TITANIC-Like Love Story - But with Biblical Monsters - in Image's LEVIATHAN

Credit: Nick Pitarra/Michael Garland (Image Comics)
Credit: Nick Pitarra/Michael Garland (Image Comics)

Have you ever been at a party and end up being sent on a beer/liquor run, and while you're gone someone summons a demonic beast to pass the time? Me neither, but that's the gist of John Layman, Nick Pitarra, and Michael Garland's new Image series Leviathan.

Out this Wednesday, Leviathan brings monster madness to our world in a way that itsn't just 'man vs. monster,' but also a human story about a man trying tofind his girlfriend who got lost in the chaos.

Layman and Pitarra spoke with Newsarama about the upcoming series, and how there’s more to it than just monsters destroying the world.

Credit: Nick Pitarra/Michael Garland (Image Comics)

Newsarama: So John, Nick, so tell us how you came together for Leviathan

John Layman: Nick called me up, after years of us seeing each other at cons and flirting on the internet, the both of us threatening to someday work together. Nick had a hole in his schedule, and I was trying to figure out what to do post-Chew. So I tried to think of what would be the best genre to showcase Nick. Decided what Nick needed to do, and what the world needed to see, was a Nick Pitarra giant monster book. A Kaiju book, but with the twist of the monster being the result of infernal magic, a demon, rather than a creation of radiation or science on awry, like giant monster stories typically are.

Credit: Nick Pitarra/Michael Garland (Image Comics)

Nick Pitarra: I’ve known John for years. We actually found each other on the Mark Millar message boards and talked on the phone about pitching something together way back then. That was before he did Chew and before I did The Manhattan Projects. With Leviathan I was approaching a gap in my schedule and had always wanted to follow up and do something with John. So I called John about a year ago and asked if he’s like to do a book with me, he called back a few days later with Leviathan.

Nrama: What is it that you like about one another as creators? 

Credit: Nick Pitarra/Michael Garland (Image Comics)

Layman: I like Nick because he brings 110% to every page, and it definitely shows in Leviathan. He’s a good dude in general, in addition to being a phenomenal artist. Even before working together we’ve been hanging out at shows for years. As for Nick, I think Nick likes me because I am very, very, very handsome. And Nick is exactly like me in that his favorite movie of all times is Titanic, and his least favorite food on earth is Chipotle, because it is the most foul, putrid “food” in the entire history of mankind. At least, I assume these are things I have in common with Nick.

Pitarra: John is a carefree and doesn’t take himself too seriously, I’d like to think I have a similar quality. What I love most about working with John is that that fun loving guy seeps into his scripts. His playful character work, fun light hearted tone, are mixed in with a good bit of dark humor and it’s not far from the man himself. I love that honesty in his work.

Nrama: You guys mention that this is a story of black magic, giant monsters, and a true love, what can you tell us about the lovers here Ryan and Vee? 

Credit: Nick Pitarra/Michael Garland (Image Comics)

Layman: Ryan racing to save his girlfriend, the last survivor of a group that accidentally summoned the Leviathan. Man vs. monster. Ryan was about to propose to her when the story starts, so he either saves her, or this is the shortest engagement ever.

Pitarra: Ryan and Vee’s relationship is the heart of the story. His motivation to save her from the Leviathan’s curse pulls the narrative forward.

Nrama: “Leviathan” is mainly used for a generic term for a sea monster, but it dates back to Biblical times and is even mentioned six times in the Hebrew Bible. Is this monster here more of a kaiju or definitely something demonic? 

Layman: Definitely demonic. One of the working titles for the book was Monsters From Hell but that felt a little too B-movie for me, so we eventually went with Leviathan. And the monster from the book is Leviathan from the Bible, though we’re saying the Bible was translated wrong and this is actually a monster “from the depths,” though not necessarily the ocean depths. I figure I’m going to hell anyway, why not take liberties with the Bible?!

Credit: Nick Pitarra/Michael Garland (Image Comics)

Pitarra: Our Leviathan is definitely of the demonic quality, but design wise I really tried to work in the sea monster element. Instead of the ocean, our Leviathan boils the earth into lava before swimming back down into Hell. I’ve hidden gills under his mandibles and also referenced some of the biblical sea monster descriptions when designing him.

Nrama: How many designs did Nick go through for the monster? 

Layman: As I recall, it came together pretty quick. Design was almost 100% Nick. For a book like this, which is being driven primarily by the art, mostly I just gave Nick, “Hey, this is awesome feedback.” He went back and forth on designs until he found something he liked.  But I seem to remember the design came together in rapid succession, with Nick just rapid-firing me monster designs and fine-tuning as he did.

Credit: Nick Pitarra/Michael Garland (Image Comics)

Pitarra: It was a very organic process, the early versions were more iguana looking, and I kept adding and subtracting elements of different reptiles, lizards, and classic monsters until I felt I had something unique. I still see all the individual parts though, so he’s like a big ugly Kaiju Frankenstein to me.

Nrama: Is this monster the only one involved in the story or will there be more down the line? 

Layman: A bunch. Something crazy every issue, and each issue will top the last in terms of energy and madness. More monsters, and not just monsters, either. Dinosaurs, mechs, demons…all sorts of nutty stuff.

Pitarra: Other than Leviathan, we have a mutated T-Rex, dinosaurs running about, a giant mechanical scorpion, and big monsters planned from different religions.

Nrama: Whose idea was it to release the story as an ashcan? 

Layman: Er, maybe Image? I’m very old, with not a lot of brain cells left. I can’t be expected to remember something like that.

Credit: Nick Pitarra/Michael Garland (Image Comics)

Pitarra: I’ve always liked ashcans and when I found out my buddy Ryan Browne got to do one with his Image book Curse Words I stole his idea. We released it at the Diamond Previews Summit in Chicago giving retailers the unique chance to read the book before it was solicited. It worked as a fun promotional tool and collectible, I think.

Nrama: Do you see Leviathan going the distance or since you've both done long runs of series want to keep things shorter this time around? 

Layman: We’re looking at 10 issues, with a self-contained crazy action movie with a trillion dollar budget. Of course, if it makes us a trillion dollars, we’ll follow it up, but it’s been conceived as something much shorter than Chew or even Manhattan Projects.

Pitarra: We have the first two trade paperbacks planned out so far. Harking back to the love story being the anchor, the first arc his called “'Til Death Do Us Part” and the second trade is “Honeymoon In Hell."

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