Joshua Williamson on Johnny Monster

Joshua Williamson on Johnny Monster

Johnny Monster #1

You've heard of Johnny Monster – he's the most famous monster hunter ever.

Why are you looking at us like that?

You say you've never heard of him? OOooookay. Well, let us explain it all for you.

Johnny Monster is, as we said, the world's most famous monster hunter. He has been to all corners of the globe hunting the monsters who stalk the night. Nothing much is known about his early years – something that will be revealed in the upcoming self-titled miniseries from writer Joshua Williamson and artist J.C. Grande. Published by the Image imprint Shadowline, it is full-on giant monster action with a human-sized ..err.. human trying to fight them.

That's Johnny Monster.

We spoke to his creator, Joshua Williamson.

Newsarama: Joshua, tell the folks what this miniseries is about.

Joshua Williamson: I’m going to stick with ol’ reliable here and open with the first issue solicitation:

Johnny Monster is the world's foremost super-star monster hunter, but what the world doesn't know is that he was raised by the same monsters he's "hunting"! Now, in order to save his adoptive family...he must fight them! Johnny Monster mixes Tom Strong with Godzilla movies by way of Tarzan and the Phantom to create a compelling and different monster mash!

Johnny Monster #2

You’ll learn in the first issue that Johnny’s parents were explorers trying to get to the center of the Earth, but got trapped on the way. How they died is a mystery, but they left behind their very young son, who was found and raised by under-the-Earth-dwelling monsters. The rest of the world looks at these monsters as horrifying creatures that’re responsible for billions in property damages and the loss countless lives all over the world, but Johnny looks at them as family. He’s really saving them from themselves. If they go topside and start to wreak havoc… here comes the jet planes, tanks, missiles, lots of guns and next thing Johnny knows, one of his buddies is falling off the top of the Empire State building to their death. So Johnny knocks them out and takes them home before this can happen. Which is part of the problem… the world thinks Johnny is killing these monsters, but all he is doing is returning them unharmed to their home deep inside the Earth’s surface. When the public finds this out… they’re a tiny bit pissed off.

NRAMA: In the comic, Johnny Monster is world famous – how did he get so?

JW: Most of the monster hunters in the world are mercenaries or criminals. Men who have been hardened by war and look it, but suddenly this young attractive kid shows up. Johnny is so different than all the hunters that he stands out immediately. People see this kid on the news and they are intrigued, but there is zero info on him which makes them want him even more. He hits the monster hunting scene running, doing things like no other monster hunters and becomes a bit of a Rock Star. This story begins a few months after all that when the world loves him… which changes pretty quickly once his secret gets out.

NRAMA: That's why I keep my secret origin secret. Moving on… I have to ask about his last name, "Monster". How'd he get that?

JW: His real name is Jonathon Moshter. Johnny was never able to say Moshter when he was young, he kept saying Monster. So it stuck. The media picks up on it quickly and Johnny, who feels closer to the monsters then he does humans, wears the name as badge of honor.

NRAMA: If someone's on the fence about buying this – what would you say to get them to try out the first issue?

JW: Monsters? Check! Action? Check! Fun? Check! Johnny Monster’s got it all. It’s an easy, no fuss, and no muss read that anybody can pick up and enjoy. I only write books that I’d want to read and I love monsters and pulp heroes. When I came up with the idea for this book I was thinking about how much I enjoy the Phantom, Tarzan, and Tom Strong and on and on… all these human characters that lost their parents at a young age and were raised by other people (or apes). They have always fascinated me and I think I capture a bit of that magic here. It’s a mix of super and pulp hero with big giant monsters tearing shit up, you gotta love it!

NRAMA: This miniseries also guest stars another character, Phil Hester & Andy Kuhn's Firebreather. How'd this come about, and how does he fit in with Johnny Monster?

JW: When I first talked to Jim Valentino about this book, Jim and I started talking about Firebreather. He wanted to make sure I wasn’t treading on Phil and Andy’s ground. But then I started thinking… Belloc, Firebreather’s father is the undisputed King of the Monsters. It would be cool if some of the monsters Johnny protects worship or are followers of Belloc, right? I was hoping to sneak that in there as a little Easter egg type thing, when Jim straight up asked Phil and Andy if I could use Duncan. I was floored. Firebreather is one of my favorite new characters of recent years, I’m glad that they brought back the series this year, and I can’t wait for the cartoon! Having followed Phil’s career since Flash Annual #6 (the Bloodlines one with the first appearance of Argus… ARGUS PEOPLE) and know that I had an opportunity to work with a character he created is really a personal career highlight for me.

NRAMA: Shadowline Publisher Jim Valentino has said that Johnny Monster may be his favorite new character of the year. What do you think of that, and working with Shadowline?

JW: Jim will sometimes say compliments like that and it make me want to take off running and hide in the woods. I don’t take flattery well, so it makes me nervous. But I think Johnny Monster will find a good home in the Image Universe and I’m glad Jim has put such faith in us.

Shadowline is great. Working with Jim and Kris is inspiring; they always have my back and make sure I’m working at my best. I can go on and on about how much help they are on getting the books out, how they guide us in the right direction and kick us in the ass when we need it, but that would take up too much space.

After doing Dear Dracula, I knew I was going to have to do another book with them. And now I have two, Johnny Monster and Overlook which is a crime book I’m doing right after Johnny Monster, but more on that later. Jim and Kris motivate me to want to be a better creator, and you can’t go wrong there.

NRAMA: Although the first issue doesn't come out until February, I'm going to jump the gun and ask – any plans for a sequel?

JW: Yes, I’d like to do the Bomb Queen model that Shadowline has found success with, of putting out a series of mini-series. If this first mini series did well enough to justify it I’d jump at the chance to do another. These three issues still can stand alone, but I could easily pick up on a few sub plots to build on a bigger story. With the second volume I’d like to get into more of Johnny’s origin, his fear of insects and what happened to his parents.

This book has been a dream of mine for a while. I was raised on Doc Savage novels that were given to me by my dad, and I’ve always loved pulp heroes and sci-fi. This whole book started because I was re-reading H.G. Wells' Journey to the Center of the Earth. I was able to mix my passion for all those things with my love for super-heroes and create something that I think everyone can enjoy, so the idea of continuing is definitely on my mind.

Plus I’d get to write more monster fights!

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