Supernatural Revelations: An Exclusive Interview with Peter Johnson

In the last frame of the final issue of Supernatural Origins, John Winchester realizes that he is surrounded by darkness and to survive he must find the light. That “light” is the face of 4-year-old Dean waiting for him in the front window. It’s baby Sam, who gurgles and laughs for the price of a tickle. It’s John’s boys, their innocence, which will see him through. And thus the series ends. . . except that it’s really more of a beginning.This week, I chatted with Supernatural Co-Executive Producer and author of the Supernatural comics, Peter Johnson. We talked about the upcoming Supernatural six-issue comic series, the changes you’ll find in Origins: The Director’s Cut, and about Chuck.

Yes, Chuck.

In addition to his work with Supernatural, Peter is Co-Executive Producer of the NBC comedy/spy series, which he labels as ” breezy, quirky and funny.” NBC recently picked up the “back nine”, which means that Chuck, Sarah and the rest of the Nerd Herd will be around for a full season. With that in mind, Peter hints that there may be comics in Chuck’s future… and that’s information so secret, you won’t even find it in The Intersect!

Right now, however, Peter is spending his time working on the new series of Supernatural comics tentatively titled, Supernatural Revelations.

“The first one was clearly John’s awakening as a hunter, now the second series explores the triangle of the family — of John and the boys.”

In the new series, Sam and Dean will be 7 and 11 respectively. Unlike the first comic series where the boys were left behind, Sam and Dean will be active characters. But active doesn’t mean that all three Winchester’s will be going into battle together. It’s more a time of discovery as the boys begin to understand the truth about John and their own family history.

“Dean in particular will probably be a little more active in this series. We’ll explore his first hunt and how that shapes up. The training of Dean and the issues that will cause as John is treating the two boys differently, why he’s doing that, and what effect this has on Sam.”

It’s all about taking the real issues of everyday life and parenting, and ramping them up ‘Winchester style’.

“Eric [Kripke] and I have always wondered what that was like for John, juggling the demands of his job while trying to be a single father, which is fraught with fun issues, emotional issues and lots of dark comedy. For example, we’re thinking about a story that will have the Winchesters temporarily trying to live a normal, suburban life, which is just disastrous. John is late for the school play because he’s off chasing down something evil, then he arrives at the school with blood and guts all over him. It’s a heightened metaphor for the demands of a single parent raising two boys.”

Another issue the comics will deal with is the potential influence of a maternal figure in the boys’ lives.

“In the first issue, we have John happening upon a town that is curiously populated with a lot of young women. We’ll find out the supernatural reason for it, but we’ll also use that story for exploring the potential influence of maternal figures for the boys as John’s trying to protect them. Where we can, we want to tie in some of the evil forces they come up against with the family metaphor.”

And speaking of mother figures, the mystery of Mary will deepen as John digs a little further into the life of the woman he loved.

“He’s going to want to know more about Mary herself. Why Mary? Is there a key in her past that could help him understand why she died? That’s the drive going into this thing, and it will take a crazy twisted turn toward something more sinister.”

With Supernatural Revelations in the planning stages, Peter is also putting the finishing touches on what he calls Supernatural Origins: The Director’s Cut“.

As some of you may recall, Peter caused quite a stir when he joined me for a question and answer session back in June. He was bombarded with comments from fans who were unhappy about the comics’ inconsistencies and breaks in Supernatural canon (those facts that come straight from episodes of the TV show). The biggest complaint was the story behind the Impala. In the comic, John claims the car after he unwittingly gets Mary’s uncle killed on a hunt. To this fans cried foul! They claimed that John has always had the Impala, and that it can be clearly seen at the end of the pilot teaser. The fans say that the car was the only consistency the boys had after the fire, their home on wheels, and which explains Dean’s deep attachment to the vehicle.

Peter has thought long and hard about everyone had to say and his response is this:

“I can confirm we’re going to restore the Impala to the beginning of the [comic] series. We’ll redraw the required panels – and the continuity things, everything will be correct and that much better.”

This “corrected” version of Supernatural Origins will be released as a trade paperback in April 2008.

One other bone of contention fans had with the original series was the style of the artwork. The work was made of broad, blocky images with little detail. The faces of the characters showed no expression, with their eyes drawn as hollow sockets and shadows masking their profiles. It was a stylistic choice, but one that didn’t fit with the highly emotional nature of the show.

“We made a stylistic choice on the first go-round and this time we’re going to try something a little different.”

While Peter is still looking for something edgy and extreme, he’s also looking for more details in the art. And more details include more facial expressions from the characters: an imperative given the new storylines. If we’re going to be shown Sam’s hurt reaction from seeing his Dad giving Dean all the praise and attention, then we’ll need eyeballs in those hollow sockets!

“We want to do a family drama, so that again is the reason for going in a new direction. Sam and Dean need a lot of expressions,” says Peter but don’t read that to mean it’s going to be a monthly soap opera. He says to watch out for, “scattered body parts and gore and maybe some sex. We want to do things that only the comic can do that we can’t get away with on the show.”

And the way he says “scattered body parts and gore”. . . so much glee. . .

With work on the first issue of this new arc just starting, Peter is cautious about predicting where the series might go.

“We’re looking at this as the second of an initial trilogy that explores the Winchesters’ back story. The third part of the arc would be anchored in the kids that much older. Maybe even ending at the day before the beginning of the pilot, before Dean goes to get Sam. I’ve also been thinking about ways to bounce between different time periods. We could have a story that would anchor the arc of the first story, maybe the time period is literally the night before Dean goes to Sam, but then bounce around to explore through different periods of their life that resonate with the story.”

With twenty-two years to explore between the pilot’s teaser and where the pilot truly begins, there’s more than enough story fodder to keep Peter writing for a good long while.

“It was John’s story in the first one, the family story in the second one and more Sam and Dean in the third one bringing it closer to the series.”

Hey, all you have to say to me is “more Sam and Dean Winchester” and I’m all over it.

Look for Supernatural Origins: The Director’s Cut in early April and Supernatural Revelations later that month.
Supernatural airs on The CW, Thursdays at 9:00 and Chuck is on NBC, Mondays at 8:00.

Written by Cynthia Boris for SFUniverse.com

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