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DF Interview: Justin Jordan talks about his career, Luther Strode, more
By Byron Brewer
From Luther Strode to Kyle Rayner, writer Justin Jordan has spun a lot of stories out of his creativity machine.
How did he start? What character was the most difficult? And what does Popeye have to do with Jordan’s fate as a writer?
Dynamic Forces spoke with the scribe to find out.
Dynamic Forces: Justin, let's go back a ways. Tell us how you chose writing as a vocation.
Justin Jordan: Hah, well, let’s start with an easy question. I don’t know, really. I’ve been writing for as long as I could actually write, and I have stories I wrote back in kindergarten, so I guess it’s just a thing.
I wanted to do a few things as a kid – I wanted to be a geneticist and SFX artist, for instance, but when I was teenager I knew what all of these things had in common was wanting to create. So I decided then to write for a living.
DF: Why comic books? Were you a fanboy?
Justin Jordan: One of my very earliest memories is having a Popeye comic read to me when I was maybe three, so I’ve been a comic reader essentially all my life. I learned to read early because my family couldn’t read enough stuff to me to satisfy, so I had to take matters into my own hands.
I’ve never gotten away from it. Now, I’m not sure I’m a fanboy. I’ve never been hugely invested in books the way I associate with fanboys, you know? If I like a book and it sucks, I stop reading it. I’m into stories more than characters, I guess?
DF: How did The Strange Talent of Luther Strode come about? Was Image the first company you pitched for?
Justin Jordan: Image was the first choice, and they said yes pretty much immediately. Luther was….maybe the thirteenth book I pitched? Not all to Image. I’d done mini comics and appeared in small press anthologies before Luther came about, and wrote thousands of pages of comics that never got drawn.
But Luther was a blind submission – I didn’t know anyone at Image and no one there knew me, so I just emailed it to them and got accepted. That’s rare. Image is open to submissions but very few of them get picked up. Me and [Jonathan] Hickman are some of the most recent ones.
Luther’s book came about when two different ideas I’d had for a while came together. One was the idea that there were some similarities between slashers and superheroes, and the other was the idea that doing a Charles Atlas style exercise could give you superhuman powers.
Once I had those two, the story formed up pretty quickly. I found Tradd Moore on Deviant Art, and he agreed to do the book.
DF: Can you compare Strange Talent with its later sequel, Legend? Which was more satisfying for you as a creator?
Justin Jordan: Oh, another easy question. Man, I don’t know which was more satisfying. The books were really different, by design; I was trying to tell a different type of story in each one. The first one is sort of a horror take on Spider – Man, and the second a weird Punisher story. I think Strange Talent was maybe the stronger book, just because there was more character work in it.
DF: You helped launch DC's New 52 with Team 7, which I really dug because of the complex cast and its connection to Justice League. For some reason, it never took off. Thoughts?
Justin Jordan: Team 7 was always a hard sell. I think the deck was stacked against us: it was a kind of military book, featuring a bunch of characters in other books, set five years in the past. So I was surprised that it got off the ground at all.
And since it was my first book at DC, and one of my first work for hire books, there’s a lot of inexperience on display. The book had nine main characters, which I had no idea how to juggle, and I was not great at team books in general. It’d be a different and better book if I wrote it now.
DF: You certainly have made an impression on Green Lantern: New Guardians. It's your "White Lantern/See the DCU" approach that kept me on the book. Has it been fun trekking through DC space?
Justin Jordan: Tremendous fun. The concept of the book, that Kyle and Carol and the Templar Guardians are exploring the universe, keeps the book relatively separate from everything else and gives me the opportunity to create new worlds and new races.
Which is awesome.
DF: Can you clue us in on some things upcoming for Kyle Rayner?
Justin Jordan: There’s a lot of pieces coming together. He’s going to be going up against the Psions, who are responsible for X’Hal and space sharks, so there’s that. But we’re also going to get some really concrete answers about what is going on with Kyle’s powers, what being the White Lantern means, and what Kyle is going to do about it.
DF: Some of the writers (comic book or otherwise) who you feel have influenced your talent?
Justin Jordan: Hmmmm. Elmore Leonard, for sure. Quentin Tarantino. Joss Whedon. All of whom have influenced how I treat dialogue and character, for sure.
DF: So what book or storyline have you written that, given time and experience, you might like to go back and do differently?
Justin Jordan: Probably Team 7. I hope that I have continued to get better and would do better writing any of the books now than when I wrote them, but Team 7 is the one where I can look at it and easily point out the things I’d do better this time.
DF: So what else does writer Justin Jordan have spinning out of his creativity machine?
Justin Jordan: On the immediate horizon, there is Spread. It’s an ongoing horror sci-fi book that could probably best be described as Lone Wolf and Cub in a world where John Carpenter’s The Thing ate North America.
Also in July I start an arc of Crossed for Avatar, following up Garth Ennis. So no pressure there. I’ve also got a creator-owned book from Avatar called Redshift which will be coming out in 2015.
Later this year, we’re doing the final Luther Strode mini, called The Legacy of Luther Strode. I’ve actually got a bunch of other stuff in the pipeline that I can’t yet talk about. So I’m keeping busy.
Dynamite Forces would like to thank Justin Jordan for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions.
Don't forget to get your copy of Spread #2 Action Figure Variant signed by Justin Jordan!
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