Warrior Island is an awesome comic book series that is going to be an awesome film and James Jefferson is the man behind it all. Sadly, he calls Taylor ham “pork roll”, but he’s good people. Check out our chat below!
James, thanks for taking the time to chat. Let’s dive right in. Your comic book, Warrior Island, is being turned into a feature film with the legendary screenwriter and filmmaker Sheldon Lettich attached. Tell us first a bit about the book itself.
The comic book series is about a mysterious powerful island controlled by grand masters of martial arts they teach the Tiki Code to Warriors from around the world and from all times. Example modern day MMA fighters but also Ghengis Kahn, Shaka Zulu, and more. The Warriors enter training on the island and go through trials like Pai Mei’s training in Kill Bill to learn the code. If they do not learn the code they have to travel to the dark side of the island to battle the Cyclops. While this is happening, the black ninjas have been hired by dark forces and are trying to take over the island and steal its secret powers.
With fun action and a ton of wit, what inspired this book and how it all come to be?
I have always been a comic book and super hero fan and have been involved in martial arts for 45 years, ever since I watched the Movie Enter the Dragon with Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali fights in the early 1970s, I was hooked.
I was bullied when I was younger because I was so much bigger than the other kids and they found out I would not hit them because I knew I would be blamed because of my larger size. I did eventually stand up for myself and was suspended from 8th grade for throwing another student while they were still sitting at their desk. You can imagine the student’s face – one second busting my balls and the next, while still seated in chair/desk combo, rising up in the air and seeming to fly. The principal told my father he was proud that I finally stood up for myself, but still had to suspend me.
I wrestled and played football in high school and college. In high school, I was again bullied freshman year but eventually stood up for myself sophomore year and I have never been bullied ever since. At the end of high school, while playing college football, I started competing in powerlifting and got very strong and fit and carried that through my college football experience – even played some pro football after college in Canada and tried out for NFL teams.
When I reached my late 20s, I started to take boxing and Muay Thai more seriously and actually was in the Golden Gloves. In the early 1990s, I fell deeper in love with Muay Thai. I loved the elbows and knees and then my martial arts interest exploded. When I watched movies like Blood Sport and Best of the Best, I was hooked for life.
See, I am a true ronin – no one master and know many ways of combat. In 2010, I was covering the UFC and Bellator MMA leagues for the media and a show called the MMA & Sports Xtreme Show and MTV. I noticed a lot of disrespect and poor behavior from the head of the snake to the tail. Fighters getting arrested and promoters treating fighters poorly and fans acting stupid. The traditional values of martial arts had been lost. I was blessed enough to befriend UFC and martial arts legends Ron Van Clief and Dan “The Beast” Severn, as well as Relson and Renzo Gracie. We sat and talked many times for hours about how we can make a difference and came up with Warrior Island and the Tiki Code – follow the Code and change humanity!
So, naturally, this book feels from the beginning like something that belongs on the big screen, how’d this next phase of the project begin and how did Sheldon get involved?
A few years ago we were displaying and selling our comics at the Action Martial Arts Convention in Atlantic City NJ when an older man was looking through a few issues and he said it would make a great movie. He introduced himself as Sheldon Lettich, Hollywood screenwriter. I was very exited being a huge fan. We spoke throughout Covid and finally hammered out a deal and he has come on board as the official score writer of Warrior Island. We brainstorm almost daily on this major motion picture and are already getting interest from major studios.
Sheldon had written, produced, and directed a ton of great films, do you have any favorites?
Oh boy that’s easy. Blood Sport, The Quest, Only the Strong, Double Impact…
Should I keep going? Rambo 3, Max, Max 2…
Besides Sheldon’s work, what are some of your favorite films, both of all-time and today?
Enter the Dragon, Best of the Best, Mortal Kombat, the Cobra Kai TV show…
In watching some of your videos and Googling around, I noticed the Warrior’s Island brand is based out of NJ, which is where I grew up. So here’s a truly important question… is it pork roll or Taylor ham?
Pork roll 100% no doubt! And, to add, its pasta and gravy – not sauce. Forget about it!
In all seriousness, though… I also read a good deal about your brand’s dedication to making the world a getter place. What are some of the things you do to try to make a difference?
Follow the Code! Change Humanity!
The Tiki Code is a way of life. If everyone lived the code the world would be better. Plain and simple…
Fighters and warriors are the real life heroes. They have the courage that everyone wish they had. It takes courage to step I to a ring or cage. So we teach these heroes the code to make the world a better place. It’s better to pick someone up rather than knock them down.
Thanks again for this chat. Before we go, I have a couple last questions. If folks want to support the film project and follow its progress, how can they do that?
And, I’d they want to read the book, as I’ve begun catching up on recently and really dig, where’s the best spot to grab the latest issues?
They can purchase hard copies or digital copies at warriorisland.com.
Thanks again, any final thoughts on the Tiki Code, advice for burgeoning artists, or… well… anything?
I am very accessible and try my best to make myself available for fans, artists and anyone who wants to be a part of the Warrior Island Universe. I am a Warrior of God and I treat all of His children with respect. He blesses me every day and I promised him that. My wife and I are a team and we are leading the next generation of martial arts heroes into the future with the Tiki Code.
Follow the code!