Posted by Decapitated Dan |

Deep Discussions with Decapitated Dan: Send in the Clowns

I recently had a chance to talk to Chris Johnson about his upcoming book SEND IN THE CLOWNS. Check it out:

Decapitated Dan: Hey Chris thanks for taking time to talk with me about the Send in the Clowns.
First of all lets talk about you. Who are you and what do you do?

Chris Johnson: Hey, Dan! I’m Chris Johnson and I make comics! I created Anomalous Comics with my inker friend, Fletcher Horton, and since 2012, we’ve been working on small projects here and there, mostly for anthologies and portfolio builders but also for other companies. I write everything Anomalous will be releasing in the foreseeable future (because I’m a narcissist who likes to feel special) and I also letter all of our books. The lettering started out of necessity, but it’s grown into a passion of mine and now I’m kind of a lettering snob, lol. If a book has poor letters, I just won’t read it. Currently, I letter Ghoul Squad, Stargirl, and Skull for the Higher Universe; I letter Armadillo Justice for Rising Sun Comics; and I letter Ximphonic Versus for Markosia. These are just a few of the titles I’m working on, but I’m always looking to help fellow creators tell their stories. I’d like to get hired on as a writer for a Deadpool or Howard the Duck series, but until then I’m having a blast writing, lettering and editing my own books. 

How did you find yourself getting into making comics?

CJ: Well, I’ve always been a writer, ever since I was a kid creating intricate plot lines and even subplots for my action figures (X-MEN all day, y’all!). Then in high school, I started more seriously writing short prose stories and I really enjoyed the way I was able to channel whatever I was going through at the time (be it happy, sad, whatever) onto the written page and actually evoke similar emotions in other people. So a few years ago when I found out there were others like me, people who loved comics so much they wanted to make them, I ditched the prose and started posting my five page stories online in an attempt to entice artists to join me in my endeavor. I never once thought I would be the head of a studio of over forty members, but here we are. We are different, unique; we are Anomalous. 

DD: So what can you tell me about Send in the Clowns. What’s it all about?

CJ: To put a complex story in a simple box, Send in the Clowns centers on Mr. SadFace, our spotlight clown character, in his lair as he watches different movies and television shows about clowns on his wall of TVs. The book opens with him welcoming the reader into his inner sanctum and telling them that once they have seen all the eight shows (our eight stories in the antho), he might allow them to leave. Basically, what Mr. SadFace wants is to change the reader’s perception of clowns. He shows the movies while giving different introductions and Public Service Announcements to give a little clarity on what the reader should be looking out for and how they should take certain stories. Each story is different and none of them are your average, run-of-the-mill killer clown story, but with Mr. SadFace hosting, the horror (and the funny) is taken to a whole new level.

DD: Where can readers find out more about backing the project?

CJ: Go to !!! We have a TON of cool pinups, interior covers, promotional material, and even one of the stories in the book right there on the IndieGogo page, just so people know what they’re getting themselves into. We are even giving away free prints with every book order. If we get this book funded, I’ll be able to get it in stores here in my hometown of Wichita Falls, TX and others have responded positively in Dallas, too. That will be huge for our small company of indie artists. If people buy a book for thirty bucks, they get three prints, a bunch of digital wallpapers, a digital version of the book so they don’t have to wait to read it, and their name in the Thank You section of the book. We’re even giving away posters to lucky backers! 

DD: Who are the Creators that you have working on this book?

CJ: We have a lot of independent artists working on this monster of an anthology. Around eighty indie pencilers, inkers, colorists from all over the world... and me! For a list of all the Anomalies (what we call our artists) just check out because there really are too many to name. But you can see their work for us and other work they’ve done as well as their portfolios and interviews with us on the site.

DD: What kind of stories can we expect to find?

CJ: This is not a one trick pony kind of book, where you see a bunch of killer clowns running around like six foot tall chickens with their heads cut off brandishing knives and balloon animals. no, this book has got tragic stories, uplifting stories, inspirational stories, of course, homicidal maniac clown stories, and so much more. The reviews we’ve received so far have been nothing but positive and I just can’t wait for people to get their hands on it. Shawn at Project-Nerd said, “...Send in the Clowns is going to be a rock solid anthology release.” and highly recommends it! I’m super proud of my friends who worked with us on this book and can’t wait to do more like it.

DD: Where did this idea come from?

CJ: Borderline Press, actually. They were calling for submissions from indie creators for this clown anthology, and after a friend and I had written some stories and even gotten a few of our artist friends on board, they decided to scrap it due to “lack of interest”. I’m not the type to let things go (seriously, I’m still holding grudges from when I was in diapers) and I knew there had to be interest somewhere, so I decided I would just put the book out, myself. The friend I mentioned subsequently parted ways with us due to creative differences, but I’ll always be thankful for him bringing the idea to me and giving me the inspiration to push something of this magnitude. Not to sound cheesy, but out of the ashes of a scrapped book that was never meant to be comes Send in the Clowns, a wild ride featuring some even wilder characters whom you won’t soon forget. 

DD: What can readers expect in terms of Horror?

CJ: The entire book is scary, from the art right down to the psychological nature of the storytelling. There are low speed chases, blood and guts, weapon-wielding maniacs, and a truly horrifying anal probe. That, in and of itself, is worth the cover price, in my opinion. But in all seriousness, the definition of horror is “an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust”. This book will give the reader all these feelings and more as they read from story to story, especially as they as they are met with Mr. SadFace throughout the book to give them hints at what’s to come and help make sense of the shocking things that have come to pass. 

DD: If you were to give this book a movie style rating (G, PG, PG-13, R,  X) what would it get, and why would you say that?

CJ: Due to the amount of violence and cursing but lack of nudity, I would give this book a solid R rating. We really should have included some breasts, but I’m not really into objectifying women all that much... just clowns. I wouldn’t let my young children read it (at least not unsupervised), but I think it’s fine for teenagers and young adults. That’s probably our core audience, although our target market ranges from 16 - mid-30’s, due to the various horror elements involved in the book. 

DD: Were you into any horror titles growing up that lead you to want to create a book like this?

CJ: I was scared shitless of Freddy Kreuger. Man, I still remember the pizza scene where Freddy was picking the kids off with his claws and I really, truly, think that sort of warped my perception enough to both scare me, but also make me fall in love with the feeling of being scared. At least I did once my mom told me that it was only a movie. As far as comics went, I couldn’t get into horror because I was brainwashed to think anything that wasn’t X-Men was lame, haha. But as I grew older, I realized Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing is pure genius; Tales from the Crypt (which I did watch as a kid) was an actual comic and it was highly entertaining; and those old Hellblazer comics were pretty awesome, too. But my main influence, I have to say, for creating this book is none other than the 80s cult classic sci-fi movie Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

DD: What was the most horrific thing that happened to you when you were working on this book?

CJ: Missed deadlines, oddly enough. And bad dreams. I can’t help but focus so much when writing sometimes that my subconscious kicks me in the ass. Reckless Heart (You Know You Got It), which will be in Send in the Clowns Volume II, comes from a dream that found me startled, sweating and wide the hell awake in the middle of the night. So naturally, I wrote it down. Sometimes I think I’m just fucking crazy. 

DD: Can we expect more from you horror comic wise in the future?

CJ: Oh, definitely! Mr. SadFace begrudgingly belongs to a group of Thrill Killers who are comprised of characters representing various tropes and horror movie genres. That will be our next book and we are excited to push that out with Nightmare Cafe next. I am a child and huge fan of eighties horror so I am having fun getting really retro with my scriptwriting. I don’t see myself stopping any time soon, but we also have other genres to release in 2015, also. We are working hard on sci-fi/fantasy book called StarGazers, a futuristic sci-fi thriller/comedy called Savyer City, a comedy series called Elvis the Zombie, and even a children’s book with horror elements in it called Don’t Be Afraid.

DD: So where can readers find out more about this book?

CJ:!!! Check us out! 

DD: So in summary give me a quick recap on Send in the Clowns and why fans should give it a try.

CJ: There is so much to this book that it would be difficult to tell people every reason why they should check it out so I’m just going to say this: whether you enjoy clowns or have a ridiculously stark case of coulrophobia, you should read this book. The stories are very deep, emotional, and most of all human. Clowns are the vehicle we are using to tell these stories, but this is a book about clowns about as much as The Walking Dead is about zombies. This is a book about people; people dealing with tragedy, people working through pain and past hurt, people fighting for their rights, people struggling to survive, people getting their just desserts, people realizing who and what they are... and a guy in clown makeup getting anal probed with a footlong dildo. 

DD: Thanks so much for your time.

CJ: Thank YOU, Decapitated Dan! I really appreciate you interviewing me. All the Anomalies do!