Detective dramas and crime procedurals are a key part of modern fiction, but you've never met a detective like John Flood.
Flood has no need for sleep, but all he can do is dream -- and he uses that to piece together clues in an "outside the box" mentality that also makes him a bit difficult to deal with. Writer Justin Jordan and artist Jorge Coelho are riding along for one of his cases in the upcoming BOOM! Studios miniseries John Flood which debuts August 19.
Jordan discussed John Flood with Newsarama, talking about his new dream detective, the influence of a cult sub-genre of Italian cinema, and just how someone who's stuck in dreams can work in the real world enough to solve crimes.
Newsarama: Justin, we'll get into the title itself shortly, but who is the man John Flood?
Justin Jordan: Flood is a very, very tired man. Ten years ago, at least according to Flood, someone monkeyed with his brain to remove his need to sleep. The side effect of this was that, so he doesn’t, you know, die, his brain is in a constant dream state.
And that means you’ve got a deeply weird dude, who appears seriously insane to most people. And maybe he is. But he’s also got the ability to make connections that other people can’t. You have to go A to B to C to D, but Flood can go from A to squirrel to D.
So Flood has been able to work that into a profession, of sorts, where he solves problems. But a lot of his time is dedicated to figure out who the hell did this to him.
Nrama: So John Flood delves into dream logic and the idea of storytelling through that. You're not the first to do so in comic books, but how did you land upon dream logic for a series?
That’s actually true. Giallo is a genre of italian horror movies (kind of, anyway) and they very often don’t make sense viewed from the outside, but there’s a sense that within the movies that things make sense.
David Lynch is also good at this trick. Some of his movies are relatively straightforward and others are….not. Lost Highway, for instance, feels like it makes sense when you’re watching it. I mean, it’s weird, but it seems to hold together. But if you try to explain to someone afterwards, you’re likely to find yourself struggling.
Very much like a dream.
So I wanted to take something from that. This is not natural thing for me. There are people who do weird well, Grant Morrison and Peter Milligan, or Ales Kot among newer folks. I am not one of those people. I’ve got what I’d call a clockwork mind – I can go some odd places, but you can see the pieces ticking.
And I wanted to try something different, to take a stab at using dream logic as part of the story.
Nrama: How is your grip on your own dreams, Justin?
Jordan: Man, hard to say. I don’t like dreaming, amusingly. It’s not that I have bad dreams, but I tend to feel unrested I remember my dreams. But I can say that I can often use my dreams to figure out what’s going on in my head.
I don’t mean that in a symbolic way, like I’m dreaming of fish, so I want to learn to samba stuff. More that if I think something didn’t bother me but I dream about it repeatedly, well, that gives some insight into parts of my mind that my conscious mind is acknowledging. And that making connections aspect applies fairly directly to John Flood.
Nrama: How is it to write someone who might be more in touch with his dreams than you are, personally?
Jordan: Difficult. Fun, but working out how to make that work in a story while not leaving the reader entirely behind is challenging. Which, you know, is the point of doing, from a writing standpoint.
Nrama: And alongside John is Alexander Berry. Who is he to this equation?
Jordan: Flood’s condition is such that while he’s extremely useful for some things, he’s basically totally incapable of actually managing his life. So he needs assistants. Most recently, this was a woman named Lyta Brumbaugh, but when we start the series, he’s recruiting Berry.
Berry was, until very recently, a cop. He did something that both caused him to stop becoming a cop and became a sort of viral internet celebrity, which he really, really hates. He’s Flood’s handler and, really, his muscle if need be.
Nrama: And how do they apply themselves as competent investigators?
Jordan: With some friction. Flood is good at figuring things out. He’s terrible at telling people what he’s figuring out and why he’s doing what he’s doing, which is where Berry comes in very handy. Berry is good with people, and Flood desperately needs that. At the same, Flood can make connections Berry can’t.
Nrama: This inaugural six issue story is said to be about a serial killer. How does John and Alexander get involved?
Jordan: Basically Flood found a pattern that is not pattern. A series of unsolved murders that have no motive, no common link, and he’s able to make the leap that this lack of pattern is a pattern no one has seen, and this killer exists.
Now I say series of killings, but this guy, if Flood is right, has killed thousands of people over the last 25 years or so. You murder a person or a family every few days for two and a half decades and it adds up.
The problem is, absolutely no one, and this includes Berry, believes this guy actually exists, so Flood has put his theory out on the internet, with the express purpose of drawing this killer to him.
This turns out to be a bad idea. Who would have thought?
Nrama: How are you weaving dream logic into a investigative thriller? And how does their inherent opposite nature help in telling the story?
Jordan: Basically, how it has to work for me is that I work out all the steps that Flood’s mind must have taken to make those connections, and then I only reveal some of them to the reader, to kind of mimic how Flood’s mind actually works.
So the underlying connections exist. To make this work, Berry is serving, more or less, as the reader surrogate. He’s got a much more conventional style, and he questions what the hell Berry is up to.
Hopefully, that all works out as an entertaining story.