John Higgins Talks “Razorjack”
You may not know the name John Higgins as well as Alan Moore, but he’s had a hand in some of the most celebrated comics in the industry. Higgins colored Watchmen and The Killing Joke to name a few. He also had a hand in Before Watchmen, penciling the Crimson Corsair backup. He has ventured into the creator owned with Razorjack. It was released in the late 90’s, but Titan Comics is releasing the title again with some new stories. Check back here on Comic Book Therapy for a review for that later. Recently, he talked to Comic Book Therapy about the rerelease of his creator owned series.
First question, where did the idea for Razorjack come from?
John Higgins: I have been lucky to work with some of the best writers in the business since I started in the mid 1980′s. Probably 6 out of the top 10 writers working in comics today went through the Academy of 2000AD, Alan Moore through to Mark Millar. But after working in the business for around 15 years, at that stage, I felt I needed to create my very own world, from the ground up.
As much as I love working on Batman, Judge Dredd or even the Watchmen it has always been as an artist for hire. I had reached a stage when I needed to do something that was completely me, with no creative compromises. And from deep inside the darkest recesses of my mind arose Razorjack, a creature of total evil with the body of a Goddess and the head of the devil herself, she dug her claws in and hasn’t let go since.
With Titan releasing this collected edition and you adding two new stories at the end of the collection, does this mean you might return to the character in a new OGN or ongoing?
JH: When I first published Razorjack, it should have been a monthly mini series, it was my mistake at that time not to do it as such. Since then the market and reading habits have changed. Most readers I speak too tend to wait until a series is collected before they buy into the story, such as the Curse of the Crimson which will be out as a collected edition the same month as Razorjack. If this edition of Razorjack gets the interest we feel it deserves, we will think about doing a mini series next with Titan Comics, there is so much more to tell about Razorjack and her world, some of which we have written of in 3 new prose books that we are planning to come out soon hopefully from Titan Books.
Would the prose books be continuations of the character/universe? Or would they be the same story in prose?
JH: The Prose novels, are all new further tales of Razorjack and her worlds, Michael Carroll and Al Ewing have both taken an aspect of Razorjack’s incursions into our dimension to try and break through the wall separating us from her. She is
constantly poised and ready to invade and destroy all of human life. Al Ewing’s is a psycho sexual horror, with dark and black humour. Michael Carroll has taken an action adventure approach with a fast and violent chase story, with more humour and very clever set ups. Both writers have a catalogue of quality SF behind them, check them out. You will be entertained and surprised at their imagination and settings, brilliant writers.
I like that. You don’t see that often in comics. Jumping mediums and having it all in canon. Surprised publishers and creators don’t do that more. As someone who has created their own property, how does it feel to give your creative child into others hands?
JH: I only pass my plug ugly baby into the arms of a caring, but twisted creator whom I trust. Based solely on my admiration of the writer or artist concerned. If we look at the Prosthetic head by the sculptor Nigel Booth, this was the first time I had allowed anyone in to my world. I knew his excellent work from many high profile Movie projects such as Hellboy and Captain America. He brought a 3 dimension ascetic to Razorjack, such as the decision we made to have dreadlock hair rather than her flowing locks, this was due to his experience of making fantastical creatures a reality and he pointed out the problems on her having a “bad hair” day. He has added to my world. The same for Mike Carroll, his story, “A Glimpse of Summer” for Titan’s new edition. Not only is it an interesting and very clever premise for a story, but he approached the Twist Bitch nomenclature and introduced a neat way of addressing such a negative word in a context that makes sense of its use. I now have confidence in seeing how a “few” talented people can add to Razorjack’s world, the prose novels we now have from 2 superb SF writers at the top of their game has introducing me to aspects of my world I had not imagined before. I love what they have done with it.
If you are going to SDCC this year, look out for my Razorjack character in all her “gory” stalking the halls, admire Nigel’s work in motion.
Well that’ll scare the kids, haha. Do you see this as a franchise? Something that could make it to small or big screens?
JH: I hope so, kids should have nightmares
I think most comic creators want their characters to appear on film or TV, I certainly do. As we are always hearing, comics are closely related to film, so the next step for Razorjack should be into moving pictures.
As comic creators when we are writing or drawing the story we always see it as a 3 dimensional world, we are constantly
trying to make that world an immersive experience. With a movie that would be possible. In the Razorjack novels, we have explored Razorjack and her cohorts in a depth that most comic book worlds never get the opportunity to have done, psychologically as well as in horror/action adventure. I feel Razorjack could make a interesting and different movie series. Hollywood give me a call!
Haha. Well I see that happening more and more with comic book creators. They make the superhero books to gain a footing in the industry and use their creator owned work to launch themselves farther than that. Ed Brubaker is a good example. Is a future like that going through your head when you write?
JH: That does seem to be the fashion now, but for me it was initially just to be a comic book. That was all it was intended to be, but its world has grown, as much
as by the books as the new comic strip stories in Titan’s edition of Razorjack. She has shown me a depth well beyond my initial expectations and I would love the
opportunity to explore more of this world, and to get the full movie, sound track and Tee shirts treatment would be a great way to share my nightmare with the rest of the world.Think big – is Razorjacks motto. Don’t destroy just one world, destroy the universe.
In an age where trade paperbacks seem to be more and more popular with fans and comic shops, would it ever cross your mind to just do a graphic novel of Razorjack? Books like The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire worked great as a graphic novel.
JH: I believe versatility to be the bench mark of all creativity. This collected edition has evolved from the graphic novel format which was how it was originally constructed, so with the full length origins story in place at the beginning of the Titan collected edition, the new short stories show facets of the depth to the world of Razorjack. With Michael Carroll’s use of story and design elements from the origins story making clever use of the parameters that I originally put in place. So with all the extra detail which goes beyond the Graphic Novel’s original premise I think it has shown with the prose books and short stories, a versatility that takes it beyond the “confines” of a Graphic Novel format. So the next step should be live action.
So who would be your choice for director? If money wasn’t a thing and you could have your pick of the litter, haha.
JH: If I had my choice living or dead it would be Charles Laughton, he only directed one movie, Night of the Hunter, which was a weird and wonderful film noir thriller set in the Appalachian region. As Razorjack would have more than just multicoloured superhero action, it would suit an exploration of the dark side of horror, action adventure, possibly more in keeping with Supernatural TV series than any of the current crop of Superhero movies.
When looking into Razorjack, I came across a review who called it “Law & Order meets the X-Files.” Now, I think that sounds like an awesome TV show. Do you think Razorjack could work as a TV show? Be it on one of the big networks or HBO?
JH: That is a cool comment, one of the points I heard about the Watchmen movie was it should have been a 12 episode TV series. I think TV is not seen as the poor relation of live action fantasy any more, the FX you get on TV can compare with any you see on the big screen. I can see Razorjack working as a weekly series, we have so much depth to the characters with many story lines in place already. So to have that expanded to a 10 season run of programs would be a dream come true.
Razorjack is out in September 18th by Titan Comics.