OSSM Comics recently debuted Monomyth (Siike Donnelly, Eric Ninaltowski)a new series that features some incredible art, great storytelling and a tale that spans both Heaven and Earth. OSSM Comics provides the following synopsis:
“ After the battle in heaven, Michael fell and Lucifer became the protector of mankind. Humans have lived in Eden for seven generations, never knowing sin. Now, Michael and his fallen have returned to destroy the peaceful land, aiming to rip away God's most precious creation from him. After Michael’s first attack, Enoch, a young man that has recently caused Eden much distress, stands with Lucifer to teach his people the violence of war in order to survive the coming attack.
But are the people who practice peace ready to kill the angels that once watched over them?”
As one can imagine, creating a tale of such scope and magnitude is no easy feat. Series writer Siike Donnelly took time out of a busy schedule of world building to talk a bit about Monomyth and more.
Mark Turner: You have a bit of background in the comics industry outside of creation. What made you decide to make the transition from reporting to creating? Had you always planned for it to work out that way? What benefit do you think you experienced due to this approach?
Siike Donnelly: I didn't plan for it, but did kind of hope for it. All my life, all I ever wanted was to contribute to comic books. Whether as an artist, editor, journalist, or now with podcasting, I just want to be some part of it all, no matter how small or large. I think the more people I met, that passion and love resonated to the right folks who felt like giving me a chance. Hopefully I'm not letting those people down. That is the benefit also; making friends with the people I admire.
MT: You serve as the Editor-in-Chief and marketing director for OSSM Comics, where Monomyth lives. Working in those capacities, does it inform your creative thought process?
SD: Yeah. Naturally, my marketing director side conflicts with my creator side, especially with Monomyth, which is not an extremely marketable idea. (laughs) I do find myself at that crossroads from time to time, but I'd say that being an editor certainly fuels my creative side a lot. As an editor, you get to hear other people's voices through their keyboards or pens and see what works or doesn't work for your personal tastes. Then you factor that in and potentially learn that the way you've been doing things isn't the only way to do things. It's nice. I like evolving as much as possible creatively, and I'd say editing and trying to market our books is a big part of that.
MT: How did the idea for Monomyth come about? Who is your creative team and how did you assemble it?
SD: Monomyth came about when I thought it'd be a good idea to do a comic that no other company would probably ever allow me to do. My friend and visual creator for Solestar, Paul Barnes, contacted me about wanting to do something. We just kept throwing ideas at it, but for me, I started to stray in a different direction. Magic the Gathering, I think Gatecrash, had just come out. There was this image of a beautiful female angel on the box behind this built guy. Being a fan of Supernatural, I've been wanting to tell a story with angels in it, so that was the opening of the flood gates.
From there, I noticed one thing that's very hard as an indie creator is bringing in an audience that's already familiar with the story you're telling. Mostly you're creating something from scratch and people have no idea what to expect or don't care enough to get invested in a new universe. I figured, whether people went to church weekly or not, most knew the story of Michael and Lucifer, but not everyone knew the story of Enoch. I decided to mash those two stories together, with some Final Fantasy and Gilgamesh references, then started writing.
Not too long after, I met Eric Ninaltowski through my boss Omar Spahi at Stan Lee's Comikaze here in Los Angeles. We hit it off, I sent him the script, he loved it, and it's been awesome ever since.
MT: Will Monomyth be an ongoing series of limited?
SD: We had such a great reaction to the first issue that I wish we could make it an ongoing, or hopefully at least revisit it one day. I left a few threads unanswered just in case, but no, we're sticking to our guns and doing a 3-issue limited series. But, to give readers more of a reason to give it a shot, each issue is 30 pages of story and art, with very few ads, while keeping it at $3.99. So you're getting a comic and a half each month. Hopefully that makes up for it only being 3 issues.
MT: The first issue features Angels (divine and fallen) quite prominently. Will we see other types of fantastical creatures in upcoming issues? Would you consider Monomyth an Epic Fantasy?
SD: I certainly put it in the fantasy realm, for sure. Yes! You will be seeing so many other creatures, starting in issue 2. At the end of issue 1 you saw those shadow monsters. There are a LOT more things Michael has as part of his army, all of which are explained in issue 2. An image that we leaked out already from issue 2 is Michael riding a 3 headed cerberus/dragon hybrid. It's so cool looking, and Eric did a fantastic job drawing it, as well as Peejay who colored the heck out of it.
MT: When writing the script what approach do you take. Marvel or full? Do you prefer one to the other?
SD: Personally, I can't write a rough outline and just let the artist go, with me adding dialogue later. I can't. Comics are a collaboration, which to me, means each person should put in as much work as possible. That means I write full scripts, but am open to panel changes, dialogue changes, or anything else that the artist or editor thinks doesn't work. It's a visual medium, so I want the artist to be able to outvote me on many things, but I also want to feel like I earned the title "writer".
MT: Who are some of your writing influences? Is there a particular genre you prefer more than others? Any that you would like to explore?
SD: Agatha Christie is my all-time favorite writer. I love her books. I have them all. To me, she was such a master with words. She taught me the power words have, and how lining them up perfectly can help tell a great story. Her writing makes me a fan of mysteries, but I would say I probably prefer adventure stuff. I love Indiana Jones, Rocketeer, and more recently, Guardians of the Galaxy. Those movies are so amazing, paced well, acted well, with great, fun dialogue.
If I could explore any, I'd say one day I'd like to write something funny. There's so much talent in writing a show where the jokes keep coming and the story flows naturally. Community does this well, Rick and Morty, The Office, Seinfeld, etc. So many great comedic shows, past and present that make me want to do it more and more. Maybe one day. Until then, I'm only writing serious stuff.
MT: As an independent publisher, what are some of the biggest challenges you face? Ultimately, where do you see yourself five years from now (ideally)?
SD: Our biggest challenge is honestly getting people to read your stuff. Everyone has to start somewhere, and with social media, we have the ability to grow an audience online. Still, this is also a business, and as much as I'm passionate and love what I do, I have to constantly remind myself that I have to make money in order to keep my job. It's tough. You don't want to treat what you love as work sometimes, but sometimes you do. There's an interesting balance.
And if you ever meet me, I must look like the opposite of a professional. My arms are tattooed, I have the head of a cro magnon, I wear pajama pants everywhere I go, and around comics I just always have a big, dumb smile on my face. So yeah, I need to buy more jeans and long sleeve shirts, and maybe fix my face a bit.
MT: Do you find time to still follow other titles? If so what are you reading right now?
SD: I used to think that I'd ALWAYS have time to keep up with comics. Man, was I wrong. (laughs)
Right now, I'm a few months behind, but I try to keep up with Injustice, Batman Beyond, Green Arrow, and Justice League over at DC. I'm loving Luthor as a member of the JL. So fun. At Marvel, I'm reading a bit more, with Uncanny Avengers, Secret Avengers, Amazing Xmen, New Warriors, Storm, Cyclops, Iron Fist, Daredevil, Hulk, Fantastic Four, Elektra, Ghost Rider, and anything with the Inhumans in it. They're my favorite Marvel characters. Plus, Dan Slott has written my favorite Spider-Man run since Paul Jenkins a decade or so ago. So I'm loving Spidey right now.
Indie wise I'm trying to keep up with most of what Top Cow puts out, some Image, Dark Horse, Dynamite, Archie, I love Mega Man, and pretty much everything IDW does, especially The Crow, Silent Hill, and Transformers. I love Transformers. Love them! John Barber, Chris Metzen, Marguerite Scott, and everyone over at IDW telling Transformers stories is killing it right now. I'm actually completely caught up on them after meeting them all at SDCC, fanboying out, and buying like $80 worth of single comics and trades from them.
MT: Where can fans find Monomyth?
SD: Right now you can find it at your local comic shop. We'll have it up as a digital download at www.ossmcomics.com very shortly, if it isn't up already, and I'm working on getting it up on Comixology. It will be up on their Comixology Submit site whenever it goes up. I'll let you know.
MT: Where can fans follow you or find out more about you and your work?
SD: If you ever wanna know what I'm up to, follow me on Instagram (@ElanVitalHasASoul) or on Twitter (@ExplodingBullet) or check out www.ossmcomics.com and www.siikedonnelly.com. I do a lot of stuff. I'm currently working on an art project, called Elan Vital, I just wrapped the first season of my podcast for www.theexcomedy.com called Real Conversations with Fake People, where I interview actors playing Peter Parker, Cortana, or other fictional characters that I love. I frequent Dan Harmon's podcast, Harmontown from Feral Audio as well as my friend Kevin Kraft's podcast, Mad Scientist Party Hour over at the Riot Cast network. Busy guy. I'll sleep when I'm dead.