INTERVIEW: Jeff Loveness, Writer of Judas by Boom! Studios

First, how did the idea of telling a biblical story from the perspective of Judas come about? What interested you about that?
I was raised deeply Christian, and the character of Judas always seemed so tragic to me. His fate was beyond him. Jesus prophesied about it. Satan entered him. Jesus even told him to do it quickly. He was supposed to play this pivotal, fateful role in the story, but it was thankless. Imagine being born to be the villain of history, and the most loving figure in the world, your friend, did nothing to stop it. The tragedy of Judas always stayed with me.
Was it difficult to find an artist like Jakub Rebelka to do the art for Judas? The art is so fitting of the story you are trying to tell.
Boom! had their eye on Jakub and I’m so thrilled we got him. His work has been transcendent. I just write a couple words and he does the rest. He’s a true master. From the beginning, he immediately knew the style and vibe I was going for. It’s been a thrill to see him unleash the story.
Pitching this idea to Boom! Studios, were they supportive from the start or did you have to resort to some good ol’ fashion charm to get them on board?
Yeah! I initially pitched them like… 8 ideas and Judas was the last one. I almost deleted it because I didn’t think anyone would do it. And to my great surprise, they were all in for Judas. I’ve been blown away by their support for creators and original ideas. Boom’s making great stuff right now.
Next I’d like to discuss the actual story itself:
There’s a panel you shared on your twitter account from the second issue where Lucifer says to Judas, “You and I, Judas… we know what it is like to look at the face of God… and be the only ones willing to see the lie. So I told the truth. ‘And there was war in heaven.'” Do you feel like you’re doing the same thing? Staring at the face of God and being one of the few who are willing to question him?
Ha. I wouldn’t go that far. I’m not brave enough to stare at the face of God. But I do like inverting the perspectives of these stories. In the traditional vein, Judas is a vicious traitor and Satan is the great deceiver. Jesus is pure love and God is perfect.
But when you flip it to Judas and Satan’s perspectives, maybe Judas is a man trapped within fate and Satan is a failed revolutionary with constant propaganda hurled against him. But then again… Satan loves bending the truth, so who knows?
Now, Lucifer seems to be taking the Taylor Swift route and is working on building his own squad to help him. On another panel you shared, Lucifer speaks to Judas and he says, “They lied to you. They used you. But now we are here together. And they know not what they do.” Could this mean trouble for God? Is there a war in the horizon?
You’ll have to check out issue #3. Things do not go well for Jesus.
I’ve read the Bible cover to cover, not because I am religious, but because I am on my own spiritual journey to try to understand the idea of God, godhood, and religion as a whole. And one thing that I noticed is that you helped me see the stories I read in the Bible from a different perspective and I will always be thankful for that. It’s a true testament, no pun intended, at how powerful the writing in Judas can be. During the course of issue #2, you visit the stories of people who also fell victim of God’s will. One of them is Lot’s wife and Lucifer goes on to say, “Lot’s wife. We never even knew her name. Just another refugee fleeing God’s genocide upon Sodom and Gomorrah. But she sinned. Because she looked. He punished her for witnessing his (God’s) crimes.” Why did you decide to explore the different points of view of these characters who are essentially villainized to the benefit of God’s story?
Christians like to think of Hell as this place where evil people go… but I dunno. I’m sure there’d be billions of others who just didn’t call God the right name. Or maybe they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe they didn’t matter to God’s story. I’m sure even bad dudes like Pharaoh and Jezebel deserved to go, but still… weren’t they guided there a bit by God because he needed villains for his heroes? It was stuff I always thought about and I’m so glad people have responded to it well.
The ending, Jeff Loveness, THE ENDING of the second issue, as the kids would say… had me shook. I know I am toeing the line of spoilers, but what can we expect from that reveal? Will this character join Lucifer and Judas?
Oh you shall see. Jesus thought his pain was over, but it’s gonna get a lot worse than nails in a hand.
What do you have in store for the future?
I’m writing on a TV show called ‘Miracle Workers’ – check that out this Summer on TBS. I’m currently writing this in bed in the early afternoon… so… not much is in store for my future. I’ll probably be dead in 9 hours.
So funny! Lastly, where can people find you on social media?
Twitter: @JeffLoveness. Please haunt me with Russian bots.
The Comic Black Book Discord community is made up of hundreds of nerds all over the world and they were excited to know you agreed to an interview. How about we do some fun questions?
Dolame55 asks: How did you get into the comic book industry as you are an Emmy and WGA Award nominated writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live?
I always loved comics growing up. They were my life-blood. I ran into a Marvel guy one time backstage (such a dumb Hollywood coincidence, I know) and I tried my best to make my case. Luckily, he was incredibly kind and I sent him some material- a Wes Anderson Spider-Man parody I had made years before. That video opened the door and let me submit some stuff to them. I’m deeply grateful for all the chance and happenstance there.
Melinoe/ The Batgirl Fan asks: How does it feel to be an Emmy nominated creator?
Constant imposter syndrome and deep insecurity about the future and all the forms it may take.
Corrosive Rabbit asks: If not comic books, what else would you have done career wise?
My whole plan was to be a high school history teacher. If you want to know about the French and Indian War. Let me know.
Ninety9Lives asks: Name one moment in comics that makes you smile whenever you remember it.
“WHAT OTHER LIES HAVE YOU TOLD?” from Astonishing X-Men, where Cyclops’ master strategy goes into effect and he busts out the optic blasts. It’s the best “To Me My X-Men” in history. Telepathy-strategy misdirects, killing yourself, reviving yourself, and then leading the charge from within the enemy base is such a great moment.
Also All Star Superman 12: When Lex Luthor sees the way Superman sees and understands WHY he is so good. It is a devastatingly human moment in comic books
The Flea asks: What would be your dream project? Or dream team for a project of yours?
I want to keep writing my own original comics, but as far as dream projects… X-Men all the way. I want to do an Astonishing-style team book. Keep it lean. 6 members maybe. No huge crossovers. Just do a tight, fun X-Men run.
Mentally scarring Robo Daddy asks: Do you prefer Silver Age or Modern Age superhero costumes?
I lean 90’s because I’m an idiot and that’s what I grew up with. 90’s X-Men rule, but on the whole I prefer Silver Age. There’s so much artistry and atomic-age pop myth within them. Superman should have those red trunks forever. I’m so glad they’re back.
Alenight The Reigning Good Boy asks: Would you be interested in writing Cyclops again in the future?
Always. He’s my absolute favorite super hero… maybe even fictional character. He’s so relatable to me. He’s full of failure and doubt and repression… but occasionally he bursts through those moments and tries to become his best self. He’s constantly messing up. What a dude. It’s a running joke over at Marvel that I always try to slip him into scripts, even if he has NO place being there. (My “Inhuman Error” Saga, Groot, Nova… all that.) I got to write him straight up in “Life After Logan” – and it actually made me weep. So hopefully that opportunity arises again.
You can get Judas today on Comixology and the official Boom! Studios website:
Judas #3 comes out February 14 2018 at your Local Comic Book Store.