Updated: Jan 24, 2020
Michael Avon Oeming has been drawing comic books professionally since he was 14 years old. He's probably best know for his collaboration with Brian Michael Bendis on the Eisner Award winning series, POWERS. A crime book set in a world where superheroes exist.
He also collaborated with Bendis on UNITED STATES OF MURDER INC. A story set in a world where the FBI never dismantled the Mafia. The current volume is in stores now.
Not only is he a talented artist but he's a hell of a writer as well. He's written stories starring Thor, but it was his work on ARES that has truly stood out. He also co-authors his creator owned book, THE MICE TEMPLAR over at Image Comics.
With the 20th anniversary of POWERS coming up, he and Bendis have teased something special for all of the longtime fans. Not only that but he's working on Hellboy…. It's a great time to be an Oeming fan.
Comic Lounge: When did you first decide to get into comics?
Michael Avon Oeming: Almost immediately after I started reading them and tracing images from every page. I got hit with the bug right away. I didn’t know what a comic book artist was or anything about the industry in 1985 (ish) all I knew is I wanted to draw comics. From that moment on, I was dedicated and committed to comics. I consider myself lucky for finding my passion at such an early age.
Comic Lounge: What were some of the most influential comics to you growing up?
Oeming: NEXUS by Mike Baron and Steve Rude, the NEW MUTANTS by Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz and anything that Art Adams was drawing. The worlds those comics built for me felt real and were a real escape. And because they felt so real, they kept pulling my imagination deeper into comics. Bill’s dark art in New Mutants felt like daydreaming about superhero kids in the autumn, they actually evoked a sense of place and atmosphere in the way few comics did. I was also a big fan of all of the Spider-Man books, like Web of Spider-Man, Peter Parker, all of that. NEXUS was completely unique and still has some of the best self contained comics stories to this day.
Comic Lounge: You have a long history working with Brian Michael Bendis. Were you guys friends already before starting POWERS?
Oeming: Yeah, we were pals beforehand, but we weren’t close. I met him and David Mack at the same time during a store signing. I was coming off of JUDGE DREDD and FOOT SOLDIERS and other company books and here were these guys doing creator owned work. I’m not even sure if I fully understood what that meant at the time. All I know is when I met Brian, I wanted to work with him right away. I loved the crime comics he was doing, and we talked about doing some kind of crime comic together. It took about a year or less of faxing sketches and ideas when he hit me with POWERS... which I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do at first because it had superheroes in it! But he assured me it was a crime book with a minor hero element. It was, and also a lot of commentary about pop culture at the time. The book has grown with media and culture and how it would effect a super hero crime world like ours.
Comic Lounge: What was it like seeing your creations brought to life, on the POWERS show?
Oeming: Surprising! Not only surprising that we HAD a show, but how much we were willing to let the show have its own life. We didn’t want it to be a direct adaptation but to trust the talent we were working with to allow it become its own thing. It was really experimental, in the way it was made to the way it was distributed on PlayStation.
Comic Lounge: What are the plans on continuing POWERS?
Oeming: We have a Graphic Novel coming out. It will bring us back to the Forever Storyline which many fans and myself- consider their favorite. We’ll see the formation of Walkers relationship with Retro Girl, Triphammer as well as the “return” of the Wolfe. It’s all finished, but I think we are going to add a bit to coincide with 20 years of POWERS. 20 YEARS!!!
Comic Lounge: You also draw UNITED STATES OF MURDER with Bendis as well. For those that may not be familiar with the book can you talk a little about it?
Oeming: Sure. I had this idea I posed as a question to Brian- what would things be like if the Mafia was never broken up by the FBI in the 60’s and 70’s? Murder Inc and the Five Families- what would that scene be like now if the FBI hadn’t worked so hard at chipping away at the empire. Brian loved it, I think he formed a full image in his mind almost right away. We’ve expanded it some since then, like realizing the rules are different for them, including how technology and national security are used, everything from 9-11 to phone technology. But no flying cars.
Comic Lounge: Are there plans to continue the book past this mini series?
Oeming: Oh yeah- big plans! But for now, just concentrating on the current storyline. But I am already drawing the next, we may be TOO far ahead of schedule!
Comic Lounge: Not only are you an awesome artist but a great writer as well. One of my favorite books to wrote was ARES. Have you ever thought about returning to the character?
Oeming: Thanks much! It’s been awhile since I’ve written for others to draw, but I’ve been getting back into that, so it could happen. I loved that series, its one of those things that really came from the heart. On the surface it was a war story, but it was really about a father and sun and all my separation issues!
Comic Lounge: Are there any other books you're working on that you can talk about or tease?
Oeming: I’m drawing 4 chapters of HELLBOY AND THE BPRD featuring Varvara. Besides Murder I have several of my own projects I’m developing, but often I work on projects and let pages build up until they are ready. I have almost 200 pages of art no one has seen yet for these projects. “Just do it” as they say- figure out the publishing later.
Comic Lounge: Do you have a bucket list of characters you would like to work on?
Oeming: I do. I’ve gotten to write and draw my own Batman story already in Legends of the Dark Knight, and Bryan Glass and I drew a Superman story. But I do want to do more Batman, especially if I can write it myself, but I need that angle for an original story. Deadman and New Gods are there too, I’d love some New Gods action!
Comic Lounge: What advice would you give to a writer or artist wanting to make their own comics?
Oeming: There is nothing stopping you. There are so man avenues to make comics now, especially digital, the only thing in your way is you. Don’t have an artist for your story? Find an inventive way to design it yourself and write your story around those limitations. Can’t find a publisher? Publish digital, on Tumblr, or one of the many comics platforms. Write every day, draw every day even it’s only a half hour. Just do it.