Jordan And Strahm ‘Spread’ New Horror Comic With Intense Free Teaser [Interview]
New York Comic-Con 2013 afforded attendees their share of comic book debuts, ashcans and teasers in Artist’s Alley, but only one featured an axe battle against an old man in a parka with a multi-fanged mouth for an eyeball. That comic? A teaser for Spread by writer Justin Jordan (The Strange Talent of Luther Strode), artist Kyle Strahm (Haunt) and colorist Felipe Sobreiro (Heavy Metal). Jordan and Strahm gave away a roughly 14-page teaser of the potential series at the show with hopes of seeing the “Lone Wolf and Cub in a world eaten by John Carpenter’s The Thing” horror comic resonate with readers and potentially spark a fuller publishing plan. For those who weren’t able to attend NYCC, the team has posted the full teaser comic in digital form as a free (NSFW) download through October 25. CA hit up Jordan and Strahm to see what’s on the horizon for the title and its team… and also to see if they’d played putt-putt together.
ComicsAlliance: The two of you met two years ago at NYCC and formed a working relationship over the course of subsequent conventions until the actual Spread teaser culminated at this year’s show. What happened in-between all of that? Did you guys go play mini golf or anything to cement a creator bond?
Justin Jordan: Mostly just the sexting.
A lot of e-mailing, really. Our Spread e-mail convo is now hundreds of exchanges along, if not up over a thousand. But beyond that, we hadn’t seen each other since last NYCC. Which is not even sort of unusual. I’ve never met, for instance, Patrick Zircher or Brad Walker or Edgar Salazar, to name a couple of artists I’ve worked with a lot. Hell, I just last week met Felipe Sobreiro, who is coloring Spread and Luther Strode, and I’ve been working with him for four years now.
So e-mail goes a long way. Which is good, because I live in the middle of nowhere and am not much of a phone guy. It’s helpful when you just get along with someone, which has proved to be the case with Kyle and me. Some people you just have similar thoughts and sensibilities with. That cover for the Spread teaser, for instance, is pretty much the exact cover I was going to ask Kyle to do, which he did without me asking.
Welcome to the hivemind, Kyle.
Kyle Strahm: There has been no mini-golf, but now you have me thinking about a mechanical hazard modeled after Justin and his luscious ruby hair. The hive-mind is alive and strong. We’re to a point in our correspondence where we can be okay sending each other a one-word e-mail. And that works just fine.
CA: You’re both really open about the material that inspired this comic. How important do you think it is for genre stories to wear their influences on their sleeves — or at least be upfront about what’s informed them?
JJ: I’m not sure it’s important, but it’s not a bad thing. I mean, I’m in my mid thirties now, so I was a teenager when Quentin Tarantino really hit it big with Pulp Fiction. And that movie doesn’t hold back with the influences, and Tarantino in general doesn’t make any bones about what he does. I think there’s an influence of that on me.
I’ve never been bashful about the pop culture influences that went into Luther Strode, either. But I think Luther is it’s own thing. You always walk that tightrope between being influenced by and derivative of. Hopefully we get Spread, which could be described as Lone Wolf and Cub in a world eaten by John Carpenter’s The Thing, on the right side of the line.
Part of that is also that the clichéd elevator pitch stuff WORKS. At least, it does when you do it right. So when I give people that spiel, they get it. At least comic people seem to, because those two works are baked into the pop culture DNA to the extent that even if you haven’t seen them, you won’t sort of what to expect from that description.
Another part of it, probably, is pre emptive self defense. I mean, in the case of Spread, if we didn’t say that, about .000079 seconds after Spread went live on the internet, someone was going to say, “They’re just ripping off X,” so what the hell, let’s get out ahead of it.
KS: I’m all for a pre-emptive strike. Of course those are some of our influences so there’s no need to shy away from them. I think there’s a saying that goes “It’s not where you take it from, it’s where you take it to.”
CA: What’s the full plan for Spread? The teaser indicates that you’re open to a number of possibilities including, of course, seeking a traditional publisher. In your ideal scenario, how far does this story go? Miniseries? Ongoing? OGN?
JJ: Ongoing. I’ve got about 50 issue worth of stuff planned. Now with an ongoing, there are zigs and zags that can take, even if we get the sales to go that far, which is a fairly big if. So I’d like it to go long, if we can.
KS: Justin said it. There are some sketches in the back of the Convention Teaser hinting at some of the craziness to come. It’s been a lot of fun figuring out the relationships between the horrible creatures that are a part of the Spread ecosystem. And we’ve just started.
CA: What was reader reaction like at NYCC? How has that response impacted your goals for the book?
JJ: Really good. REALLY GOOD. The eyeball sequence, which Kyle made even more awful and awesome than I’d hoped, particularly seemed to resonate with people. It hasn’t really changed my goals except to become more cautiously optimistic. I’m not, by nature, a pessimistic guy, but even in the current upswing, comics is a hard thing to do. I told Tradd [Moore] when we were just starting Luther Strode not to expect to make any money or have anyone really read it. We did, and that was awesome, but I try to keep my expectations damped down.
But man, lots of people really dug this book, and even before that I had that same feeling that we were doing good work, and this was something people would want to read. So I hope they get the chance.
KS: The reaction at NYCC was great! A lot of people want to know what happens next. We really hope to get to show them.