Superheroes have never been my forte. Did I wish I was a Planeteer and hanging with Captain Planet when I was younger? Yes, yes I did. Would I win a contest involving comic book trivia? Oh no, I’d happily have a teammate who knew the origin stories of everyone from Marvel to DC. Someone like Hisonni Johnson. He’s loved comic books since he was a little boy growing up in the small town of Beaumont, CA. There he mowed lawns to afford the latest Superman and X-Men comics. Today he’s doing all he can to bring the comic world to life with his series based on Nightwing, Grayson: Earth One.
For those who’ve watched, you know why you love it and many have called it “amazing” and all the other synonyms. For those who haven’t gotten a chance, Hisonni showcases his take on Nightwing’s origin and does so in a way that’s both impressive and intriguing. This is especially true when you find out Grayson isn’t funded by a big studio. So it’s up to loyal fans and newcomers to band together to help Nightwing continue on! That’s why Hisonni has started an Indiegogo campaign. Other than the campaign he’s gone to extremes to keep Grayson afloat. You can read about that and more, like why he went with Nightwing, below.
What was the defining moment in your life when you said, creating is what I want need to do?
Hisonni Johnson: The defining moment in my life was moving to LA. It was in LA that I got to see some of the most talented actors I’ve ever met. Yet somehow those same people couldn’t catch a break in Hollywood. It inspired me to pick up my camera again and make movies starring the actors who deserved the push.
Now you have Grayson: Earth One and you’re trying to get the whole series underway, and it seems like fans are loving what you’re doing with Nightwing’s origin, changing it up. Why Nightwing though? What is it about him and his tale that made you want to take him on?
Hisonni: Well, I love the original Nightwing. He’s a smooth guy and seemed to have a Superman-like moral barometer. My version of the character was done to essentially split Nightwing into two characters. The Nightwing I’ve established and the Nightwing you already know. I hope to reignite a love for Nightwing by taking his noble characteristics away from him. If I make the character earn those noble traits as opposed to inheriting them from Bruce, I believe the audience will appreciate him again. They’ll appreciate his journey more than ever. I changed Nightwing’s back story because I was conflicted about him. Sometimes I really like the character but the whole Robin thing was so mishandled during the Golden/Silver Age that I couldn’t always be a real fan. So I changed it. I wrote a story that could have taken place in the ghetto I grew up in. A story that could have easily have been about myself if I hadn’t have been lucky enough to find family outside of my bloodline; in a lot of ways a much more realistic story.
Were there ever any other heroes in mind?
Hisonni: Oh yeah! The cool part about changing Nightwing’s story is that everyone’s story has to change. Everyone he’s ever come into contact with has to be reimagined — both the heroes and villains.
Any plans to do the whole DC universe from your perspective?
Hisonni: Absolutely! In this show we visit Metropolis, Star City and, of course, Gotham. I’m looking forward to building this new universe.
So you’ve set up an Indiegogo campaign to get this off the ground. What’s the craziest thing you’ve personally done to fund the project though?
Hisonni: I sold my plasma. Not my TV, my blood. My crew needed to eat and I had more plasma than I need so…
Having worked on AMC’s Freak Show, ever ask them to be a part of Grayson?
Hisonni: I haven’t but I will now. (Laughs) Such a good idea. That’s why the “Pitch your Idea” perk on our Indiegogo is the best perk/idea ever. I need ideas like this to make this show the best it can be.
Stepping away from your project and onto others for a minute. Do you find yourself critiquing other superhero movies, or are you still able to enjoy them as a fan?
Hisonni: I don’t critique other movies. I spend my whole day critiquing my own work. By the time I’m done writing or shooting something, all I want to do is have fun and being a critic is no fun for me.
Have to get your thoughts on the possible Captain Planet movie… I for one am excited and scared all at the same time.
Hisonni: I’m not sure. But not knowing is really exciting for me. As a filmmaker, I have no clue how I’d make Captain Planet movie work. The fact that it’s happening means someone out there does. I can’t wait to see how they work this out. My curiosity is half the reason I’m such a movie lover.
Have you tried pitching Grayson to The CW? I mean they’re doing wonders with Arrow right now.
Hisonni: My goal is to do such a good job on Grayson that The CW comes looking for me. The plot of this series is so strong it could easily rival the writing seen on any CW show. I’m hoping someone sees what I’m doing on my own with very little money and put me where I belong — on a studio lot, making TV shows that run 10 seasons or more.