The Luna brothers (Joshua and Jonathan), creators of such hits as Ultra and Girls, sat down with SBC to talk about their latest Image title, The Sword. A modern fantasy centering around a mythical blade found by an ordinary woman, The Sword goes beyond the typical trappings to deal with universal themes such as family, power, lies and forgiveness. With the third issue set to hit the stands this Wednesday (December 5), the brothers talk about the first arc of this ongoing series.
Matthew McLean (MM):For a book that has such a singular name, The Sword has a very mundane beginning, which by the end of the book, shows that a lot is going on beyond the scenes. For those not familiar with the story, why don’t you give SBC readers the five minute breakdown?
Joshua: The story begins introducing our protagonist, Dara Brighton, a paraplegic art student, and her doting, all-American family. When Dara’s father picks up her mother at the airport, things get strange when he is spotted and followed by a mysterious woman, who then breaks into the Brighton household with two of her brothers later that night and interrupts their family dinner. The invading trio claims that Dara’s father is actually a man named “Demetrios,” and they demand he return a special sword he has allegedly stolen from them. After Dara’s father adamantly denies such claims, the trio ransacks the house, searching for the sword, but finds nothing. Dara’s father continues to deny any knowledge of a sword, so the frustrated trio ignites the house on fire and begins murdering the family. Dara watches each of her loved ones die, but when her turn comes, the burning roof collapses on her, sending her through the floor. The female of the trio assumes she’s dead and leaves with her brothers. Though, it turns out Dara has actually fallen into a man-made pit, underneath the house, and lives (but just barely). As she lies there, dying from her wounds, she finds a sword. She touches it and is not only healed of her life-threatening wounds, but is able to walk again. That’s the story so far….
MM: What was the inspiration for the story?
Jonathan: Basically, universal themes. Revenge. Anger. Power. We mixed some things in there and came up with The Sword. We also came up with this concept a couple years ago. It kept coming up in conversation, so we knew it was important for us to tell this story.
MM: So where did the concept come from? Why do think it’s important to the two of you?
Joshua: The concept of a mystical object with supernatural powers has been around for quite some time, in countless mythologies. So, we know we’re not exactly reinventing the wheel, but we are putting our own personal twist on the fantasy/action genre in order to make it more meaningful to us and, hopefully, entertaining for the readers.
Of course, I can’t claim any personal experience from this story. My family has never been murdered by three strangers with powers, and I never owned a “magic” sword. But revenge, power, anger, and death are certainly themes I, and everyone else, deal with in some shape or form. So, the story is important and exciting to me in the sense that I get to fully explore an extreme situation involving these universal themes.
MM: While Dara, the lead protagonist, certainly has a good life (a loving family, she’s provided for, et cetera) things certainly aren’t ideal. For one, at the beginning of the series she’s wheelchair bound. Will her experience of going from being paralyzed to being mobile, affect her mindset at all as the story goes forward?
Jonathan: It will affect her mindset, but the sword itself will have a much bigger impact on her. We will delve into this further in the story. Her relationship with the sword will be interesting.
MM: If it isn’t sentient, how will Dara develop a relationship with it?
Jonathan: I don’t mean “relationship” as with another person. And there isn’t exactly a give and take with the sword. But the sword will give Dara something – power.
MM: Among the other trauma Dara has to deal with, she has to wrestle with the fact that someone very dear to her has been lying to her her entire life. As a writer and artist, how do you flesh out that sort of heavy emotional conflict?
Joshua: It’s basically a matter of applying both personal experience and creative extrapolation into a specific, fictional scenario–which is always challenging and, of course, fun.
Jonathan: Right. Plus, everyone has parents and everyone has been lied to. It’s naturally universal.
MM: Does the father’s actual name, Demetrios, have any significance in the story?
Joshua: Yes, and that will be revealed within the first arc.
MM: The trio of villains in “The Sword” act like a group of bickering siblings. Is there anything from your relationship as brothers that plays into this?
Jonathan: I’ve actually never thought about that until now. But, no, the three siblings aren’t inspired from us.
MM: There’s a scene in the first issue of “The Sword” where an art instructor is tearing into his students over their work being “soulless, derivative garbage.” Both of you attended Savannah’s College of Art and Design – is this scene based off anything from your own experiences?
Joshua: Sure. From my experience, that type of scenario would happen from time to time in the classroom. Whenever a student would slack off, any one of my professors would let that person know. The degree of harshness would vary, of course, depending on the individual professor, but it’s all mostly constructive because they want us to do better. Most of them do, at least.
But for that particular scene in the story, I wanted to emphasize how tough the professor was to show that he wouldn’t be going soft on Dara just because she was in a wheelchair. So, when he gives her positive remarks, we see that Dara’s potential as an artist is valid.
MM: Both of you have spent a great deal of time outside of the United States. How would you say that’s affected your work?
Jonathan: Yes, we’ve spent two years in Iceland, two years in Sardinia, Italy, and five years in Sicily, Italy. I’m not sure if it affects our work or not. Maybe it does on a subconscious level. I probably have a bigger appreciation for classical art. Then again, we learned a lot about classical art at college (SCAD). More likely, it had a big impact on our personalities. We didn’t spend a lot of our youth here, in the states. So, maybe that had an affect on how we perceive American culture. Maybe we’re able to look at it from the outside in, every once in a while.
Joshua: Plus, when you grow up around a different set of cultures, you can’t help but find the similarities people share and the things we all go through, regardless of nationality, religion, language, etc. So, as a writer, this may have affected my work in the sense th
at I tend to focus on more universal themes–things that concern us, as human beings.
MM: What’s it like working together as brothers? Most people wouldn’t want to work with family – what made you two decide to team up?
Jonathan: It wasn’t a decision, really. We’ve always talked about making comics since we were children. Over the years, we’d come up with different stories–concepts. And I knew that Image was always open to people’s submissions. I loved that. So, subconsciously, I just assumed that we’d be submitting something to them sometime, when we were ready.
Joshua: Working together as brothers isn’t too different from any other two-man team that works together. We know when to be professional. But because we’re family, we do probably have the advantage of not holding back and being fully honest about each other’s work, which only helps to make the finished product stronger.
MM: Well that was the last of the prepared questions I had. Is there anything you’d like to add?
Jonathan: Yes, for more information, everyone can go to our website, http://www.lunabrothers.com.
MM: Thanks for your time.
Be sure to visit Matthew McLean’s website here.