We at Geekery Magazine got a chance to catch up with the uber talented team of Justin Jordan (Luthor Strode, Dead Body Road) and Morgan Beem (Fearnot, Cellist) to talk about their latest project from Image Comics, The Family Trade. GM’s Monica Archer helps get us details of this new upcoming title:
GEEK: You described The Strange Talent of Luther Strode as “a horror or slasher film combined with Spider-Man, but if Peter didn’t have Uncle Ben’s moral guidance.” Did you have a similarly concrete idea behind The Family Trade? And if so, what was it?
JJ: The Family Trade came about because of Nikki and me talking about a family of assassins. This idea, and how you’d make a character (and a family) heroic is basically where The Family Trade got started, and that sort of combined with the setting, a city-state floating in the ocean, and became this book.
GEEK: The Family Trade has a lot of thought put into its setting. Could you tell us a little bit about “The Float” and the main character’s relationship with it?
JJ: The Float is the informal name for The Free Republic of Thessala, which is the floating city where the book takes place. That’s floating in the ocean, not floating in the sky. Basically a coupl hundred years before the book starts, a goodly chunk of the British fleet went rogue and started a country by nailing their boats together in the Atlantic.
In the world of The Family Trade, the Float is basically a world hub for trade and politics. They’re between the New World and the Old World, and they’re officially political neutral, so a lot of intrigue goes on there.
Jessa loves the Float, and she’s dedicated to making sure that the people and the place stay safe. Between the nature of the Float and Jessa’s job with the family, there’s always something fun going on.
MB: Visually, the float itself took a lot of research to get the right style and feel. We wanted to craft a very “lived in city”, with a steampunk era feel, but its own unique look (less top hats and gears, and more laundry lines and alley cats). As for Jessa, she is very at home in her home there. She is someone who truly loves the float and knows its ins and outs like just about no one else.
GEEK: What are your plans for The Family Trade? Is it going to be one continuous story or do you intend for it to be a series of different stories about “The Family”?
JJ: Each of the arcs is going to be a relatively self-contained story; there are some subplots that continue but you should be able to pick up basically any of them and read it without having read the rest.
They all star Jessa though. She’s our POV into this world and the adventures, and she’s a super fun character to write, so she’s always going to be the character that we stay with.
GEEK: What is your favorite scene, aspect or character in The Family Trade and why?
JJ: Oh, Jessa herself. Although the Toms, the band of cats that are everywhere on the Float, are probably a close second. But Jessa is a very proactive and very capable character, who is always rushing in headlong to do the right thing, which makes her a lot of fun. Plus, she has a very dry sense of humor that cracks me up, at the very least.
MB: My favorite aspect is probably the Toms, a sort of spy network of super-intelligent magic alley cats (I mean who doesn’t love that) and my favorite character has got to be Ri- she is so smart and smug and it makes her so much fun to draw.
GEEK: You were writing for DC for the New 52, on Deathstroke and Superboy amongst other titles. Your new book is another independent comic. What are some of the differences between doing independent work and working for one of the mainstream publishers?
JJ: Well, with creator owned stuff, I’m basically only answerable to myself and my cocreators. So you can do pretty much anything you like. On work for hire books, you have to work towards the publisher’s needs.
Plus, especially when you’re doing a book that’s set in something like the MCU, you also need to fit your book in and around the other books in the universe. I was just this week plotting out a book with an editor and we probably had three occasions where we needed to consult with other editors to make sure we COULD do what we wanted to do.
That’s not necessarily a negative, though. I enjoy the challenges of work for hire stuff, even beyond the obvious fact that they pay me.
GEEK: The Strange Talent of Luther Strode was a landmark work for you. What was your favorite part of Luther Strode and is there anything you really miss about working on that project?
JJ: I think my favorite part of that was working with Tradd and Felipe, because we have a really, really good working relationship. They’re both good friends of mine, which wouldn’t have happened had we not worked together.
And the part I miss is working with Tradd. I say Tradd, because I am working with Felipe still, as he’s the colorist on Spread, but Tradd I haven’t done any creative work with in more than a year. We still talk every couple of days, mind, but we’re not creating something.
GEEK: You’re arguably most well-known for your horror work and there are so many great horror icons out there, from authors to artists to filmmakers and modern horror has evolved so much as a genre. Are there any particular figures or time periods that you feel have been particularly influential?
JJ: I think probably the eighties. This is true for both films and books. Certainly for me: although they basically all started writing earlier, this is when King, Koontz, Cliver Barker and even people like John Saul came to prominence. Likewise, the really big current horror icons in film came out of that time period. Jason, Freddy, Chucky, Pinhead. Even beyond that, this is the era that produced The Howling, American Werewolf in London, Near Dark, The Thing, etc.
And I mean, I was a kid in the eighties, when I was young enough that I had to sneak my horror in, so it was this forbidden thing that made it so very, very cool to me.
GEEK: As a final general question, what has been your favorite comic of 2017 and why and/or which upcoming comic this year are you most looking forward to?
JJ: I think my favorite comic this year has probably been Redneck, which is a concept I probably would have written if Geoff hadn’t been me to it. I also really dig Black Cloud, which I think came out in 2017.
Honestly, and sadly, I have no earthly idea what’s coming out before it’s out beyond my own stuff, most of the time. Which is terrible, but tends to happen to people when they’re working in comics.
MB: I’m really pumped for the upcoming Image book “#1 with a Bullet” by Jorge Corona, Jacob Semahn and Jen Hickman. It is a sort of black-mirror-esque technology based thriller and it looks really good.
The Family Trade is out today, visit your LCS and pick up a copy!