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RICHARD: So what are you looking to next? Will Puffed be a launching pad?
JOHN: Well, I'm almost positive I will be doing more stuff with Avatar. Not sure exactly what, by my sensibilities seem to go well with publisher William Christiansen, and since I've been doing Species, we've become pretty good friends. And I'm very happy with Image as well. Flirting with Larry Young a little.

Puffed will indeed be a launching pad, or that at least is the idea. I've got one mini complete and in the bag, I'm just waiting to find the right artist --and to be able to make the right financial arrangements with him.

But-- like I said, I've been SO busy, working on Species, which is now finished, working on The Art of Sam Kieth book, which, god willing, will be done by Wednesday, and between that and writing Thundercats and lettering, I haven't had TIME to pursue a lot of my creator-owned endeavours... all sorts of ideas are percolating and germinating, though.

RICHARD: Indeed, seems quite a top bloke. Just remember, don't mention Pat Quinn. There certainly seem to be a few of your old friends with work at Avatar at the moment.
JOHN: Yeah, I figure if Avatar can be working with Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, Garth Ennis, and whoever else William can seduce over, I'm in pretty good company.

RICHARD: Don't forget Nick Locking.
JOHN: Oh yes.

RICHARD: When we chatted well over a year ago now, you were stressing a bit that the work wasn't coming in. Feeling a little more confident?
JOHN: Well, yes and no. There is the part of me that will always worry, because I had the security of one job or another for a looooong damn time, and now you have to look and figure out exactly HOW long you can survive. But, yes, there were moments, especially early on, when things seems very bleak

And I have connections, and at least HAD a bankroll. This isn't a leap I would advise many people to make. Most people can't call Frank Quitely up and get a variant cover for their book about a guy in a dragon costume, ya know?

ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY VOLUME 2 HARDCOVER

RICHARD: Have you found the WildStorm connection a problem at all?
JOHN: How so? I mean, I haven't had much luck with my pitches to DC? Is that because of their perception of me, my infrequency of pitches, or the quality of my pitches? Hell if I know.

RICHARD: Your relationship there was a tempestuous one, and you didn't exactly leave as their golden boy.
JOHN: I took pretty good care to keep good relations with WildStorm, and, as most of them are my friends, that wasn't really a problem. And, as I said, they've been very kind to me.

DC, however, I dunno. I'd say my relationship with them is probably better than most other editors who have left there in the last year! But. there wasn't a whole lot of communication between myself and NY. Only with a select few people. If there is one DC/WildStorm policy I could have instituted, it would be that WS editors should spend a little time in NY and see how things are done.

Honestly, I think things at WildStorm have improved. Editor Ben Abernathy is a former DC (and Marvel) employee, so he knows how things operate. Alex Sinclair is a designer and a colorist for DC. A lot of the problems I had, and DC had with me, were because "we don't do things that way," and I really had no idea of knowing this until something went wrong.

RICHARD: So, are you pitching to Epic, then?
JOHN: Not pitching Epic. I figured everybody ON EARTH is pitching Epic, and I would be just another asshat on the slush pile. When I left WildStorm, I had grand visions of working for Marvel, that Marvel might actually WANT me to work for them. (I think repeated speculation of this in your column might have had something to do with that.) First thing I did was Fed-Ex Bill Jemas a copy of Bay City Jive, which I guess he lined his birdcage with. Then I waited by my mailbox, like Charlie Brown on Valentine's Day.

RICHARD: It does seem that way. So Puffed, Species, what else should we be looking out for?
JOHN: Well, next issue of X-Men Unlimited, I have a Cyclops story with Dan Norton. Noble Causes: Extended Family has a story by me and Pat Quinn. Art of Sam Kieth, where I talk to Sam until he is hoarse, and my fingers have arthritis. And don't forget Thundercats: Dogs of War, with me and Brett Booth.

RICHARD: I said not to mention Pat Quinn. Yeah, so this lack of self-confidence and worry about future work.... you're basically mad, aren't you?
JOHN: Completely f***ing bonkers. It's worse now, because now there is no excuse for me to even put on pants. And now I spend 24 hours surrounded by cats instead of 12. Even I have to admit I'm becoming weird. Like cross-the-street-when-you-see-me weird.

RICHARD: Nude and covered in cats. How beautiful. So on a final note, what did you think of the new Authority? He said, leaving it till last.
JOHN: Er... I thumbed through it, but didn't actually read it yet.

As I told you, my version would have had Henry Rollins writing it, Paul Pope on art, with Anne Magnuson lettering it and featuring "cosmic" coloring by Stephen Hawking.

RICHARD: I think the word we're looking for is "interesting," isn't it?
JOHN: I wish Authority the best, I really, really do, because I love the characters dearly.

I think Authority was really a "success because of time and place" kind of thing and for a new incarnation to succeed, the new version had to be radically different. Which it isn't.

Still, I'll wait until Robbie M. has a few more issues under his belt to judge it, but I think I really wanted something as revolutionary and different as the first two arcs were.

RICHARD: Well, maybe someone can persuade Stephen Hawking to get the Photoshop out one day. Ever fancy writing them yourself?
JOHN: I did pitch a Jenny Quantum one-shot. On the one hand, I was heartbroken when nothing ever became of it, because I was convinced the pitch was so good. On the other hand, part of me knew there was no way Dunbier was going to let me get my mitts on the Authority at this stage in my career.

I should add that my heart has been broken many, many times since going freelance, because, in my advanced state of egomania, I am convinced all my pitches are uniformly brilliant.

RICHARD: Self-confident and riven with self-doubt. That sounds good.
JOHN: Self doubt about getting work. Never about the quality of the work. Man, do I sound like a prick!!

With that, we leave John standing naked, proud and covered in cats. Just the way he wants it. John Layman's stuff can be found at The Mighty Layman. Rich Johnston continues to write rumour gossip column Lying In The Gutters.

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