Image Comics recently began publishing the new creator-owned series God Complex from the creative minds of Michael Avon Oeming (Powers, Team Fortress 2), John Broglia (Zombie Sama!), and Dan Berman (Six, Thor). The comic tells the story of big guy named Paul, an otherwise ordinary man. But Paul is not as ordinary as he’d like people to believe; You see, Paul is actually the Olympian god Apollo. He has grown tired of the antics of his fellow gods, particularly his father Zeus, and is hiding out in New York City. However, Paul’s attempts to lay low in the Big Apple are futile, the pantheon of gods want Apollo back. Jeff recently had a chance to talk with Michael Avon Oeming and John Broglia about the origins of God Complex, comic convention etiquette and what they keep on their respective dork shelves.
Jeff: Welcome to DorkShelf.com fellas. Let’s start with a nice easy one. Tell us how God Complex come about?
Michael Avon Oeming: It came out of Six, the comic I did with Dan Berman and Ethen Beavers. We sold it as THEM to Fox TV and they wanted another pitch so I started working on this idea, but after I wrote the outline and some dialogue, it didn’t go anywhere. I’ve been wanting to work with John for awhile now, so one day while talking with Dan about us working together again, I dusted this off and BAM! There you go. The two of them really brought this to life.
John Broglia: All credit for the concept and characters goes to Mike. I’m just along for the ride.
Jeff: The book pulls from various portions of Greek and Roman mythology. What draws you to mythological story elements?
Michael: It was sort of my first comics. Before I was reading comics, I was very into mythology, and for the same reasons I love comics – Dudes beating up monsters, fighting evil and such. Now, as I’ve grown up, I’ve become attracted to the psychological aspect of mythology, all that Joseph Campbell stuff about how mythology is our minds making sense of the world and our lives through story.
John: Everyone who has ever picked up a comic book and enjoyed it should be drawn to mythological stories. Ancient mythology is the cornerstone of the 20th and 21st century superheroes and comic book characters. The superhero genre has been stretched pretty thin unfortunately, so the next logical step seems to be taking those ancient characters and bringing them into our modern world.
Jeff: What do you hope to accomplish with this story?
Michael: I wanted to do something fun, almost funny with mythology. I’m a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the old Xena and Hercules shows. While the latter are a little too goofy, I wanted to do something fun similar to that.
John: A career, haha. Seriously though, I’ll be happy if everyone just digs the stories that Mike, Dan and myself create.
Jeff: How did you go about designing the characters?
John: My game plan, which I feel mirrored Mike’s, was to try and mix elements of who the gods were in their original interpretations with a modern spin. This was mainly so that they would still be recognizable, but with a fresh take on them.
Jeff: Was God Complex the original title of the book?
John: No. I’ll let Mike tell that story, it’s too traumatic for me. I was very much in love with the original title, being that I’m born and raised in New York. That being said, I absolutely love the new title and as you will see, it truly applies better than any other title could have to the theme of the book.
Michael: Oh man, that was painful. I loved “Gods of New York”. It was so perfect in so many ways. One is that if it’s possible to have a crush on a city, I have a crush on New York. But when Jersey Gods came out, having some similar themes, we knew we had to change the title. We batted around ideas for a long time, then at my 36th birthday party, David Mack comes up to me and says “God Complex!”. My reaction was that I thought he was accusing me, so I actually said “What, me?”.
Jeff: It’s a great title. Thanks Dave! We’re going to move on to the convention experience. What would you consider some convention do’s and don’ts?
Michael: Don’t apologize for a sketch, no matter how crappy it is. Don’t let a bad mood be shown to a fan; if you’re not having fun, get away from the table. Readers come to have a pleasant experience, not have you give them shit or be grumpy. Do go out of your way to be friendly and appreciative of the time and effort fans put into enjoying your work.
John: My don’t? I try not to show up in my underwear, it tends to cause a stir. My face is usually planted in a sketchbook doing commissions, so I guess my “Do” is to get as much artwork done in a weekend as possible. Another, very important Do: Be friendly to your fans!!! Nothing worse than your favourite artist being an A-hole.
Jeff: Good advice for up-and-comers and the veterans alike. What are you two hoping to work on after this?
Michael: I always have a ton of ideas I want to do. Powers is taking up all my time these days, as is my full time job at the video game company Valve. I’m looking forward to seeing Dan and John fully take over God Complexand run with it! Oh yeah, and maybe a TV series!
(Kevin Falls, creator of the TV show Journeyman is producing a pilot based on Powers, the comic book created by Oeming and Brian Michael Bendis, for the FX channel.)
John: Being that God Complex is ongoing, my main focus will be on that every month. I do however have a couple of miniseries lined up along the way.
Jeff: Where did you two meet each other?
John: Mike and I met at the very first New York Comic-Con. I asked him if I could apprentice under him. Mike is a pretty humble guy, so he would rather be your friend and go hang out than be your boss.
Michael: Yeah, what John says! John is a great guy, I love him, so fun, and handsome, he makes me feel cool just standing near him.
Jeff: Where can we find you guys online?
Jeff: What is on your Dork Shelf?
John: My main grab at the stores every month is Jonah Hex, Mice Templar, and now that it is back out, Powers. On my shelf at home: Darwyn Cooke’s Parker The Hunter, 100 Bullets, Y The Last Man, Ed Brubaker’s Criminal, Cross Bronx, Superman: Birthright, Batman: Dangerous Dames and Demons, Hellboy, Invincible, DC’s New Frontier… The list goes on and on!
Michael: Lots of the same stuff as John, but mix in some Alex Toth, Jack Kirby and Will Eisner.
Jeff: Cheers gents and thanks for your time.
God Complex is available at a fine comic retailer near you and is currently on its third issue. Also be sure to check out Oeming’s ridiculously awesome Saxton Hale comics that tie into Valve’s popular multiplayer first person shooter Team Fortress 2.
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