Like your comics with a bit of noir? Or are westerns your taste? Writer Justin Jordan and artist Matteo Scalera are all set to bring you the best of both worlds with the six-issue Image Comics/Skybound series, Dead Body Road.
To get to the bottom of this unique book, Cosmic Book News M.E. Byron Brewer saddled up Old Paint (actually a mechanical kiddy horse in front of the CBN offices) and exclusively rode downtown, in the shadowy alleyways, to question Justin Jordan.
Cosmic Book News: Tell us about the book.
Justin Jordan: Dead Body Road is about, basically, an ex-cop whose wife gets killed during a heist and he decides to kill every last bastard involved. And he doesn’t much care who dies to accomplish that, including himself.
Of course, there are lots of other people with designs on the spoils of the heist, so it’s not exactly going to be straightforward for Gage.
CBN: How did this come about? Something you pitched?
Justin Jordan: I am a big crime fiction fan in my regular life; most of the novels I read are crime or mystery. So I’ve wanted to try and write some myself. Robert Kirkman likes Luther Strode, so he approached me about writing something for Skybound, and we kicked things around until we found one we liked.
That title, incidentally, is pure Kirkman. I think my original title was Slab, which probably illustrates why he writes one of the best-selling comics of all time and I don’t.
CBN: Tell us about Gage. Is this a revenge story? Is he a good guy or a bad guy?
Justin Jordan: Gage used to be a good guy. What he is now is up for debate; by the time we meet him he blames himself, maybe not with some justification, for his wife’s death and it’s turned him into something else.
So yeah, it’s a revenge story, and what revenge means for the person exacting and what it costs to get vengeance.
CBN: It sounds like a noir crime story but also a bit like a modern Western. What can we expect?
Justin Jordan: Both?
I’ve described it as Western noir, and I think that’s fairly accurate. It’s modern day, but the setting feels Western to me, out on the dry edge of civilization. Lake and Cobb, though, come straight out of a noir tradition, while Gage himself is more of a Western character, not that far removed from spaghetti western heroes.
CBN: Are we going to get to know about the end figure responsible for the murder of Gage’s wife sooner rather than later? What can you tell us about him/her/them?
Justin Jordan: Not a lot, because that is the central thing driving Gage; he wants to know, needs to know who killed her. They’re all going to die, but not before he gets that answer. The reader will find out too, rest assured.
CBN: Where is your inspiration coming from for this comic?
Justin Jordan: Crime novels. Westerns. Watching too much Justified and Sons of Anarchy, probably. Love of books like 100 Bullets and Criminal.
CBN: Would you like to do other stories of this ilk? Why is there a resurgence of the Western-esque tale in pop culture now?
Justin Jordan: I’d certainly love to do more crime stuff. If this is book is a success, I’m going to try and get some more off the ground. I’ve got at least four more I would like to do. Westernwise, I actually have a sort of sci-fi western book that’s been gestating for a long time now.
I’m not entirely sure why Westerns are resurging now. I know that me, Hickman and Kelly Sue are all within a couple of years of each other, so something about growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, I guess. Or maybe it’s just something that comes around every so often.
CBN: Are you enjoying Matteo Scalera and his interpretation of your script?
Justin Jordan: F**k yeah. Can I say that? We were paired up by Skybound, so when I found out it was Matteo I actually did a happy dance. Not an especially pretty sight, but hell, I’d been wanting to work with Matteo for a while.
And it’s gone even better than I could have hoped. There are artists you just work well with – you think about stories the same way and things just work. Tradd is that way for me, and so is Brad Walker and thankfully, it worked out that way with Matteo.
Having him aboard has changed, to some extent, how the scripts are written. Because I can sort of see how Matteo will approach something, I write towards that. Issue four, for instance, is basically an issue long car chase, and probably wouldn’t have been if Matteo weren’t so damn good at making things MOVE on the page.
CBN: What would you like readers to take away from this series?
Justin Jordan: Well, I’d like them to be entertained. That’s always, always priority number one. The book is about what revenge is worth and the price it exacts, but me, I’ll be happy if people look forward to reading it every month.
CBN: Any other projects you would care to discuss?
Justin Jordan: Well, I’m still writing and really enjoying New Guardians for DC. I’m doing an arc of Crossed Badlands starting next May (I think, might be later) and at NYCC Avatar announced my creator-owned series Redshift, about a sociopathic bounty hunter in a very bad future.
Beyond that, I have another thing greenlit and in progress elsewhere that I frustratingly can’t talk about yet.
Cosmic Book News would like to thank Justin Jordan for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions.
“Dead Body Road” #1 (of 8) hits stores December 11th!