Joshua Williamson has been in the industry for several years now, providing a mix of well-received creator-owned work (Dear Dracula, Xenoholics) alongside some dabblings in the realm of mainstream superheroics (Captain Midnight, Voodoo). It was in 2014 that he began taking things to the next level, establishing himself as a creative force to be reckoned with thanks to three specific titles that made an immediate impact on the scene: Ghosted, Nailbiter and Birthright. This was enough to earn him the ‘prestigious’ award for Most Promising Talent at last year’s Paradoscars, a richly deserved win, and provided the PCG with enough leverage to pry Josh away from his enormously busy schedule to answer our standard set of questions…
What’s your earliest memory of coming into contact with the world of comics?
Comics have always been a part of my life. I don’t remember a time where there wasn’t a short box of comics in my house. Both of my parents had read comics when they were kids, so we still had some old comics around the house. One of the first books I ever read was The Great Comic Book Heroes by Jules Feiffer.
Is there one person you would say is responsible more than anyone else for helping you get your foot in the industry door?
Thankfully I had a lot of help along the way. From friends to writers and artists to editors. A lot of people have given me a push along the way in a bunch of different ways so it’s hard to pick out one person. John Layman helped me early on with scripts and pitching. I took Bendis’ comic writing class at PSU. Jim Valentino with Shadowline was the first publisher to really take a chance with me and he’s invested a lot in my career. If it weren’t for Jim saying yes to my book, I don’t think I’d be here.
Why comics and not plumbing or brain surgery?
Because of my passion and drive for creating comics. Couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. If I wasn’t writing comics, I’d probably be editing or doing production on comics. Too much love for this medium to ever consider doing anything else.
What musical delights help you get your head in the right place to start creating?
Movie scores. I listen to a lot of movie scores while I work. For each comic I’m doing I create a playlist that I use. It don’t listen to just that playlist but it does help set the mood for that title.
What artists inspire your work?
Scott McCloud, Bendis, David Fincher, Alfred Hitchcock, John Carpenter, Garth Ennis, Brian K. Vaughan, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Kirkman, Frank Miller, Brubaker, Will Eisner, Don Rosa, Carl Barks, Sam Raimi, the list goes on and on. I get inspired with every new comic I read. I see tricks and ticks that the creative team did to tell their story and I deconstruct it. Good comics make me want to make more comics.
Which piece of your own published work are you most proud of?
That is difficult to answer. It’s always changing. For a long time it was the first Ghosted trade. Now it could be the Nailbiter or Birthright trades. There is a collection I’m slowly developing now that I know will take the crown for at least the end of the year. Honestly, the fact that I’m working as a comic writer blows me away. It’s weird to say I’m proud of that but it is something I don’t take for granted.
What’s been your biggest challenge so far in comics?
Finding my own voice and style. For a long time I felt like I had the technical side of comics figured out. To a certain extent. But I lacked ME in the stories. My take. My vision for it. It took a lot of making comics and experimenting but when I started Ghosted I felt like I was getting it together. Finally finding MY way to make comics. All of my favorite creators of any medium all have distant styles that you can pick out of a line up. My goal is to do the same and I feel like I’ve finally started to get that. But it took a lot of work.
What are you currently working on, and why should we be excited to see the final product?
Ghosted, Nailbiter and Birthright. And some things that haven’t been announced yet. Creator-owned and some other work I’m dying to talk about in the future. We have a lot of exciting things coming up in my creator-owned work. We aim to do our best with those books and I think it shows. The second Nailbiter trade and the first Birthright trade are now out and I think they kick ass.
Where do you see the industry in 10 years?
That’s a tough question. Continuing to grow. Changing and adapting to our new world.
You meet someone unfamiliar with the world of comics - what book would you place in their hands to convince them of the medium's worth and potentially convert them to the cause?
Saga. That might be the popular or obvious answer… but it’s because it’s the right one now. It has a very strong emotional hook that is clear and fluid.
Three recommendations in books/movies/music/TV that you can't get enough of at this moment in time?
Books: Jason Aaron’s Thor run. Starting with the God Of Thunder and going into the current amazing series. The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero. Pulp Fiction: Tarantino’s screenplay.
Movies: Birdman, Grand Budapest Hotel, The Babadook
TV: Justified, Parks and Recreation, The Flash
Music: John Carpenter’s ‘Lost Themes’, The Hobbit movie score, Star Trek VI movie score
You’re evacuating the planet Earth ahead of its imminent destruction and you only have a chance to grab three comics and/or graphic novels before you leave. What would they be and why?
Preacher- For me. My favorite. The Great Comic Book Heroes by Jules Feiffer - To persevere all the great super heroes we’ve created. The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck - For the kids.
Which three comic characters would you most like to go for a beer with?
Jessica Jones, Jessie Custer, Uncle Scrooge. Jessica and Jessie would be fun to drink with. But Uncle Scrooge would have amazing stories and if we got him drunk enough he might pay for the tab.
What would you most want to be remembered for?
Honestly… I have no idea. Making good books? Working my ass off? Still a LOT of work ahead of me. I feel like I’m just getting started.
Kirby – king of comics?
Kirby is the once and future King. Always.
Ghosted, Nailbiter and Birthright are currently being published by Image Comics.