Chris Samnee's return to creator-owned work isn't limited to his upcoming Image Comics/Skybound series Fire Power with Robert Kirkman, as he's also drawing and writing a second ongoing called Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters debuting this May. Co-written with wife Laura Samnee, Jonna will be published through Oni Press - with whom Samnee broke into the industry in the mid-2000s.
"It is a long time coming! I've always wanted to come back to creator-owned but honestly I had a lot of fun on the titles I worked on at Marvel," Samnee told Newsarama. "After co-writing Black Widow, I felt like I had the confidence to go out and do something by myself. I’ve been chipping away at what became Jonna since 2014, so it really was time to get it out there. When my contract ended at Marvel, it seemed like the perfect time to go work on a couple of creator-owned titles."
Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters is a story about two sisters who are suddenly separated from their father after monsters invade their world. So it's up to them to fight the monsters, and find the man who raised them. The series is partially inspired by the Samnee's own daughters - although the monsters are imaginary.
"Our daughters have definitely helped inform the characters of Rainbow and Jonna!" Laura Samnee explains. "When Chris started working on this book, our youngest, now four, hadn’t been born yet, so the older two are really the ones that inspired these characters. Our oldest is very much a Rainbow - responsible, caring, bookish. And our middle daughter as a toddler really inspired the character of Jonna."
"We definitely pulled a lot of Rainbow and Jonna from our kid's personalities," Chris added. "I also tell the kids Rainbow and Jonna stories when I'm making breakfast and they love to give feedback!"
So if Rainbow and Jonna are on this quest together, why isn't Rainbow in the title Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters?
"Well, Rainbow doesn’t get billing because it would make the title too long!" Chris Samnee said. "Rainbow is the older sister - headstrong, bookish, a bit bossy, kind-hearted and Jonna is the younger sister - energetic, a bit wild and with something special that will be revealed in the book."
The world of Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters is pre-historic and a bit fantastical, but it takes a dark turn when the monsters show up.
"It’s a pretty idyllic world with lush green forests and little villages at least in the beginning," explains Chris. "Once the monsters invade, the landscape and villages are leveled, leaving the survivors displaced in this new world."
When Jonna was first conceived in 2014, Chris Samnee intended to write and draw it himself but the organic nature of developing it ended up with Laura go from helping her husband to becoming a equal creative partner in the endeavor.
"I didn’t get involved until I was helping Chris put the pitch together and suddenly I was plotting it with him," she said. "We kind of fell into writing it together and at some point I was contributing enough that it made sense to credit me as co-writer."
"Yeah, we really have always worked together so this just feels like a step forward in getting to do something creative together," Chris added. "When we first met, I hadn’t really broken into comics yet and Laura was an aspiring screenwriter. We made a creator-owned book that no one published so it’s really a full circle moment to be working together like this again, all these years later."
The couple, who met while working at a Borders bookstore together 18 years ago, are coming full circle with Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters, and creating a series inspired by their growing family - but it's also about the fun of drawing monsters.
"This is the kind of thing that I could see myself doing for years," he said. "I really just want to have something that I’ve done that our kids can enjoy. And I want have fun drawing a bunch of monsters!"