An Interview with Riftworld Legends’ Jonathan Williams

We here at First Comics News have mentioned Riftworld Legends way back in June 2017. First Love Films, Sienna Films, and Joe Books announced Riftworld Legends, a ten-part, digital-first comic series that expanded on the universe from the award-winning series Riftworld Chronicles. Well, that digital-first series is now coming to print and will be released 28th February 2018. I was able to have a quick chat with Jonathan Williams, writer of the series but before we get to that conversation here is a quick recap.

“Based on the world of the award-winning digital series Riftworld Chronicles, Riftworld Legends is set in the late 1400s and revolves around two young mariners left for dead on an island somewhere in the North Atlantic. In a hostile and exotic landscape filled with magic, mythical beasts, and strange, non-human races, their struggle for survival leads to an epic historical saga where two worlds collide.”

Riftworld Legends #1 Cover
Riftworld Legends #1 Cover

Martin Boruta: Hello, Jonathan. Great to have the chance to talk to you about Riftworld Legends.

Jonathan Williams: Hi, Martin. Thanks for taking a look at our comic!

Martin: Give us the quick rundown on the property. What is Riftworld?

Jonathan: Riftworld is a transmedia project that started as a short film, became a web-series, and then expanded into the mobile game, comic book and television platforms. Our web-series debuted on CBC’s digital comedy website, followed by Con-TV and Geek & Sundry in the US.

Martin: Tell me about the digital web video series. How involved were you in its production.

Jonathan: I was involved in pretty much every aspect of the production. I wrote, directed and supervised the post-production of every episode, and had a hand in the fundraising and social media awareness campaigns before and after our release.

Martin: Quite the cast. Tahmoh Penikett from Battlestar Galactica and Erin Karpluk from Being Erica.

Jonathan: Yeah, it was a real blessing to have those two on board. We didn’t know it at first, but they were long-time friends from Vancouver, and our project gave them an opportunity to work with each other for the first time. Their connection made for a fun energy on set and a chemistry on screen that really elevated the material.

Martin: And your comic book, Riftworld Legends, is this a continuation or prequel of the CBC series?

Jonathan: Our comic establishes the fantasy world that is home to ALAR, Tahmoh’s character from our web series. Technically, it is a prequel. The first issues take place in the 15th century and describe a previous generation of Rift-crossers, but the plan is for the timeline to continue right up until the day Alar steps into our world, and possibly farther into the future. In terms of world-creation, the comic has been a great way to expand the Riftworld universe, and to hopefully grow a whole new audience.

Martin: I understand reviews are great. That must feel rewarding?

Jonathan: Absolutely. Coming from a screenwriting background, I was a little unsure how my writing would translate into the comic book form, but the visual storytelling commonality between the two formats helped tremendously. It’s still too soon to say what the fan response will be but to have critical approval certainly validates all the work we’re putting into it.

Riftworld Legends #1 Interior Page
Riftworld Legends #1 Interior Page

Martin: Joe Books will be publishing physical copies of Riftworld Legends in February. How did that partnership come about?

Jonathan: Yes, we are very excited about that release. Joe Books was actually founded by a couple of producers with a long track record in film and television. They had built a relationship with Sienna Films, the executive producers of our web series. To make the leap from digital format to print is a huge deal for any comic, and will help legitimize us as creators of a quality product. We are really stoked to get it into actual stores and get some international exposure.

Martin: Riftworld Legends #1 is available for free on Comixology and you have five digital issues completed as of December so I assume digital will still be a big part of your plan?

Jonathan: Yes, I think the two platforms will complement each other as we go forward. I suspect the physical copies in stores will help us find new fans, and allow us to make the most out of the comic con scene. But having the digital versions available is a great way to give people access to the back-issues and bring later readers up to speed.

Martin: So what’s next? What else are you working on?

Jonathan: I have another comedy web series in development, as well as a more kids-oriented science fiction comic idea. But I do hope Legends holds its own after the print release, so I can count on spending a significant part of 2018 in the Riftworld!

Martin: Jonathan, it was a pleasure. Thanks for taking a minute or two to chat with me today.

Jonathan: Likewise. Thanks for the opportunity. Cheers.

If you would like to find out more the Riftworld Legends website is at and look out for the physical book from Joe Books in the coming weeks.

Issue: Riftworld Legends #1 | Publisher: Joe Books
Writer: Jonathan Williams | Artists: Daniel Wong, Paris Alleyne & Jukie Chan
Letters: Andrew Thomas | Editor: Jennifer Hale
Price: $3.99 – 32 pages

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