This week, Oni Press releases the latest single-issue comic of the Antony Johnston (writer) / Christopher Mitten (artist) project Wasteland, a Harvey Award nominee for best new series. Set one hundred years after a world-wide catastrophe called The Big Wet, Wasteland follows the adventures of Michael, a desert scavenger. And strange adventures they are--action-packed but also at times contemplative, with all kinds of secrets for readers to discover. It's not just about surviving in a bleak landscape--there are multiple layers to this comic, and multiple mysteries. The drawing style is stark and evocative, with Johnston's writing bringing depth and excitement.
As Johnston said when I contacted him about Wasteland, creating the comic was a challenge: "It was my first ongoing, episodic comic; it has a massive world and back story, all of which had to be worked through and then kept in mind while writing; it was a story I'd wanted to write for more than a decade, so the drive to 'do it right' was very strong." At the same time, Johnston had the most fun "Coming up with the world, the back story, and the big mysteries."
Johnston still gets a thrill receiving finished copies of his work in the mail. "No matter how much of a veteran you might be, if you don't get excited and a little nervous when something is published for the first time, you should probably think about doing something else.
With Wasteland Book 1: Cities in Dust (collecting the first six issues) out this past March and Book 2 (Shades of God) out soon, "the biggest ongoing challenge is juggling the multiple plots and mysteries--making sure they not only fit together, but do so in an interesting and compelling way. If I stop to think about it too much I get the cold sweats, frankly."
Up next for Johnston, in addition to more Wasteland, is the third Alex Rider graphic novel, Skeleton Key, plus Dead Space, a comic prequel to the upcoming videogame, with Ben Templesmith, and a young adult fantasy novel called Blackguard that Johnston hopes to have finished early next year. Visit Johnston's website for more information.