James Wayne Johnson on Comedy, Comics, and Cohorts

James Wayne Johnson is a writer and stand up comedian who lives in Lolo, MT with his wife, Michelle and their dogs, Luna and Stella and cats, Big Vin and Lil Mil.

He is the writer of “Bloom Squad,” an ongoing story whose fifth chapter will appear in the Cohorts Anthology with art from Marcelo Salaza.

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James, it has been about a year since our last interview!  Tell us what you have been up to.

I’m a stand-up comedian and I’ve been averaging 3 or 4 open mics and showcases a month.  I’ve also hosted comedy fundraisers for the Alzheimer’s Association and the Poverello Center. It’s really gratifying to be able to help out some worthy causes. In June, I was part of a wonderful show called “Infusion” at the Roxy in Missoula, and it was great fun to be able to do a more theatrical and musical take on traditional stand-up. I spent a good chunk of the summer writing Bloom Squad part 5, as well as working on my novel, Left. My wife, Michelle, and I also took a few vacations to visit family in Ohio, Iowa, and California. The trip to Columbus and Sacramento coincided with the Sonic Temple and Aftershock musical festivals, so we were able to see some fantastic bands, including my favorite, Tool!

How did you get into writing comics?

About ten years ago, some friends and I decided to make a no-budget movie called Tracers.  The movie was never completed, but the story still felt vibrant to me, so I  adapted the script into comic book form.   

What does the word “cohorts” mean to you?

A group of people who do not begin as friends but who grow closer as they work towards a common goal.

How do you think the characters in Bloom Squad fit into the Cohorts Anthology?

Quite well, I would say!  The protagonists have nothing in common when they meet, but their bonds grow stronger as their situation becomes more perilous. 

Writing comics is not your only creative outlet, correct. Tell us about your other creative endeavors.

As I mentioned, I’ve been doing stand-up comedy for over seven years now. I started because I wanted to get over my fear of public speaking, and I’ve stayed with it because I have made so many wonderful friends in the Missoula comedy scene. Last year, I booked two shows of my own for the first time, which was a pretty proud achievement.   

I’m also still working on my novel, Left. I’ve been writing for quite a while now, but instead of being frustrated with myself that it has taken so long, I just focus on the fact that I am determined to finish it. I’ve worked too hard on it to quit now, so one day soon we will see it in print.  

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Tough question!  I would have to go with telekinesis (sorry, telepath fans of Bloom Squad). I just think it would be super handy to be able to move objects with my mind.  There’s all kinds of useful applications for that! 

What comic book character do you most identify with, and why?

I must admit that I am out of touch with what is currently happening in the world of comics, so I might be overlooking someone cool who has come along recently, but I have to go with my old favorite, Wolverine. He became my favorite X-Man when I was young, and I just can’t quit him! I identified with him because he’s an invincible loner with a gruff exterior and a compassionate heart. I’m not as much of a loner as I used to be, and I remain very vincible, but I just can’t stop being a Wolvie fan!

This anthology includes part 5 in your Bloom Squad story.  How much more can we look forward to?

As I mentioned, Bloom Squad started out as an adaptation of a movie script, which gave me the basis of the plot for the first four chapters. Part 5 was the first one where I didn’t know what was going to happen, and I was completely blown away with excitement when the story came to me. That’s the reason this chapter was the hardest to write so far, but I am getting ideas about what will happen next, and that just makes me more excited to keep writing and find out. The characters of Bloom Squad are so rich in my mind that I could see it growing into an extended series, but at the same time I feel like there is one more chapter in this story arc, that will lead to a resolution of the current state of affairs, but would remain open to further adventures.

What was the inspiration for Bloom Squad?

The ability to read another person’s thoughts is so intriguing to me. Would you really want to be able to do so? That knowledge has to come with a price, and, in the case of Bloom Squad, the price is the rapid deterioration of the telepath’s health.

Where can our readers find you online?

My Facebook page is James Wayne Johnson!  Writer!  Comedian!  or on Instagram at jameswjohnson406

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