When Sci-Fi Worlds Collide
Writer Joshua Williamson is in a very fortunate position; he will be the driving force behind the Predator franchise’s presence in the new Fire and Stone crossover series from Dark Horse Comics. In the first of this two-part interview series, I sit down with Josh to discuss the creative process behind bringing this crossover to life, and we examine just how collaborative the process was.
TSSZ: Josh, thanks for sitting down with me today.
Williamson: Thank you for having me.
TSSZ: You’re fresh off the 35 Years of Aliens panel. Pretty crowded room, people seemed to enjoy the show. What’s it like participating in those kinds of events?
Williamson: It’s really interesting, because you kind of forget sometimes that there is this huge audience for it. Like, you do know, but when you’re in it, you kind of forget, so going into those things gives you a chance to take it all in and realize you’re working in this world that does have a lot of fans. It’s really inspiring and adds energy to it. It makes you get reinvigorated for that product you’re working on. It’s awesome.
TSSZ: This shouldn’t be news to you, but you’re participating in this huge crossover event, Fire and Stone. It’s bringing together a lot of great franchises: Aliens, Predator, Prometheus, AVP. What’s it like to take part in something that’s so big and bringing together so many great franchises?
Williamson: Well, I think it’s an interesting situation because we had a writer’s room type of thing, where we basically all met up: all the writers, one of the artists, the editors. We all met up at our editor’s house, and we sat there and basically talked out what we were going to do with the books, breaking it all down. It was really kind of interesting…
You know, I was a kid who worked at a comic shop. I grew up hanging out with my friends, talking about Aliens vs. Predator and what you would do with it, that kind of thing. Then I got to do it and get paid for it. I get to sit in a room and talk about this stuff. It was really cool. It was one of those moments where you feel intimidated, but I knew I had years of practice with messing around with friends and talking about that stuff, like, “What would you do if you wrote Predator?” It was a lot of fun to sit there and do that, and it was intimidating in a weird kind of way. It was really just fun, it was like fulfilling a childhood dream of being able to play with those characters.
TSSZ: Given that there is so much of a legacy behind these franchises, have you felt challenged to bring your A-game to this?
Williamson: Yeah, for sure. I wanted to make sure that the story we told stood out. I had a theme and didn’t want it to be a throwaway. For me, I really wanted to make sure I was doing something really good with it. I think there was a little bit of a competition, because you have a lot of people in a room together working, and we all wanted to make sure that we’re all staying at the same level. No one wants to be the weak link in this gigantic thing that we’re doing.
When we started talking about the books, I didn’t know I was doing Predator. In the first meeting, we started talking about the books, and we were talking about what Predator was going to be about. I really had those moments where I thought, “I want to do that one!” I knew I could really knock that one out of the park.
It was very appealing to me, what we were going to do with our Predator. I really wanted to make sure it was solid, make sure it was good. I don’t want to put out junk. I want to make sure we’re doing good stuff. Because it was part of the big relaunch, I didn’t want to just throw it together.
TSSZ: It sounds like this is a really collaborative effort, with a writer’s room and bringing all these people across from all these different disciplines. How does that change the dynamic of working on a comic, going from a smaller environment to this big collaborative event?
Williamson: It was a really interesting experience; it was very much a learning experience. Mostly, when you work on comics, it’s just you and your editor. In some cases, it’s just you and the artist. You’re going back and forth, but you’re very much on your own. With this, it was like having a support structure. It was a lot of fun bouncing these ideas around. It was interesting, sitting in that room and problem-solving. It was kind of intense at times, but it was very intense problem-solving, putting the pieces of the puzzle together with a bunch of other people.
Because each of us are so different in our styles and our way of thinking, we were able to riff off each other and play around with these ideas. We were building something. You could feel it. You could feel that each of us were bringing a piece that needed to be there for this thing we were building. It was definitely different from being alone in a room by yourself all day, which is normally how it is. I think a lot of good stuff came from it.
TSSZ: Obviously a big change for you. Was it a favorable change, or are there pros and cons to both approaches, both the individual and the very collaborative?
Williamson: Yeah, there’s definitely pros and cons. When we were doing the writers room thing, that was very much for the ideas, but then we would separate, go home, and write our scripts. It was still us, you know? I get very lost in my head in a lot of books I do. Like, with the image books I do, with Nailbiter, Ghosted, and now Birthright, those books are all just me at home. Occasionally, the artist and I will communicate and talk about what we’re going to do.
So with those kinds of books, it’s all me, and it’s very solitary. Sometimes, you basically have to live and die by that. There’s nobody else there to help you. It is a challenge in its own right to be like that. There are times where you’re lucky to have friends or peers that you trust to reach out to, but when we were doing this crossover, we were doing that all the time for those books. So there was definitely a lot of help. If you were stuck, you had a room full of people to talk to about it. It really helped out a lot.
TSSZ: It sounds like a really supportive environment.
Williamson: Yeah. I think everyone really had the same goals. It’s weird to think that there might be a situation where somebody is out to get somebody else or out for themselves, but that was never the case here. Everyone was really supportive of each other in talking and looking to figure out ways to help each other out all way through. Also, because it’s a crossover, you want to make sure that the pieces all make sense so someone can read it all. If you sit down to read this epic story that we told, it was really important to us that it all flowed, that there was no weak link, that there weren’t any pieces missing, that everything added up.