James Wayne Johnson is the writer (and comedian!) behind “Bloom Squad,” an ongoing graphic novel about superpowers and the havoc they can wreak on a population when they’re kept quiet. Part 1 of the story appears in Oneshi Press Anthology #09—the Justice Anthology with art by Marcelo Salaza. We spoke with James about his inspirations, turning a film script into a comic script, and why he relates so much to Wolverine.
I’ve been a writer my whole life, mostly speculative fiction, but the story for “Bloom Squad” just seemed like it could be told better through a graphic element.
Can you tell us about your inspiration and process for creating “Bloom Squad”? It was going to be a film first, correct?
Yep! “Bloom Squad” was originally a film project that Greg Burch, myself, and a bunch of other people came up with about ten years ago. We had no budget and no real idea about what we were doing, but it was a lot of fun and I feel like I learned a lot in the process. Needless to say, the film was never completed, but I liked the script I had written so I decided to turn it into a graphic novel.
What was the process of turning a film script into a comic script like?
Trickier than I expected! A comic script requires much more detail and precision than the script I had initially written so I had to do quite a bit of editing. But in the course of this editing, I’ve been able to streamline and update the story so it is stronger and better told than I would have been able to do back when I first wrote it.
What do you to get “in the zone” for writing?
I like to write in my journal for a few minutes, just to get out all my thoughts and distractions, then I will stare at a mandala for a couple of minutes to clear my mind and help me concentrate.
Who are your writing heroes, or other creators who inspire you?
Clive Barker. As a writer, as an illustrator, as a filmmaker he is just an unparalleled genius. Cormac McCarthy is another writer that I admire. And also, David Bowie and Lemmy Kilmister. Those two had such a surety of purpose, of living their lives just as they envisioned, for ill or good. That to me is the essence of freedom.
What comic book (or other fictional) character do you identify most with, and why?
Wolverine. Not because I see myself as a mysterious, dangerous loner but because we are both short and hairy. And Ben, from Leaving Las Vegas, because for a lot of years I was sure that book was about me and I read it at least fifty times.
The story has to make sense. I think it is up to the author to spell everything out plainly so the reader knows what is going on and [is] not lost or confused.
Any other projects you’re working on?
I am wrapping up the the “final” draft of a novel entitled “Left.” After that, I have two other unfinished novels to complete.
Where can readers find you online?
You can check out “Bloom Squad” Part 1 in the Justice Anthology, out now in trade paperback! And be sure to visit James’s Facebook page for more on his writing and comedy projects!
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