You Will Read This Long Beach Comic Expo Interview With J.K. Woodward – Resistance Is Futile

jk woodward LBCE 2015Which science fiction property is better, Star Trek or Doctor Who? Thanks to Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation Squared illustrated by J.K. Woodward, the answer quickly became, "Who cares? Give me more of both!" The self-proclaimed Trekkie was on hand at the Long Beach Comic Expo this past weekend and was nice enough to sit down and answer a few of my questions and bring awareness to a charity event spearheaded by him and the American Cancer Society.

Cameron Hatheway: The Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation Squared comic crossover really made you a household name with both Trekkies and Whovians. Is there one group in particular that gushes more over your work, or is everyone equal with the gushing?

J.K. Woodward: That's really hard to say. I just recently did Gallifrey One and the last Doctor Who work I did was the crossover, and I still get a lot of attention from Whovians, even though technically I do a lot more Star Trek stuff. I just finished City on the Edge of Forever, for instance, so it's really hard to say. Neither of them forget. I think ten years from now I'll still get probably equal attention from both.

CH: You made such a lasting impression, for people were very hesitant to begin with, crossing those two sci-fi properties over.

JKW: That was a scary project at first. I think I was well into issue three before the first one actually came out. And when they announced it, we got about fifty-fifty; we got some negative backlash. "This is stupid, this will never work, I hate crossovers," that kind of thing. But luckily when that first issue came out, the Tiptons really did a good job crafting a good story, where it doesn't really matter if it's a crossover because it makes sense. So it started getting good reviews, and it was well received. I thought I was the only Trek fan that was also a Who fan, I didn't know there was so much crossover, turns out there is. There's a lot of crossovers.Trek_Who_extra_image

CH: Continuing on with Star Trek: Harlan Ellison's City on the Edge of Forever; that was a hit with a lot of fans. What were your first thoughts when you were pitched another Star Trek property?

JKW: I always want Star Trek, I always want Star Trek work. I specifically ask for Star Trek work. In fact, when I got the Star Trek / Doctor Who job, at that time IDW had the Doctor Who property, I called in asking, "Can I have any Star Trek or Doctor Who work?" and they said "Yeah, you can have both." So I'm always asking for it. The City on the Edge of Forever is particularly important, not only because is it the most famous Star Trek episode, but also I'm a Harlan Ellison fan, and this is Harlan's original vision for the episode and it's far removed from what was actually aired because there were at least ten other scripts along the way. So I had read his original script, I read his original teleplay, I liked it. When they mentioned this, I wasn't sure if it was ever going to happen because there was so many things in the way, but I was very excited to do it.

CH: The comic community suffered a huge loss last May with the passing of Jamie D of Comic Geek Speak. You've teamed-up with the American Cancer Society to host an art auction with proceeds going towards them in Jamie's name, to take place next month during the London Super Comic Con. Could you tell us what prompted you to spearhead such a noble cause?

JKW: The first thing that kind of kicked it in was I had been talking to people, and we'd all been asking "Have you heard from Jamie? Is Jamie okay?" and when he finally died somebody had asked me about it, and my response was "No he finally succumbed to his cancer," and I just didn't like the sound of that. It sounded like a defeat. And then I had noticed that the Comic Geek Speak guys were doing a charity run with Jamie D shirts on and everything and I was like, "That's a good idea!" That helps make it a little righter, we can do something in his name. The other thing too is people like Jamie have been helped a lot by the American Cancer Society, so it just felt right. There's nothing we can do for Jamie, but maybe we can help somebody else who's been through that. They do a lot of screenings in underserved neighborhoods, they provide a lot of free care to people who can't afford it, it's more than just the cancer research, so I'd like to think this is helping somebody.

CH: What are some of your fondest memories of Jamie?

JKW: I think his love of comics was infectious. I remember the first time I did the CGS Super Show, and I had heard about the Super Show first because at the time I lived on the West Coast and couldn't get out to it, but when I first moved to New York one of the first things I wanted to do while I was in the area was a Super Show. And I remember the first time I did a Super Show and how exciting it was to finally meet the guys. Jamie's just genuinely excited about comics. You do these cons, and you talk to a lot of people that just want to ask a question because they don't know what to say, and Jamie's not that guy. So I could talk to the guy for hours, and have, so I think that's what I'm going to miss the most.

BehemothcoverCH: Right now you're illustrating covers for Kill Shakespeare: The Mask of Night series from IDW. What do you have next on the horizon?

JKW: I'm actually working on my own project called Behemoth, it's coming out in April on MonkeyBrainComics.com. So it'll probably be in print at Image or IDW or something this time next year, but for now you can pick it up at Monkey Brain.

CH: And what's it about?

JKW: I really wish the writer [Chris Kipiniak] was here to talk about it, I just draw the pictures! [Laughter] Basically, there's something happening to the youth in America and these kids are becoming hideous monsters. It's sort of a hybrid-horror story. These kids are becoming monsters, literally, and they're being taken away by the government and are being put into an interment-like camp inside of a mountain where they're kept away from society so they won't hurt anybody. Some of them, if they have the right psychological profile, are being trained by the government for covert ops. It reminds me a little bit like a more realistic version of say, Monster Squadron from DC Comics. We're having a lot of fun. And I'll be debuting an art style that, unless you know me, you probably have not seen before. I'm not doing the painting, I'm doing the ink wash. It frees me up. I have a lot more fun working with inks because you're not confined by photo references or even realism, you can tweak it a little bit and it feels a lot more kinetic to me and a little less stiff than the painted stuff.

Special thanks to J.K. for taking time out of his busy schedule during Long Beach Comic Expo to talk Star Trek and more with me. You can find more of his work at his website or follow him on Twitter.

Cameron Hatheway is a reviewer and the host of Cammy's Comic Corner, an audio podcast. You can beam him up on Twitter @CamComicCorner.