When we first heard that John Layman (CHEW) and Nick Pitarra (THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS) were collaborating on a brand new series at Image Comics, it’s safe to say that we had some fairly high expectations. And the more we heard about LEVIATHAN, the more it felt like Nick and John were creating this series just for us. Giant monsters, intricately detailed artwork, sharp gags — what more could you ask for?
So, with the first issue just a week from release, we were extremely fortunate that both John and Nick were able to take time out of their busy schedules to sit down and have a chat about the series. Seriously, folks. You do not want to miss this one.
BIG COMIC PAGE: Firstly, for any of our readers who might not already be aware, can you give us a quick summary of just what LEVIATHAN is all about?
NICK PITARRA: A bunch of friends summon a monster from hell, and his first order of business is to stomp out a bunch of millennials.
JOHN LAYMAN: Leviathan is a high-octane gonzo action story about a Godzilla-sized monster who is summoned during an occult ceremony. But the unleashing of Leviathan upon the world is just the beginning of all sorts of chaos and mad happenings in nonstop, breakneck succession.
BCP: How did the collaboration between the pair of you on this series come about?
JOHN: Nick and I had been talking about doing a book for a while. He called me with a hole in his schedule and I jumped at the chance to work with him.
NICK: I’d been a fan of John for years and enjoyed his company at conventions. He’s a laid back and down to earth guy who loves comics and is dedicated to his fans and his craft. I’d been itching to do a small thing on the side with him… and he tricked me into doing something BIG. VERY BIG.
BCP: John, what is it about Nick’s artistic style that you think fits so well on a series like this?
JOHN: I wanted to make the ultimate Nick Pitarra book. We’re both huge worshippers of Geoff Darrow and I wanted a story that would have the same energy, madness (and hopefully, staying power) as Hard Boiled and Big Guy & Rusty the Robot. So I came up with a story so crazy, fast paced and high energy that I can’t imagine anybody other than Nick drawing it.
BCP: And going the other way, Nick, what was it about this story that appeals to you as an artist?
NICK: I love the richness of the character and their interactions, designing and acting the characters out against a backdrop of epic monster fights is so much fun. Speaking of the pace, John cleverly zips the narrative along by having the dialogue of one scene start the next in a different context. It creates a Edgar Wright type of fun snappiness, which I love.
BCP: You both have your own passionate fan bases from you previous work – most significantly Chew, and The Manhattan Projects. Is LEVIATHAN a series that’s likely to appeal to these same fans, or is it something completely fresh?
NICK: I think John and I have a similar humor and carefree attitude that seeps into our work, so if you loved the over the top bits in CHEW and/or the silly irreverent bits of The Manhattan Projects, LEVIATHAN is essentially those things plus epic monsters and devil shit sprinkled in.
JOHN: I reject the idea I have a passionate fan base. Most people hate Layman. This book will not change that. If anything, it will intensify their hatred. Soon they will come at me with torches and pitchforks, tar and feathers. And they will be right to do so.
BCP: Tell us a little bit about Ryan, our leading man. What’s his story?
JOHN: Poor guy. Goes out for a beer run for the party he’s having, and by the time he gets back, his idiot friends have accidentally summoned a fire-spitting monster from Hell that’s ten stories tall.
BCP: Aside from Ryan, are there any other characters readers should be looking out for?
JOHN: Besides Ryan’s poor doomed girlfriend Vivian, who the Leviathan has set his sights on, maybe keep an eye on haunted Father Baron, the exorcist priest who’s had a run-in with Leviathan before. Or perhaps that crazy scientist who works for the Bureau of Experimentation & Advancement, Science & Technology (B*E*A*S*T*!!!!)
NICK: John said to make Goth Jimmy my version of Edward Furlong (Terminator 2) …and he’s a lot of fun to draw!
BCP: Nick, you’re working alongside frequent collaborator Michael Garland on the visual side of things. What do you feel Michael’s style adds to the story?
NICK: Mike brings so much life into the final illustrations. His work is simply incredible. He uses fun colors and because he has the ability to draw himself he always makes the perfect cuts to show off the volume and form in our final pages.
Just look at this before and after…
BCP: The first issue seems to run the gamut from funny to serious to almost tongue-in-cheek in places. What kind of tone can readers expect from the series as it unfolds?
JOHN: We’re going to be all over the map. I like a book that runs an emotional gamut, and while I don’t take things too seriously, I always want a book with heart, with characters you can care about. There will be laughs, sure, but I’m going to try to break your heart too.
BCP: Personally speaking, how do you think each of you would fare if a giant monster from hell appeared and started stomping through the city you live in?
NICK: I’d like to think I’d go full Danny McBride in This Is The End within the first 15 minutes or so.
JOHN: I’d be the first to die.
BCP: And finally, what would you each say to somebody who was on the fence about picking up LEVIATHAN to help convince them to give it a try?
NICK: We’re putting everything we have into this book, its big, fun, colorful, and over the top, don’t be that one loser who doesn’t buy it.
JOHN: /Shrug. If you get to that first spread of the monster attacking and you’re not completely 100% sold already, then you’re a hopeless lost cause. Maybe get a bottle of warm milk and go curl up in the fetal position a dark corner with your thumb in your mouth, humming a Paul Simon tune, sitting in your own cold, wet diaper, sobbing quietly because you can’t handle THIS MUCH AWESOME!!!
LEVIATHAN #1 goes on sale 1st August 2018 from Image Comics. Keep your eyes glued to the Big Comic Page for a review of the first issue in the next few days.