Justin Jordan Talks REAVER, Writing and More
Updated: Jan 24, 2020
Justin Jordan first gained worldwide acclaim with THE STRANGE TALE OF LUTHER STRODE, an action comic he co-created with artist Tradd Moore. After the success of that book, he's went on to work with almost every major comics publisher.
Two books at DC which were loved by fans were his runs on GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS and SIDEWAYS.
One thing that he's always done was keeping his feet firmly planted in the creator-owned world. This July, sees the release of his, and artist Rebekah Issacs, latest Image book, REAVER.
REAVER is a dark fantasy book that tells the story of "Hell's Half-Dozen" - a collection of six of the worst criminals the world of Madaras has to offer. This is the perfect book for "Game of Thrones" fans and any fan of dark fantasy books. Jordan is one of the most talented writers in the industry and this sure to be another hit. I was lucky enough to chat with him about his new book, which only heightened my anticipation. You guys are not gonna want to miss this one.
COMIC LOUNGE: What inspired you to become a writer?
JUSTIN JORDAN: I think it probably came built in, to be honest. I don't remember a time when I wasn't making up stories. It was how I played as a kid, even. But I never got away from it. Which is probably for
the best, because it's more or less the only thing I am actually good at.
I've also always loved comics. One of the earliest memories I have is 'reading' a Popeye comic when I was no more than two or three. And I never got away from it. I couldn't draw, though, so it took me until I was in college to realize that I could meet artists through the Internet and actually do comics.
CL: Who were some of your biggest influences growing up?
JJ: Oh man, it's hard to say. There's a whole bunch of stuff that got poured into my head, a lot of it not comics. Early on I was big into Stephen King and Dean Koontz and horror writers, which I think probably has a lot to do with why a lot of my stuff is horror influenced if not actual outright horror.
But I also read Frank Miller and Alan Moore way too young, and I can say things like Quentin Tarantino's movies and the stuff that Wes Craven did have all factored in. Plus I was 13 when Image was founded, which I think also influenced my comic sensibilities a lot.
CL: Your breakout book, THE STRANGE TALENT OF LUTHER STRODE, garnered you a lot of acclaim. What inspired the idea behind that book?
JJ: I really had two idea that eventually smashed together. Which is often how that works for me.
One was the idea of a Charles Atlas style ad that actually did what was promised and more. The actual Charles Atlas ads weren't too bad for that, but their competitors would basically flat out promise super powers.
The other was the notion that some superheroes and horror movie slashers weren't that far removed from each other. So, you know, while he won't kill you, having Batman after you, this shifting unstoppable shape in the dark, has to be terrifying. And likewise, while he does talk some, Frank Castle is damn near Jason Voorhees with a gun.
CL: What was your initial reaction when it was so well received?
JJ: Shock. Seriously.
At that point, I'd been trying to break into comics for around ten years. Lots of small press stuff, lots of pitches. So getting Strode picked up was a big deal all by itself, and me and Tradd and Felipe, we were all prepared for the book to go nowhere, but at least we'd have this thing we did.
That's not what happened.
The book sold well, and people loved it. It's still the most popular thing I've done. And I was pretty sure going in we were putting together a good book, but I never expected the reaction we got. It was, and remains, awesome.
CL: Since then you've worked with other publishers, while staying firmly planted in creator owned work. What is the appeal of working on established characters for you?
No, I'm kidding. Although paychecks are nice. It varies from project to project, but a lot of it is the challenge of looking at existing universe and trying to find something that hasn't been done, but still makes sense and adds to the mythology in a way that won't suck in ten years. That's the goal, anyway.
The freedom of creator owned is great, but there's something to be said for the requirements of WFH with existing characters. It's a bit like writing poetry with a specific rhyme scheme or making a movie with the Dogme 95 restrictions. It makes you more creative, I think, working under restrictions.
CL: Are there any characters you would like to work on in the future?
JJ: Absolutely. Like probably everyone in comics, I'd like a crack at Batman. But I'd also like to do Daredevil and Bane and wouldn't look askance at doing a Punisher run, if it were to come my way.
CL: You have a new book coming out in July, REAVER. Can you talk a little bit about the book?
JJ: REAVER is a grimdark adventure book. So if you like things like "Game of Thrones" or Savage Sword of Conan, you'll probably like it. It's me doing different kinds of genre stories in a very dark fantasy world. The first arc is more or less The Dirty Dozen in Westeros, and the second arc is a noir story set in a fantasy world.
There's an overarcing plot about stopping the spread of particularly brutal magic, but the characters and locations in the world can vary.
CL: A dark fantasy book seems like a perfect fit for you, what made you decide to go this route for your next book?
JJ: I'd been working REAVER for a while, but the last couple of years have had a big surge in the popularity of this kind of brutal fantasy, so this seemed like the time to go for it. Hopefully people dig it.
CL: How long do you see this book going? How far out do you have it mapped out?
JJ: Man, comics are hard. I'm working on the second arc, and I've got a roadmap for a bunch more. The upside of REAVER is that the stories are relatively self contained, so if we don't make it past the second arc, no one is going to be left hanging.
That said, I'd love for this to get a nice long run. Twenty five would be great. Fifty would be better. It's a big world and there are a LOT of stories we can tell.
CL: Do you have any other projects in the works that you can talk about?
JJ: Bunches, but none I can talk about other than vague vagueness. I have three OGN's coming out....sometime, and I've got three series at different publishers. Plus, I've got Urban Animal running over at Webtoons. I keep busy.