Writer Antony Johnston brings manga flair to Wolverine
Writer Antony Johnston has handled everything from romantic comedy to the apocalypse, and in between, as an in-demand comic-book writer. This month, he takes a new spin on Wolverine, creating Del Reyâ€™s manga version of the character in â€śWolverine: Prodigal Son.â€ť Drawing the series is Filipino artist Wilson Tortosa, best known for his work on Top Cowâ€™s â€śBattle of the Planets.â€ť Johnston talked to The Oklahoman about his take on the mutant hero.
Matt Price: Your Wolverine takes an â€śall-new, all-differentâ€ť spin from the classic Wolverine character. How did you decide what to keep, and what to jettison, from the regular Marvel Comics Wolverine character?
Antony Johnston: I started with the aim of removing as much baggage from the existing character as I could; to strip him down to his essentials, without removing the things that make him who he is. So the costume, him being a superhero, the X-Men, his roguesâ€™ galleryâ€¦ all those were dropped. That left us with the core essence of the character â€“ his personality, his claws, his healing factor, and of course his crazy hairdo.
Itâ€™s important to realize that this isnâ€™t about taking Wolverine, the superhero, and shoehorning him into a story where he doesnâ€™t fit. This is about taking Logan, the man, and building him into a manga hero. That was the biggest influence on those decisions, and I was pretty ruthless about it.
MP: Tell me about your artist on the series.
AJ: His nameâ€™s Wilson Tortosa, a Filipino, and heâ€™s best known in American comics for drawing the â€śBattle Of The Planetsâ€ť book from Top Cow a few years back. I hadnâ€™t worked with Wilson before, but as soon as I saw his first few pages of â€śWolverineâ€ť layouts I knew he was perfect for the book. His pages are very kinetic, and he also has a good sense of storytelling dynamics for when the art needs to be more contemplative. I especially like how you can clearly see that manga has been a big influence on his work, but heâ€™s not aping anyone. He has his own unique style.
MP: What was harder: writing a book that would appeal to Wolverine fans, or writing a book that would appeal to manga readers?
AJ: We didnâ€™t really think of this book as trying to appeal to existing Wolverine fans at all. There are a few references, little nods, that sort of thing, for those fans to recognize and raise a smile. But our main concern was writing for manga readers. Yes, it was challenging at times, because we knew weâ€™d have an uphill struggle to convince them that actually, they really do want to read a book about Wolverine! But itâ€™s a good challenge, and one I relished.
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