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DF Interview: Justin Jordan Spread(s) word on his new book
By Byron Brewer
For those who are marveling at the cosmic wonders writer Justin Jordan has been bringing to Green Lantern: New Guardians, that same splendor – turned sideways and horrific – can be found in Image’s new terrifying book, Spread.
To get to the heart of its origins and more, Dynamic Forces sat down with Jordan and later filed this report.
Dynamic Forces: Justin, tell us about Spread and how it got started as a project. You had a very impressive teaser at the New York Comic Con last year.
Justin Jordan: My short pitch is basically that it’s Lone Wolf and Cub in a world where John Carpenter’s The Thing ate North America. So basically, a badass is ferrying a baby across a world filled with monsters.
We did a teaser for NYCC before we actually got picked up by Image, to try and build some buzz early and, frankly, because I like having something new to debut at the con.
DF: Tell us about that famous “teaser” and fan reaction to it.
Justin Jordan: It went over really, really well. We made a couple of hundred and sold through most of them as word …er….spread. Which was really gratifying; at the time, I hadn’t done any creator owned stuff but Luther Strode (Dead Body Road was still a couple months from print) and I was nervous.
But people were way into it, which gave me more confidence this was a thing we could do.
DF: You are so comfortable, it seems, writing sci-fi in Green Lantern: New Guardians for DC. Is horror a genre you enjoy?
Justin Jordan: Yup. Horror, as a genre, is one of my first loves, along with crime books. I’ve been able to do comics about both those genres this year, which is awesome. But enjoying something and being good at producing it are two different animals, so I hope I’m good at horror.
DF: So, what is Spread all about?
Justin Jordan: Basically, ten years prior to the start of the book, a virulent alternative ecosystem shows up in Northwest America. It converts pretty much everything living into more of itself, and basically eats a good chunk of the west coast before we figure how to slow it down.
And slow it down is all we did, and how we did it has big ramifications for the world as a whole. This is the Spread.
There’s a quarantine area around the Spread, completely cut off from the outside world to the extent that the survivors living there don’t even know if there is an outside world left.
No, our main character, is one of those survivors, and he finds out first hand that someone from the outside world has survived when he finds a plane crashed. As a result of that, he finds Hope, a baby girl. Who, he discovers, can kill the Spread. Which means she can save the world. If No can keep her alive, find a way out of the quarantine zone, and find someone who can use her to stop the Spread.
All the while contending with the Spread, raiders, cannibals, religious fanatics and all sort of fun stuff.
So, babies, badasses and monsters, basically.
And yeah, some intentional vagueness there because some of these things, like what exactly the Spread IS and what’s happening in the world outside the QZ, are mysteries in the book I don’t want to spoil.
DF: And the inspiration behind this project?
Justin Jordan: A couple of things. One is an article I read that was about, and I am going to badly sum this up and mangle what it was actually about, was that the way the cells of everything on Earth generate energy isn’t the only way they could do it and, indeed, might not even be the best way. And what’s more, these systems have actually existed at one point and gotten destroyed by climate changes.
Which, when you run it through my head, gets you: What if a super efficient alternate form of life where introduced on Earth? And it sort of went from there.
The other big one is that I have always been interested in what happens when the apocalypse happens, people survive, and then time passes. How do you rebuild society when monsters are around.
DF: This will now be an ongoing from Image?
Justin Jordan: Yep. I’d like to do fifty or sixty issues of it, because we do have an end point in mind, but we’ll see. Doing an ongoing is hard. Doing a creator owned ongoing is hard. But I hope we get the chance to tell the full story.
DF: Tell us more about No and Hope, and about Fat Jack and Crazy Molly.
Justin Jordan: Hope you mostly get to know through the narration, as she’s just a couple months old at the beginning of the series. But she is pretty freaking adorable.
No is a complicated guy, and one that’s hard to get to know. I mean, he’s so taciturn at the start he gets named No, which probably tells you a lot about him. He’s a guy who has lost almost everything except, despite not wanting to actually admit it, hope. Which gets reignited when he finds Hope.
Fat Jack is No’s fairly reluctant ally. No is a good man, buried underneath layers of pragmatism. Jack is not. Jack is bastard covered bastard with bastard filling. But he’s got a core of pragmatism that runs even deeper than No’s, and when he realizes what Hope is he throws in with the winning team. Not that anyone would be foolish enough to trust him except maybe…
Crazy Molly. She’s crazy. She got good reason to be. She’s young, so she spent most of her growing up in the QZ, which is reason enough to end up…odd. She lost her own baby just prior to No meeting her, which is why she ends up part of the group. She immediately attaches herself to Hope. She’s also completely fearless, which comes in handy.
DF: There seem to be a number of horror/SF books coming out with a theme of sicknesses, viruses, et al as subjects/backdrops. Does Spread fit into that grouping?
Justin Jordan: It’s probably more like Stephen King’s The Stand in that regard, in that it follows the aftermath of the “infection” rather than the chaos of the initial time. So probably closer to The Road Warrior or what the Walking Dead has become.
DF: What does artist Kyle Strahm bring to this project? Why is he right for this new book?
Justin Jordan: He brings pretty much everything to the project. Kyle has what I’d call….I guess a gritty style that’s just right for the world we’re depicting. Plus, he does crazy good monsters, and we synch pretty well.
And working with Felipe Sobreiro, he’s really hit a good groove on this. It looks amazing. I just need to not mess it up in the long run.
DF: Justin, what do you want readers to take away from Spread in the long haul? Why should new readers give this title a try?
Justin Jordan: Mostly, I want them to have fun reading it. But beyond that, I hope they’re as fascinated by the world that we’re building as I am. If you want a cool action story with liberal doses of horror and monsters, this is the book for you.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Justin Jordan for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Spread #1 hits stores July 9th!
Pre-order your copy of Spread signed by Justin Jordan today!
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