Amidst the flurry of panels and people that is New York Comic Con, we carved out time to speak with several creators, including one of our faves, Justin Jordan (John Flood, Dark Gods, Luther Strode). His table was nestled between other notable creators, and littered with merchandise from his Walking Dead meets The Thing title, Spread. I was lucky enough to sneak him away for a few minutes to discuss his projects, and the industry!
SC: Let’s start with the easy ones. What are you currently reading?
JJ: Ah, what am I currently reading? Wicked + Divine…It’s going to look like a whole list of Image stuff. It’s going to be Wicked+Divine, East of West, Bitch Planet, um, I just read Diesel from Boom! or Archaia, I don’t remember which it is, it’s one of them, but it was very cool. I liked that a lot. There was something from Marvel I really liked a lot….oh, it was Weirdworld!
SC: Weirdworld was definitely different, haha. Do you have a character trope you would like to put your own twist on, like for instance, is No (a character from Justin’s creator owned work from Image, Spread) actually a hero on a heroes journey?
JJ: -laughs- No’s journey is not actually a hero’s journey per se. He is a hero, but the journey he is going through is not the Campbellian kind of thing. Like, yeah I mean, I like to do that in general, but there are a lot of characters that I think I could do interesting stuff with like that. Things that’d be good with like, Kingpin from Marvel and stuff and I would like DC to let me do a Bane comic, cause I think there are ideas to do with those characters that I’ve never seen done that are still true to the central core of the character.
SC: Do you think you write better in the mini-series format or on ongoing ventures? Is there more freedom doing ongoing, or…?
JJ: I don’t know about freedom, but there are struggles that go on. One of the few things I am still not happy with me as a writer is that in an ongoing format is making sure the flow is there. When I’m working with just six issues, I can get everything planned out fairly precisely in a way that satisfies me, but the ongoing, it’s a bit softer. I know that probably isn’t bad for the reader, but as a writer it’s not what I’d want it to be.
SC: For those of us who follow you on social media, your comic making, back end/”how the sausage is made” posts have been enjoyable and informative. Have you thought about doing that as a blog?
JJ: I could do that. I don’t know that there’s enough stuff there, you know what I mean? I don’t know how much I can get out of doing it, which is why I just post things. I want to do more of them as I think about them.
SC: They’re interesting! From a retailer’s perspective, we don’t get to see that part of comics, so it’s helpful, even. For instance, your $9.99 trade post in particular, was eye opening.
JJ: I was actually talking to someone earlier about that. That in particular though, the dynamics of pricing and your audience and stuff is something that if I wanted to go into detail about it, I could tell you about it for hours. There’s so many variables, right? It’s hard, because you’re essentially winging it on them [the trades].
SC: What can you tell us about “the comic formerly known as Crawl”?
JJ: Well, I’ve got an art team on it, and we have some of the character stuff. My intention right now, as we are at NYCC, is to …I’ve done a twelve page preview of it, which is also going to serve as the pitch, but what it actually is, is part of the backstory to the actual book itself. It takes place about ten years before what is going on in the book. I’m pretty sure when the book is greenlit, and if I’m allowed to do so, I intend to release that for free online, before the book comes out. By design it is meant to show you what the book is about. It has all the elements, and then, if that happens, it will also run as back matter in the book itself. That way you don’t have to go online to get it.
JJ: I mean yeah, you can probably argue that Luther Strode has some body horror in it, given how grotesquely people explode in that. But…yeah, I like body horror a lot. I am as anybody who has read Spread will probably know, I am a big fan of John Carpenter’s The Thing, but there’s also stuff like in Japan, like Uzumaki, Parasyte, and fucked up 80’s horror movies like Society, I don’t know if you’ve seen it.
SC: NO. Definitely going to add it to my giant list of stuff to watch, though! Is there something you’re terrified to touch, horror wise, or would you consider yourself desensitized?
JJ: I don’t know that I’m desensitized. I do know there’s some stuff harder for me than others…I was going to say it’s a weird fear, but I’ve got a thing for amputation. An amputation phobia, probably because I’m diabetic, so that’s a thing that’s on my mind. Anything with losing limbs tends to get me, but I do still put it in my books, but it is a thing that personally wigs me out. There is stuff in Spread, not necessarily body horror, but in issue 12 which is out in January, it’s Molly’s story. There’s some experiences that she has had that I found genuinely hard to write. It’d get to a point where I was like, alright I need to walk away from this for a moment. Teeth shit also bothers me.
SC: You’ve worked with several artists over and over again, do you tend to give them free reign when they get your scripts? Are you more of a strict outline kind of guy?
JJ: My general policy is … I write full scripts but I rarely, very rarely have a strict panel outline in mind, for instance. I will tell them, these story beats need to happen, but even then if there’s something that doesn’t need to happen, then I’ll have them tell me. If they want to add panels, or change the panel rhythm, that’s all cool cause artists have a better sense of laying out a page visually than I do. That’s the fun part of comics.
SC: Right now, comic diversity is a major thing. Will you be creating a character in the future who doesn’t necessarily fit the mold?
JJ: Well, No is a half Korean gay man, so yes! No, I do and by design, I don’t advertise it, except obviously for this interview. It has to be the right person for the book, but in as much as I can, I work with…I wanted to work with a woman who wasn’t American, who wasn’t white, so for Deep State, I worked with Ariela Kristantina. For Crawl, the art team is all from the Phillipines, and half of them is women. I’m trying to work with a more diverse group of creators. Not just because I think there needs to be more diversity in the industry, but because it ends up with a fresher, better product. As a white whitey white white guy, I think that adds some creativity to something that didn’t have that in the beginning.
Spread is currently out in trade paperback form (it is gory, but fantastic), as is The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, The Legend of Luther Strode, and Deep State! Stay tuned for other interviews from the NYCC floor!