John Higgins of 'Watchmen' on 'Razorjack': It's 'Completely Me' (Q&A)
John Higgins has worked on some of the biggest comic book titles of the past 30 years, including Watchmen, Batman: The Killing Joke and Judge Dredd. Now the veteran artist is stepping out front and center with a remastered version of his own creation: Razorjack.
Higgins wrote and illustrated the limited series, which is being reworked for release Sept. 18 by Titan Comics. The series centers on a villainous “queen of carnage” from another dimension (Razorjack), who makes her way to our world -- with two very different types of cops (Frame and Ross) on the case in a battle of good vs. evil. The release features restored art, fresh dialogue and two new short stories.
Ahead of his trip to San Diego Comic-Con to promote is work, the English creator speaks with The Hollywood Reporter about what he learned from working with greats such as Watchmen’s Alan Moore and what he hopes readers will take away from his new release.
See a trailer for Razorjack at the bottom of this post.
For those wishing to meet the creator himself, Higgins will be at the Comic-Con panel “Launching at SDCC and Beyond!” on Friday July 19, at 12:00 p.m. in room 32AB. He will be signing advance copies of his book then as well as at 4:00 p.m. at Autograph Alley AA03.
The Hollywood Reporter: Where did your idea for this book come from?
John Higgins: From frustration! I have been fortunate to work with some of the best writers in the business, since I started my career as a comic book artist. Alan Moore through to Mark Millar -- and that is only the M writers, never mind the E's and the W's.
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 pure evil with the body of a goddess and the head of the devil herself, she dug her claws into me and hasn't let go since.
Once you have the villain, then we need heroes, Frame and Ross, both cops and a mismatched team. He's a hard-bitten professional, and she a rookie who needed a mentor. We follow them as they grow from ordinary cops into something special. I like my superheroes, but even more I like normal fallible people we can identify with who grow to survive in extraordinary circumstances.
THR: How does working on your own creation differ from working on something like Watchmen?
Higgins: The frustration that Razorjack grew out of was not with the world-class stories I had the pleasure collaborating on with those creators. But I would always see a different way of doing the story, your mind never stops when you’re penciling or inking. I would see how the story, even if it only had a slightly different emphasis, would affect how you could break down the panels and the content in them. I feel I have learnt how to tell a story from the best creators -- whatever I manage to do is a direct result of very talented people being a source of inspiration.
I love the team element when working on the big company regular books, such as the Watchmen. If such a book could ever be called regular. Maybe even more appropriate would be the Before Watchmen series for DC comics -- when you get a team of creators at the top of their game that inspires you to try harder.
That I did miss -- being part of a team on Razorjack, by being everything from the guy who makes the coffee in the morning to the cleaner at the end of the day, and everything in between. I wanted to have total control over my world and maybe make my life as an artist a little easier. Well, I got control, but it wasn't any easier. I was still driven to strive for excellence. But now, it was me as the pain-in-the-butt writer asking for images of worlds colliding. “Come on, don't cop out, make it bigger make it better!” Or the artist to the writer, “Stop giving me cliche, give me emotion, give me characterization!” Or the colorist, “Where is the background? How can I make the Hel' Dimension look hard and dark if you don't draw the effin' thing in?” Schizophrenic? Oh yeah. Thank God I didn't do the lettering as well.