With the release of Unioverse: Reyu today from Hex Publishers and Random Games, we are delighted to be joined by the co-writer Joshua Viola.
Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hey, thank you for having me! I’m Joshua Viola, a professional writer with over a decade of experience under my belt. I’ve written extensively in the horror and science fiction genres, as well as dabbled in various others. Recently, I’ve been working a lot in comics, and I’m the owner of Hex Publishers, a company best known for publishing anthologies.
Can you tell us about how you became involved with the Unioverse comics?
Sure! I used to work in videogames as an art director and artist on titles like Pirates of the Caribbean, but eventually, I decided to focus more on writing. However, I kept a great relationship with my old boss, Wyeth Ridgway, who co-founded Random Games. He reached out to me to help bring the story side of the Unioverse videogame to life alongside Narrative Director Brent Friedman (Halo, Call of Duty, Star Wars), and I was excited to jump on board.
Do you play videogames?
Absolutely! Gaming has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. I even have a pristine collection of over 1,500 games, and in 2018, I had a custom home built with an arcade in the plans. It currently houses 18 machines. I’m a big fan of characters like Raziel from Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Master Chief from Halo, and Skull Kid from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, and have even gotten tattoos of them.
What can you tell us about the Unioverse comics?
The Unioverse comics are all about the five main heroes—Reyu, Krishah, Tor Gret, Annill, and Vella Janx—and how they’re connected. We’re also introducing the series’ main villain, Silas, for the first time. They’re a great starting point for anyone who’s unfamiliar with the series.
How did Angie Hodapp, Ben Matsuya and AJ Nazzaro join the team, and what has it been like working with them?
Angie and I have known each other a long time, and I’ve also published a number of her short stories in Hex anthologies. We even collaborated on a little one-off comic years ago called Tooth and Claw. Ben was someone I discovered online, and I was blown away by his tribute pieces to Get Out and The Shape of Water on Nerdist. I reached out to him, and thankfully he was excited to work on the project. I’ve known AJ for a while. We met at Denver Comic Con (year one) when he came to my booth looking for work. We’ve been friends ever since, and he’s illustrated a number of my anthology covers. They’re all incredibly talented people, and it’s been great working with them.
Has it been a challenge writing the Unioverse comics?
It definitely had its challenges, particularly with adhering to the world rules that were changing almost daily for 6-8 months. Angie and I were on the videogame story team, so we had direct access to what was going on, but there were times when we couldn’t attend calls with the art team and they’d introduce something that completely changed the rules, which would then change the entire narrative. We had to do many, many rewrites. But in the end, it was all worth it.
What has it been like working with Random Games?
Working with Random Games has been an absolute pleasure! I know most of the team. Many of them were my students from way back when I taught Game Art and Design. So it’s very rewarding seeing how far they’ve come. I am also delighted to collaborate with talents like Tony Harman, who is a legend in the video game industry. Tony’s impressive portfolio includes producing Donkey Kong Country, Grand Theft Auto, and Crackdown, to name a few. Plus, he gave me some incredible collectibles from his time at Nintendo, which now have a special place in my arcade.
Do you have a favourite character from the Unioverse universe?
It’s tough to choose one, but if I had to, it would be Annill. She’s a remarkable matriarch with three mates and eleven offspring, but tragedy struck when she lost them all due to a threat that only gets revealed in issue four. The incident plays a crucial role in the overall plot and sets up the introduction of our villain, Silas Kyurk. I’m also a big fan of Silas. Angie and I had the challenging task of creating his character, but I think his motivations are fascinating. Silas is like Thanos, but instead of killing half the population, he’s after something else. In fact, he’s not trying to kill anyone. In his youth, when Earth astronaut Malcolm Orion reactivated an alien transportation technology called the Mass-O, Silas’s people suffered an intercranial organ rupture that connected them to their hivemind. The sudden shattering of his people’s neural net caused widespread madness and absolute psychic isolation. Silas now seeks to reconnect his people by shutting down the Mass-O and bringing about his own form of isolation to the universe.
What can readers expect from Unioverse: Reyu?
Readers can expect an exhilarating start in Reyu as we quickly establish the rules, government, and lore of the Unioverse world(s). We also introduce our protagonist, who is on a mission to track down a mysterious threat. Get ready to be hooked!
Any message for the ComicBuzz readers?
Thank you for taking the time to read this interview and learning about the Unioverse. We put a lot of heart and soul into creating these comics, and we hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did making them. We can’t wait for you to join us on this adventure!
A big; thank you to Joshua for sitting and chatting with us. We would like to wish him and the rest of the team; the best of luck with all of the Unioverse comics.