Every year, in the countdown to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October, we bring you a series of interviews with guests at the event. We’re rounding off this year’s “Festival Focus” interviews for 2019 is with a chat to Staz Johnson, a professional comic artist for more than 30 years, working for most of the main comic publishers in the UK and United States, initially on licensed titles at Marvel UK and Fleetway in the late 1980s.
Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, he worked mostly for the ‘Big Two’ American publishers, DC Comics and Marvel Comics. During this period, his credits included stints on characters such as Avengers, Batman, Catwoman, Deadpool, Robin, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and X-Men.
In recent years he has worked on multiple “Judge Dredd” stories for 2000AD, Vikings for Titan Comics, Kings Road for Dark Horse Comics and Bloodshot for Valiant Comics.
What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?
Staz Johnson: I’m just finishing off a Dredd for The Megazine, and I’m working on something for Marvel, but I’m not at liberty to say anything else about that at the moment. I’m afraid I don’t know when either will be published.
How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)
Staz: It’s not what you’d call ‘a plan’, but generally speaking I get to work after I’ve taken my daughter to school & walked the dogs, about 10.00am-ish, & work until 6.00 or 7.00pm. Break for dinner & a little time with the family, then it’s back to work at around 10.00pm for a couple of hours.
What’s the best thing about being a comics creator?
Staz: I love to draw, that says it all really.
And the worst?
Staz: The long hours.
What most distracts you from getting your work done?
Staz: Agonising about whether what I’m doing is good enough.
Do you think it’s easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?
Staz: I think it’s probably easier to get noticed, what with social media etc, but (as I understand it) less comics are being published today so landing a paying gig is probably more difficult.
That being said, it’s never been easier to self publish than it is now, so although landing a gig at recognised publisher might be more difficult, having a physical comic you can sell online or at shows is within the reach of almost anyone.
Have you ever been to the Lake District before and if so what did you think of it?
Staz: I have been many times, it’s one of my favourite areas of the country.
Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?
Staz: Can I go living or dead? If so, I’d go either John Buscema, Gil Kane (among the dearly departed) and Adam Hughes, of those who are still with us.
How do Festivals and other comics events help creators most, do you think?
Staz: From my point of view, the best thing is the chance to meet other creators and exchange ideas about comics. Being a comic artist is a solitary experience, so breaking that mould (even for just a weekend) is nice.
What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?
Staz: Do it every day. If you want to be an artist draw every day, if you want to be a writer, write every day etc.!
Staz, thanks very much for your time and see you at the Festival!
STAZ JOHNSON ONLINE
• Books featuring the work of Staz Johnson on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link – help support downthetubes, thank you)