Comics veteran John Higgins spoke with CBR TV during Comic-Con International in San Diego about his career, explaining how the creation of “Razorjack” was partially a response to his personal experience working on “Watchmen” as a colorist, the ways in which working with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons on the latter project affected his career and more.
“Razorjack” will be released on September 17, 2013 by Titan Comics
On his work coloring “Watchmen” and how he feels about it in the context of his career: I think I’m very lucky in a number of different ways, because for about 20-odd years, I felt it was a bit of a cul-de-sac, a bit of a dead end. I’m not a colorist per se. I started out as a painter color-artist. I was just very, very fortunate. I didn’t realize until the Absolute Edition came out in 2005 how fortunate I was. That 25 years, I didn’t get paid anything extra for being associated with the “Watchmen.” I was very fortunate that Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons really supported me right off and really wanted me to be a fully functioning member — not only financially, but also to give ideas, color ideas and so on, to the book. So, I never felt anything other than complete collaborator to two greats: Alan and Dave. But to a certain extent, I felt directed in a cul-de-sac, a circuitous route. I was coming after DC and Marvel and I remember once going into Marvel in the late ’80s and early ’90s. I went into the bar and I got a round of applause when I was introduced as John Higgins, the colorist, but nobody cared about John Higgins the penciler or the inker. So I didn’t want to do any more coloring because, as you say, what more can you do once you’ve done the “Watchmen?”
On how “Razorjack came about as a personal response to working on “Watchmen””: “Razorjack” basically was going back to the “Watchmen” — the frustration of being racketed as just a colorist and not as an artist all around. I decided I needed to do all aspects of what I want to do. Working with Alan Moore, Garth Ennis, all those writers, I did a lot of stuff for “Hellblazer,” DC/Vertigo and so on. They had a way of telling a story that I wanted to try and expand on in my own perspective. “Razorjack” is the worst nightmare I could possibly ever have and I want to give it to you to read to see how you accept it. The thing I want to do is show stuff that, to a certain extent, is outside mainstream comics. Obviously, if you’re an independent, you can do anything you want. I have no problems working with the larger companies with whatever limitations they might indicate for certain characters, but the total freedom you have when you’re independent and self-publishing is just far beyond anything you could get with a big company.
On what he’s learned from coloring different artists: Well, if you go back to the “Watchmen,” Dave Gibbons always gave you the opportunity to backlight the characters. He was someone who always allowed you to do side-light, then back-light and front-lighting. He gave you the opportunity to make the color a 360 degree sensibility, so you can show lighting off-panel. That gave you extra depth, because the thing I enjoyed particularly about the “Watchmen” is if you start with the coloring, I would indicate where the character was going next. I would do enough panel color and then he’d walk into that scene after he’d been talking in that panel.