Roy Johnson talks about STANDARD COMICS

Roy Johnson is a comics book creator who has worked in comics under the banner of his own company, ‘Standard Comics’, a Golden Age (1940s) comics group name, which Roy Johnson brought back, along with its’ vintage logo, since 2015. The original Standard Comics line was published from 1939 through 1956. With this self-publishing effort, Mr. Johnson also revived numerous vintage American Golden Age superheroes, and even the Canadian Golden Age of comics superheroine female, Nelvana of The Northern Lights, a female character from Canada’s comics history who originally debuted even before DC/National’s Wonder Woman! We took the time to chat with Mr. Johnson about his exciting line of revived and reinvigorated heroes!

First Comics News: Roy Johnson, how many months or years have you been involved with Standard Comics, writing comics for them under Kickstarters, and how did you get originally get involved?

Roy Johnson: I first used the “Standard Comics” logo/name back in 2011 when I was commissioning comic art, including imaginary covers to books starring characters from the Golden Age of Comics. You can see them online here. One of the earliest was an homage to King-Size Avengers #1, in my King-Size Sentinels #1.

1st: Quite frankly, I LOVE the fact that your King Size Sentinels # 1 is a homage cover to Marvel Comics’ Avengers King Size Special (annual) # 2, from 1968! I did notice you refer to this as King Size Sentinels # 1 but the cover says # 2. Why is that? I’m just curious, is all. This is a superb idea that I feel really works, and one which should really generate additional fan interest! As homage covers go, this one is superb!

Roy: Just a mistake. I don’t work for anybody: I’m the publisher and writer. I hire wonderful artists to produce the art.

1st: Can you tell me, Roy, where and when were you born, where did you grow up and go to school, and how old were you when you first discovered and got interested in reading and collecting comic books, back in the day?
About what year was that and how old are you, now?

Roy: I grew up in the 70s in a small town in Nova Scotia, Canada. I was probably reading (or having them read to me) since I was around 3. I remember bugging Dad to read to me.

1st: As you and I discussed privately, I, too, am a Canadian. I live only about an hour’s drive from Truro, Nova Scotia! I’ve been to Truro many times over the years, and I have relatives there, as well! What were your favourite comic companies and characters growing up?

Roy: I would probably self-identify as having been primarily a DC Comics fan, but my collection appears to be roughly half DC, half Marvel.
I like the JLA, Legion of Superheroes, Batman, Spider-Man … the usual.

1st: How did you become aware of the golden age 1940’s characters that you are creating new comic stories about now, at Standard Comics; or, are some of these new characters, with a golden age ‘flavor’? If new stories of golden age characters were in the Public Domain, what titles did they appear in, during the 1940s? Do you collect golden-age comics?

Roy: I probably became aware of Golden Age heroes (besides DC and Marvel) from buying the annual Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, which always had pictures of these old comics. I think I became aware of “public domain” characters in the late 1990s. In my ongoing series, The Sentinels, I’ve focused on revised public domain heroes Black Orchid, Grim Reaper, TNT Todd, and Wildfire. New stories are definitely not public domain and are protected by copyright.

1st: I didn’t know there was a Golden Age (1940s) Black Orchid character. Was this a female character? What company published this character, and was this character a male or a female character?

Roy: You can read more about her here. I don’t collect Golden Age comics, as they cost too much. But you can read many titles online, for free.

1st: what year was it that you published your first comic book that you wrote, and how did you originally get in touch with the artist who does them? And, what can you tell me about him?

Roy: The first comic book I published was the “Standard Comics Encyclopedia (Abridged)”, which was a DC Who’s Who/ Marvel Handbook style book, featuring profiles of various characters, drawn by a variety of artists. I’ve worked with several artists on The Sentinels, including Sensational 7 artist Fish Lee, who I found on Facebook. He was drawing Five-Star for Tony Klapper; I saw his art and thought it fit with what I was doing.

1st: Has he illustrated comics for other publishers aside from Standard Comics? I recall that there was a Golden Age 1940s ‘Standard Comics’ many decades ago, with the very same ‘Standard Comics’ cover logo that you are now using. Just out of curiosity, what made you decide to go with that one? Does the new ‘Standard Comics’ put out other comics other than the ones you write? About how many different titles has the new Standard Comics put out overall, thus far, and how long have they been around?

Roy: I was fishing around for a comic company name for my imaginary covers, and I selected “Standard Comics” because I liked the name; and it appeared to be one of the few companies with an actual logo, i.e. the flag or standard, with the name on it. Standard Comics, my Standard Comics, started in 2015. To date, I’ve published issues 1-8 of The Sentinels (the numbering starts with # 267, to imply a publishing history), three issues of the Encyclopedia, a Golden Age style issue of The Grim Reaper, and various reprints of actual public domain stories.

1st: Do all Standard Comics titles start as Kickstarters? Are each issue of each Standard Comics title published under the ‘Print On Demand’ (based on customer orders, as you go), and are they put out by the Indy Planet website?

Roy: Yup. The cost of production is pretty high and it would not be financially viable without the fantastic support of the backers who help bring these comics to life. All of them are on IndyPlanet

1st: what can you tell our readers about both the titles you have published, in terms of plot and story? Simply put, what’s it about? Am I right that there are four main characters in the new title? What can you tell us about that title?

Roy The Sentinels is a series of more or less stand-alone stories, with B and C plots to advance to A and B status; much like Paul Levitz’s “Levitz Paradigm” on the old Legion of Superheroes title. Every six issues will be collected in their own trade paperbacks. There are three arcs planned for six issues each.

The Sensational 7 is a Silver Age style comic with seven characters: three public domain characters (Duke of Darkness, Eye, Yankee Girl) and four of mine (Hyperman, Grey Lancer, Knightshroud, and Mermazon). This issue is their origin story as a group as if it was made in the late 1950s.

1st: Thank you for chatting with me about your comics company, Roy! I greatly enjoyed chatting with you. I’ll be following your comics line, and I wish you all the greatest success in the future!


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