“Infinite comics are a different language, they are all about transitional story telling” Michael Avon Oeming on the secrets of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite comics and the potential of creator owned digital titles like Powers
Last week saw the release of a new series of Marvel Infinite Comics based around their intergalactic superheroes, Guardians of the Galaxy. The team behind the first issue, Drax the Destroyer, are the superstar team behind Powers, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Avon Oeming. Keen to get the scoop on what it was like for such an established team to work in the exciting world of digital comics – especially a team who are used to working on creator owned projects – we contacted Michael Avon Oeming to ask him just how got involved with the Guardians and whether this would inspire him to create digital editions of his creator owned titles.
How did you get the involved with working on Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite? Did Brian Bendis approach you about it during a break on Powers or was it something you had always wanted to try doing?
MAO: I was hopping around Marvel doing jobs here and there, having fun with a Captain America USO project, some Black Panther and New Avengers, really enjoying drawing some of Marvel‘s established characters and Brian threw my name to editor Stephen Wacker to do one of these Infinite books. I was really lucky to do one of these, Brian and I are always interested in new ways of telling comics stories.
What were the main differences when it came to creating an Infinite book compared to a standard print title? Did you have to think or work different and did you learn new skills when working on it?
MAO: It was completely different. One of the first things I do while laying out a page is figuring out the “eye flow” of the page, which is usually in a “Z” pattern. We read comics left to right, up to down, and the challenge is to find new and exciting ways to mix that up. However, Infinite comics are a different language, they are not about panel to panel storytelling, but transitional storytelling. It felt more like storyboards or animation. I enjoyed the change in styles and look forward to doing it again sometime. Maybe on Powers?
You’ve always had quite an unconventional layout style, especially on Powers, do you think that helped in the creation of the pages for Guardians? And how much input does Yves Bigerel have on the book?
MAO: Yves laid out the book, meaning he gave me loose breakdowns and sketches of the panels and transitions. I actually stuck pretty close to what he did and rarely strayed from it. I think the thing I had the most fun with were pages where the transition was not panel to panel, but one big image. That was like a very long camera pan, such as the shot of Drax on his chair (see below) or when he slams down his fists and crash through the floor (see right), I drew those as one big panel.
Interactive comics are still a relatively new thing and constantly changing, did you come up with anything new for this book and was there anything you wanted to do with the art but couldn’t?
MAO: Its a new field. I have mixed feelings about it, so right now its all about exploring it. Once the audience goes from passive interaction like reading a novel or a traditional comic and goes into a controlling interaction, I think the experience becomes something else, but I’m not sure what that is yet. I’m more interested in learning and seeing where it evolves.
MAO: Man, I’m all about reading comics on a tablet. Its not because of some need to keep in touch or to be cutting edge, but frankly at my age, I’m done with collecting books. All books. My life was overrun with books and DVDS taking up shelf room and moving became a nightmare. I’ve transferred all of my DVDS and music to a digital format and I’ve gotten rid of all but two book shelves of books. I’ve even ripped apart and scanned in all of my art reference books that I’ve collected for 20 years so they are now digital as well.
The end result is my life is free of clutter, I’m living a more simple life that is less about possessions and more about experience. I have the experience of those books, movies and music without having to give up my living space to it.
Now the books I have are mostly indie books from Lowbrow Press or other indie comics and table top books like the PARKER or Hellboy collections. Also because of digital comics and how easy they are to carry and read, I’m reading much more than I ever have before.
The downside is its not as easy to just “flip through” a digital book… but really that’s it for me. I see a future where print comics and digital comics live happily hand in hand. Its not the death of print, not by a long shot, its just a changing landscape for all of us, readers, creators, retailers and companies.
Digital comics have been a real boost for creator owned titles, do you think Powers or Mice Templar or even Takio would benefit from a digital exclusive or two? And as a creator what did you make of the launch of Comixology Submit last week – do you think it will help you to get some of your titles out to a digital audience quicker?
MAO: I think those are all good things. Digital exclusives are a great way to get new readers if they are free, like doing a web comic is. Anything to get comics into peoples hands, especially if they can’t get to a comic store, or don’t live near one.
Guardians of the Galaxy are obviously getting a big push this year with the upcoming movie and the tie in to Avengers 2, did you have any kind of connection to the characters before you got the job?
MAO: I have to confess I didn’t know anything about them other than their existence before drawing this, although I was a big fan of Rocket Racoon, which was sort of an influence on Mice Templar.
Finally, what can we expect to see from you next? Will there be any more Infinite Comics, more Marvel titles, more Powers or more creator owned stuff?
MAO: The last of my company owned work is a short Superman story I’m doing with Bryan Glass of Mice Templar. After that, Im concentrating on Powers and Victories for awhile. But I had lots of fun working for Marvel and DC recently and look forward to doing more in the future, but for now, two monthly books is enough to keep me busy for awhile. The Guardians experience was great, I really want to thank Bendis and editor Stephen Wacker for giving me a shot with Drax!