Jax Teller is about to ride again.
The character’s story might have ended on television, but the antihero at the heart of FX biker drama Sons of Anarchy will return in Sons of Anarchy Redwood Original, an all-new comic book prequel to the television series overseen by series creator Kurt Sutter.
Redwood Original, which is written by Ollie Masters (DC’s The Kitchen, Boom! Studios’ Snow Blind) with input from Sutter, follows an 18-year-old Jax as he leaves high school still trying to come to terms with his dead father’s legacy and the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club as a whole.
“It’s Jax prospecting to become a full club member,” Masters told THR. “This is a story about him proving himself — to the club, to their enemies and allies and to himself. In [the TV series], the shadow of his father looms large over him and it does in our series as well, but for us it’s recent history, so it’s more of an open wound than a scar being pulled open. He’s still dealing with J.T’s death and what it means to exist in a masculine-heavy world without a father to guide him.”
Jax isn’t the only familiar face from the television series who’ll show up in the comic book, with Jax’s mother Gemma, stepfather Clay and best friend Opie primed for appearances, along with other TV characters.
“What I’ve tried to do is think about where they are in that first season, think about how they got there and have that be my outline for the characters,” Masters said of re-creating the cast for a story taking place a decade before the original show. “It’s a delicate tight rope walk. You don’t want to lose the core of the characters, what made them so compelling in the first place, but at the same time, you don’t want to just retread what happened with them in the show.”
Help on that subject came from series artist Luca Pizzari — “When Luca sent in the character designs just before I started writing #1, suddenly everything clicked in my head. I wasn’t trying to imagine them as younger people, I had them staring right at me, like looking back in time,” Masters remembered — and series creator Sutter.
“Kurt had a lot of input,” Masters said. “Everything gets sent to him to check over to make sure it works with how he sees the characters and to see if he has any input. I’m not gonna lie, it’s been pretty surreal and intimidating knowing that such a great writer as Kurt has been looking over my ideas for the series. It feels like I had a lot to live up to.”
The comic book series is the second Sons of Anarchy outing for publisher Boom! Studios — the first, which ran 25 issues, took place between the fifth and sixth seasons of the show. It arrives as the pilot for Mayans FC, a TV spinoff centering around a rival motorcycle club, received a script order from FX. Elgin James, who is developing the project with Sutter, will write the pilot.
The original series was a ratings winner for the cable network, growing its audience with every season and ending in 2014 with a record high number of viewers.
Sons of Anarchy Redwood Original No. 1 will be released digitally and in comic book stores Aug. 3.