Jonathan Ross
Jonathan Ross Getty Images

Comedian, popular radio and TV presenter and writer of comic books – it seems there's nothing Jonathan Ross can't do.

An avid lover of comic books since his childhood who has already authored Turf and America's Got Powers, Ross stopped by the London Super Comic Con to promote his latest work, Revenge.

Working together with acclaimed British artist Ian Churchill of DC and Marvel fame, Revenge tells the tale of washed-up, C-list Hollywood star Griffin Franks, who suddenly makes it big remaking his own film The Revenger from the 1970s.

Unfortunately for Franks, everything is taken away from him again, including the flesh on his skull, and he becomes the real-life version of his iconic character as he seeks, well, revenge.

Frankenstein 90210

Revenge Issue One: Jonathan Ross' new comic book with Ian Churchill
Revenge Issue One: Before Griffin Franks lost everything

"I've had this idea for a while. One summer four or five years ago when I was bored, I wrote down ideas for a range of comics, drew up a bunch of covers and sent them to [famed Scottish comic book artist] Mark Millar," Ross said during a Q&A panel session with fans at LSCC.

"He said that I should try to write some of these ideas as comic books, even only to be like a footnote in the history of comics. In a way, I was looking for someone to legitimise my fantasy to the extent that I no longer felt that it was ridiculous, so I started to do something about it, and one of those ideas was Frankenstein 90210."

Ross says that he envisioned Revenge to be a monstrous horror book with "almost no redeeming qualities", quite different from the typical superhero comic book plotline and set in real-life modern locations, including the Golden Globe Awards.

"As I grow older and slightly more grotesque, I find other grotesque people more interesting. I told Ian that [the character of Griffin Franks] had to be gnarled, old and weird-looking like an old tree with more veins and droopy bits," he said.

Sketching since childhood

Ross has been drawing and sketching ever since he was a child, but doesn't feel comfortable enough to draw his own comics professionally. His favourite comic book heroes of all time are Mr A, Spiderman and Batman, but he is not a big fan of Superman or the Green Lantern.

"I was not a sporty kid and somewhat bullied in school so an escape for me was comic books. We didn't have the incredible TV you have today, so like the kids of my generation, I was into Dr Who, Star Trek and superhero comics. I love comic books and have never grown out of them," he said.

He is fervent in his belief that comic books shouldn't be made in the hope that they will be adapted to become movies.

"I really don't care if Revenge becomes a movie. I do it because I want to write a comic book," Ross stressed.

Revenge Comic Book: After Grffin Franks loses the flesh on his face and becomes the Revenger
Revenge comic book: After Griffin Franks loses his face and becomes the Revenger

"There are people out there working in comics who are guilty of creating comics because they think it's a good way of getting a movie out of it, and I don't like that sort of approach. I don't think that Revenge would benefit from becoming a movie."

Being depicted as the devil

Ross is a big fan of comic book movies in general, even the bad ones, and will watch every single comic book-adapted movie at least once. He is also not keen on drawing inspiration from his own life for his work.

"I've never put anything too auto-biographical into my books. I have had an idea but never written it about a talk show host [with] too much money who buys an Iron Man suit and keeps throwing off the scent about who owns the suit onto his talk show guests," Ross said.

However, he has been featured in one comic book, to his knowledge, which was how he met Mark Millar and eventually started to write his own comic books.

"Mark Millar was learning to be a writer in 1987 and he wrote a black and white comic book called Saviour, which was meant to be a really awful social-satirical Margaret Thatcher-style [piece]," said Ross.

"He had the artist draw me as the devil, as I was just starting out as a presenter back then, and then I think he was afraid I might sue him, so he sent me this really dirty comic book in the post saying, 'I've just written this, I know you're a comic fan, hope it's cool.'"

The first issue of Revenge retails at £3.99 and can be found at Forbidden Planet.