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Thoughts From The Land of Frost:
Interview: Michael Avon Oeming By Alexander Ness
Michael Avon Oeming can safely be labeled as a veteran of the comic industry, having co-created the hit Image series, Powers, with current Ultimate Spider-Man scribe Brian Michael Bendis, as well as his own books including Bastard Samurai, Parliament of Justice, and Hammer of the Gods. Michael spoke with columnist Alexander Ness to discuss his current and future work.
AN: Welcome to my column, Michael. Please tell my audience about the Hammer that is about to hit China in your work, THE HAMMER HITS CHINA. What is the premise, why China, and does this portent further world travels by the Hammer?
MaO: In this series, Modi travels to the far east to search for the lost Odin. There, he will encounter a new land, with strange Gods and a whole other set of morality, and he must use the power of STORY, the Power of Myth (a little Joseph Campbell name dropping) to persuade the Powers there in China that his culture is not purely of stinky, mad warriors. By doing this, he also has to learn the true meanign of these stories himself and it becomes a link in the overall story of Hammer of the Gods as we do other series.
AN: Wow. That goes far deeper than the typical hop and chop of most warrior stories.
What comics are on your must read list at the moment?
MaO: I don't have one. (But if I did) I would have to list 100 Bullets and Hellboy. I re-read Nexus a lot. My favorite series ever.
AN: NEXUS is one of the all time best.
I have heard that simple art or writing might look easy but in fact, economy of word or line is far harder to construct and have it work. How much harder is your Powers style than your previous style to achieve?
MaO: Think of it this way: How many times have you had to write an important letter, paper or e-mail, knowing that brevity is the only way to get your point across, that with too many words, you'll lose the point your trying to make.
So you write the letter. Then, you must go back and extract everything that does not directly support your cause and in fact, if you've already made the point, you can't have weaker points repeating your meaning, as it takes away from your "punch. It is like that.
AN: What is with all the freakish letters in POWERS? Does Bendis himself write the letters himself in a sort of insane sexual expression?
MaO: I have no idea. I've been blessed with not having to deal with the letters, I don't know how he does it, but I do know he enjoys it as it is a great release for him. It is like going into a room and screaming.
AN: Tell my readers about your new series, Parliament of Justice, and how it is to be the writer versus artist in the collaborative process?
MaO: Parliament is about the self righteousness of super heroes, especially masked Vigilantes. I always felt there is a danger in pitting yourself above society like other well known heroes do, but rarely if ever see what threat danger is. So Parliament is a very dark story.
Working with Neil Vokes was anything but dark. He's a true pro who just dived into the work, I didn't have to look over his shoulder or baby sit him through it. He brought his own unique style and vision to the book that gave it a whole other level of life that I never would have done if I had drawn it myself.
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AN: The Bastard Samurai TPB arrived in the store shelves recently. How great a project has that been for you and do you see [Cartoon Network's] Samurai Jack as an imitator?
MaO: Well, Samurai Jack is no imitator of Bastard Samurai. In fact, I was scared sh*tless when we were working on issue one and I first heard about Samurai Jack. Thank God it's in a very different direction. Jack is clearly inspired by Frank Miller's RONIN - almost the same concept, but executed completely different. It is a great show. Im very proud of Bastard Samurai, and again working with others. Miles Gunter and Kelsey Shannon really brought it to life. I also think Ken Bruzenak's letters added a level of life.
AN: POWERS continues to cut a swath before it as a Crime Noir book. Will it arrive at a terminal point, where both you and Bendis have told the whole story or do you see it as a growing and evolving story?
MaO: It is a growing story, but we do have a planned end. We see the series as a whole as ONE BIG STORY.
AN: What are your favorite movies?
MaO: Ugh, too many and too varied.
MaO: I love all kinds of film. I think Taxi Driver has had the most impact on my storytelling.
AN: What conventions do you plan to attend in 2003?
MaO: I have a two-page comic I'm doing in INSIDE KUNG FU magazine - it's two pages a month and called Dragons On Fire - and when I'm done with this Hammer mini, my next mini is called NEVERMORE. You can catch a preview of it in Hammer Hits China 3. I also did a BPRD one shot at Dark Horse.
AN: Thanks Michael.
You can find out more about Michael Avon Oeming and his work at his excellent web-site: www.Mike-Oeming.com. You may also join his newsletter list which connects you to his current works and plans by sending an e-mail request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All comic book publishers are welcome to submit comics for review.
Send them to: Alexander Ness Land of Frost Box 142 Rockford MN 55373-0142
When you buy your comics books or games for the week, try something new, and, or, buy something for a friend and share your tastes. The industries this column addresses can only improve with greater readership.