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11.21.2017
Danny Johnston
Writer/Producer
Horror Interview by The Gravedigger
11.20.10

Q: You recently established COIL STUDIOS in Detroit, which will produce both comics and feature films. How did that come about?

It was really the result of years of suffering a slow death by "cubicide," in the corporate world. Though I had been published in the past and had the occasional film short or commercial project here and there, there was always the looming reality of the day job I had to return to Monday morning. I would stoke up this raging creative fire that would have me working for days on end with little sleep. Only to have to extinguish it when it came time to go back to the corporate grind. When all of the film-related activity began to spring up as a consequence of Michigan's film incentive, I had the final nudge of inspiration I needed to take the leap.

The constant media coverage of the "this" new movie project, and "that " new studio development, worked on my psyche. When I finally broke, I had walked away from a six-figure corporate job to "make comic books and movies." I was also somewhat worried that my wife would want to have me committed, or call it quits. To my relief, she did neither. But, instead has supported me and seems to get some satisfaction by telling people about what she refers to jokingly as my "mid-life crisis." If it were truly a mid-life crisis, it would have be billed as an ensemble cast, as I have had a significantly-large support group. They have been right there with me since I put in my notice over a year ago.

It probably would have been a lot less work to just have just shopped around stories to all of the established publishers, until I found one that could relate to the twisted worlds in my head. But, there would have likely have occurred inevitable compromises. Especially, in a graphically-dominated medium like comic books, a writer doesn't usually wield a great deal of influence.

Over time I have met a number of people who expressed to me an unrealized desire to write or draw comic books, but lacked either the means or access to pursue that. Some may have just needed some polish, or just didn't produce what an established publisher would deem commercial enough to bother with.

By actively pursuing both comic books and films for each story, more potential opportunities to have a "hit" are created. This could generate funding for a number of other projects that might not be made any other way. This way, becoming a publisher afforded the ability to provide just that kind of potential opportunity to others as well ourselves.

Q: Your background is as a comic book writer?

No. I went right into the military out of high school, as I didn't have the discipline to get through college. After a decade in the military, I still lacked a degree, but did come away with a somewhat more developed work ethic. The technology training from the military did allow me to earn a good living in the civilian world. Even though my primary responsibilities always centered on implementing or managing technology, I still managed to receive recognition for writing, by way of corporate communications, presentations, and public speaking at various technology conventions.

I also managed to get some pieces published during my stint in corporate life. I couldn't call myself a comic book writer, per se. Rather, someone who was fortunate enough to be able to say that I had been paid for writing. Not a lot of money, or all that frequently, but it was still something to which I could lay claim. It took me awhile to appreciate even that modicrum of recognition. An appreciation gained after talking to so many who just longed to see their name in print somewhere, or anywhere. I was fortunate.

Q: You were recently at Detroit Fanfare with Vince Locke, promoting the comic book of THE APOTHECARY. Tell us about that project.

It was an incredible opportunity to debut the first few glimpses of the upcoming title by Coil Studios, at Detroit Fanfare. The show itself was such a huge success, and exhibiting there brought a great deal of exposure. It didn't hurt at all that I finally got to meet, Stan Lee in person. We are also so fortunate to have Vince Locke on board for the art. The way he illustrated the sinister tableau of the story, took a bit of Greek folklore and made it sickingly real. We are looking forward to having the first of three planned issues out by the end of this year. They will be available as digital books online, print-on-demand, as well as a limited run print edition, we will be taking around to the shows.

Q: There's also going to be a feature film?

Yes. The film will be directed by Kevin Lindenmuth, and is the first collaboration of Brimstone Productions and Coil Studios. The project is currently in preproduction, and is slated to be released shortly after the comic book series has run its course, sometime in 2011. All shooting will occur in Michigan, much in and around the Detroit area, using nearly all local talent. Some local landmarks not often seen in films thus far, will feature prominently. Also, the initial test footage of F/X by Howling Mad Studios is wicked. More teasers and announcements will be made as the release date nears.

Q: What are some other projects in the pipeline?

Many more things that will go "bump in the night." Also, some sci-fi, as well as some less fantastic yarns. Though, the emphasis will always be on trying to tell uncommon stories, yet seeking to present them in the most relatable fashion.

Q: What do you see COIL STUDIOS doing five years from now?

Continuing to build our library of entertaining comic books, graphic novels nd films. While providing a launch platform for refreshing, provocative new writers, artists, and filmmakers.


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