With the release of Justice Warriors #1 this week, we are delighted to be joined by the co-writers and artists Ben Clarkson and Matt Bors. Matt is the founder of The Nib, and Ben is an illustrator and filmmaker.
Hi Ben and Matt, it’s so wonderful to have you both here with us today.
Could you please introduce yourselves to our readers?
BEN: Hi, I am Ben Clarkson. I am a cartoonist and animator based out of Montreal.
MATT: I mostly run The Nib, a comics publication for political and nonfiction cartooning. I’m recently “retired” from almost two decades of political cartooning, and moving into writing and drawing comics like Justice Warriors.
Can you tell us about the origins of Justice Warriors?
BEN: I have this concept that you can only have three creative ideas at a time, and to free up a slot you have to make one of your ideas. Justice Warriors has been taking up one of those creative slots in my brain for nearly a decade. It just kept getting bigger and bigger until I finally broke down, had an existential crisis and set about doing whatever was necessary to make it a reality. I loved Matt’s work and I harassed him online until he joined me.
MATT: Ben was developing this for many years and it evolved into the dystopian cop satire you see today. He approached me in the summer of 2020 to write and produce for it as an animated show and we immediately hit it off. I was looking to create some comics outside of editorial cartooning and Justice Warriors was the perfect kind of genre work I’d love to see more of in the world. So we settled on approaching it as a comic book first, which seemed easier to accomplish, and here we are.
Ben, yourself and Matt are co-writers on Justice Warriors; how does that dynamic work?
BEN: Super well. Matt and I work together easily. It’s pretty frictionless building stories. We are both focussed on different aspects of the story at different times, and we’ll talk out any disagreements. If things ever get bad, they haven’t, we’ve agreed to let our editor Tom Peyer referee the boxing match.
It’s a breeze working with Matt and it leaves us a lot of bandwidth to go back and forth twelve times over the word “slup” or when to use “vibe”.
Matt, yourself and Ben are involved in the art process on Justice Warriors; can you tell us more about that?
MATT: It’s been a really deeply collaborative effort where we both threw in on layouts and colors for the 8 page pitch we sent to publishers. Luckily we added Felipe Sobreiro to colors for the series—he’s really brought the world alive in a spectacular way—and I’m on lettering with a font I’ve developed as a bit of a throwback to 90s action comics.
Ben’s the artist but since we’re co-writing and throwing so many ideas around it’s comfortable enough that I might draw edits on sketches and we’ll work together on larger elements of the series. For instance, the design of the Bubble City Police Station took a while, with both of us sending each other sketches and trying to get something that looks iconic, can appear in this series forever, and had some deeper architectural themes that spoke to the world we’re building.
How would you describe Justice Warriors?
BEN: Ghost in the Shell meets the Simpsons meets the Wire. It’s a zany, gritty, sociological farce with big ideas under the surface.
MATT: Starship Troopers meets Judge Dredd meets Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It’s a wild, violent, satire with big ideas under the surface.
Matt, what can you tell us about Swamp Cop and Schitt?
MATT: After losing his partner to a self-driving bus, Swamp Cop becomes a veteran of the force and increasingly psychologically disturbed over the course of the series. This mutant is not well, but his hallucinations seem to give him an insight into larger events unfolding in the world. Schitt on the other hand is the more naive rookie, a literal poop mutant from the sanitation sector, and a young family man. He’s also a coward and morally unhinged in his own way. He’s a cop after all. We put them both through the ringer as they encounter increasingly bizarre forms of crime and societal upheaval.
Ben, how did Felipe Sobreiro join the team?
BEN: We traded his CIA handler a kilo for him. He’s ours now.
In all seriousness he was on a list for consideration. When I realized he colored Silver Surfer Black I insisted on working with him. Justice Warriors is, in my mind, a work of psychedelic art, and I needed his chops and color sense on our book.
Was Justice Warriors conceived as a comic book?
BEN: This my first comic. I originally envisioned Justice Warriors as an animated series because I made animation. Matt and I realized that to ever get this crazy thing made into a TV show or a mega budget blockbuster we needed to show people how incredible the world was, and how it could capture the imagination. We needed to tell stories in Bubble City, and quickly. Comics were the perfect medium since Matt knew everything about them and they were something we could execute with our manpower.
MATT: Ideally, Justice Warriors becomes a recurring comic series and animated series. That’s the goal and we have enough story ideas already to last years.
Matt, how important is pre-ordering for an independent comic?
MATT: I’m new to direct market books, so I’m no expert here but it seems important with creator-owned books to signal support to retailers, just like pre-ordering books helps give online and brick-and-mortar outlets signals as to what people are ordering and how books might fare on the shelves. For the avoidance of doubt, call your comic shop and demand Justice Warriors!
Ben, how did you pick the artists for the alternative covers for the series?
BEN: I decided Matt could draw a bunch of covers, as a treat. Ben Passmore’s work is fabulous and so he was high on the list and a clear ask.
How did AHOY Comics get involved with Justice Warriors, and what made them the right publisher for Justice Warriors?
BEN: We kidnapped Captain Ginger and sent severed whiskers to Hart Seely until we had our deal.
MATT: Tom Peyer, Ahoy’s Editor in Chief, is a Pisces. They are known as the most sympathetic of the zodiac signs and they will go to great lengths to ensure the happiness of those around them. So naturally we leaned on him during negotiations.
Any message for the ComicBuzz readers?
MATT: This is the launch of a new creator-owned series that can go really far if we get reader support. Justice Warriors is a world where we intend to keep telling weird stories about social media, elections, gentriﬁcation, sports, drugs, and the mysterious terrorists of Starfish City.
BEN: The series gets wild. People are crushed by money fresh from the printers. Ants get independent thoughts. The police chief cuts someone apart with a judo chop. It’s a wild wild book.
A big thank you to Ben and Matt for chatting with us; we wish them and the rest of the team, the best of luck with Justice Warriors.