[Interview] Justin Jordan Talks Valiant’s Reboot Of ‘Shadowman’

SHADOWMAN_top

We’ve professed our love of the re-launch of Valiant and proclaimed it to be one of the best things to happen to the comic industry thus far in 2012. Valiant has always made their number one goal to produce top notch quality comics and their 2012 launch has rewarded readers with some fantastic titles. “Harbinger”, “Bloodshot”, “Archer and Armstrong”, and “X-O Manowar” have already gained big followings, and Valiant looks to keep expanding their catalog.

In November, Valiant adds a bit of horror to their lineup with the re-launch of Shadowman by Patrick Zircher (“Captain America”, “Thor”) and Harvey Award-nominee Justin Jordan (“The Strange Talent of Luther Strode”).

Bloody-Disgusting caught up with writer Justin Jordan to discuss the reboot of one of Valiant’s classic characters. We dug our hooks into Jordon to find out how Jack Boniface has changed, which of members of the Shadowman rogue gallery will return, and just how much pressure there is on him and artist Patrick Zircher to deliver the goods.

BD: Can you tell us how you came to land the job with Valiant to reboot Shadowman?

Jordan: Blackmail and threats of violence. If there’s a secret to comic success, it’s that. Or, possibly, I sent Warren Simons, the executive editor at Valiant copies of The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, which opened the door, and Patrick Zircher said he liked my stuff, which allowed me to walk on in. Whichever story is more awesome. It’s like The Life of Pi for interviews.

BD: Tell us about Patrick Zircher’s involvement in the book and how is it co-writing the book with someone? How different is it creatively collaborating with him on the writing side than writing something yourself?

Jordan: Well, he really is co-writing. By which I mean that we hash out all the stuff together. Basically, we worked together bouncing ideas off each other and Warren about where the series should go, what we liked about the other versions, and eventually came up with a take we liked. At this point, I couldn’t tell you what ideas came from me and which came from Patrick.

The actual issues are pretty much the same way – we work together coming up with an arc, then I plot out the issue, Patrick changes things and adds stuff or takes it out, and then I do the same thing to his notes, until we have a plot.

Creatively, it’s pretty different, and it’s been fun. I’m a pretty collaborative writer in general, usually; on The Strange Talent of Luther Strode I’d always send the scripts to Tradd (Moore, the artist) and Felipe (Sobreiro) and get their notes, and Tradd will move stuff around with the layout. All of which gives us stronger scripts.

Fortunately, Patrick is not a raging douchebag, so this has been pretty smooth. There’s a bit of learning curve with us getting used to each other’s working quirks, but I liked Patrick from the get go and we have very similar sensibilities and narrative rhythms, so it works really well.

And, like Strode, the book is stronger for it. I lean fairly heavy in my artists for page layout and visual sense, and having Patrick involved at all levels has really gotten us a book that sings for that stuff. So me, I’m having a ball.

BD: Do you feel any pressure for the new series to stand up to the original? How do you approach modernizing a character like Shadowman when he has such a diehard and dedicated fanbase?

Jordan: Hah, yeah. I mean, I feel the crushing grips of panic attacks whenever I think about it, but that’s a totally normal and reasonable response, right?

The thing is that when you have a book like Shadowman, where there is still a pretty large and pretty dedicated fanbase, I feel like you have a responsibility to them to not fuck it up. I mean, even more so than the usual obligation to not fuck it up for your readers.

But the nature of what we’re doing is a reboot, not a continuation. We’re picking the bits of the previous Shadowman series that worked and jamming them together with new stuff. I really hope that me and Patrick’s sensibilities are the same as a decent chunk of the fan base and that they’ll dig what we’re doing.

I definitely hope that when old readers pick up the new series that, even though things have changed, that the characters are true to old series. But hey, no pressure, right?

BD: In the original series Jack Boniface was a jazz musician and music played a large role in the series. Being a musician also provided the backdrop Jack needed to operate at night. How is the new Jack Boniface different from the original and will music play a role?

Jordan: In terms of personality, this Jack is pretty similar to the original Jack, but his circumstances are different. He’s had a different upbringing, and he comes to New Orleans with different goals and different dreams.

Music will play a role but, honestly, I am so very not a musician. I am so far from a musician that I’ve been banned from attending symphonies because I suck out all the talent just by being in the audience.

BD: The city of New Orleans played an integral part in the original series, almost as if the city was a character itself. Is this series based in New Orleans and what role does it play?

Jordan: Yup, Jack is in New Orleans. The city is very important to the plot and structure of the series. There is a reason Shadowman is in New Orleans, and the history of the Shadowman legacy is intimately connected with the city.

That said, it’s not impossible for us to have Jack leave the city from time to time. But it is a New Orleans books, and hopefully we can do justice to the city as a living, breathing place.

BD: From the preview pages that have been released so far it appears as though the series is set to have a much more supernatural feel and seems to be much more based around magic. Is that part of your approach to the re-launch make it bigger than just voodoo?

Jordan: Much bigger. Now don’t get me wrong – voodoo is there and it plays a big role in what Shadowman is and why he does what he does. But the stuff that he is facing and the things he has to do go way, way beyond that. We’re introducing magic to the Valiant universe, and by that I mean ALL magic. And that magic is a lot more than just voodoo or even sorcery.

BD: The original Shadowman had a rich cast of characters that played into the overall book like Nettie, Master Darque. Will they appear in the series or are you striving to create something new on its own? How key is a good supporting cast to an overall ongoing series like this?

Well, Master Darque appears early. Very, very early, as some astute readers of the preview will notice. But we will be introducing some familiar faces from the old series as the book goes on. A couple of big ones appear in the second arc, and one a lot of people won’t expect appears in issue three. Not all of these characters will be back in the way that you expect.

One thing we’re trying to do with the book is establish a large supporting cast. Not people you’ll see in every issue, but enough so that you get a sense of the bigger world that Jack operates in. Some of these are old faces, and some aren’t.

BD: Have you heard any feedback from the original creative team regarding the revamp and their thoughts on your take?

I haven’t. And thank god for that. I don’t mean that to be a dick or anything, it’s just that having the original owners looking over my shoulder would even more pressure, and you might well find me snapping under the pressure and out dancing naked in the moonlight screaming about the Wombat King. And I am not pretty enough for that.

BD: The Valiant Universe is pretty vast. If you have your pick, what other series or characters would you like to take a crack at bringing back?

Jordan: Archer and Armstrong, but some bastard beat me to it. I actually pitched on a few different properties when I pitched Shadowman, all of which I’d have dug doing. I think the one I’m probably most disappointed to not be doing is Rai. I had a very cool concept for that – big weird sci-fi stuff. So that would be fun to do. And maybe I will; I don’t know if that’s been nabbed by anyone else yet.

BD: What’s next for Justin Jordan? Can you give us some insight into what other projects you’re currently working on? There is a rumor that you have a new creator owned book that you’re working on with artist Brent Peebles? What can you tell us about it?

Jordan: Well, I have Team 7 coming out the week after next which I just realized was a week and a half away; that’s a reboot of an older Wildstorm property for DC. In December, Tradd and Felipe and I have Legend of Luther Strode coming out, which is the sequel series to Strange Talent.

And yes, Brent and I are working on a thing. We’re still pitching, but the book is called (for now, anyway) Tomorrow, about a world that used to have superheroes and now doesn’t, and whether that’s good or bad. It’s a very cool book, and Brent is doing career best work. So hopefully, we get the green light.