Jackson Winters is a man with a dark past — haunted, you might say. A thief without rival yet wasting away in prison, Winters has no idea that his chance for freedom will also mean confronting the horrors he’s tried to forget. When he is sprung from incarceration at the request of eccentric millionaire Markus Schrecken, Winters is given a choice: mastermind one final job, or be returned to prison. Winters accepts the job and assembles a team to carry out the oddest request of his career: stealing a ghost.
“Ghosted” entertainingly blends elements of horror and heist to deliver a scary, fast-paced story about revenge, regret and a super creepy door to hell. With the Image Comics/Skybound series closing its first arc, writer Joshua Williamson sat down with CBR News to talk about what’s next for Winters and his team of thieves.
CBR News: Issue #5 wraps up the first arc, and we’ll get to see the fate of Markus, Anderson and Winters. What’s next for “Ghosted?”
Joshua Williamson: Well, first, did we really see the final fate for Markus and Anderson? “Ghosted” is a book about ghosts and being haunted, y’know? The cover to issue #7 is a huge spoiler for what comes next with Anderson and I can say now that issue #11 is an Anderson spotlight issue so that should tell you a few things. Just because we saw her die doesn’t mean she won’t be back as a pissed off angry ghost. Jackson and Markus gave her a pretty raw deal, and she didn’t really deserve to die. “Hell hath no fury…”
Jackson has this history of just wanting to be free and left alone, and every time he thinks he is close he gets dragged back in kicking and screaming. When he was in prison he had become numb to the world, but then he was broken out and sent to a different kind of prison… the haunted house. And now with issue #6, we’ll see he had a chance at living the good life, but his past continues to haunt him and he is pulled back into the life of crime. But now with a supernatural tone. The word is out — Jackson Winters is the criminal to go to when you have a ghost problem.
This next gig is about possessed women being kidnapped by an evil cult. And when I say possessed I mean like in “The Exorcist.” But of course there is more to it than that. And of course, another haunted house.
In #5, we learn how Markus and his heist are resolved, but Winters and the rest of his team are still out there. Are they going to do more work together?
Winters and Trick are for sure sticking together for the next arc and the next job they have to pull off, but the rest of the team will be making a come back in later issues. I wanted to keep Trick around because I felt like he had a strong back and forth with Jackson and could bring the humor into the grim nature of the next few issues. It’s pretty brutal. And the issue with Markus isn’t completely resolved… but we’ll get to that.
Oh, and another member of the team is back, but not who people expect. Again, the cover to issue #7 is a spoiler.
Do you have any plans to dig into the back stories of some other characters — like Edzia and Robby? It seems like they have a deeper connection to the paranormal that might be interesting.
Edzia Rusnak’s story is part of the larger arc I have planned for the book and will be getting into as the story goes on. She won’t be in issue #6-10, but will be back. In some cases, like Edzia, I wanted to set up who they were so that we could twist their stories around a bit in the later issues. Part of why I built the cast the way I did was so that we could create a larger world. The team breaks up after issue #5, but what could get them back together?
And Trick will be in the next arc and we’ll see his connections to the supernatural underworld playing an important part.
With all of the ghosts from the Trask mansion being relocated, does this mean we might see any of them — like Joe Burns — again?
You bet! The Trasks now haunting Markus’ brownstone will come up again. Not in this next arc, but soon. That’s a huge plot point for much later. I’m really excited by all the seeds that we planted in the first five issues. I hope that people stick with us and have faith that there is a plan. The thing is, just because the Trask Mansion has been destroyed doesn’t really mean much. You’ll see a hint of that in issue #6. Can an evil place like that truly be destroyed? Can a building get its own ghost?
How has this job changed Winters? And is he going to use his experiences with the paranormal to help others, or is he content to remain a top-notch thief?
Jackson Winters doesn’t really like change. And will continue to only do what is best for him. The first few issues has showed him that he isn’t as numb to the world as he thought, that he still had the ability to be a cold bastard, but as we go forward we’ll learn more about what made him that way and see his warming side.
Jackson is an interesting guy in that he has deemed himself a master planner, but it’s clear he is the kind of guy who solves problems by creating bigger problems. And that anything going wrong in his life or around him is his fault. He is really his own worst enemy. But even if he realized that it’s still going to take a lot for him to become the person he is meant to be.
You know that saying, “Be the good you want to see in the world?” Jackson is the “bad” he wants to see in the world. He just hasn’t realized that yet.
Have you had any paranormal experiences that inspired you on the writing process?
A bit here and there. Mostly my whole life I’ve been going out of my way to scare myself. Playing Bloody Mary, messing with Ouija boards and going into the scary abandoned house late at night. If my life was a horror movie I’d be the first to die, because I’d be the character joking about, “Ohhh, what if this place was haunted?!”
“Ghosted” has been extended from a miniseries to an ongoing — did that affect the way you told the first arc at all? Do you feel like you rushed through any of the story, and are there are plot points that you’re going to revisit?
There are a lot of plot points that got left behind that we’ll be getting back to. Like the room Trick saw that led to Hell and a bit about Rusnak.
There are times I wish I had spent more time in the haunted house and with the Trask family themselves, but that’s part of why we made the book an ongoing. We saw so much story on the table and knew that we could continue. There are a lot of sub plots in the first few issues that will be brought back. Like for example, are there any live Trask family members in the world? And how do they feel about the ghosts of their ancestors being stolen?
That first arc set up a lot of toys for us to play with. And with those first five issues I only really changed one line of dialogue when we knew it was going to be ongoing. I wonder if anyone can guess which line…
We have a plan here that will pay off and I hope that people see that a lot of the unresolved stuff from the first five issues is seeds for later. There is a HUGE clue in issue #1 of the overall plan for Jackson and “Ghosted” that no one has ever pointed out, but will show in the end that we had a plan all along.
Do you have any plans for other creator-owned projects?
Two more coming down the pipeline. Both way too early to say. My creator-owned work has been really important to me. I got lucky with “Ghosted” and I’m trying to keep up the quality of work. Over the years I’ve looked at a lot of the creators that I’ve loved and the work they did. And they had very strong creator owned books. Garth Ennis with “Preacher” and Brian K. Vaughan with “Y The Last Man” and “Saga” to just name a few.
My “Masks and Mobsters” collaborator, Mike Henderson, and I are working together on another genre horror crime book. This one won’t be supernatural like “Ghosted” but will be just as twisted — but way bloodier.
“Ghosted” #6 is on sale January 15 and marks the beginning of a new story arc by Joshua Williamson and Davide Gianfelice.