The GeeksverseJon Price Interview

Jon Price Interview
Published on Monday, February 7, 2011 by

The Pryde talked with the writer of 12-Gauge Comic’s Magus.


Thanks for taking the time to chat with us.

Starting out with the basics, how did you break into the industry? Where did you get your start?

This is actually my first series, so the “breaking-in” process is ongoing. I come from a creative background – tv/film mostly – and have been writing my whole life. MAGUS is the first time I’ve been published though, so it’s pretty exciting.

What did you work on in TV/Film? How different is the writing process in the different mediums, screen versus comics?

I worked mostly on reality shows after graduating film school. Not the most glamorous work, for sure, but I made a lot of great friends, learned a lot about people and realized that working in reality tv was not my thing.

Learning how to write screenplays definitely helped me understand better how to write comics. When writing a screenplay, you write action and dialog and must convey motivation through a character’s action and speech, unlike in a novel. There are certainly still big differences between film and comics, but the basic idea of a film script and a comic script is similar.

I’m a big fan of the “hidden” world type of stories. The ones where there’s a completely other world that the regular people don’t see. That led me right to Magus when I first read the solicitation. Where did you develop Magus from? What were your inspirations?

The idea for MAGUS came to me when I was living in Orlando, FL. I was working for a TV production company on the backlot of Universal Studios and often saw people in costume wandering around on their breaks (it’s always fun to see the Cat in the Hat eating tacos in the commissary). That lead me to thinking about magic and how it would fit into our world – especially if people suddenly had it and had to deal with the transition. I enlisted a good friend, Dave Norton, to help shape the series and fill out the world.

As far as inspirations – I’ve always loved fantasy as a genre, but was getting a little bored with it. I thought playing with some typical fantasy conventions in a modern setting would be fun and so far it has been. But, no matter what, we still try to think of everything that happens in MAGUS as “realistically” as possible. What would REALLY happen if a dragon stormed a grocery store? How would people ACTUALLY deal with an argument if suddenly they were stronger than their adversary because of magic?

As a big fantasy fan, I understand what you mean when you say you’re getting bored as I am too. What do you think could be done to give the fantasy genre some new life?

Wow, that’s a tough question. It’s always fun to play with convention and sort-of turn things up on their heads when the typical storylines start to feel a little rote. Sometimes it just takes looking at a familiar storyline in a different way to make it fresher. “Buffy” was a great show because it took familiar, coming-of-age stories and infused it with a fresh sense of humor and monsters that served as metaphor.

How did you end up at 12-Gauge with Magus? Did 12-Gauge connect you with Rebekah Isaacs?

I met Rebekah several years ago and she was foolish enough to start dating me. On our very first date I actually told her about the concept for MAGUS, which she loved, and we had been working on it slowly ever since. Rebekah knew Keven Gardner at 12-Gauge so we got the pitch materials to him and he was into it pretty quickly. What we loved most about 12-Gauge, and what influenced our decision to put the book out with them, was that they really got the concept and our intent with it. Plus, they put out some pretty awesome books with some amazing talent, which doesn’t hurt.

The 2 page spread in the middle, where magic returns to the world, was beautiful. Did you describe that page in detail to Rebekah or did you give her a loose description and she ran with it?

It’s funny, in the very first draft of #1, that scene took place in a town square. Rebekah suggested moving into a more modern, and ridiculous, setting and upping the stakes a little bit. Rebekah is amazing with detail and elements that are easily missed on first glance, but upon repeated looks reveal themselves. There’s so much happening in that spread that Rebekah just threw in – like the store names. Pretty brilliant stuff.

What is it like collaborating with Rebekah? As you’re a couple, does that make the working relationship easier?

Easier most of the time, more difficult sometimes. We’re definitely not afraid to be brutally honest with each other, that’s for sure! And even though criticism might be hard to hear sometimes, it’s always for the benefit of telling the best story we can possibly tell. And it’s easy living with the artist/writer because any questions you have can just be shouted down the hall!

How do you, David Norton and Rebekah work together on an issue of Magus? What is the process from start to finish?

The big collaboration came before we sat to plot out the story. Dave and I worked for several years, off and on, on MAGUS and laid out where we wanted it to go and who the main players were. It’s taken on several iterations over the years, but the main plotline and end point has always stayed the same. Once the overall plot was laid out, Dave and I set out each issue in a master outline and hit all the main story points together. Now that we’re in the middle of this first arc, I’ve written issues 1-4 with Dave taking over for the finale, issue 5.

And every time Rebekah gets a script she lets us know if she has a great way to improve readability or action points. There’s a lot of story to tell in five issues, so Rebekah’s been helpful in presenting it in the best way possible.

How far out to you have the world of Magus plotted out? I can’t remember seeing if Magus is an ongoing or limited series. I’m hoping for an ongoing.

We have the main story with our lead characters plotted out to the end. At the moment we’re committed to these five issues and if the series is popular and does well, we’ll continue it. There’s definitely a LOT more story to tell with these characters and in this world, so hopefully we get to do that.

What else have you worked on? Magus was the first time I have seen your named attached to a comic. Is there anything else coming down the road.

MAGUS is my first book, but I have some ideas rattling around my skull that’ll hopefully see the light of day soon.

There’s a scene in the book where the two boys are talking. Are you a big Star Wars fan? That scene seems like something you would find on a Star Wars message board.

Are there people that are into comics that DON’T like Star Wars, haha? Darius and Ben’s conversation in that scene is definitely reminiscent of debates I’d have with my friends, for sure. I needed to convey their relationship in a couple of pages and thought that’d be a nice way to clue the audience into who these kids are. Star Wars seemed like a nice, dear-to-my-heart way to do it.

Any words of advice for writers looking to break into the industry?

It sounds trite but, work hard and don’t give up. I’m 31 years old and just had my first comic published, so there’s no real time limit. AND don’t be afraid to put something out yourself. MAGUS is creator-owned, and while we were lucky enough to find a publisher willing to take a chance on some unknown writers, there are lots of avenues to putting a story out for people to read.

Thanks to Jon for taking the time to talk with us.

A review of Magus #1 can be found here.

A preview of Magus #2 can be found here.

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