If you didn’t know already, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell (“Helena Crash,” “Solid State Tank Girl”) teamed up with Mike Mignola to create an original graphic novel, “Mr. Higgins Comes Home.” The book comes out today, but just in case you haven’t rushed out to buy it straight away, this interview is spoiler free.
Now here we are three years later, and you’ve put together “Mr. Higgins Comes Home” with Hellboy creator Mike Mignola himself.
Warwick Johnson-Cadwell: I have been a big fan of Mike Mignola’s work for years―it’s been an influence and inspiration―and thanks to social media, he was familiar with mine. We met at the Thought Bubble comic festival in the UK last year where we were on a sketch panel together. We briefly chatted after and he suggested we should work on something together which was incredible and fortunately came about.
How formed was the idea for “Mr. Higgins Comes Home” when you came joined the team? After reading the book, your art seems such a perfect match for the material, I can only imagine it being written specifically for you, or at the very least, carefully tailored to you.
Warwick: That’s a question for Mike I think, but he idea did come after a conversation we had about sad werewolves and other horror characters. The sort of things I had been drawing and of course, so had Mike. It also came from our shared love of old horror movies and the genre and so we had a lot of similarities to begin with.
What was it about this project that sparked your interest?
Warwick: Mainly working with Mike Mignola. No, mainly drawing a horror comic for Dark Horse. No, mainly drawing werewolf induced carnage. This has been so much fun and a dream job right from the start.
It shows in your art. How involved was Mignola in that side of things? I know on his other projects he often pitches in on design—I noticed the Golga crest in your work matched the one on Mignola’s cover—but after seeing your work on “Helena Crash,” I get the impression he really just stood back and let you do your thing.
Warwick: To do his cover Mike had asked for me to design the Golga crest and I sent him a few ideas which he developed. It was amazingly exciting to see him draw from my designs. Other than that, I’d just send him what I was thinking of stemming from his writing. I’d love to see his take on some of the characters.
If you’re like me, you love all the stories in “The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects.” I think “Mr. Higgins Comes Home” springs from that same absurd place, but your art gives it a whole other energy that I love. Mignola’s characters tend to move very slowly, punctuated by sudden action in more dramatic moments, whereas you pages seem to be full of movement, and the dramatic moments are punctuated by slowing down or stillness. Was this a conscious choice on your part?
Warwick: I agree! I LOVE how Mike’s art is so solid and atmospheric yet totally explodes when the action kicks off. My drawing style is quite energetic in the line so looks quite loud and I’m happy to hear you recognize stillness in there when needed. There was no conscious choice to counterpart Mike Mignola’s art that way but I think varying the pace of pages is key to telling a good story. And I do love all the stories in “The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects.”
“Mr. Higgins Comes Home” draws on a lot of classic horror, most obviously Dracula. Were there any particular works you looked at for inspiration?
Warwick: Mainly lots from film. The Fearless Vampire Killers was discussed early on. Hammer Horror movies and Universal Horror too, not any specifically, but in terms of mood and how they look. Perhaps as much in memory too, some of those movies affected me greatly as a nipper but may not stand up so well if I was to re-watch them. Actually having said that, Universal’s Wolf Man (original and recent remake) were very much on my mind.Continued below
Any comedic influences of note?
Warwick: The first one that comes to mind is a comedy after all, Carry On Screaming! (1966). The regenerating monster men and the death of Dan Dann The Lavatory Man were terrifying as a lad.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book, especially its characters. You seem to have put a lot of work into developing them beyond the obvious links to the dialogue. This was something I really enjoyed, so much so that a mere gesture could crack me up, simply because it was just the right gesture for the moment. Could you tell us a little about how you developed the core cast of characters?
Warwick: This was definitely one of Mike Mignola’s skills. His script explained what was going to happen and what might be said, a lot of which was very funny and wonderfully written. I tried hard to make sure these moments were supported by my artwork. Then he finalized the dialogue after seeing the finished pages. I have always loved his art but think his writing is superb.
I have to ask: Who’s your favorite to draw?
Warwick: Count or Countess Golga for the fancy costumes, Knox for his physical personality. Mr. Higgins too for the same reason, though he has a lot more emotion to try and include. They are all great to work on in their own way. All the background characters too, including those in the paintings around the castle. Everyone was developing a story of their own while I drew them.
“Mr. Higgins Comes Home” is out today. Check it out.
Written by Mike Mignola
Illustrated by Warwick Johnson-Cadwell
Preparations begin at Castle Golga for the annual festival of the undead, as a pair of fearless vampire killers question a man hidden away in a monastery on the Baltic Sea. The mysterious Mr. Higgins wants nothing more than to avoid the scene of his wife’s death, and the truth about what happened to him in that castle. However, these heroic men sworn to rid the world of the vampire scourge inspire Higgins to venture out and to end the only suffering he really cares about–his own.
This sendup of classic vampire stories sees Mignola teaming with British artist Warwick Johnson-Cadwell (Solid State Tank Girl, No. 1 Car Spotter) for an original graphic novel as outlandish as The Amazing Screw-On Head.