Luther Strode is back...but this time, he’s here to end things!
The Strange Talent of Luther Strode helped launch the careers of both Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore almost five years ago. The sequel, The Legend of Luther Strode, solidified Jordan and Moore as creative powerhouses as they continued Strode’s rise as an urban legend and now with the upcoming Legacy of Luther Strode, both creators are bringing their visceral comic to an end this April.
Newsarama recently spoke to both Jordan and Moore to talk about the end of the trilogy, any sort of legacy of their own that they want to leave, and how they’ve grown as creators and storytellers.
Newsarama: Justin, Tradd, it's been a few years since The Legend of Luther Strode, is there going to be a time jump again when we get to The Legacy of Luther Strode? Set the stage for us.
Justin Jordan: Basically, since The Legend of Luther Strode, Luther and Petra have been in hiding from the police and the murder cult. And they’ve been preparing for what comes next: finding the cult and stopping Cain.
Which is what The Legacy of Luther Strode is. The Strange Talent of Luther Strode was kind of horror movie Strode, and The Legend of Luther Strode was sort of crime movie Strode, and this is our James Bond Strode – big action, worldwide scope.
Tradd Moore: Justin summed things up nice and succinctly, but I also want to add that The Legacy of Luther Strode is a great starting point for new readers.
Like you mentioned, at the beginning of The Legend of Luther Strode we jumped forward five years from The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, and we’re doing something similar with The Legacy of Luther Strode. Pushing the timeline forward puts new and old readers alike in much the same position. The Legacy of Luther Strode, like the previous installments, works as a stand alone tale as well as a piece of a whole, and the first issue will get any reader acquainted with our main characters and storyline quickly.
Nrama: The last series sort of felt like it had an abrupt finish, are all of the unfinished business going to be handled this time around?
Jordan: I hope so. You get to see what the cult does, who the Bound are, and Cain in action. So I think that’s pretty much all the ducks in a row. And, you know, Petra and Luther as a functioning couple, which is nice.
Moore: Yeah, I’d say so. Any time you create a mythos there could be more tales told in the universe, but this one will wrap things up for Luther’s journey.
Nrama: You both got your career started with Luther Strode, does it feel weird or bittersweet ending it?
Jordan: Definitely both of those for me. I mean, I know that this is where Strode needs to end, and I know it’s a good end, and I know I’ll work with Tradd again and I’m already working with Felipe on Spread. I know all of that.
Strode is my baby. The book changed my life. I don’t even mean that in a sappy way – I went from being a guy trying to break into comics to a guy with a thriving career in a real short time period. I’ve got to travel a lot, made a ton of new awesome friends, and I get to do a job I love for a living. That’s because of Strode.
So, yeah, it’s weird putting a cap on it. And it’s taken me longer to write the damn thing than it should have because of that. Since we’re going out, I feel a lot of pressure to get it exactly right, and I suspect I just don’t want it to end.
Moore: I’ll look back on my time on Luther Strode wistfully in years to come, I already do, but I like endings. I like wistfulness, too. It’s unique and weird and it stings, but I know something is important to me when looking back on it makes me both happy and sad at the same time.
Like Justin, Luther Strode has been my intro into the professional comic world. Working on this book has been such a massive and consuming part of my life, so finishing it feels like… it’s a similar feeling to graduating high school or college, or moving away from somewhere you’ve lived for a long time and are fond of, or saying goodbye to a friend, if that makes sense. Closing a chapter, changing seasons, whatever idiom you want to put on it, that’s the feeling.
From a storytelling standpoint, I’m excited to be wrapping things up. It’s going to be a great comic; it’s my favorite of the bunch already, and I look forward to sharing the completed Luther Strode series. I’m so engaged in creating The Legacy of Luther Strode right now that I can’t ruminate too thoroughly on how I might feel after completing the thing, but yeah, I have no doubt that bittersweet emotions will come sweeping in through my hair like icy wind once I get to work on issue 6.
Nrama: Do you feel like you've both evolved in storytellers since the launch of the Lutherverse?
Jordan: I think I have. I hope I have. I know that I’m a more confident storyteller, which I think is reflected in the work. I try to get better with every project, so hopefully that hard work is paying off.
On the other hand, Tradd gets better from page to page that son of a bitch.
I came into Luther Strode about as green as I could be. I was 21-22 when we put together the pitch, 23 when I drew most of The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, and 24 when most of it was released. I was operating on intuition, art education, youthful bravado, and a love of storytelling, but I didn’t really know s---. Not professionally, at least. I had no idea how the industry worked. I didn’t know how to properly scan a page. I didn’t know what the f--- an FTP server was, much less how to access it. I didn’t know how I was going to get paid, or how much I was going to get paid, or if I was going to get paid. I just knew how to draw with reckless abandon, which, luckily, is the one of the more important parts of the deal, I'd wager.
I feel like that’s a good way to learn, though. Get thrown into the thick of things and figure it out. I try to learn more about drawing, storytelling, and myself with every page, whether it’s learning through success or failure. Like, maybe not every page is going to be better than the last, but with every finished page I’ll have a little more knowledge and experience. Sometimes I’ll feel exuberant about my work, sometimes I’ll feel like a piece of shit, but that’s part of the process. Learn from experience, learn from others and the world around you, and move forward.
Nrama: You both are doing your own things in other books, Justin you've wrapped up your Green Lantern Corps run and Tradd, you stopped on All-New Ghost Rider to come back to this, would you ever work together on something completely new eventually?
Jordan: Oh sure, and we plan to reunite the entire crew, Felipe included, down the line. For my part, I would happily work with Tradd for forever, but my attempts to lure him into this windowless van with puppies and candy has proved fruitless.
But the next thing I want to do with Tradd and Felipe is super cool.
Moore: Definitely! We’re developing a new property now called The Strange Tangent of Grouper Toad.
Nrama: I'll believe that when I see it. How has the collaboration process between you evolved parallel to your growth as creators?
Jordan: It’s certainly evolved. It’s been a pretty smooth process from the start, but we’ve gotten to be a lot more collaborative as we go. Tradd and I worked out the story for The Legacy of Luther Strode together, and the scripts are very much co-written by the two of us. I send a script, Tradd makes his notes and changes and sends it back and so forth.
Moore: Justin and I clicked from the start, and our collaboration on Strode reflects the same type of evolution that occurs in most positive creative and personal relationships. As our experience has grown, I think our knowledge and trust in one another’s capabilities has grown. We work to each other’s strengths, because we know each other’s strengths. We’re able to be more open and honest with each other, and more capable of sharing and expressing ideas. There’s a comfort that comes with familiarity, which is why you often see creators work together again and again across all sorts of creative mediums.
The same goes for Felipe. I sometimes feel bad for colorists who work with me, as I can be super nit picky at times. It usually takes me some time staring at a colored page before I can make any comment on it; I have to let the reality of colorist’s creative decisions merge with the vague color world I had in my head. It’s odd. Early on in working together, I wouldn’t begrudge Felipe for thinking me a total diva prick, haha. I had never worked with a colorist before Felipe that I felt elevated my work, at least not for any extended amount of time, so I was admittedly a skeptic, but after some open discussions about direction and a handful of pages together, he stole my heart completely. I think our work continues to get better both individually and as a creative duo.
I love working with these two.
Nrama: Justin, was there ever a moment where Tradd handed you back a page from the story where you felt it elevated it? Vice versa, Tradd did you get a page from the script that blew you away?
Jordan: Oh, pretty much all of them. I know that sounds like a bullshitty answer, but I honest to god don’t know that Tradd has ever sent me a page that isn’t at least a little better than what I had in my head. Many of them are way, way better.
And you know, I ask for a lot of hard to draw things. I mean, the double page mall massacre spread in The Legend of Luther Strode #6 was like one paragraph of script.
Moore: Totally! Maybe not an individual page, scripts don’t really work that way for me, but my heart leaps every time I see a new Luther Strode script pop up in my inbox. They’re just flat out fun, in my opinion. You can tell that Justin really cares for these characters. He sees them, he knows them, he gets them. The conversations and interactions feel honest. He writes these big blockbuster action/fight scene set pieces and gives me a ton of room to play there, but he doesn’t lose the small, personal moments along the way, which I certainly love depicting as well. Also, he’s quite good at writing badass “action movie” type one liners, which I can’t help but grin like an idiot every time I read.
Nrama: Apologies for the pun here, but how do you both feel about the legacy of Luther Strode or perhaps your own working on the title?
Jordan: Man, I don’t even know. Do we have a legacy? It’d be cool if the book affected people and the industry in some way, and I hope we did. But mostly I hope that we made an insane ultraviolent book that real heart behind it. That’d be a good legacy, I think.
Moore: Ah, it’s a bit early for me to make a comment of much insight or profundity here. Legacies need time some time and retrospect, I think.
That said, I’ll share an anecdote:
Early on in the release of The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, a good friend of mine walked into a comic shop and he overheard some folks talking. One of the people said in casual conversation something to the effect of, “Man, I just about went Luther Strode on you!” as a way of jovially saying, “I just about knocked you out/whooped you/tore you up,“ or whatever. The same way someone would go Mike Tyson or Bruce Lee or "Medieval on your ass," you know? I’ve seen that kind of phrasing elsewhere since then. Knowing that our comic is distinct enough to be used as a fun synonym for kicking a prodigious amount of ass makes me smile.
That’s a good enough legacy for me.