This year I had the chance to go to C2E2 – Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo – as press. This was my second time going to C2E2 (first time in August 2022) and my fourth time going to any sort of con. I knew there were a few comics folks I wanted to interview, and thanks to the power of the comics community, I was able to track down some amazing creators. However, if there is something I’ve learned from my short time existing in the comics community space, it is that creators are always down to chat about their projects and other random things – so if you’re ever at a comic convention and see somebody whose work you adore, go say hi!
While at C2E2, I had a chance to catch up with fellow Wu Disciple Jarred Luján (pronouns he/him), a Mexican American writer from Texas. He’s written Dry Foot from Mad Cave Studios, Crash, and Troy from A Wave Blue World, All The Devils Are Here (Scout Comics), DC’s New Talent Showcase, and Image’s 30th Year Anniversary. So many anthologies. So many. Seriously, I am not sure how he sleeps.
He was kind enough to share his time while wandering the massive convention halls of McCormick Place.
Nikki: Really hard hitting question, what’s your favorite sandwich?
Jarred: I feel like this has some debate to it. Right? Because, like, what defines a sandwich, you know? Is a quesadilla a kind of sandwich? Like, maybe, but I’m a really big sucker for a full pork sandwich. Barbecue sauce coleslaw. That’s good. The only time coleslaw is good is when it’s on the sandwich.
Nikki: I know what I’m making when I get home. Thank you for that. That’s all I needed, actually. I am just here for the food advice — All The Devils Are Here – that comes out in April.
Jarred: Yeah. So it’s a story about an exorcist who has a case where a patient with dementia is suffering from a demonic possession. And so he has to enter his mind to kind of get him to help him out. The story is really about, you know, he was inspired pretty heavily by my grandparents and my grandfather’s battle with dementia the last three years of his life.
But it’s also very, very personal about dealing with your own background and shadiness and the things that we do for the people that we love, you know, love is is the most powerful force on Earth, which makes it the scariest, by far.
Matt Harding is the co-creator; he did an incredible job. I think the book is beautiful. And I’m really excited for people who maybe didn’t back for Kickstarter, or just wanted to get it with a new cover or just want to re-experience it. I’m just really excited to get it out to a larger market.
Nikki: I feel like, especially with the comics community on like Twitter, and it’s weird that it’s just like, this is Social Media, everybody hates it, but I feel like I see you consistently promoting and hyping in the comics community. What is the comics community to you? And why is it so important that folks support each other in that community?
Jarred: If you work in this long enough, you pretty much realize that the people that are creating alongside you are really the only people that are going to genuinely care about you, whatever it is. Comics is an industry that is built off the exploitation of its creators; we’re still some of the most exploited creative workforces on the planet. And it’s frustrating, it’s a very frustrating industry, but you have to love it to be here. And having that connection with people, and for me, this is my first convention seeing a lot of the friends that I’ve made on Twitter, on the internet, and people that I’ve collaborated with for years, and it’s just such an emotional, heartfelt thing.
I think about quitting comics probably like once every month, and it’s just like, I have so many people that are like, no, like, please don’t, we need to do this and, and that’s what it is, you know, it’s about a group, a community, to me is about a group of people who are just trying to get their stories told, especially that Kickstarter community, you know, trying to get their stories told trying to be authentic to themselves and to the kind of things that they want to see in the world.
And I just love being a part of that. It’s really something special to the comics community. It is very special from everywhere else. I never feel like I’m competing with anybody. I’m never waiting for someone to stab me in the back. Creators have a very unique relationship in that we feel like we’re in this trench together.
Nikki: Now for a pivot – what Wu-Tang song did you hear that made you the Wu Disciple that you are today?
Jarred: So it’s almost not like one song, right? If I had to pick one, it would be Bring the Ruckus, the first song off 36 Chambers. Because the second that song starts, it is just the perfect introduction to the whole album. But the whole album, to me, is really like a religious experience. The first time I ever listened to the Wu-Tang Clan, I was like 21. My girlfriend at the time and I had to move. She had to stay with her dad, and we didn’t have a place to stay for a couple of weeks. And her dad wouldn’t let me stay in their house. That’s their rule. I was sleeping in my car – I’m a tall guy, and I was sleeping in a car that was way too short for me. So I was kind of just staying up at night. And one of my friends gave it to me because I was like, I am a major music snob, and I’ve only gotten worse. And after that, it was just like, this is it.
You know this, and then the Wu-Tang Clan inspires me with their stories, with how good they are and everything. It’s just a very — it’s almost like that is the closest to a religious experience I’ve ever had in my life, I think.
Nikki: I could talk about Wu-Tang all day, Nobody was going to stop me from asking you a question about Wu-Tang Clan.
Jarred: People are often like what’s your top three albums? And I’m like, I hope everybody’s ready, because now we’re gonna be here for a day.
Nikki: Right? That’s the whole conversation. I hope you go ahead and cancel your plans. We’ve got some serious things to talk about (Wu-Tang Clan). Thank you so much for joining me and talking about Wu-Tang and your comics and I’m really excited for what comes next.
All the Devils Are Here is out April 12th in comic shops and Scout Comics. Crash and Troy is available as a collected trade.
Find Jarred Luján on Twitter: @jarredlujan.