CE’s new course – Professional Techniques: Writing Great Dialogue and Captions – launches February 16, 2015! Leading the class is Justin Jordan: creator of The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, The Legend of Luther Strode, Dead Body Road, and Spread at Image Comics; and writer of multiple titles for DC, Marvel, and Valiant!
Get to know Justin with our Q&A below, and learn more about Professional Techniques: Writing Great Dialogue and Captions on the course page here!
You broke into comics with The Strange Talent of Luther Strode at Image. How did that “breakout” come about?
After a nice long chunk of breaking in. I went about ten years between starting to try to get into comics and Strode actually getting picked up. I started in small press stuff, and I did pitch after pitch to try to get into more mainstream stuff.
My first real taste of success was in DC’s Zuda competition, where they had a monthly vote to see what comics would be picked up. I was a finalist three times, which got me some recognition.
But that in and of itself didn’t actually get me in. It DID help when I emailed Tradd Moore about working on Strode with me (and, indeed, I knew Felipe Sobreiro, the colorist, from Zuda as well), and once the team was assembled, it came together pretty quickly.
And we got really lucky that Image really pushed it, and we just happened to get in right as Image really started to blow up. So, you know, it’s good to be good, but it’s great to be lucky.
Your CE course will emphasize dialogue and captions. Where do you look for inspiration and instruction on that topic?
You know, my two biggest influences are Elmore Leonard and Quentin Tarantino who, I realize, aren’t comic book people. But, you know, they’re my go-to people for it, for different reasons.
In Leonard, he’s a master of defining personality through the way people talk. His writing is lean and spare, but you know exactly what his characters are like by the way they speak and what they speak about.
Tarantino is a master of conveying information about characters through dialogue. Take the famous scene where Jules and Vincent are driving – the “Le Big Mac” scene. That scene is actually a huge expository dump – you learn where Vincent was, what these guys do, and what they’re about. But it doesn’t play like exposition.
And like Leonard, the scene shows a lot about their personalities, in ways that are directly relevant to their story. It’s masterful. If I do anything half as clever, I’ll be a happy writer.
Blow up mountains with their minds and commune with the cosmic submind.
Well, maybe more that they learn to think hard about what their dialogue is doing in the story. If I am doing my job, they’ll be able to break down what makes good dialogue and what doesn’t, and use that to help make their stories better.
But I’m still hoping for the mountain explosion thing.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing comics?
I am the dullest person alive. I mostly read and play with my cat, Tom Waits.
Who are your favorite influences and creators right now — in comics or otherwise?
Aside from Leonard and Tarantino, I think the person who probably inspires me the most is Matt Fraction. He continually does stuff that would never even occur to me to do in comics: Pizza Dog comic, a musical number in a comic, all that.
Thanks to Justin for participating! Here’s hoping that mountain explosion thing works out.
For more, check out the Professional Techniques: Writing Great Dialogue and Captions course page!
If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!