Mike Mignola stood out from other artists when he first started in the 1980s, and now in 2017 Warwick Johnson-Cadwell is cutting a similar path. And they just finished a unique collaboration together.
The OGN Mr. Higgins Comes Home was released recently, about a man haunted by the murder of his wife and memories of where it happened – but pulled back by fervent vampire hunters.
Although Johnson-Cadwell has done previous work such as Helena Crash and Samurai Jack: Quantum Jack, the 56-page Mr. Higgins Comes Home was (and will be) for many their first time seeing his work. With that in mind, Newsarama spoke with the UK artist about meeting and working with Mignola - and growing up a Mignola fan.
Oh yeah, and vampires too.
Here is an extended preview of Mr Higgins Comes Home – for this interview we have sketches by Johnson-Cadwell from his work on the OGN.
Newsarama: Warwick, how did you get connected to do Mr. Higgins Comes Home with Mike Mignola?
Warwick Johnson-Cadwell: Mike Mignola and I met at the UK's Thought Bubble Comic Festival, we were on a sketch panel together. We followed each other online, he knew my work and of course I loved his. He suggested we do a project together, I couldn't believe it.
Nrama: Mike's not here, so we can be super honest - has his work been a significant influence on your own work?
Johnson-Cadwell: Yes. Oh hell yes. I love reading his pages. From Marvel's Savage Land and Topp's Dracula series all through Hellboy. They have a massive effect on me and I spend ages reading and re-reading to try and learn how they are so awesome.
Nrama: How did you two settle on a story - were you just presented with this, or was there some give and take?
Johnson-Cadwell: The first one, but it didn't feel like it. We talked just briefly about the story really. Mike posts his likes and influences as well as art online and I had been doing the same. Around this time, I was posting a lot of sad werewolves… a vampire sharpshooter and some castles too, actually. The story is pretty simple - set in the structure of a classic horror adventure – but the value here is how Mike writes it… Bringing humor and pathos. So,when Mike presented the story it was exactly what I wanted to draw.
Nrama: Mike has said this is an homage to classic vampire films. What are the vampire films that stand the test of time to you?
Johnson-Cadwell: That varies from film to film. I remember thinking Vampire Circus was awesome but it's not any more whereas Twins of Evil hadn't stood out to me over the years but now I see as one of the best. I think what was most important for this book was not referencing films specifically but going with my memories of these films, many of which I saw when I was young. So, the Universal Monster movies and other bits get thrown in the mix too and I can enjoy them all from memory without being reminded of their flaws. (Which I do remind myself of whenever I re-watch them)
Nrama: How would you describe Mr. Higgins, the titular lead in this?
Johnson-Cadwell: The man? As an innocent and an unfortunate victim, so a tragic character. Burdened with a dangerous curse, fearing the harm he can do others. There's a sadness too that he cannot settle and there's no end in sight. I'm reminded of The Littlest Hobo (not technically a werewolf) but always found the show and the theme tune terribly sad that he had to keep moving on.
Nrama: Vampires or werewolves - if you had to choose, which one and why?
Johnson-Cadwell: I'd have to flip a coin. These two so different that it's not easy to compare. Vampires (I like to think) are 100% rotten, they are tied geographically to a place and have a sense of control over their terrible activities. Werewolves are dangerous animals with little or no control but they have the human side which can be their conscience. Both great characters.
Nrama: Last question… this OGN is out, and so is the jury. What were (and are) your big goals for Mr. Higgins Comes Home?
Johnson: My big goal is not to have ruined Mike Mignola's wonderful story and script which shone with light at the earliest outline. Second is to produce something that won't disappoint too many Mignola fans, of course I'd love to see the book drawn by him too (and many more) so I hope people like and get what we did.
Actually, my main goal throughout was really to finish the book well and find that it hadn't all been some fantastic dream.