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FOG! Chats with ‘Mr. Higgins Comes Home’ Artist Warwick Johnson-Cadwell

Mike Mignola, the legendary creator of Hellboy has teamed with the acclaimed artist, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, to create an original graphic novel about vampire hunters, the undead, and the importance of avoiding the crime scene of your wife’s death. Mr. Higgins Comes Home is an unexpected and unusual stand alone story, featuring all new characters in a send-up of classic vampire stories.

In Mr. Higgins Comes Home, 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.

Warwick spoke to Forces of Geek about his influences, collaborating with Mignola and his upcoming projects.

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FOG!: American audiences might be familiar with your work through Samurai Jack: Quantum Jack, Tank Girl and Helena Crash, but you initially started out as a book illustrator with The No 1 Car Spotter series written by Atinuke. What is your background and did you set out to be an illustrator or was comics one of your objective?

Warwick Johnson-Cadwell: I have always been mad keen on drawing and particularly interested in drawing stories and narratives so going between story illustration and comics seems a healthy way to go. After an illustration degree I found work in editorial illustration, some bookwork and some animation and really only began making comics a few years ago.

Congratulations on the new book. I read Mr. Higgins Comes Home this week and loved it. How did you hook up with Mike Mignola?

Thanks very much, it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to have been part of. I am a massive fan of Mike Mignola’s work and met him last year at the UK’s Thought Bubble comic festival. We were part of a sketch panel and had a brief chat and he suggested we work on something together. I was overwhelmed by the whole experience and I think there’s still an element of disbelief about it all.

The art is absolutely beautiful, but the storytelling itself is really fantastic. Who or what are the biggest influences on your art?

Mike Mignola, first and foremost. I was in awe of his style from the Topps Dracula series. I have a French copy of the Marvel Comic Savage Lands (Wolverine) story which I have never read it in English but have read it a million times through the images. But there are many MANY other influences, including artists like Mick McMahon, Kevin O’Neill, Mobeius, Genndy Tartakovsky. Jack Kirby, of course.

You also colored the book and I really found that you used a very unique palate. I think coloring often is overlooked in comics and I think it really made the story that much more special. For you, what does coloring your own work bring to a project?

A massive nightmarish headache! Colouring is such a mighty skill and can transform pages utterly. I draw and I like it, I can enjoy it even when it’s going wrong as that’s a challenge on a journey of sorts. I find colouring a difficult process and have much less confidence in it’s finish. Despite that I have coloured all the comics I have done so far but now with IDW’s Samurai Jack, Hannah Fisher is doing superb work transforming my pages.

The characters in the book are all so distinctive and charming. Have you and Mike discussed revisiting the characters again?

No, not yet, he’s a pretty busy guy. But I would love to revisit Mr Higgins and see how things turn out for him. More adventures with The Professor and Knox would be great, they are a great pair. Mike Mignola’s writing is so much fun to work from.

What do you have coming up?

I’m currently on Samurai Jack: Quantum Jack for IDW written by the dangerously talented Fabian Rangel Jr and coloured by the aforementioned Hannah Fisher. A movie too next year, all very quiet still but I had some drawing input into an upcoming animated feature.

What are you currently geeking out over?

Redlands, Space Riders, Headlopper, Extremity for comics. Eager to see Wes Craig and Toby Cypress’ The Gravedigger’s Union for Image. Mike Mignola has been posting a lot of movie favourites lately and there’s enough on that list to keep me busy for the rest of the year (while drawing!)

Mr. Higgins Comes Home is available in comic book
stores on 10/25, and in bookstores on 10/31

 

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