Josh Williamson Talks CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT, GHOSTED, and NAILBITER
Joshua Williamson (Captain Midnight, Ghosted) recently sat down with Comic Book Therapy to discuss his current projects. Lucky for you, this interview happened when his new book, Nailbiter, was announced at Image Expo.
What attracted you the character? Was it something you pitched to Dark Horse or vice versa?
Joshua Williamson: Captain Midnight was actaully brought up to me by Dak Horse in the spring of 2011. It was just talk then, but I was already extremely interested. I’ve always had a soft spot for the pulp science heroes. And then what we had been talking about was very different from what we ended up going with. In 2012, DH came to me and asked if I wanted to work on it. What attracted me to the project at first was to do a super hero book that was tied into a larger world, but wasn’t going to be bombarded with crossovers. BUT with the character himself, I saw him as a challenge. A man who was at first so clearly trapped in the past with his way of thinking but was also a genius. Midnight sees the world in a very black and white simple way. There are good guys and bad guys, and taking a character like that and pushing them into modern times, and watching how they react was going to be fun.
Have you spoken to others who have handled the character in the past?
JW: Y’know that’s interesting. I haven’t. Mike Richardson is the only person I really talk to about the character. We’ve done a lot of research on the character but mostly focused on the movie serials, and radio dramas. But I’d love to pick the brain of a few people and what their takes is on Midnight and where he is now.
Captain Midnight’s costume doesn’t seem to have changed much since the 1930′s, other than maybe material. Why keep it the same instead of going for a more modern look?
JW: Well, at first he comes right through the time vortex in the Bermuda Triangle and dives right into action and adventure. We wanted to make sure that if and when he finally did change costumes that it happened organically.
BUT it just so happens that Midnight’s suit gets destroyed in issue seven and he gets a new one in issue nine. The new one has a few more modern touches and is ready for battle. Our plan is to move forward with Midnight have a bunch of different suits with different uses.
Multiple suits? Are we talking an Iron Man size of suits here? (laughs)
JW: Oh, you’ll see (laughs). Midnight has a few that he has built but we will eventually reveal that someone else has been building a lab and new suits for Midnight anticipating his arrival.
I’ve always seen characters like Captain Midnight, who see things in black and white, as a mirror for society, or their heroes. Do you see him in a similar role?
JW: You bet. Since Midnight is from WWII, the bad guys were much more clearly defined for him. Things seemed easier, But only from HIS perspective. Midnight’s outlook is a call back to a very different time, one that some people miss and look on fondly. The world has come along and gotten better in a lot of ways, and really people who are afraid of change just don’t want to admit it. It’s interesting that there are people who wish that more people acted and thought like Midnight, but that just isn’t how the world works anymore. It’s a lot of more complex than that. The levels of grey in the world are many, and that is something that Midnight is learning.
Can I guess that, since Midnight is a man out of time, we will see some comedy as his relationship with Charlotte develops? He certainly isn’t going to understand a “hookup”.
JW: Midnight and Charlotte’s relationship is complicated. There is an attraction there, but also… listen they’re not stupid. They both know he dated her Grandma. That’s weird, and they both know it’s weird. Right now they are still trying to be friends… the romantic stuff is going to take some time. But yeah, there will be some added humor in there as we go.
Dark Horse has been slowly building a superhero world, and there are hints of it recently in Captain Midnight. What about the Dark Horse world separates itself from super hero worlds like Marvel and DC?
JW: The Dark Horse characters have a different morale center than most other super hero lines. A lot of other characters started off in the golden or silver age and started to have an edge over time as the world changed. But the Dark Horse character started on the edge. It has a bite right from the start. You can see traces of it in the way Dark Horse builds it’s characters.
On the note of Dark Horse, recently it was announced that they lost Star Wars. But they have plenty of great properties left. Have you had your eye on any that you’d like to take a crack at? Like the Zelda franchise, etc.
JW: Man, you hit the nail on the head. I would kill to write a Legend of Zelda comic. Even though its a bit outside the themes of what I’m writing now it would be a dream come true. Right now I’m writing Predator as part of the big Prometheus, Aliens, AVP, and Predator crossover and it’s been pretty kick ass. The other big property that Dark Horse has that I’d like a swing at is Buffy. It’s my favorite show off all time, which means I might be too close to it. But at the same time there is just a rich history with the character and her universe. Buffy herself is a sort of story engine.
How does it feel to have Nailbiter officially announced?
JW: It’s been pretty amazing. A blast. Mike, and I and the rest of the creative team have been working on this book for a bit and were wondering if we’d ever get to share it with the world. Being at Image Expo and having that be the launching point was a dream come true. I don’t think we could have announced it any better. People who read Ghosted can hopefully tell that I love writing crime and horror, and Nailbiter is more of that.
Anything you could tell us about the book without giving anything away?
JW: Nailbiter is about a small town in Oregon called Buckaroo that has given birth to and raised more serial killers than anywhere in the U.S. A FBI agent has come to the town in an effort to find out why. To dig up the secrets of the town and figure out what is going on there that is creating these killers. The book itself is named after the worst of the serial killers named “Edward Charles Warren” a killer who would stalk and kidnap people. who chewed their nails. Warren would torture them, chew their nails and then kill them when he was full. He’s recently been arrested and is the only living serial killer from Buckaroo.
I really love the Oceans 11 vibe you had going in the first arc of Ghosted, but you really changed up the tone in #6 (review here). You took Trip and Winters away from the rest of the group. Is this going to be a trend moving forward? Where we see Winters taking on cases by his lonesome?
JW: Jackson will have a few new gigs as the story goes on but they were always focusing on ghosts and a bit of the supernatural. But the original crew from the first five issues will play a part and come and go a bit. Also a few new faces will join Jackson as he plans and braves new criminal enterprises.
How far out have you planned Winters’ story?
JW: Pretty far. I have a definitive end game in mind, but it all depends on sales, y’know? I just hope that I can give Jackson the ending that he deserves.
Any chance we could see some famous haunted houses (i.e. Lizzie Borden’s house)
JW: Not so much. I try to creating my own haunted locations. It’s more fun and gives me greater control of the story and situation. I love haunted houses and being able to create my own is a blast.
Let’s bring this back to Captain Midnight. What can you tell us about the upcoming arcs?
JW: Issue 8 is the action packed calm before the storm that features a tale from the past of the mysterious Helios and the Secret Squadron from when Captain Midnight was still missing.
Issue 9-11 is our biggest story yet that we went all out for. We really wanted to tell a large epic story about Captain Midnight taking the fight directly to his enemies. We really wanted to wrap up the first year with a bang!
Issue 12 is dealing with the tragic events of issue 10, and how Midnight’s life and mission in present day has changed.
Big thanks to Joshua for taking the time to chat with us.
Remember Captain Midnight #7 is out now, with #8 coming out on 2/26/14. Ghosted #6 is out now, with #7 coming out on 2/18/14