Having a party without enough beer can be a drag. The only thing worse is when your bored party guests summon a giant monster that destroys everything in its path. LEVIATHAN by John Layman and Nick Pitarra explore this scenario, providing impeccable art and a story that will leave you craving more. Announced at this years Image Comics Expo, LEVIATHAN will give readers the exact type of city-destroying monster that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
ComicsVerse was lucky enough to have a chance to speak with John Layman and Nick Pitarra about their upcoming monster story, the inspiration, and what city-destroying projects they have coming up.
ComicsVerse (CV): For readers who don’t know, what is LEVIATHAN all about?
John Layman (JL): LEVIATHAN is a high-octane super crazy gonzo action story about a Godzilla-sized monster who is summoned during a occult summoning ceremony. But the unleashing of Leviathan upon the world is just the beginning of all sorts of chaos and madness, happening at nonstop, breakneck succession.
CV: LEVIATHAN was originally announced earlier this year at the Image Comic Expo. How long have you guys been planning this idea out? What was working together like?
JL: We started planning this around SDCC last year. Comics always take longer to get off the ground than you’d think.
CV: I love monsters. From Cthulhu to Godzilla, I think monsters say a lot about the culture and society they come from. However, it seems like there aren’t a whole lot of monster-type stories coming out right now. How did this idea come into being?
JL: Mostly I wanted a twist on a Kaiju book. I’d determined that’s what I wanted to do with Nick, because I thought doing a “monster movie” was the best way to showcase Nick’s amazing art. But it seemed like it needed something else… a twist. Seems like every giant monster book is about a monster created by science… by technology…. But I can’t remember seeing one borne of Black Magic. Which is how Leviathan was born.
CV: Nick, I am astounded with the amount of detail you’ve put into each panel. There are so many lines and parts to each image, sometimes the panels even come across as being almost mosaic-like. It really brings to light the chaos a monster would bring. How much work went into coming up with these panels and designs?
Nick Pitarra (NP): Mosaic-like, I love that! I had some basic goals when approaching the art in Leviathan. The first was to do my best work, so I’ve drawn all the pages oversized and switched from technical pens to nibs and quills. The second was to address the overall stiffness in my work, which happens to me when I draw using tight perspective, so I’ve drawn every environment organically and used a lot of free hand/fish eye perspective. The last thing was to make the work feel unique overall, the solution for me was to have fun with the panel borders. So know when I lay pages out, if a panel starts spilling into another drawing I’ll just roll with it. Early in issue 1 I let the shelving of a fridge divide 2 panels, but let the stuff in the fridge float over 3 panels. To counter any confusion, I’ll add extra panels to make sure everything reads clear because the storytelling has to come first.
CV: I find the incorporation of a love story into LEVIATHAN to be very interesting. A lot of monster stories focus on stopping the monster, but there seems to be a big push towards the love aspect. How will the love story play out with the monster’s overall plot?
JL: It’s the main character’s primary motivation, so I guess it plays a pretty big role. Our hero is trying to save the life of his true love, Vivian. That’s what propels his story.
NP: It’s the heart of our story. And while I love drawing the monster(s), the characters and their relationships with one another is my favorite stuff to draw. How they act and emote is so much fun to illustrate, we even have scenes with characters bickering in the foreground and monsters fighting in the background are secondary visuals, I love that.
CV: Michael Garland does an amazing job with coloring your work. What do you feel Michael adds to your overall image of the comic?
NP: Mike Garland is simply amazing. Line art lives and dies with the the colorists and I’ve never seen better than what Mike has done with my work on LEVIATHAN. Technically speaking, I prefer cell shaded colors (think simple flat cartoon stills), but with an added highlight and lowlight. So at least 3 colors per shape (I call it 3 tone cell shading), which is an almost impossible task given the amount of detail I use on each page. Here’s a before and after example, notice all of the volume, life, and character Mike adds, simply incredible.
CV: What was your favorite part of this comic to work on?
JL: I like the actual writing, finding the story, pacing it, and capturing a tone. I enjoy letterering because it takes a different part of my brain. What I don’t like is the business aspect, having to figure shit out, schedules, and whatnot. I’m not a fan of the promotion game that has to be played, pimping, and giving interviews, but that’s how the game is played and what you have to do to sell comics. Mostly I wish I could just be in a quiet room by myself and make up crazy stories.
NP: It’s all so much fun. I love designing the characters and really trying to wrap my head around Layman’s scripts and bring them to life in a way that honors the tone he’s established. I love seeing Mike’s colors come in. I love when I have a batch of pages done and send them to the team. Talking with Layman on the phone about what insanity he has coming in the next issue is always fun.
CV: I think the red monster is one of the best monsters I have ever seen. It resembles a dinosaur, yet is distinctly different. Where did the inspiration for this monster come from? And will there be more monsters for us still to come?
JL: There is going to be something new and crazy every issue. Monsters, demons, dinosaurs, mechs, and then more monsters.
NP: For the Leviathan design, I looked at a lot of elements from different reptiles, iguanas, crocodiles, horned lizards, Godzilla designs, and different dinosaurs. I added on some mandibles because I love Stan Winston’s Predator design and love the depth they create in close up shots.
CV: What is the future plan for LEVIATHAN? Is this going to be an ongoing series, or will it have an end? I know there are so many questions I have about this awesome comic, but is there anything that I did not ask that you would like readers to know about LEVIATHAN?
JL: We’re looking at 10 issues to start. Of course, if the book sets the world on fire and makes us a trillion dollars we may go 11 issues, or possibly more.
CV: For future reference do you have any other projects you can and are willing to mention?
JL: I’m doing CHARLIE’S ANGELS for Dynamite and look for BIG announcement coming around SDCC about another creator-owned book, this one coming this fall.
NP: Look out for a big connecting cover I did for this year’s TMNT summer event, BEBOP & ROCKSTEADY HIT THE ROAD.
Keep your eyes open for LEVIATHAN, crashing into stores August 1st!