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DF Interview: Justin Jordan leaks the conspiracy theories in Deep State
By Byron Brewer
This nation, this world is full of secrets. John Harrow's job is to make sure they STAY that way … secret.
The star of writer Justin Jordan and artist Ariela Kristantina’s new BOOM! Studios ongoing series Deep State, Harrow works for the government as a “secret keeper” of sorts, traveling America to ensure the nation's deepest and darkest experiments stay hidden from the public eye.
To uncover those secrets and the plots behind the plots, Dynamic Forces’ covert attack squad picked up and grilled Jordan for a number of hours. Here’s the info he spilled.
Dynamic Forces: Justin, I love interviewing you but you always have a book that is pushing the envelop in some way. You remind me of Steve Gerber back in the day, and that is a high complement indeed. So with Deep State, we have conspiracy theories that happen to be true, like the Cosmonaut Invasion of Pennsylvania. What is it about such stories you love and want to tell?
Justin Jordan: Thanks!
I just find conspiracy theories inherently fascinating as do, I think, like a lot of people. There are a couple of reasons for that, I think. Maybe the biggest is that feeling like we know something others don’t, and that we know it first, seems a like a pretty basic aspect of humanity; it’s the reason we like to gossip. Or a reason.
And likewise, I think that a lot of conspiracy theories serve the same purpose mythology did; it gives us a sense that we understand how the world works. Because we like having clear causes and clear villains. We like to have reasons that we can understand and that bad things are caused by sentient beings rather than bad luck or incomprehensibly complex systems.
As a storyteller, they’re fun because you get to play “what if” with established reality. The fun is coming up with something plausible that slots around the known facts. The conspiracies in Deep State do that to greater or less degrees.
DF: What are some of the others we can plan on seeing as readers here? Any that are actually based in fact? (JFK, MLK or like assassinations, etc.)
Justin Jordan: Actually, the JFK assassination is what issue #6 will be about, as Harrow fulfills his promise to explain it to Harrow. Mostly, I’m not getting too much into established conspiracies in the early arcs, more using them as take-off points for the new stuff. So, for instance, the first arc takes the idea that the moon landing was faked and does something different with it.
DF: How did Deep State come to be at BOOM! Studios?
Justin Jordan: BOOM! had been trying to get me to pitch them for a while. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to, but there was a stretch there where I was writing four monthly books and a couple of miniseries all at once and didn’t have the time to commit to anything.
But when I did have time, I looked at projects that I wanted to do that I thought would be a risky gamble at Image. The thing about Image is that the money is all back end, and I can’t really afford to finance a book on my own.
So, I need to be sure that if we’re going to do a book there, the artist and the rest of the team have a good chance of getting paid, and that the book has a good chance of sticking around long enough to tell the story I want to tell.
With BOOM! I don’t have to worry about that. And, to be entirely mercenary, I thought BOOM! represented my best shot at selling something to Hollywood, which is good for my long-term career.
Which, you know, totally worked, so go me!
DF: Even though the book is currently ongoing, can you explain who John Harrow is (or isn’t) and what he does? (At one time, kinda like explaining Wolverine, lol.)
Justin Jordan: Harrow works for a…well, they’re not so much an agency as much as a group of people throughout government who do the dirty work of keeping the government running by whatever means necessary. Harrow calls them Control, just to have something to call them.
Who Harrow IS is a bit of a mystery, and I can’t tell you much here, but there are some pretty significant hints at his back story starting in the second issue. He’s not what you probably think he is.
DF: In your eyes, explain the dynamic (forces, lol) between Harrow and his new partner, Ms. Branch. Why is she a good fit for that role?
Justin Jordan: Branch’s main advantage is that while she is very smart and very educated, she doesn’t know much about Harrow’s work. Which is a good thing, believe it or not, because in Harrow’s line of work, there is a very significant chance of starting to miss things because you already know the answers.
She’s also a lot less cautious than Harrow, who weighs everything before he acts. That’s a nice contrast to make both of them work.
DF: Not to spoil anything, but does this book have a major big-bad (besides, maybe at times, the government)? Is there anyone pulling strings behind the curtain, in a manner of speaking?
Justin Jordan: There’s definitely someone or something working behind the scenes. You get your first concrete evidence of their existence in issue #5, but they become increasingly prevalent as we work towards the end of the first year.
Which is about all I can say without spoiling the big surprises.
DF: And with all this government spy noir, you have also managed to shoe-horn in SOME sci-fi. How far will you drift from the “from today’s headlines” rumor mill of the Belt Way?
Justin Jordan: The first arc is actually probably the most sci-fi. Issue #6 involves no sci-fi at all, just an alternate view of history, and the rest of the issues except for #5 involve stuff that hasn’t been done but conceivably could be with existing technology.
The aforementioned issue #5 involves a gun that shoots bullets through time so, you know, it goes pretty far afield from existing technology.
DF: Why is Ariela Kristantina’s art right for such a book as Deep State?
Justin Jordan: She’s got a very dark, moody style that’s…..ambiguous? I mean that in a good way. She was actually the first (and as it happens, only) person I recommended to BOOM! for the job.
I also got very lucky in that Ariela and I are very in synch – she understands what I am going for in any given scene and totally elevates my scripts.
DF: Justin, is there one conspiracy theory, real-world or imagined by your writing mind, that you cannot wait to get to, maybe a reason you started a book like this?
Justin Jordan: I can’t say it’s precisely a conspiracy theory but….do you remember the story a few months ago where Facebook was revealed to be manipulating people’s feeds to see if they could influence their emotional states?
Well, the second big arc – there’s several one and two issue stories between the first and second big arcs – is about that concept. We are putting out a tremendous amount of information into the world, which could conceivably be used to make people do things. Hell, it IS used for that, but the story involves it at another level.
So I am excited for that, because it both has direct relevance to our world and it also reveals a huge amount of stuff about Harrow and Branch and sort of blows up the series.
DF: I believe you have two other projects greenlit by BOOM! along with Deep State. What can you tell us about those, if anything?
Justin Jordan: Ah, very little, except that I am currently writing the second one. They are very, very cool though, and I think people are going to dig them.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Justin Jordan for taking time out of his very busy schedule to answer our questions. Deep State #3 hits stores this Wednesday, January 14th!
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