Next month Image Comics will release Beware the Eye of Odin #1, the new series from writer Doug Wagner, artist Tim Odland, colorist Michelle Madsen, and letterer Ed Dukeshire. The series follows a young Viking prince and his compatriots on a quest to return the lost eye of Odin to its rightful owner. Beware the Eye of Odin is the first collaboration for Wagner and Odland, and the latest Image Comics series from Wagner, whose other credits with the publisher include Plastic, Vinyl, and The Ride.
The Beat chatted with Wagner and Odland about developing Beware the Eye of Odin, their interest in Norse mythology, and approaching ancient concepts from a new angle.
Joe Grunenwald: How did you guys get interested in Norse mythology? Tim, I understand you’re descended from actual Vikings?
Tim Odland: Well, I’ve always been interested in Norse mythology because of my heritage. My father is Norwegian, and he always had a good story to tell. As for descending from Vikings, I’d like to think I’ve got a healthy mix of Vikings and simple farmers in my blood line just to balance out any blood thirsty savagery.
Doug Wagner: LOL. That’ funny, Tim. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you even slightly upset. You’re either one of the nicest people I’ve ever known or you’re really good at hiding your inner blood-thirsty barbarian deep inside.
As for my interest, I’ve always been a mythology nut. I think that comes from all the wonderful “B” movies from my childhood. I used to watch those old Hercules movies from the ‘60s and the original Jason and the Argonauts with my grandfather. Those had me diving into books on Greek mythology, and it wasn’t long until I made my way to the Norse side. Greek was great, but man, Norse mythology just had all these wonderful creatures and species in it. I loved that stuff.
Grunenwald: How much of Beware the Eye of Odin is based in the established mythology, and how much is you putting your own spin on it?
Wagner: There’s like 15% established mythology and the rest is us playing like we just picked up some new action figures from the Toys “R” Us. That was intentional on our part. When we first started talking about working together, Tim brought up the idea of Vikings and trolls. My one caveat was “only if we get to do the Doug and Tim version.” Tim was happy to go that path. Yes, the Eye of Odin, trolls, earthen smiths, frost giants, and Valkyries are not new concepts, but I do think the way we approached most of those are unique.
Odland: Mythology is always a great starting point for any adventure story. There is already a general knowledge or structure to the world to build off. We used it as a springboard to add our own take to it.
Grunenwald: What’s your collaborative process like on this book? It sounds like you conceived of the whole thing together, so I imagine there’s a fair amount of communication.
Wagner: Oh yeah. We meet every week for lunch at Taco Bell and worked on every aspect of it together. I’d come with script, and Tim would chime in with his thoughts. Tim would show up with layouts or penciled pages, and I’d give him my honest feedback. It flowed almost effortlessly and was really an egoless process. We didn’t care who created what or whose idea it was. Our only priority was to create a book that we both would buy and enjoy if we saw it on the stands.
Odland: Our main goal with this book was just to have fun. Doug and I knew the tone we were going for and because we were on the same page it was easy to know what to bring to the table.
Grunenwald: The first issue of this book really drops readers right into the thick of things. How did you decide where the reader’s experience of the story should start?
Wagner: Well, there’s kind of a funny story there. You see, when we started this, it was supposed to be a 40-page one-shot. Yes, you read that right. Somehow our 40-page one-shot turned into 162 pages. I mean, we were purposefully trying NOT to create an epic-sized piece. We clearly failed miserably. Because we thought this story would be much shorter, we knew we had to start as far into the story as we could get away with. Then we hit our first battle scene and the page count got out of control. The only excuse I can come up with is we were just having too much fun.
Odland: That was something Doug told me multiple times, “Don’t forget to have fun.”
While we were working on the book, I think it was our intent for it to be a web comic. That’s why I wasn’t afraid to add pages. Doug added some too but I thinking they all made the book better.
Grunenwald: I think a lot of comic readers, when they hear ‘Norse mythology,’ they immediately think back to classic Thor comics with their ‘I say thee nays’ and old style of speech, and one thing I appreciated about your script, Doug, is that there’s none of that, at least so far. Did you have a discussion at all about the style in which you wanted to write this series?
Wagner: Oh, we definitely discussed it. I think we both agreed that while we loved that old style of speech back when we were young it didn’t work for either of us anymore. For me personally, it tends to pull me out of the story. I spend more time re-reading and interpreting the dialogue than I do simply enjoying the story. I hate when that happens. So, we agreed that we’d approach it as though it was being dubbed for a modern audience, and since we believe this book could appeal to a wide age range, we didn’t want the style of speech to hamper anyone’s enjoyment of the book. Of course, I do realize that’s all just my opinion.
Grunenwald: Tim, how did you go about designing the look and feel of the series? Do you have any particular characters or elements that are your favorites to draw?
Odland: In terms of visually coming up with the look and feel of the world I did my research and then ran it though my own visual filter. I looked at what was considered real Norse culture. I referenced the historical clothing, housing, and objects. I looked at design elements like Norse knots and runes. When it came to designing characters and environments, I had all that stuff in the back of my mind and could riff off it to create something with a familiar flavor.
My favorite characters to draw are the Trolls. First off, there are so many possibilities. I could get real creative adding an extra arm, a second head, multiple eyes to a socket, or a turned-up nose. The best part is I didn’t have to be perfect when drawing them. If an eye was a little too far to the left, it was ok. Their faces are complete messes any way. Their clothes, weapons, and gear are all something they jumbled together from junk they had laying around. They’re quite a riot.
Grunenwald: What’re you guys excited for people to see when they pick up this book?
Wagner: For me, I can’t wait for people to see Tim’s artwork. He’s amazing, and the amount of detail he’ll put into a page to make sure it conveys the story is borderline insane. For instance, there’s a single page with over 50+ Hundrafolk on it—each drawn in great detail. I still can’t get over that page. That and Tim’s action sequences. The guy can throw down some well-thought-out action scenes that are just so much fun to read. Can you tell I’m a fan?
Odland: This is my first outing doing comics so I’m just excited for people to see something I put so much work into. 162 pages is a lot of work to keep under wraps. I’m dying to share it and hope people have as much fun reading it as I did drawing it.
Published by Image Comics, Beware the Eye of Odin #1 (of 4) is due out in stores and digitally on Wednesday, June 22nd. The final order cut-off for the first issue is Monday, May 30th.