In recent weeks, Dark Horse Comics and ComiXology have teamed up to deliver ComiXology Originals stories in the physical format. This week, Breaklands becomes the latest collaboration between the two industry stalwarts. Written by Justin Jordan, with art by Tyasseta and colors by Sarah Stern, the series has a truly incredible premise:
One hundred and fifty years after the end of the civilization, everyone has powers. Some big, some small, but you need them just to survive in the new age.
It’s a series that many more people will have the opportunity to read thanks to it now being released in both book stores and comic book shops. I had the chance to ask Jordan a few questions about the series, his process during the pandemic, and much more. Enjoy the full inside scoop as the volume one TPB — The Chase — arrives today (March 2).
AIPT: Justin, you’ve been making comics for many year — congrats on that. Where are you now, what were your record-beating moments (still on the metaphor), and what goals do you see yourself at 75, 95, and 100 meters?
Justin Jordan: Oh man, it’s hard to say. I think selling out the Strode HC in a couple of months was a big one, and Urban Animal is juuuust shy of 500,000 subscribers, so that’s a big one. And likewise, writing the Strode movie feels like a big deal. But I am hoping I am just getting started. Honestly, I’d like to sell 100,000 copies of a single book, which I’ve not yet come close to.
AIPT: How do you approach staying creative while quarantined? Do you have a set routine?
JJ: I do. I usually write four days a week, for four or five hours. Noon to four or five, Monday through Friday, with Wednesdays off. Now, the keyword there is write. I work a lot more than sixteen to twenty hours a week, but a lot of that is the other stuff that makes up a freelance career – bookkeeping, emails, meetings, contracts, chasing invoices, etc. But staying disciplined with the writing and only going hard at it for short amounts of times allowed me to get a lot done with that time. It’s the whole Deep Work thing.
AIPT: Breaklands is such a cool concept mixing dystopian end of the world stuff with superheroes, how long have you been working on this idea?
JJ: I don’t know. I mean what is time, after 2020? I think I started this in maybe 2016? But I genuinely don’t know.
AIPT: Tyasseta’s art is truly unique. How did you two connect for this project?
JJ: Seta is an example of an artist hustling – he actually emailed me and asked if he could show me his art. This was a ways back, a couple years before Breaklands. And I liked his stuff, but didn’t have a project for him. But when Breaklands came along I knew he was the guy. And it’s worked out great. Him and Sarah Stern, our colorist, are producing something that looks different from pretty much everything on the market.
AIPT: Was the series originally being set for digital-only a factor in how you approached the work?
JJ: A little. The digital-first thing means we can’t really do double spreads or even splash pages, because they just don’t work for guided view. I was lucky, though, because I typically don’t write elaborate page layouts, so it came pretty naturally to me.
AIPT: I think it’s still early yet in 2021, so what were some of your favorite comics of 2020?
JJ: I thought Fangs by Sarah Scribbles (Sarah Anderson, I think is her real name) was awesome and surprisingly different from the comics I came to know her from. Department of Truth is totally a book I should have written, but didn’t. Dracula, M----------r was also entirely my kind of thing.
AIPT: When You approach a comics script, what are some goals you try to achieve by the book’s end?
JJ: Well, I want it to be entertaining. Which sounds like a no-duh kind of answer, but it’s actually easy to lose sight that whatever size chunk the reader is getting the book in – from episodes at Webtoons to singles to trades – needs to be entertaining as its own thing. So that’s job one. But I also look for a build. In some way, scripts and series both should get bigger and escalate from beginning to end. Issue one shouldn’t be more intense or more dramatic than issue three. Balancing this with the first point is the real trick. I don’t always manage it to my satisfaction.
AIPT: I must ask, with Luthor Strode in the works as a film, does a comics project turned in development for film or TV change how you look at future and past projects of your own?
JJ: Not creatively. A comic needs to be a comic, not a half-assed pitch for something else. But as your career goes on, if you’re lucky, you have to consider the business aspect. Most publishers want a chunk of a book, and that can be fine, but you find yourself having to weigh that against the potential for other stuff. I’ve actually had a bunch of stuff optioned that’s never gotten announced, some of which has gotten pretty along in development. So the media stuff is becoming more valuable to me. Which, straight up, is a champagne problem to have to consider. I’ve been extremely lucky.
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