A VERY SPECIAL QUICK QUESTIONS WITH Mike Oeming
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION TO COMICS?
Michael Avon Oeming, I’m the co creator and artist of Powers, a 10 year running Cop Noir meets Capes comic with Brian Michael Bendis. I’ve also written runs of Thor, Ares, Omega Flight and Beta Ray Bill for Marvel, Red Sonja for two years and a handful of other creator owned books such as Mice Templar with Bryan Glass. My wife, Taki Soma and I continue to create comics and live the the life of artists!
WHAT COMIC ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
Right now the Powers TV show is taking up a good section of our time, so I’m actually drawing a new creator owned project I’ve not announced yet. Bryan Glass, Victory Santos and I are rounding up the end of Mice Templar…. I also work for VALVE CORP, the video game company who makes Half Life, Left 4 Dead, Portal, Counterstrike and Team Fortress. I mostly do comics for them. It’s a great place to be exposed to other artist and learn.
WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
For me, it’s being the creative zone. It’s the process of making art, not the final product. I’m very proud of Powers and Mice Templar, but the best part is coming up with ideas that strike a resonance that’s hard to explain, or drawing for hours and never wanting it to end. Those are the best parts.
WHAT’S THE WORST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
When it’s not working. When you feel like you have to force things to happen or that your idea is “good enough” but there is nothing special about it. That sucks. Makes me feel horrible. BUT sometimes out of that I can force myself into something better and exciting if I have time to step away from it and come back fresh.
HOW DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER COMICS?
At a flea market I think. I was in Texas, living there for a bit of time in Fort Worth while my mother and I were sort of homeless. I had seen comics and probably read one or two before that, but the isolation of living in Texas made me really open up to comics when I found a batch at that market. It was Spider-man of course!
WHO IS THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WORK?
I would say Mike Mignola. Hard to believe yea? Hah. Alex Toth is probably a close tie with Mike though. Early on, as a kid, I simply wanted to BE Art Adams. Other big influences include Steve Rude, Frank Frazetta, Bruce Timm, Eisner and Kirby. Those are the strongest and most consistent influences. But there are a lot of other artists I’ve learned from as well, and some are influential just from a creative point of view- the passion that Skottie Young, Paul Pope, Alex Maleev, David Mack, Ashely Wood have for their art and process is just as influential as anyone’s art. That lifestyle, life as an artist probably influences me more than any art itself.
WHAT TOOLS OF THE TRADE DO YOU USE?
The cheap ones!! Well, other than my computer and Cintiq screen. But I like cheap brushes and low brow pens like uniball. I hate hunting for art supplies so I think I naturally went with whatever is easy to find. One thing I cannot live without is a new ink we found- it’s Talons ink. It’s actually TATTOO ink. It’s SUPER BLACK, but not thick like most super black inks. That shit is just amazing. As far as supplies, remember, there are no magic pens, no special pencils that will make you draw better, its all about practice. I think a sketchbook is the most valuable tool an artist can have. Sketch all the time, draw all the time. I have a bag for my sketchbook and pens I bring with me almost everywhere.
WHAT IS THE SINGLE WORK OF WHICH YOU ARE MOST PROUD?
Probably the Spirit issue I did for DC comics. It’s one of the few things I’ve written and drawn myself, mostly because I love collaborating with other writers. It was a great honor to be part of the Spirit run, it also forced me to push my storytelling. My wife, Taki Soma really made me look at what I was doing as a visual storyteller and really encouraged me to go further with it and break my own boundaries.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
To sketch every day, always carry a sketchbook and fill them up. As a kid, I could SEE the difference in my art from book to book.
WHAT IS THE WORST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
To give up comics, it’s a dying form.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CURRENT SMALL PRESS COMIC SCENE?
Im envious of how many avenues there are to get your work seen, both with small press, web comics, kickstart projects all that. I think are more avenues than ever before for a young artists looking to strike out.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN SMALL PRESS COMIC IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
I’d like to see a smarter use of web comics and social networking. I think that can help drive sales. The future of comics is not print, but it’s also not purely digital, it’s more like a web of connections between online comics, e-reading/publishing, print through companies and print on demand. These things need to be considered and balanced when being a publisher, without counting too much on thing. We’ll know in about 6-8 years where things settle, but right now this is where it’s at and I think Small Press is doing a pretty good job at it.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN COMICS IN GENERAL IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
That the digital revolution brings in new readers. I think that is happening. I work with lots of people at Valve who have not read comics in years because they have full time jobs and are parents. They can’t get to the store to keep up with their comics. They just can’t. But now with Ipads and such, I have several co workers who are reading more comics than ever now that it is a their fingertips. There will always be a group of us who want to read at least some of our comics in print, and have that experience of the LCS. I love both, but Im hoping the influx of new readers digitally helps the rest of the industry. I know WAY more people are reading and want to read comics than are reflected in official comics sales.
WHAT WAS THE LAST COMIC THAT MADE AN IMPACT ON YOU?
Well it’s not fair, because he’s my partner and best friend, but it would be Scarlet #1 by Bendis and Maleev. I actually had trouble reading it because I was so excited I kept wanting to put it down so I could start writing or drawing. That was a huge impact.
FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO START MAKING THEIR OWN COMICS? (And don’t say DON’T 🙂 )
Just do it. Whatever state of your talents, they will always change and improve. Don’t be afraid to fall on your face. Just let your work be your work, let it be the best you can do at the time, but know the next thing will be better. There is NO BETTER PRACTICE THAN DOING.
ANY FINAL THOUGHTS?
Yea, when can I come to Ireland?
Michael Avon Oeming has no proof that he is Irish but feels it in his soul. He is the co creator and artist of Powers, a 10 year running Cop Noir meets Capes comic with Brian Michael Bendis. He also written runs of Thor, Ares, Omega Flight and Beta Ray Bill for Marvel, Red Sonja for two years and a handful of other creator owned books such as Mice Templar with Bryan Glass.