This week I got to chat with the crew from Omen Comics! I recently read their comic Gallows Men and thought it was pretty great.
I got to speak with creators Michael Nunneley, Steve Sellers, Awosika Tosin, Guido Martinez, and Russ Pirozek. I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as we did.
An Interview With Omen Comics
Aaron Iara: Thank you for speaking with me today! Please tell the readers a bit about yourself and the work you do.
Michael Nunneley: My name is Michael Nunneley. Let me first say THANK YOU for your interest in Omen Comics and taking the time to read Gallows Men #1. It was my pleasure to share it with you and it’s encouraging to know you’re picking up what I’m putting down. Thank you for getting it.
As for me, I am a philosopher, musician, artist, metal-head, punk, geek/nerd & Trekkie. I have been creating/writing the characters in the Omenverse since I was 12 years old. These characters & universe are inspired by love of mythologies & legends from around the globe, horror & sci-fi movies & superhero comic books. Basically this means I spend a lot of time indoors, lol.
Now I create/write and publish for Omen Comics as the COO/CCO. I founded the label in the summer (August) of 2018 and began publishing the books in January 2019 – we’re actually 1 year old now!
Steve Sellers: I’m Steve Sellers, and I write for Omen Comics. I’m writer and co-creator on two Omenverse titles: White Druid & Michael Nero, centering on the partnership between an occult detective and an immortal druid; and Guardians of Elayim, a time-travel/fantasy book about a group of Roman-era adventurers that travel in time and space.
Awosika Tosin: I’m Awosika Tosin, a freelance comic book artist based in Nigeria. I’m the co-creator/artist behind the Omen Comic titles.
Guido Martinez: I’m Guido Martinez and I’m the letterer for Omen and Gallows Men, from Omen Comics. I’m from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I love comics, especially superhero and fantasy themed. I’m also a fan of several heavy metal subgenres and fighting games. I letter comicbooks and even though I’m kinda amateurish, I take my work very seriously and alwayts thrive to do my best when I am summoned.
Russ Pirozek: I am a writer and editor from Southern California, though originally from Michigan. I’ve loved comics since I was young, and while I wanted to be an artist as a kid, I found writing to be more fulfilling. Also, I wasn’t that great of an artist. I’ve been writing and editing for a few years now, and it’s one of the most fun things I’ve ever been a part of.
Aaron Iara: It is nice to meet all of you! I loved reading Gallows Men. Could you please give the readers a brief synopsis of the story and the Omen Universe?
Michael Nunneley: Thank you so much! Again, you being a fan means a lot to me. To address your question, I wanted a world where all mythologies had a dark, horror twist to them and lived in the same universe together – which took time because many mythologies contradict one another.
In Gallows Men I’m telling essentially 2 story lines that will converge in later issues. But one story is that of Patrick O’Leary – a highly trained/educated man with enhanced psionic abilities. Oh, and he’s also a psychopathic killer with a blood lust. Patrick is my own personal experiment on how many times you can break a man who is more powerful than he knows. The Gallows Men are the enforcement operatives for The Court of the Black Hood – a 500 year old order of former executioners for the church/state now turned vigilante against the church/state and corporations who cross the line.
Steve Sellers: As far as the Omenverse goes, the idea is that this is a largely horror and fantasy centric universe with light superhero elements. With Druid & Nero, we present a murder that connects to a plot that threatens the end of the world. Michael Nero is a genius detective and the student of the White Druid, and he’s been hired by a scared corporate executive to investigate and see how much danger she’s in. The answer: a lot.
Aaron Iara: Making comics is often a collaborative process. How do you build relationships and approach cooperative work?
Michael Nunneley: My meetings with everyone who works with me on Omen Comics came from when I ran the Chico Comics Page. Steve Sellers, the writer of White Druid/Michael Nero & Guardians of Elayim, was one of my review writers initially. Awosika Tosin I interviewed on an Artist Spotlight. Mike DeCosta (Eliteware), Rolands Kalnins (Tales of the Fractured Mind) & Guido Martinez (Knight) were all people who I interviewed for the CCP &/or reviewed their books. When I decided I wanted to do my own project I reached out to them to see if they would want to take part.
As far as working together, I have found that always being respectful and appreciative of the parts that everyone plays in the process is important. I try to offer encouragement and complimentary support whenever I can. This has been key to my successful business relationships with all of them. A few of us are even friends now. I think that makes a good work environment. Awosika in particular is a great joy to work with. He’s brilliant, talented and a good friend. Steve Sellers & Mike DeCosta are two of the few people I’ve worked with that seems to just get me right away.
When we’re collaborating on an idea they get it immediately are able to pick it up and run with it – DeCosta was even able to inject some new ideas into my characters that were very exciting. Steve is particularly easy to collaborate with because he gets all my references. Rolands (logos) & Guido (letters) have been solid and great to work with from the beginning. We aren’t just partners. We’re the Omen Crew.
Steve Sellers: Well, all of this starts with Michael Nunneley, who made everything possible here. I spent a year or so writing reviews for him on the Chico Comics Page, and eventually, he invited me over to write for him at Omen. We’re still actively involved with working together, whether it’s sharing story ideas, keeping continuity consistent, or just trying to make sense of worldbuilding elements.
It’s been a good working relationship, and I think we balance each other well. Beyond that, there’s our artist, Awosika Tosin, who just keeps getting better with each issue he draws. He does well at reading my story cues, and while he surprises me from time to time, it’s always in a way that adds something visually. We also have our editor, Russ PiroZek, who’s done well at keeping me honest.
Awosika Tosin: I think mutual understanding of your creative colleagues (writer and letterer) is the basis for a successfully collaboration. I took my time to understand Mike to an extent before we started working together and I’ve got to understand him more after the first title was released.
Guido Martinez: As letterer I usually arrive at the end. My contact is mostly with the writer/editor and I always do my best to make the working relationship smooth and peaceful. I’m not afraid of offering suggestions if I sense something I’m doing feels off. After all I’d hate to spot a mistake and let it slide just because “it’s not my job”. In the end, my name is on the comic and I have a responsibility to ensure that as far I can reach, it can be the best it can.
Russ Pirozk: For me, it’s all about making sure everyone feels heard. Comics are more likely to be better and more fun to create when everyone knows they had a hand in creating it and that they can see their own influence in the final product. If it’s a passion for one person and just a job for another, it’s going to be obvious. Everyone puts a lot of work into completing a book, so hopefully when it’s all said and done they can see the impact they’ve had not just on the page, but in the process it took to get it there.
Aaron Iara: Making art and writing takes a lot of time and energy. What do you do to stay productive?
Michael Nunneley: I think for me it’s that I never truly stop working in one way or another. Which would be maddening if I didn’t LOVE doing this. Even when I’m not writing scripts on my computer I’m always writing and re-writing in my head as I analyse for weeks before, during and post on a project trying to get every detail in mind. One motivator is often reading the works of others. I will see how they chose to tell a story, or see an aspect of humanity I hadn’t seen before looking through another authors eyes and it inspires me to want to apply that new knowledge.
Steve Sellers: I have a number of different irons in the fire at any given time, which helps a lot. I’ll spend a certain time on Nero & Druid, then a certain amount of time on Guardians, or Blitz. For me, that reduces the risk of burnout because I can always switch to something else for a while. Beyond that, just trying to keep myself more physically active lately. Even a brisk walk from time to time helps recharge me creatively and sparks ideas.
Awosika Tosin: Yeah, Making art takes a lot of energy but I’ve found a way around that. I’ve found out that I’m more productive early in the morning and late in the evening, so I make judicious use of these periods.
Aaron Iara: What are your biggest obstacles when it comes to making art? How do you overcome them?
Steve Sellers: Fair question. Probably the biggest challenges with the Omenverse titles are just research ones. Guardians particularly takes more time because I want to keep descriptions and events reasonably consistent with the world we know. We also play with mythology and even classical literature, so I’ll dig into information on those topics to ground my own take on them. With Druid & Nero, my main concern is keeping the mystery coherent and consistent and hoping that it all makes sense to the reader.
Awosika Tosin: The major obstacle, especially in my country, is the epileptic power supply. I always have an alternative power source and instead of doing everything digitally, I mix both traditional and digital arts to save time and reduce the effect of the power supply issue.
Guido Martinez: In the case of lettering, time. My best suggestion is to just sit my ass in fornt of the PC whenever I can spare 40 minutes or so, and move forward.
Russ Pirozek: Time. When you love something, you take the opportunities when you can. It can be tough and exhausting, but if it’s your passion, you find time where you can. I’ve written or read scripts while on lunch breaks, edited during meetings, done character development while walking the dog. It’s a lot sometimes, but it’s great.
Michael Nunneley: The key for me has been staying way ahead of schedule. For instance, I’m currently writing Omen #3 – a title with 4 other titles (already written) and a trade coming out before it does. Having several months to a year before something is due allows me to be a better writer than if I was trying to force a deadline. I tend to work best sporadically or as inspiration strikes.
Steve Sellers: Somewhere between the two. While I think you need to actively work on it to an extent, there are sometimes ideas where it helps to wait to ferment. I find that forcing ideas is bad, but you don’t want to wait forever. The trick for me is making regular progress and moving forward as you need to, taking each opportunity as it comes.
Awosika Tosin: I work at it or else I end up doing nothing for weeks.
Aaron Iara: Do you ever have any performance/release anxiety when it comes to showing your work to others? If so, what do you do about it?
Michael Nunneley: Luckily no. I want people to like my work, & the work of those with me obviously, and it’s never fun hearing that someone doesn’t like your work; but not so much that the anxiety of it effects my performance or makes me leary about putting it out there. I think that being a street musician and playing in clubs in my 20s kind of leathered my skin a bit. I just do my best. I leave it all in the ring and that is all I require.
Steve Sellers: I have in the past, and it’s one of those things I gradually work to improve. I think it helps to have supportive creatives around you, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have that. It helps sometimes to have someone like Michael Nunneley who’s good at giving a push when it’s needed. All in all, it’s something I’m working on, but am gradually getting better at doing.
Awosika Tosin: Yeah, some times you don’t know how they’ll react. So I just dare.
Aaron Iara: What advice can you give to people who want to start writing or make comics?
Michael Nunneley: Leave it all in the ring. You never want to look back at your work wishing you had decided to go all the way or that you didn’t half-ass part of it. Regret is brutal. But I believe you can walk away proud if you know you did your best, regardless of the outcome. I want to encourage people to go punk & do it yourself. Don’t wait for acceptance from a publisher or an agent. If those things come along that is great, but always move forward as if you’re on your own until they do.
Your goal needs to be pursued passionately and through brick walls. Be your own agent. Call the print shops, get the PDF’s made, publish your own books digitally & physically and take them to your local comic shops & bookstores yourself. Make your own connections. Start locally and be patient. It’s hard work & will require sacrifice if you are to succeed; but in the end it’s all yours and you owe no one.
Steve Sellers: Writing is a road, not a destination. Many writers tend to underrate themselves or think that it can’t be done, but it’s a craft that can be learned if you invest enough time and work into it. Also, every writer’s road is going to be different, and some of that depends on what you bring to the table. My strengths aren’t the same as yours, and it might be your voice can add something new. Just keep finding ways to grow and improve yourself, and with any luck, good things will happen.
Guido Martinez: Waste no time. Find your talent and practice. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
Russ PIrozek: This is something that is said often, but I think its true. If you want to make comics, make them. Find someone who loves the idea as much as you. Work out how to compensate them or how you can be compensated. It doesn’t have to be good right away. But prove to yourself and others that you can do it. Working in indie comics is a labor of love. Like all passions, it’s not success or financial value that drives me, it’s the love of making comics. I’m a bad artist, but if it meant I got it done, I’d draw it myself of I had to.
Aaron Iara: Do you have any upcoming events/projects/releases you would like to discuss?
Michael Nunneley: I do actually! Thanks for asking! Omen #2 is currently on Indiegogo to get printed. It picks up where Omen #1 left off and shows Frank Wade’s 1st appearance as Omen as he fight the Mad-Man. Also, secrets are revealed that suggest maybe Frank didn’t act of his own free will after all – maybe this whole thing was a set up. I write the Omen title myself as it’s a favorite of mine. There’s a lot of story to tell about Frank and with issue #2 I finally get to stretch my legs a little.
Steve Sellers: Guardians of Elayim is my next major Omenverse title that I can talk about, with Blitz coming out from Revelation at some point after that. I’m also working on a SF novel called Ritual Sacrifice, which centers on a group of space pirates caught between both sides of an interstellar holy war. I always have more ideas than I can get to in any given amount of time, but those are the ones I’m focusing on right now.
Guido Martinez: I actually have other titles I’m writing with another publisher and lettering a few projects to fund them. But I’d feel bad discussing them here. Look me up on facebook or twitter and you’ll see.
Russ Pirozek: Starting August 20th, publisher Rising Sun Comics is launching a Kickstarter for my series with them, Collapse. I’m so excited for everyone to see the complete first volume all in one package.
Aaron Iara: Thank you for taking the time to do this! Where can readers find you and your work?
Michael Nunneley: You are very welcome. I’m honored that you would take the time to speak with me about my work. So let me offer a thank you to you, good sir. All of our comics are being offered as perks in the Indiegogo campaign – that is one place. The other would be through our main site on Patreon where you can get digital/physical copies of all of our comics & 12×18 posters. If neither of those work for you there is always the option to DM Twitter, Message us on Facebook or send me an email at email@example.com with your name and address and you can paypal me the $5 for the comic & $5 for shipping and I’ll get it heading out to your mailbox within 48 hours.
Steve Sellers: Thank you so much, Aaron! The first issue of White Druid & Michael Nero is already available from Amazon and Draw Me Into Comics, and I encourage everyone to check it out. As for me, I’m most often found hanging around Twitter at @Shadewing, where I talk about writing and comics. I’m also available on Facebook as well for those looking for me there.
Guido Martinez: As for my work on Omen titles, anywhere Omen Comics are sold. As for my other projects, look me up on Facebook and you’ll see me talk about them and post previews.
Check Out Omen Comics
A huge thank you to the Omen Comics crew for taking the time to speak with me! Make sure to check out their work: