MAD MAX ... With MAGIC In JUSTIN JORDAN's STRAYER

Panel from "Strayer #1" by Juan Gedeon & Tamra Bonvillain
Credit: Juan Gedeon & Tamra Bonvillain (Aftershock)
Credit: Juan Gedeon / Tamra Bonvillain (Aftershock)

Archemancer Mala is out to save what's left of the world, and she needs monster hunter Strayer to do it. And he'll do it all right... but for a price.

Debuting this week, Justin Jordan and Juan Gedeon's new Strayer series brings magic to the post-apocalyptic genre. At the center of it is the blade-wielding Strayer, who has monster-hunting skills in his blood, and Mala, a powerful magic user who's still short on actual real life experience.

Newsarama spoke with Jordan about this unique series, the Mad Max-style world it's set in, and what brings Strayer and Mala together.

Credit: Juan Gedeon / Tamra Bonvillain (Aftershock)

Newsarama: Justin, what can you tell us about Strayer?

Justin Jordan: Basically, it’s an adventure book set in the far, far future. So far that they don’t remember us at all. Humanity rose to a great peak and fell, and didn’t leave enough resources to rebuild.

So the world is kind of stuck at a pre-industrial level, because they don’t have much metal and no fossil fuels to speak of. But the remnants of the Golden Age are still around – these things have become their gods and monsters and magic.

Credit: Juan Gedeon / Tamra Bonvillain (Aftershock)

For instance, there are these things called Kashas, which are more or less the Strayer version of orcs. What these actually are is biological weapons left over from the fall. They’re designed to be released into an area and destroy the people in it.

Strayer is a guy who makes his living as a sort of wandering monster hunter. He comes to your areas, clears out the monsters, and you pay him. The wandering is kind of a side effect of the collateral damage he causes in the process.

Mala, the other main character, is an Archemancer, someone who knows about the old world tech and can manipulate it. Not always especially well. She’s more or less a magician.

Credit: Juan Gedeon / Tamra Bonvillain (Aftershock)

But the book is generally meant to be a fun sort of Fahrd and the Grey Mouser sort of book, big adventures in a quasi-fantasy setting.

Nrama: And Strayer is a monster hunter. How’d he get into the profession, and become so good?

Jordan: Genetics.

Credit: Juan Gedeon / Tamra Bonvillain (Aftershock)

Which is partly true. Strayer’s got some advantages from birth that make him particularly good at this job, and are also the reason Mala ends up “hiring” him. The downside is that he’s also more or less monster bait. They’re drawn to try and kill him if they can sense him, so he pretty much can’t do anything else….

Nrama: And what role does Mala play in this?

Jordan: Mala is out to save the world. The world, on the other hand, disagrees that it needs saving. Quite a lot of people, especially those with the power, think the world is just fine as it is. She’s one of the last known Archemancers, so if she dies, any hope of restoring the world goes with her.

Nrama: What brings her and Strayer together?

Credit: Juan Gedeon / Tamra Bonvillain (Aftershock)

Jordan: Mala hasn’t had a lot of experience with the world. She was more or less raised in a hidden Archemancer….not…..monastery would be the closet term, I think. Which means she has vast stores of theoretical knowledge and not as much practical knowledge as she’d like.

So she needs someone like Strayer, and she basically forces him to take the job.

Nrama: So what’s the world of Strayer like?

Jordan: Dangerous.

Credit: Juan Gedeon / Tamra Bonvillain (Aftershock)

The closest thing to civilization is the lands controlled by the Church of the Grammar, and they’re not especially pleasant people. Vast chunks of the land are infested by things like the aforementioned Kashas. And there’s always the chance that a Titan will wake up and stomp a town flat if you do manage to get one started.

Nrama: There are Kashas, but what other kinds of monsters are out there?

Jordan: Oh, all sorts. They’re all remnants of the Golden Age of man, or rather, from the fall. So there are Kashas and Titans, but also things we’d probably describe as ghosts, giant war worms and…..well, you’ll have to see.

Credit: Juan Gedeon / Tamra Bonvillain (Aftershock)

Nrama: For this you’re working with Ghost Racers artist Juan Gedeon. How’d you connect with him for this series?

Jordan: Strayer actually predates Ghost Racers. Juan, colorist Tamra Bonvillain and I have been trying to get a home for Strayer for a while, and making sure it’s the right home. So actually being able to bring the book to print was awesome.

Juan and I met, originally, by him emailing me and saying “hey, we should work together” so, you know, sometimes that works, if you’re awesome enough.

Nrama: So you three have been trying to get Strayer published for a while. After working with Marvel, DC, Image, Valiant, Avatar, BOOM! And others, why’d you decide to partner with AfterShock with Strayer?

Jordan: A big part of it was that they’re new. I thought it would be cool to be there for the beginning of something, you know? And I’d known Joe Pruett and Mike Marts for a while, and both their bona fides and the roster of other creators they had doing something was enough to make me think that this was something new that would succeed, and that I’d get to make the book I wanted to make.

Which, so far so good.

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