Johnston, Antony 1972(?)-
Johnston, Antony 1972(?)-
Born c. 1972, in Birmingham, England.
Home—Northern England. E-mail— [email protected]
American Independent Publishing Award for best horror novel, 2002, for Frightening Curves.
(Adaptor) Alan Moore, Another Suburban Romance, illustrated by Juan Jose Ryp, Avatar Press (Rantoul, IL), 2003.
(Adaptor, with Alan Moore) Alan Moore, The Courtyard, illustrated by Jacen Burrows, Avatar Press (Rantoul, IL), 2003.
(With Drew Gilbert) Rosemary's Backpack, Cyberosia, 2003.
(With Mike Hawthorne) Three Days in Europe, Oni Press (Portland, OR), 2003.
(With Ross Campbell) Spooked, Volume 1, Oni Press (Portland, OR), 2004.
(With Brett Weldele) Julius, Oni Press (Portland, OR), 2004.
(With Mike Norton and Leanne Buckley) Closer, Oni Press (Portland, OR), 2004.
(And book designer) F-Stop: A Love Story in Pictures, illustrated by Matthew Loux, lettering by Marshall Dillon, edited by James Lucas Jones, Oni Press (Portland, OR), 2005.
(And book designer) The Long Haul, illustrated by Eduardo Barreto, lettering by Marshall Dillon, Oni Press (Portland, OR), 2005.
(Adaptor) Anthony Horowitz, Stormbreaker, illustrated by Kanako Damerum and Yuzuru Takasaki, Walker (London, England), 2006.
(With Chris Mitten) Queen & Country: Declassified III, Oni Press (Portland, OR), 2006.
(With Chris Mitten) Wasteland, Issue 1, Oni Press (Portland, OR), 2006.
Providence: The Kestrals (role playing game supplement), XID Creative, 1999.
Frightening Curves (illustrated novel), illustrated by Aman Chaudhary, Cyberosia, 2001.
Dreams of Inan: Stealing Life (novel), Abaddon Books (Oxford, England), 2007.
Also contributor to various comics series, including Nightjar, The Hypothetical Lizard, Yuggoth Cultures, and Yuggoth Creatures.
Antony Johnston is best known as a graphic novelist. On his Web site, Johnston recalled one of his earliest memories being his father reading a comic book to him. As he grew up in the Birmingham area of England, Johnston's interest in comic books came and went in various stages. By the 1990s, however, he had gained some experience as a graphic designer, writing magazine articles about role-playing games—another periodic interest of his—and moved to London to become a magazine designer. While he was there, he realized that what interested him most about the role-playing games was the world building. This brought him fully into the business of writing comics and graphic novels.
His first illustrated novel to be published, Frightening Curves, won him international acclaim after he was awarded the 2002 American Independent Publishing Award for the best horror novel. The story follows Phil, a psychic investigator, as he probes his ex-boss's disappearance on the heels of his own wife's death. His hunt leads him to an evil society living underneath the city of London and concludes with psychic battles among those involved. Randy Lander, writing on the FourthRail.com Web site, recommended the book "if you're a fan of government conspiracies, modern magic tales or the unspeakable and mind-bending horrors imagined by H.P. Lovecraft." Katherine Keller "found the first six or so chapters rather choppy and disorienting," as she wrote on a SequentialTart.com Web site review. She noted, however, that "Johnston's dense and vivid descriptions combined with a juicy, twist filled plot, full of interesting (and even bizarre) characters make Frightening Curves impossible to put down." In a separate SequentialTart.com review, Barb Lien-Cooper remarked that "the work thrilled me, frustrated me, confused me, enlightened me, and kept my interest until the last page."
Aside from writing dark, conspiratorial stories, Johnston also writes for the young adult audience. Rosemary's Backpack, for example, tells the story of a little girl who spends most of her time in her room with her computer. One morning, however, she accidentally switches backpacks with someone she bumps into on her way to school. When the backpack, named Pablo, starts talking to her, a new dimension to her life begins. Reviewers were pleased with Johnston's versatility in writing for different genres and age groups. Randy Lander commented on the FourthRail.com Web site that although the book has "flaws" and "is at times a bit goofy," Johnston "creates a likable cast, a thoroughly likable protagonist, and a fun action/humor story." On the ArtBomb.com Web site, Warren Ellis stated: "This is for any girl who saw Harry Potter and wanted to be the hero instead."
Three Days in Europe is a romantic comedy featuring Jack and Jill, a couple who seem to be in a relationship without really having much in common with each other. The pair secretly make independent anniversary plans: Jack arranges for them to go to Paris for an art show Jill wants to see, and Jill sets up a London trip for a live band performance that Jack wants to attend. They end up going alone on the trips they booked for their partner and find themselves immersed in the other's environment. Lander noted in another FourthRail.com review that "on top of a great premise and the rarely-explored romantic comedy genre, Johnston and [collaborator Mike] Hawthorne have plenty of talent." Don MacPherson, in a separate FourthRail.com article, found the plot "over-the-top." He suggested: "It's best to ignore the plot—it stretches credibility pretty far." iComics.com contributor Greg McElhatton concluded that "by the end of the first issue, you're thinking, ‘I'd like to see more.’ By the end of the second issue, you're now thinking, ‘I must see more.’"
In another genre altogether, The Long Haul brings a classic western tale of a train robbery to the graphic novel medium. Cody Plummer, who is fresh out of a seven-year jail sentence, decides to return to his life of robbing banks. His latest plan is to rob a heavily guarded train carrying nineteen million dollars in it. To make the plan even more worthwhile, it is an opportunity for him to get revenge against the man who locked him up who is currently guarding the train's valuable cargo. Writing on the ComicBookResources. com Web site, Augie De Blieck, Jr., stated: "While I was a little disappointed in the heist itself, the book as a whole is a pleasant read. It's the art, though, that wins me over completely." MacPherson wrote in FourthRail.com that the plot is slow at first, "but the characters' personalities are so strong and the intricacies of the criminal plan so inventive and fun that it's easy to forgive the slower pace that dominates the earlier half of the book." A contributor to Publishers Weekly thought that "Johnston's script is tight, with no wasted words," concluding that the book is "a must for western fans."
In 2006 Johnston started the "Wasteland" series, which is about a post-pocalyptic world dotted by only a few human settlements with lots of emptiness in between them. The protagonist fills this gap by traveling between the settlements and interacting in the new environment as the outsider. Matt Rawson wrote on the ComicCritique.com Web site that this "well-told story with wonderful art … is a joy from start to finish." On the ReadAboutComics.com Web site, Greg McElhatton stated: "What really won me over with Antony Johnston's story for the first issue of Wasteland was that he shows the reader that he understands the conventions of genre fiction even as he slightly twists them to make for a more interesting story." In conclusion, he lauded: "Fantastic job, all around."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Publishers Weekly, April 4, 2005, review of The Long Haul; February 27, 2006, review of Queen & Country: Declassified III.
Ain'tItCool.com,http://www.aintitcool.com/ (November 26, 2006), Dave Farabee, review of Queen & Country.
Antony Johnston Home Page, http://www.mostlyblack.com (November 26, 2006).
Antony Johnston MySpace Profile, http://www.myspace.com/antonyjohnston (November 26, 2006).
ArtBomb.net,http://www.artbomb.net/ (November 26, 2006), profile of Antony Johnston; Warren Ellis, review of Rosemary's Backpack.
BrokenFrontier.com,http://www.brokenfrontier.com/ (August 31, 2006), Adrian F. Zettlemoyer, interview with Antony Johnston.
ComicBookGalaxy.com, http://www.comicbookgalaxy.com/ (July 29, 2005), review of Nightjar, Issues 1-4.
ComicBookResources.com, http://www.comicbookresources.com/ (June 22, 2004), Augie De Bliecke, Jr., review of Closer; (March 8, 2005), Augie De Bliecke, Jr., review of The Long Haul; (May 24, 2005), Augie De Bliecke, Jr., review of F-Stop: A Love Story in Pictures; (July 16, 2005), Arune Singh, interview with Antony Johnston.
ComicCritique.com,http://www.comiccritique.com/ (November 26, 2006), Matt Rawson, review of Wasteland.
ComicFoundry.com,http://www.comicfoundry.com/ (May 2, 2005), interview with Antony Johnston.
FourthRail.com,http://www.thefourthrail.com/ (August 27, 2001), Randy Lander, review of Frightening Curves; (November 18, 2002), Randy Lander, review of Three Days in Europe; (November 18, 2002), Don MacPherson, review of Three Days in Europe; (December 2, 2002), Randy Lander, review of Rosemary's Backpack; (August 9, 2004), Randy Lander, review of Closer; (March 7, 2005), Don MacPherson, review of The Long Haul; (May 16, 2005), Randy Lander, review of F-Stop; (June 20, 2005), Don MacPherson, review of Queen & Country.
iComics.com,http://www.icomics.com/ (November 18, 2002), Greg McElhatton, review of Three Days in Europe.
ILovetheDevil.com,http://www.ilovethedevil.com/ (November 26, 2006), Mathaius G., review of The Courtyard.
IndependentPropaganda.com, http://www.independentpropaganda.com/ (September 4, 2006), Chris Beckett, interview with Antony Johnston.
Khepri.com,http://www.khepri.com/ (November 26, 2006), profile of Antony Johnston.
Newsarama.com,http://www.newsarama.com/ (November 26, 2006), interview with Antony Johnston.
ReadAboutComics.com, http://www.readaboutcomics.com/ (July 16, 2004), Greg McElhatton, review of Closer; (August 7, 2006), Greg McElhatton, review of Wasteland.
SequentialTart.com,http://www.sequentialtart.com/ (November 26, 2006), Katherine Keller, review of Frightening Curves; (November 26, 2006), Barb Lien-Cooper, review of Frightening Curves.
ShinyShelf.co.uk,http://www.shinyshelf.co.uk/ (November 26, 2006), Mark Chapham, review of Nightjar, Issue 1.
SilverBulletComicBooks.com, http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/ (November 26, 2006), review of The Courtyard.