ian Churchill and writer Jonathan Ross courtesy of Image Comics. The story of a faded Hollywood icon, REVENGE explores what happens when ones desires to once again be at the top of your game and the sins of the past come back to haunt you. Jonathan Ross is well known to comics fans as the writer behind TURF and AMERICA’S GOT POWERS with THE ULTIMATES artist Bryan Hitch. A a leading television presenter and renowned comics officionardo (check out his excellent documentary IN SEARCH OF STEVE DITKO), I spoke with Jonathan Ross about REVENGE, working with Ian Churchill and his passion for comics.
RUSS SHEATH (RS): Jonathan, tell us about the story in ‘Revenge' and how the idea came about?
JONATHAN ROSS (JR): So the story is simply this. Griffin Franks is a Hollywood actor, always on the B list and starring in a bunch of B Movies that most of us comic fans would have loved, when he finally gets a taste of the big time. A hotshot director by the name of EeZee Johnson revisits one of Griffin's old movies and it's a hit. But Griffin is 72 and although he's finally getting what he feels he was always entitled to, it's come too late. His latest wife, an ex porn star, agrees, and suggests some radical surgery that might prolong his career and allow them both to hang onto the money and the good life a little longer. At least that's what he thinks, but the truth is somewhat different.
I think I first had the idea a few years back. I was daydreaming about starting a whole new line of comics, like ‘Atlas', the company Martin Goodman founded after he left Marvel. I always loved it, even though half the books were pretty terrible rip -offs. Anyway, I was trying to think of some fun ideas and this one popped into my head. it was very different initially - I intended calling it FRANKENSTEIN 90210, or HOLLYWOOD FRANKENSTEIN. It slowly metamorphosed into something more like REVENGE.
RS: Did you have any particular influences for the story?
JR: Not really! Although, I wanted to create something lurid and ghastly and memorably gory, like something you might have seen in a European comic in the 1960's. I really don't know why!
RS: You have spent much of your career surrounded by Hollywood’s biggest stars. Did any aspect of seeing Hollywood’s brightest, outside of their public persona, influence the story? It seems that your insight into the ‘cult of celebrity’ as a talk show host and film reviewer, would offer a rare glimpse ‘behind the curtain’!
JR: Yes and no. You sometimes sense a little desperation, but honestly this is all pretty much fiction.
RS: Even anti-heroes in comics tend to be fairly likeable - was it always a plan to create a true ‘anti hero’ - based on issue 1, the characters are all pretty nasty.
JR: I hoped it would start that way and that you might warm to some of the characters by book 4. So lets see.
RS: Why team with Ian Churchill for this particular project? its quite a departure from his work at Marvel and DC and his own, all ages book, the Eisner nominated MARINE MAN.
JR: I loved MARINE MAN and always enjoyed his work at Marvel, his covers were always a treat. But it was Eric Stephenson at Image put us together and its been a real joy. Ian's not only a great artist but also such an easy guy to work with and has been so accommodating in trying to make it look the way I imagined. A couple of times he has made small changes. Normally I want it to be a little more gruesome and a little less explicit sexually - he seems pretty keen on pushing the boat out with the weird sex stuff! i need to sit down and talk to him and find out where that comes from! Although of course thanks to his talent it actually looks a lot better then I had even hoped!
RS: From TURF to AMERICA’S GOT POWERS (with uber-artist Bryan Hitch), you aren’t shying away from playing with different genre within the medium - was that always the intent, to ‘mix it up' - or is it a case of ‘those are the stories that came to you’?
JR: Yes, I really like trying different things. I started with TURF because I had the opportunity to work with Tommy Lee Edwards and that was the story he most responded to. Bryan liked AMERICA’S GOT POWERS a lot. Ian seemed to want to draw something sleazy and bloody! I have a whole pile of other ideas I have been working on for a few years now, I’m not sure which will surface next but they are all inching towards happening.
RS: REVENGE is planned as a stand alone series / story, right? When can readers find issue 1 on shelves?
JR: Issue 1 is out this coming Tuesday, 25th February. Books 2 and 3 are wrapped and Ian is working on 4, so hopefully, no delays!
RS: You’ve also drawn a cover for the book - could we one day see a project written AND pencilled by Jonathan Ross?
JR: I’m working on something. A very weird, really quirky, fun book. I have sort of finished the cover...but who knows if I'll ever finish it! It leaps between Hawaii and New York with a little bit of Iceland thrown in, and mixes crime, comedy and the supernatural.
RS: What’s coming up for you after REVENGE?
JR: It might finally be GOLDEN AGE, my 'superheroes in a retirement home' series. Tommy Lee Edwards finished book one and most of two but then didn't want to stay on a regular book with any sort of locked schedule. We agreed I would take it back and start anew with a different artist which is a shame because the art was sensational! I've have written the first 6 issue arc and have plotted the second and third. So i'm pretty sure you'll see that eventually. I'm also talking with artists about other ideas and beavering away. It's fun!!
RS: Thanks to Jonathan for taking part in the interview.
REVENGE is out this week from Image Comics, follow Jonathan on Twitter @wossy
You can also check out Ian Churchill’s website here!
Follow Russ Sheath's blog Russwords here and @russellsheath on Twitter.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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