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DF Interview: Joshua Williamson gives new book its Birthright
By Byron Brewer
It’s about the breakdown of a family and the path of destiny for a young boy. It’s about a dark road that perhaps shouldn’t have been taken but has. It’s about … birthright.
Writer Joshua Williamson (Ghosted, Nailbiter) joins with artist Andrei Bressan (Batman) to bring readers this intriguing tale of destiny, nightmare and survival.
Dynamic Forces sat down with Williamson and the scribe told us all about the new Skybound/Image series.
Dynamic Forces: Josh, with Nailbiter, Ghosted and now the new Birthright, you are quickly getting the rep of being a dyed-in-the-wool horror genre writer for comics? Is this something that pleases you?
Joshua Williamson: It doesn’t bother me. One thing I’ve tried to do with my career is to show that I like to write in a wide variety of genres. Now if I was forced to write horror forever, I’d be fine with that. However, what I really like writing is grounded dark tales with a bit of a twist.
Nailbiter is the only one in that set that is full on horror, and even that is more of a small town thriller. Ghosted was crime and horror, while Birthright is a fantasy drama with a bit of horror thrown in.
DF: Can you compare the very successful Nailbiter at all to Birthright?
Joshua Williamson: They are both very different takes on their own genre. Nailbiter looks at the serial killer world from a different angle … that of the families and friends of the killers. And the main killer has already been caught.
With Birthright, it’s the same general idea … this fantasy adventure from a new angle … what happens after the adventure is over. What happens when the fantasy story is done and you have to deal with real life?
One of the dangers with Birthright is that I don’t want to give too much away. I’d rather people discover the comic without too much being spoiled.
DF: Before you tell us about this new fantasy world – what you WILL tell us, no spoilers, lol -- take us through the process since this is your creation. Also, how did you wind up at Skybound, Robert Kirkman’s Image Comics imprint?
Joshua Williamson: This has been in development since about 2007, but it took a few years for me to really put together the story I wanted to tell. I had talked to a few publishers about it but nothing stuck or seemed right. I had already been working on Ghosted … and Ghosted wasn’t even out yet, but I mentioned Birthright and Skybound was all over it. Things were already going well with Ghosted so this looked like a good idea … and it was. It’s been a great working relationship.
DF: Tell us if you can (yes, without spoilers) about that game of catch in the park between father and son that turned into a parent’s worst nightmare. And what happened afterward …!
Joshua Williamson: Mikey and his dad Aaron are playing catch in the park when Aaron throws the ball too far into the woods … Mikey goes to get the ball and never comes up.
And that has to be one of the scariest things to ever happen. It destroys Aaron, his wife and their older son, Brennan. It’s the thing we’ve seen in our world way too many times, sadly.
DF: Ooh, that IS scary, especially since I was one of those lost boys for a few long hours at a beach in the 1960s. Anyhoo … were you a fan of adventure and fantasy stories as a kid? That is what Birthright reminds me of, in some aspects.
Joshua Williamson: Yup. Narnia, Oz, Never-Ending Story, Peter Pan, etc. You take that plus movies like The Goonies, and The Explorers and Monster Squad and you have all the stuff I loved as a kid. I liked stories of people in the world discovering a bigger fantastic world.
I wanted to do my own take on that story. That world. But show what happens afterward. What happens when you come home from the journey.
DF: So tell us about the kid playing catch, Mikey Rhodes, and some of the other characters in this work.
Joshua Williamson: Mikey Rhodes is a bright, head strong young kid, who gets the weight of the world thrown on his shoulders. The adventure he goes on and the story we tell after that adventure is very big.
The rest of the characters… I can’t get into too much without ruining things.
DF: After learning of the concept behind this book – which is an ongoing, right? – I have to ask you, Josh: Do you believe in destiny?
Joshua Williamson: Yes, Birthright is very much an ongoing.
With destiny … I’m very conflicted. I believe way too much in hard work and making your own way to fully believe that there is a force that guides us.
But … there are so many coincidences in life that it does seem as if we were living a story … that it was destiny. I’ll decide on my death bed.
DF: How about artist Andrei Bressan? In fantasy adventure especially, it is very important to set a tone. Has Bressan’s art done that for Birthright?
Joshua Williamson: I’d say yes. Andrei has been so perfect for Birthright. His art really sings and makes me want to be a better writer.
The story we’re trying to tell ... I hate using the word epic, but that’s what it is, and Andrei has been up to the challenge. The world we are building is so huge with big set pieces and the imagination needed to realize that world needed to be great and Andrei has been that. The energy he brings to Birthright has been breathtaking.
DF: So where is this adventure headed after “ever after”?
Joshua Williamson: Like I keep saying. It’s a very big world. That shows that every big adventure … when fantasy meets reality … there are consequences.
DF: What can we expect next from the fertile mind of Joshua Williamson?
Joshua Williamson: There are a few books in the pipeline. Comics that I’ve wanted to do for a while that I think I can finally pull off. Next year I’m slowing down the amount of books I do. Right now I’m writing six comics, and over the next year I will probably trim that down to four. I work so far ahead that it will be a long time before anyone really notices. But if I keep this up for too long I’ll die at a young age. Also cutting back will let me focus on making better books.
I keep trying to grow as a creator and really push what I can do. But at the same time I want to enjoy my books and the creators I work with … to keep entertaining myself and making the kind of books I want to read. That’s what matters most to me.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Joshua Williamson for taking time from his busy schedule to answer our questions. Birthright #1 hits stores in October!
You can also get a copy of Nailbiter #1 signed in blood red by Joshua Williamson right here!
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