Johnnie Christmas is a comic book author and a New York Times bestselling illustrator for his work with Margaret Atwood on the graphic novel Angel Catbird that takes you on a cat-centric, heroic adventure; and Alien 3, based on cyberpunk legend William Gibson's original movie script. He's also the writer of the ongoing Tartarus series from Image Comics — an adventurous mix of Star Wars meets Breaking Bad — available at comic book stores everywhere, virtual or otherwise, on June 17.
Christmas joins Inverse Happy Hour to do a special reading from Tartarus #1, a sci-fi comic that uses Afrofuturism — which he describes as an important tool that will continue to shape the future of storytelling — to tell a story set far from our world:
“It's just this wealth of stuff from the African Diaspora that we can use and that isn’t seen, which is very important to be seen. So I think it’s not only fun, it’s very useful. And I think it will set the stage for the next stage of comic book artists and writers who want to tell stories about the African Diasporic experience that doesn't have anything really to do with race. So it's not about the Black experience in relation to other groups but as people with hopes, fears, loves all on our own.”
Below are the Inverse Happy Hour highlights, so pour a glass of your favorite drink and check out the video above for the full interview and live reading.
10:40: “Let’s see new corners of the worlds,” Christmas tells Inverse's Jake Kleinman while diving into what he'd like to see happen next in the Star Wars universe.
11:45: Creating the art for Alien 3 and the process of turning the script into a graphic novel.
15:30: What it was like to work with cyberpunk legend William Gibson on Alien 3 and award-winning author Margaret Atwood on Angel Catbird: “It’s really inspiring to be around folks who’ve had very long creative careers and are still hungry to make great creative work.”
17:20: Why Prometheus was a good movie — so long as you don’t consider it an alien movie.
19:40: How he thinks future space travel will change science fiction and his thoughts on space having a smell. (Burnt toast, anyone?)
22:20: What his experience pitching and working with Image Comics is like as a Black creator.
26:30: Live reading from the beginning of the Tartarus in which he sets up the scene: “We’re gonna have a prison break. So we start off with a prison schematic. Circe has to make her way all the way to the top if she’s to make it out of prison.” See the full diagram below. For more pages, check out the issue here.
A huge thanks to Christmas for joining us!