Last week saw the debut of Doug Wagner and Tim Odland’s dark comedy, dark fantasy saga, Beware The Eye of Odin #1 from Image Comics. You can read my review here, and hear more from the creators below in my interview with both Tim and Doug below. Always fun to catch up with Doug, and great to hear from Tim for the first time too. And hopefully not the last either! I raise my horn of mead to you both and wish you all the best with this dark fantasy romp!
Olly MacNamee: Doug, Beware The Eye of Odin #1, I believe, is your first stab at writing fantasy fiction. So, we can expect a gentle and twee hero’s quest full of magical, twinkly fairies, elves, dwarves, and mild peril, right?
Doug Wagner: Olly, I know what you’re trying to do, and it won’t work. Sure, make fun of the guy who writes dark, sadistic comics about serial killers, blowup dolls, and eclectic dancers trying his hand at fantasy. Well, you know what? You’re right. I don’t do gentle and/or twee. Beware the Eye of Odin may not be in the same dark comedy/horror genre folks are used to from me, but this series is every bit Tim and I’s Norse version of a dark world filled with mutated trolls, battle hammer wielding rock creatures, and tiny little beings more venomous than an army of neon-colored frogs. Yes, it’s fantasy. But it’s a dangerous world more along the lines Grimms’ Fairytales. Think Ray Harryhausen meets The Dark Crystal.
OM: Tim, looking at your instagram account, fantasy fiction isn’t that new to you. But the world of comics is. Would it be something of an understatement to say you’re rather excited about this series? How much does this series mean to you?
Tim Odland: Oh, it means a lot. First off this is my first break out series and I couldn’t have hoped for a better scenario.
To have a book at Image as been a loooong time goal. I’ve dreamed of being a pro comic artist since I was a kid. I was reading Savage Dragon, Spawn, Youngblood, WildCats, and all the major Image books back then. I imagined myself drawing comics for Image as a grown-up. Finally, things have come full circle. It’s the 30th anniversary of Image Comics, and I can celebrate with them, with a big HIGH FIVE from 9yr old me! I couldn’t have asked for a better freshman outing.
With that aside, I got to work with one of the best mentors and friends anyone could ask for. We had a lot of fun making this book.
OM: And, Doug, not to leave you out, how much does this mean to you too? I believe it’s something that’s been percolating for some time?
DW: I’m such an emotional softy, so every book means something special to me. There’s always a story behind the creation of each series that makes each one uniquely significant to me. This one is no different. Tim and I became good friends long before we started working together. He’s one of the most caring, kind-hearted humans I’ve ever met. And as he said, his dream since he was 9 years old was to one day work for Image Comics. For me to somehow be a part of helping him achieve that dream fills my soul with joy. There are no words that can express how much.
OM: How did this collaboration come about in the first place? Plus, what notes can you possibly even give Tim when he’s smashing it out of the park with the world and characters he’s creating even in this first issue?
TO: Well, Doug and I met at a “Draw Night.” A bunch of artists local to Salt Lake City held a “Drink and Draw” once a week at a coffee shop. I think it was Ryan Ottley that invited Doug. We hit it off right away. I lived up in the mountains and thought it was a funny coincidence Doug lived less than a mile away from my house. We started meeting up for lunch and eventually those lunch meetings turned into our creative meetings.
DW: Life can be this wonderful maze of fortuitous randomness. Tim and I probably would have never met if not for those “Drink and Draws.” Even though we only lived a few minutes apart in this tiny town. Now we’re close friends and making comics. Crazy how things work out sometimes, huh?
As far as giving notes to Tim, I knew from seeing his work at the “Drink and Draws” that I’d never have to worry about that aspect of the project. I mean, that’s the reason I tricked him into working with me.
OM: So, we have a prince, Helgi, who thinks he’s cursed, a retired warrior and local blacksmith missing an arm, Stigr, and a delusional young woman, Kadlin, who thinks she’s a Valkyrie. Not your usual band of adventurers. But, out of adversity, it would seem, comes invention?
DW: LOL. I believe that comes from both Tim and I feeling more like were misfits than normies (yes, I said that out loud). I prefer to write characters that I can easily identify with, so creating a group of Vikings that aren’t created from the typical checklist just felt right.
TO: That’s right. Typical is boring. We’ve got a good mix of characters here. It’s a lot of fun seeing how they interact with each other.
OM: This is a story steeped in element of Icelandic/Nordic sagas. But then, Tim, you are descended from Vikings, I hear. But what other influences, narratively and artistically, are you both channeling? Personally, I loved the Hundrafolk.
TO: This is an adventure. Not too dense, but a riot. As a kid, and even now, I really love those old Ray Harryhausen movies. Clash of the Titans, Jason and the Argonauts, and The Seven Voyages of Sinbad specifically. They didn’t take themselves too seriously and they always had great monsters to fight. I can’t help but think the love for those movies somehow made it into this book.
DW: 1,000%. Tim and I both share a love of those kinds of movies and wanted to channel what we loved about them into this story. I wish I could take more credit, but the initial inspiration for the concept came from Tim. When we first started talking about working together, he was passionate about doing a high adventure book based on Vikings and trolls. Especially trolls. Once we started tinkering and I saw his initial designs come in, the book started writing itself.
The funny thing about the Hundrafolk (which I love too) is that I misinterpreted two creatures Tim was describing to me. I thought these little evil forest elves he was telling me about during one of our creative sessions were called Huldrafolk. I LOVED that name, so I ran home and wrote my version of what I thought they should be. Well, it turns out a Huldrafolk is something entirely different, and me being the hardheaded writer that he is, I just couldn’t let that name for these little monsters go. Luckily, Tim saved the day when he found a quick Norse term that fit just as well.
OM: Without giving too much away, what can readers expect from this dark humoured and dark fantasy series in future issues?
DW: Grotesque trolls, magical creatures, dark magic, way too many double-paged spread fight scenes, and three determined Viking misfits trying to navigate it all. Did we mention that ever issue is double-sized?
TO: This is a “get up and go high paced adventure” with a few subtleties that will make the reread a blast as well.
OM: Finally then, guys, the hard sell. If there’s anyone still sitting on the fence about picking up Beware The Eye of Odin #1 this week, how would you pitch it to ‘em?
DW: Listen, if you’re into movies like The 13th Warrior, Lord of the Rings, Trollhunter, Clash of the Titans, or anything Ray Harryhausen, you’re gonna enjoy this book.
TIM: Stay back and tend your crops, but if you want to vacation in Valhalla, come with us!
OM: Doug, as ever, a pleasure catching up with you. Tim, great to be able to interview you. And, all the best for the series.
DW: Olly, it’s always a pleasure. Thank you for taking the time to show us a little love.
TO: Thank you Olly, I can’t way to show you how much fun we had.
Beware The Eye of Odin #1 is out now from Image Comics