DAN (AND KATE) TALK WITH… MICHAEL AVON OEMING
Kate and I were lucky enough to run into writer/artist Michael Avon Oeming at the second annual Wizard World Minneapolis last week. Mr. Oeming, and his wife Taki Soma were awesome to talk to. Thanks to the wonder of email, this interview soon followed!
First, let us congratulate you on the POWERS TV show being renewed for a second season! It must be a surreal experience seeing your creations come to life on television.
Thanks! Yes it is. I’ve been lucky enough to have 3 different TV projects get made – only this version of Powers actually aired – we have the other pilot for FX, and I had a FOX TV show called THEM which we filmed a pilot for that didn’t take off. Each time is different and the best part of the show going on to a second season is this cast is not only great, but also turned out to be great people. There is a good vibe on set and between the actors and that makes it extra special.
POWERS has been one of the most successful creator-owned comic books on the shelf since its inception in 2000, having won the Eisner Award for Best New Series in 2001. Please tell us a bit about the Powers secret-origin. How did the series come to be?
Brian was deep into crime noir way before I was, so his mind was always there creatively. In the late 90’s the E TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORIES series was huge, it was sort of a bridge between tabloids and the social media circus we currently live with. Brian saw how the “true” stories behind the images we are fed on celebrity would perfectly translate into comics. We met at a comic book store signing and clicked right away. It was him and David Mack. After the con, I was faxing (because we are old) versions of Kabuki and Brian’s JINX in my cartoony style and things started from there. Brian had an idea for a semi super hero book told through crime noir filter and that was it. That’s how Powers started.
Comic books are a completely unique medium: a marriage of words and pictures. Your partner, Brian Michael Bendis, is a master of dialog, and POWERS has tons of it. How do you overcome the challenge of A) fitting all that dialog into the panels while B) making pages of dialog visually interesting for the reader? Whatever your secret is, it works. POWERS is a visually arresting work.
I wish I had a cool secret, but I don’t. I just leave room for the dialogue. I read it first, I can tell how much space it needs. Then I get to have fun with facial expressions. It’s really the most fun I have on Powers.
THE UNITED STATES OF MURDER INC. is your other creator-owned work with Mr. Bendis, along with your wife, colorist Taki Soma. It is one of our personal favorites. It’s a book that totally speaks to us at Crimespree: an “alternate now” where the mob won their war with the US government and actually seceded a portion of the East coast from the United States! This is an amazing, ambitious work. How did this book come to be, and what can fans expect to see coming up?
Thanks. This started with a question – we were at a Halloween Party and I was doing some research on the mafia, I asked Brian what he thought the world would look like now if the Mob never lost its war with the FBI in the 70’s/80’s when they last had a big power base. He took that as a pitch and got excited immediately, he ran over to Matt Fraction who was there dressed in a Mexican Day of the Dead costume to see if the idea has been done before. We can’t believe we stumbled on a Mob story that hasn’t been done before, that is a rare thing, so we made the most of it. It pretty much all came together, Brian dressed in a Capt America muscle suit, me as Guy Davis’ Marquis, Taki as Ash from Army of Darkness and Matt as a stylish zombie. Alan Moore once told me it wasn’t cool to name drop, but I have to mention this was at Randy Bowen’s party. 🙂
Your art style is very distinctive, and very awesome. Who do you list as your influences? And whose art is at the top of your Must Have Every Month list?
There are the obvious – Bruce Timm, Alex Toth and Mike Mignola. I’m also very influenced by Steve Rude, Kirby and Eisner. A lot of what gets me excited these days are artists who’s energy is what ignites me – Chris Samnee, Paul Pope, Andrew Maclean, Skottie Young, Eric Canete to name a few. I’m also in constant awe of the new levels of art being created on the mainstream level, the stuff people like David Marquez, Sara Pachelli (SP) and others at Marvel is almost crippling.
In the spirit of “Inside the Actor’s Studio” and the Bernard Pivot questions asked of every guest, we have our own set of questions we ask of every interviewee.
When did you finally say, “Yeah…I’m gonna do comic book stuff for a living. And it will be AWESOME.”
I was very young, maybe 12 or 13. I was lucky to find what I love and wanted to do for my life at that age.
What was the moment that made you say, “Making comic books is amazing”?
When I realized I would never have to be bored again! Before I found comics it was like it was missing from my life already- like a pre phantom limb thing. It was like I was sitting around waiting to discover comics.
Our standard Beatles or Rolling Stones question: Superman or Batman?
Batman! But if I were to write either, I’d rather write Superman. There is a challenge there I think I would like as well as a great mythology to tap into.
It’s not a crime comic, but be sure to check out my other series the MICE TEMPLAR, a long running series we are wrapping up this year.
Thank you so much for talking with us today!
Dan (and Kate)