World building on a post-apocalyptic blank slate

“The possibility of paradise hovers on the cusp of coming into being, so much so that it takes powerful forces to keep such a paradise at bay. If paradise now arises in hell, it's because in the suspension of the usual order and the failure of most systems, we are free to live and act another way.” ― Rebecca Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell

When the ideas that eventually became Golem & Odd were first germinating  — I believe the first coherent pitch was "Casablanca set in a post-apocalyptic underground city" — Chaim and I had an epiphany about why we like the post-apocalypse sub-genre so much: it’s a blank slate for building a fictional world, not just for us creators, but for the characters too. The familiar has been destroyed, and all of us are challenged to build something new together.

Good post-apocalyptic stories don’t rubberneck at the end of the world, they imagine radical transformation. The status-quo is replaced with the uncanny, and the characters have to cope or perish. In the case of Golem & Odd, the uncanny world is deep underground — and if our heroes are to survive, they’ll have to make up new ways of being human as they go along. So goodbye patriarchy, hierarchy, capitalism… that shit just doesn’t work underground!

What could a new society underground look like? Will it be a nightmare or a utopia? We’ll have to find out together.

Strange Valentine

Stranger-Valentine.jpg

I don't typically do fan art. Not out of a lack of appreciation for the form, but either I like something too much to want to do my own version, or I'm intimidated by the overabundance of technically superior tributes to any of the films, shows, or comics that I'd choose to render.

That being said, it's Valentine's Day tomorrow and my lady love is abroad for a ridiculously long time doing something awesome. So, in the spirit of feeling upside down, I decided to rewatch Stranger Things and do this V-Day piece.

Happy Valentine's Day Denizens!

-c

Work Work Work

Dear Denizens!

I'm happy to say that we're about 75% finished with the first issue, which grew from a planned standard 22 page single issue, to a double-length, pulpstravaganza!

For those of you wondering why this takes as long as it does...we, the creators, are a two man team responsible for writing, drawing, coloring, lettering, uploading, designing and site maintenance, and we both still have day jobs. In my case as a freelance illustrator, that sometimes means night jobs too. So, try as I might, I can't always crank out as many pages as quickly as I'd like. 

HOWEVER! While working on pages, we're still actively developing the plots, scripts and sketches of more GOLEM & ODD issues to come. 

So here's to you, our first fans! Thanks for your patience! Good things are coming down the...cave.

-c

ChAracter design

A Duo in the Making

Who doesn't love a good origin story?

But how many comic creators can claim their characters were summoned in a medieval German castle, on a cliff high above a forest shrouded in mist and littered with bones?

We can.

This is the very first drawing of Golem & Oddd, done for fun in 2014 back when Dr. Odd had three Ds in his last name. The drawing depicted characters JE and I created as counselors for a fantasy themed kids camp. I don't have to point out the irony in a mad paranormal detective and a Jewish monster-hunter LARPing with German kids in a Burg once used in WWII by the bad guys–but it's a pretty damn unique way to come up with a comic book.

G&O was originally conceived as a subterranean neo-noir/paranormal detective comic.  I was devouring Hellboy at the time and Mignola's influence was its own magnificent albatross. As such, Golem's initial design was more 30s-40s action hero, a kind of Jewish Lobster Johnson inspired mainly by Robert Mitchum, Humphrey Bogart and Harrison Ford. But as we developed a very different story Brendan Gleeson, Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini muscled everyone else off the lookbook. We wanted him to be the tank, but we didn't want him to be the cliché brainless brute. That was a challenge.

   

Dr. Odd was much easier to design by comparison and he changed very little in the early stages. His head grew bigger to make room for his expansive brain and his chin vanished entirely beneath his great ginger mustache. John-Erik told me, "think Data from The Goonies if he'd been played by Bob Balaban," and Odd crystalized. Odd's face coalesced into a series of basic graphic shapes and a body of hard angles, while Golem grew out his Brendan Gleeson beard & ears.  He also got Hardy's sloping shoulders and Hulk hands but was still looking a bit too dim & jolly. 

It took a bit of tweaking, some Peaky Blinders and a couple of clay models to get designs we were happy with.

Like most illustrators who cut their teeth drawing superheroes on lined notebook paper, I dreamed of the day I'd effortlessly breathe my Wolverine, Maxx or Hellboy onto paper. Obviously, it's not that easy. The process was a lengthy labor of love (don't even get me started on the female characters!). But it was certainly made easier by the fact that we basically cosplayed the characters before they even had a comic. In the end it wasn't a cape and cowl I needed, but a haunted castle, some foam weapons and a brilliant creative partner.

G&O is the most personal thing I've ever been lucky enough to be a part of, and it's just the beginning!

We love these guys, and we hope you do too.

Happy delving!

-chaim