Σάββατο, 11 Ιανουαρίου 2014

We take a peek under "Spandex"

Hey there!
It 's Saturday afternoon and we 're about to dive into the world's first all gay super-hero team! Meet the "Spandex" and its glorious creator, Martin Eden!
When I came across this book, I couldn't believe my eyes! What a brilliant idea! How is it possible that no one hadn't thought of this before? I 'm sure that 's the same question Martin Eden asked himself and got down to work, to make it happen...
And he did it! He created "Spandex", an 8 issue book describing the "ups and downs" of the first all gay super-hero team! It 's a wonderful book full of jokes and emotion, and I 'm very happy and proud to presnt you Martin 's thoughts on his creation!

Comics in Greece:
 You did a great job balancing the emotional parts of the story with the funny ones. How did you accomplish that? That was the plan from the start? 

Martin Eden:
Thank you! Originally, Spandex was supposed to be a light-hearted, almost comedic comic, something finite and fun and inconsequential. It developed into something more than that. I tend to approach my writing with humour, so on any given page, you’ve probably got elements of drama, comedy and horror! It’s just the way I write. I think most of the characters have good natures and fun personalities too, so that helps.

Comics in Greece:  
What was the reason behind the zombie story in issue 3? Is it a metaphor? Does it have to do with the struggles of everyday life, or other problems that we constantly face? 

Martin Eden:
I wanted to examine how difficult day-to-day life can be not so much because of personal problems, but because of the bombardment of negativity you can get. The news is soooo depressing, and you look at the paper in the morning and you just get bombarded with bad news. I remember one morning, the newspaper headline was about how we’re all going to die because HIV is going to be transmittable by touch. I mean, how do you react to that!? Where's the happy news? And there’s the drudgery of day-to-day life. I mean, for me, I like my job, but things like commuting are really not fun! The first few pages, showing Joanie's commute to work aren't far off from how my own feels sometimes!
And for me, personally, I’ve had struggles with anxiety and depression and panic attacks over the years. So I wanted to put my characters into a very bleak situation and try to help them out of it. To try and help them seek out positives in life. Hopefully if someone is reading issue 3 and they're going through a tough time, it might put a smile on their face.
Comics in Greece:  
Liberty’s mother has a strange yet familiar super power… She hurts people with her words. Isn’t this the most common super power in the world? I mean, we all hurt each other with our words. Why did you give Liberty’s mother such a power? 
Martin Eden:
When I started doing Spandex, I was very naïve, and I didn’t realise what a huge fuss it would cause. It’s a bit of a mine-field really, doing a gay comic. Spandex Issue One got a huge amount of publicity and a lot of it was positive, but of course, some of it was negative (mainly from people who hadn’t read it or just made surface judgements). I have actually stopped reading Comments sections on websites, because they were too upsetting. Some people wrote very nasty things and some even threatened to beat me up!
And at one point, some people actually started attacking me on my own Blog which is a very private place for me and it felt very much like an invasion. They were just saying that my comic was rubbish and I’d never amount to anything. I was upset, but I was also a bit annoyed, and I created the character Critique because of this. She just came into my head. She was my revenge on internet trolls and Haters. They created her. She’s a bit like Black Canary but she just shouts loud insults which hurt people and she forces people to obey her will. Her slogan is ‘she hurts with her words’ which is what Haters try to do.
It’s interesting how organic creating a comic or a story is that you can start off with a vague idea but anything really can influence it. Critique wasn’t in my mind when I started Spandex, she was created along the way. 
Comics in Greece:  
What made you think that God is a Lesbian? 
Martin Eden:
Hehe well I don’t personally think God is a lesbian but who knows? I don't particularly have any opinions about religion.
When I started Spandex, I knew that Diva was something special, but I didn’t quite know what. At the start, I was thinking she was just a very powerful old witch. And then the idea just came to me like they always do that it was a religious thing. At first, she was Jesus. Then I decided to make her God instead, because God is a bit more vague. It made sense to me!
It was a scary thing to do, and I thought long and hard about it. The last thing I want to do is upset religious people especially my religious friends. But I wanted to use the storyline to address concepts of religion versus homosexuality. Look at some extreme religious people who hate homosexuals. That just doesn’t make sense. Surely the most fundamental element of Christianity or religion is tolerance and benevolence to other people. How can they discriminate against someone for something they have no choice in? I was born, I'm gay, it wasn't a decision or a choice, so how can someone hate me for it?
Story-wise, the God twist really worked for me. It explains where my characters got their powers from. And then you bring the Devil into it too. Spandex is sort-of finished, but I will pursue this storyline in my future comics. Diva and the Devil will be appearing in some form or other in my other series, The O Men and Class. 
Comics in Greece:  
Tell me about your other book, "The O Men". 
Martin Eden:
The O Men was one of my first proper comics where I decided to really go for it and put something out there and get a response, and try to build a readership. I started it when I was in my early 20s and carried on with it for about 10 years, putting out 35 issues.
The O Men is a superhero soap opera, it’s very epic and complex. I was reading Sandman and X-Men and Invisibles at the time and you can see the influences, probably. It’s about a group of ex-superheroes who have to reunite to face a deadly threat but it also examines the characters’ personal lives. It’s dramatic but also quite soapy.
It had a bit of a following at the time, and it was fairly popular (in indie-comics terms). Even now, people remember me more for The O Men than Spandex. They want more O Men!
I was doing The O Men for a long time and it was proving to be hard work, and I fancied doing something new, so I put it on hiatus to do Spandex. I was never actually sure I’d return to it, but I had the idea to collect all the 35 issues across four books and then finish the story off in the fifth and final book. I’m about to start work on that final book now, and I’m giving myself two years to do it! 
Comics in Greece:  
What are your future plans for "Spandex"?
Martin Eden:
Spandex took over my life for the past five years, so it’s a great feeling to have finished the main storyline and got the 8 issues out that I wanted to do. I want to focus on O Men and other things now, but I don’t want Spandex to go away at all.
I’d like to start a Spandex web-comic next year. I think the main story is pretty much done so this will focus on some of the supporting characters like The J-Team and James Bend. The web-comic will be fun and experimental, and I don't want people to feel they have to read it or that I'm going to continue storylines from the comic series - it'll be fairly separate.
Then, ultimately I’ll do other projects, such as Spandex Year Zero and Spandex: The End. But those last two won’t happen until O Men and Class are finished. 
Comics in Greece:  
Will you make an all ages book? 
Martin Eden: I will, yes. When I’ve finished The O Men, I will move onto a five-book project called ‘Class’. I don’t want to say too much about it at the moment. I really want to make it all-ages though. So yes, it may probably contain some of the things I usually write about there will probably be a lesbian couple but I will have to figure out how to make it accessible to everyone. I want my little nephew and niece to be able to read it! 
Comics in Greece:  
Do you think that by creating a book for mature readers, you diminish your audience? Or this is a small price to pay, because it gives you the artistic freedom, to present things the way you want? 
Martin Eden:
I tend to go with the flow with whatever I write. I was a big fan of Vertigo’s ‘mature readers’ comics when I was growing up, and so this is the kind of comic I wanted to do with The O Men. In a way it freed me up, because I could go to extremes with storylines and dialogue. I grew up reading Marvel and DC superhero comics, so it's fun to be a bit more adult with superheroes and explore their love-lives, etc! And then the natural progression from The O Men was Spandex, which is obviously for mature readers too.
In reality, how many kids read comics these days? My core audience are comic convention-goers, and they are mostly adults. Little kids are really attracted to the bright colours of Spandex so I have to ask them to go away!
It will be interesting to have to tone things down when I do my all-ages Class comic. I will still cover the same sorts of stories, but it will all be a lot more subtle! And I think you can still shock in your dialogue without having to swear. I think I'll learn a lot from it.
That's all for now from Martin Eden and his marvelous ideas! You can buy his awesome books here: http://spandexcomic.wordpress.com/the-spandex-book/ 

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