O MEN ISSUE 2.8 NOTES
These notes will contain spoilers, so please don’t read ‘em until you’ve read issue 2.8!
This was a funny old issue, as I knew it would probably be off-putting to new readers, but it’s an issue that had to happen, i.e. explaining tons of things about what tons of characters have been up to. However, I’ve always felt that The O Men should be an Invisibles-style series, where readers can immerse themselves into the various storylines and re-read stuff so that it makes sense. It’s all there if you want it!
I did this yeeears ago. Don’t think I ever finished it, first time round! So it’s a pic that sprawled over about 6 or 7 years.
Pages 2 and 3
So here we have ‘what happened to Miss Scarlet’ and it takes us back to the end of O Men issue 27. We’re also getting a bit of info about Jeopardy – part of my plan to wrap as many characters up as I can. They all have li’l stories to them! Of course, Miss Scarlet’s story is far from over.
Final panel – “where’d Seraph go?” Timewise, she’s currently with the Vicious Circle II in the ‘Ashcan’ issue’s short story (a.k.a. issue 7.O).
Here we catch up with Stuart. He’s been travelling through space, exploring his powers ever since he ran out on Grace in issue 2.3.
Pages 5 and 6
I always knew that Rob and Stu were transported into space by Seraph (in issue 27). I hated the idea of them being there for years though (which isn’t practical anyway), so luckily I came up with the idea of time being different there (thanks, ‘Interstellar’.)
Page 7 and 8
All the timing makes sense to me here, but lord only knows if it makes sense to any readers. This all takes place just after issue 2.6. I gave Rob a checked shirt (at the last minute) just to try and show he’s at a different time.
Page 11 – 13
Even if people find this issue a bit overwhelming/confusing, hopefully fun/odd scenes like this win them back over! Re the ‘superhero’ page – Abby’s superhuman name really was going to be ‘Glaze’, before I thought better of it.
Does this scene feel similar to anyone? Maybe take a look at issue 1…?
I really, really couldn’t remember how long Grace’s hair was supposed to be. Originally, I drew it all a lot shorter, but I figured some time has gone by since we last saw her. So I did a lot of re-drawing and used a bit of artistic licence to re-grow it – as Grace really should have long hair. And maybe her shorter hair in issues 2.2 to 2.7 shows that this isn’t the real Grace.
Bang! And now, hopefully, we can head into more linear storytelling from next issue onwards!
O MEN ISSUE 2.9 NOTES
These notes will contain spoilers, so please don’t read ‘em until you’ve read issue 2.9!
Again, I was worried this issue might be a little off-putting as it’s quite ‘dense’ with a lot going on, plus also we have the Spandex crossover, which I didn’t necessarily have to do, but hopefully people will see it as a nice ‘touch’ – and hopefully it aligns the O Men/Spandex universes a bit. With this issue, I add ANOTHER character to the ever-bulging team (ooer). You know, when I put O Men on hiatus, and when I re-introduced the team in Spandex, I really had no idea how few issues I had left of O Men to wrap things up. I saw the final O Men issues as an endless sea of pages, but there really is so much to cram in. I don’t regret introducing Safe, but if I had the time again and if it didn’t mess up continuity, I’d probably leave him til later.
But hopefully, this is the issue where everything starts to calm down a bit (so to speak), storylines settle down a bit and become a little bit more linear with the big twist at the end.
I actually censored myself a lot in this issue. Originally, Anathema’s thought captions contained some quite disparaging things about Liberty, the Spandex leader. Some fairly homophobic put-downs. I thought, yes, this is what that bitch would say! She is so offensive! I then started wondering if it would get a negative reaction from readers (reactions suffered by quite a few comics in recent times) and I thought I’ll just defend it by saying that it’s a complete beeyatch who is saying these things. But I thought ‘would she say these things?’ When you read issue 2.10 and get more insight into her character – I’m not sure she actually would be so homophobic. So I cut this down to just the one homophobic slur, not related to Liberty!
When I started drawing these final issues, I had a bit of a blank about Grace’s hair-length and I drew it quite short. But I’ve always seen her as having longer hair and I figure time has gone by a bit, so I changed it quite a lot. You can still see some of the shorter hair in this cover.
Back when I was in the early stages of writing The O Men, this was a page I always wanted to do. I always had this thought of a ‘sharky superhero’ attacking people in a pool – and so here we have it!
You remember Safe, don’t you? He was part of the early very-PC gay super-duo, Safe and Sound. Sound was killed by Anathema in issue 1.27 and Safe lost an arm!
So yes, if you haven’t twigged, this issue crosses over with Spandex issue 5, an issue where alllll Spandex’s heroes and villains clash (while six of the Spandex team have been kidnapped).
I kind of see the Insect League as a Marauders-style team (from the X-Men). They’re not as nasty but may have clone bodies.
Spot the Kate Bush reference? 😉
So if you hadn’t noticed, here’s a little bit of trivia – Doctor O’s butler Alfred Pathe is the brother of Spandex’s butler Arthur Pathe!
I really struggled with the pic of Grace holding the gun to her chin – I felt awkward asking friends to pose! And then, lo and behold, the very day before this issue goes on sale, there was the perfect one on The 100 TV show! Ah well.
Little bit of a Tori reference here, to the lyrics of Unrepentant Geraldines.
Note that Anathema has her markings around her eyes/mouths in her astral form, but not in the physical body that Stuart makes for her.
I’m ending the series, and this is one of the ‘big issues’. There are a few characters who really needed an explanation and an origin – I’m not a big fan of series which leave readers dangling. And in a funny way, most of the answers and clues have already been revealed at various points in the series – this just consolidates them (with the addition of ‘Isabelle’). I really wanted to have fun with this issue and try a different art style for each time period. It was a challenging issue, because everything needs to be right and I needed to avoid clashing with something that has appeared before. There was actually one plothole that came up – something that goes against logic, I won’t say what, so I worked out how to retcon it a bit in an upcoming issue. I actually like ‘problems’ like that – it’s fun coming up with a way to resolve them, and sometimes the solution makes the story stronger.
This was quite simple to do, but it did leave me with a problem – I didn’t want anyone waiting for Book Five to see it as it’s one big fat spoiler!
For the first few pages – the Anathema/Isabelle/curse sequences – it’s all pencilled, no inks. A lot of people describe my style as ‘simple’ – and I guess it is, but I can go very ‘sketchy’ when I want to!
These first few pages developed a lot towards the end. I kind of started saying to myself ‘is it obvious what’s happening here?’ – ‘is it clear that that is so-and-so, so I kept adding bits of dialogue just to make sure it was clear. ‘Is it clear that it’s Anathama in these pages?’
A lot of this story also goes back to good ol’ Spandex! Eagle-eyed Span-fans may recognise Isabelle from those issues – especially issue 6. You don’t have to have read the Spandex issues as Isabelle will develop in The O Men, but hopefully some people got an ‘ooooh!’ from her appearance.
Page 3 onwards
Eagle-eyed readers may notice that some characters are not included in this issue as part of Anathema’s ‘trial’. I kind of just wanted to keep it to the core characters and people who have been directly affected by Anathema, so Safe and Shine are not involved. I could have put a line in about it, but there was no way to do it without it being clunky, and there was so much going on as it is. I kind of just wanted it to be a casual fact.
Is this weird? I don’t know. I kind of want to convey that the O Men are ‘seeing’ Anathema’s past/flashback. Hopefully it works.
It’s amazing the kind of research that goes into these comics. Like working out when the word ‘cunny’ was invented and seeing if it works in this time period.
I’d have loved to have run so much of this issue without some of the dialogue, but I really wanted to make it obvious what is happening. Identifying Anathama/Anna and Doctor O/Adam is essential and I wanted to make it completely obvious whenever they appear. Otherwise, a lot of panels would have been more dialogue-free.
And now we know why Anathema has those marks around her eyes.
Again, these top panels would have been dialogue-free but I didn’t want people to think Anna somehow survived being burnt at the stake and then gone on to live in medieval London. Originally, the first panel was dialogue-free and the second just had Grace saying ‘Go on’.
I used a brush pen for the plague panels.
So here, Miss Scarlet starts to question the name Isabelle, which was Perception’s real name (from PSI-SQUAD).
Recognise this place?
Mr Cushing? Where have we heard that before?
Final panel: Blackie??
All this – all the Jack the Ripper/Nazi/witch stuff was alluded to in issue 1.21 – now I’m just wrapping it up together. I originally wanted Anathama to be Mary Jane Kelly, Jack’s final victim, as she is so iconic, but I figured Annie Chapman probably tied in more, name-wise.
Again, I was like, will people tie this in with that UK Ultra Knights/Victrix scene from O Men 1.12? I added in extra dialogue/notes just to make it clear.
Originally it was going to be Rob who pushed Anathama down the stairs. But it had to be Miss Scarlet really, didn’t it…
We’ve had so many ‘thoughts’ from Anathema posing as Grace in issue 2.9, so now we see Grace’s thoughts.
Lower panels: Originally, I was going to do a little vignette with Kelly here, but I felt Anathema should have the ending. Kelly’s scenes will crop up in a later issue.
David the baby is Asylum. Hopefully readers connected the dots, but it’s not terribly obvious.
Final panel: A street near where I work!
Now we really are into more linear storytelling, and things have settled down a lot (apart from all the action, of course!). It’s time to sit back, strap yourself in and enjoy this two-part action story.
As always, towards the end there were lots of fiddles and little changes (it’s amazing what you can miss when you draw an issue all out of sequence), but nowhere near as many as on the previous issue (which took weeks of revisions – maybe because it was more of a canon-heavy issue). And in fact, I signed it off for Comixology and print maybe earlier than I normally would have (I would probably have dithered on things for another week or so). I guess it feels like a more ‘urgent’, less in-the-details issue.
I worked on a cover for this issue for about 6 months – and then realised it just wasn’t working. Take a look. I wanted it based on an Avengers Age of Ultron cover – a huge fight-y thing – the main characters are colour and the minor villains are black and white. It was just taking ages, fiddling around getting positions right, drawing guns properly and it just wasn’t working. Then I took a step back and decided I just didn’t like it, and I felt it doesn’t represent the O Men series very well!! So I completely scrapped it (I used it as the cast-list page instead) and kind of went for something more generic – something more interesting and better drawn (a lot based on photos I’d collected, and also coloured in a way I’d seen a Love and Rockets cover being coloured). I wanted to put everyone in circles but that made the images quite small and I wanted to really show the images. A final element was to have most of the characters coming out of their panels. Fact fans: the image of Shine is the first thing I drew on my new ipad pro!
The writing in the book in the final panel was pretty much the final thing I did for this issue.
Panel 2: Kelly has her back to us here and it’s an image I play with in other panels in this issue.
Panel 3: So now you can see that the Seraph-as-a-villain storyline was a bit of a red herring.
The title: I was trying to think of a title for this story (and titles are often quite hard to think up) and I just saw a sign-post, ‘Danger of Death’, and I thought, “that’s it – that’s the name of this two-parter”.
Originally, I had envisioned a page of the O Men preparing themselves for the battle – particularly focusing on Rob and Abby, but I decided to dive straight into the action.
So I don’t know if it’s obvious, but these frame-less/Vicious Circle panels take place during a previous Vicious Circle meeting – similar to the one that took place in the O Men Aschan.
Nonna – you know, I hate the fact she has similar hair to Miss Scarlet, as it is a bit confusing, but really Nonna has a streak of white hair and Miss Scarlet has streaks of red – so it all makes sense in colour!
Nonna was just a crazy invention I made up very early on, playing on the word Nonagenarian.
At the top I was going to have Abby making a comment about ‘death by social media’ but I decided it was a bit of overkill.
I think my car drawings have improved??
Shine’s T-shirt quote is from Tori Amos’s Crucify. Not a ‘classic’ line, but a line I like in the song.
After I finished the issue, it kind of struck me how violent it is… Sorry.
You know me – I’m no good at drawing buildings, so I was dreading this final panel – hoping I’d get it right. I don’t think it turned out too badly!
I really wanted something almost black and white – lots of shadows, muted colours. If you look at it, it does foreshadow a bit who doesn’t survive the issue.
My handwriting sucks… And all of Kelly’s diary entries were originally hand-written, but it was just taking ages and ages to tidy it up, so I resorted to a font I created myself instead.
I wonder how many readers noticed how awful Starman is and how bad his actions towards Seraph are. It was actually a lot worse in the original O Men run that I created at university – I didn’t really go into it a huge amount in this run.
Page 7 and 8
The final panel is a reference to the issue of Walking Dead where Michonne gets her revenge on the Governor, and she references that on the next page.
In case you’d forgotten, Frenzy (who’d had his brains blown out but was resurrected by Anathema) was sent after Jeremy by Miss Scarlet in issue 1.27.
Spandex are at the funeral here, along with some of the members of the new O Men team that came together at the start of volume two.