Phillip Kennedy Johnson grew up in Iowa and Kentucky. His father taught English Literature and his mother taught Spanish. His vivid imagination sparked much of his playtime as a child and, along with playing chess with his father, he enjoyed reading and drawing. His maternal grandfather had an old cornet and taught him the basics of playing. In high school, a kind English teacher nurtured his writing abilities. He attended Eastern Kentucky University and received a strong music education, focusing on the trumpet. After graduating, he toured with the Glenn Miller Orchestra from 2004 to 2005. He left that job to get married, earned a master’s degree from the University of North Texas, and auditioned for the Army Field Band. He then joined the U.S. Army Field Band, the musical ambassadors of the Army. The band is a touring organization and typically performs 400 shows a year. At one point, his younger brother (an artist) moved in with Phillip’s family, and the two began working to break into the comic book business. Phillip began writing, and his work has been published by DC, Marvel, Boom! Studios, Archaia, IDW, Aftershock, and Scout Comics. Currently, he is writing Superman.
In this interview, he talks about his childhood, his experiences with a traveling orchestra, his Army service, and writing comics. As a traveling Army musician, he appreciates the ability to represent the Army to the American people, and he is touched by those who are moved by the Field Band’s performances. As a comic writer, he appreciates complex characters and enjoys writing “villains who think they’re good and heroes who think they’re wrong.” He views Superman as a paragon of human virtue, noting that he should be the “best of us,” and he feels the responsibility of sharing his vision for such an iconic character. He concludes by talking about his service, highlighting that he loves the “opportunity to do what I’ve trained to do for greater purpose.”