EXCLUSIVE: Martin Eden Talks SPANDEX; The World's First All Gay Superhero Team
Martin Eden talks Spandex, his new graphic novel featuring the first all gay superhero team! Taking us through the creation of the series, the chances of adapting it for the big or small screen and sharing his thoughts on Northstar's marriage and much more, hit the jump to check it out!
Spandex is released on June 19th in the US and June 15th in the UK from Titan Books. My review of the first volume ("Fast And Hard") won't be up on CBM until next month, although I will say that this is a book you should most definitely consider checking out. Many thanks to creator, writer and artist Martin Eden for taking the time to answer the questions below, and to Titan's Tom Green for setting up the interview.
Where did the idea for Spandex come from and what made you decide to create the world's first all gay superhero team?
I was working on my old comic (The O Men) and I needed a break… And at the same time, some background O Men characters were starting to grab my attention. I started to realize that they were gay, and the idea evolved from there. It was a case of, 'Wouldn't it be fun if there was an entirely gay superteam in a universe full of gay characters'. And then I just wanted to get the comic out there before anyone else thought of it!
For anyone who may not have heard of the series, what would you tell them to expect from it?
It's a superhero soap opera about a group of British Brighton-based gay superheroes called "Spandex". In the first issue they fight a 50-Foot Lesbian, in the second they visit Japan to recruit a fluorescent gay ninja called Neon, and they also fight loads of Pink Ninjas. Then I call my third issue the 'gay zombies' issue, but it's actually quite a serious one, a bit of a horror issue. It's got lots of subplots, twists, turns and revelations – it's a big mix of drama and horror… And the emphasis is just as much on their relationships as on the battles. Has that sold it?
What were the main challenges you faced with getting the series published?
I have been self-publishing the series myself, and then I thought it would be cool to reach a wider audience, so I pitched it around. Pitching can be hard. Some companies won't even allow you to talk to them! Some told me they couldn't deal with the gay thing and some told me they couldn't deal with superheroes. I thought Titan would be a really good fit for it, as they do a lot of diverse comics. To be honest, the whole process with Titan was very smooth and I am eternally grateful to them.
Did any existing comic book characters influence the personalities or powers of the team members?
Yeah, kind-of. Most of the characters started off as a homage to someone else, but I built up original personalities from there. I see Diva as a Wonder Woman type, Prowler's powers are similar to Rogue's (he can absorb the skills of any gay person), and Butch is a female Luke Cage. And in the universe, we also have James Bend, Gulk (gay Hulk), and plenty more.
How did you go about creating the colourful and unique look of each of the characters?
It just happened naturally really. The characters popped into my head pretty fully formed. If I have to force a character's creation, that character often doesn't work for me. It's like they already exist.
Which of the team members have you most enjoyed writing so far?
I like all of them, but I particularly like Prowler, because I think his outlook is similar to mine. He is practical and optimistic, against all the odds. Butch, the tough gal, is a lot of fun – she rarely speaks, so I have to find ways to make her interesting. Liberty, the transvestite leader, is great fun because she is quite devious and slippery.
Can you take us through how you illustrate the series?
Once it's all written and thumbnailed, I begin the task of drawing each issue. I tend to draw the most exciting scenes first – the ones that have been sitting in my head for years, which I've been dying to draw. I work in a really random order, and sometimes it's hard to keep track of it all. Like, for instance, I'm about a third of the way through Issue 7 now, and some pages are ready to be lettered and some haven't even been started yet. The art is all scanned, then I work away on it on Photoshop. It takes ages. The first Spandex issue took me a full year to do, as I was learning how to use Photoshop and it was my first color comic. I've got a lot quicker though.
What should fans expect from the second volume of Spandex?
Well, I don't know if there will be a second volume yet, but I hope there will be. It would contain the next big story arc, which is called 'O.M.F.G.'. It contains a lot of twists, a lot of shocks, and a piss-take of comic crossovers. The story is about the attack of Les Girlz, the team's main enemies. The lethal lesbians attack our heroes one by one...
Do you have an idea of how long you would like the series to continue for?
After 'O.M.F.G.' (which finishes in Issue 7 of the regular run which I self-publish), there will be one more issue, a Spandex Special. I really just want this series to be finite, to not outstay its/my welcome, and, really, the events of the Special kind-of mean that there shouldn't be any more Spandex stories. I also have a lot of other comic project ideas I want to work on.
Would you be interested in adapting Spandex into a film or TV show?
Oh yes, definitely. To be honest, most times when I go to the cinema, I become a film director in my head and I just imagine Spandex on the big screen! Or a TV show would be good, yes. I think Kate Moss should be Diva, and Brad Pitt should be Liberty. I think obviously there is the question of whether all members of society would flock to see an all-gay movie, but that's the trick with Spandex – the gay theme is just the context. It allows me to show guys and gals kissing each other or dating without it being a big deal, so I can just get on with my story. It allows me to explore sexuality without having to contextualize it all the time! A lot of my readers are actually straight, so hopefully a movie/TV show would work too.
What are your thoughts on Marvel's first gay marriage and DC's decision to out one of their superheroes?
The gay marriage is cool, although Kyle is a bit dull. Maybe it will be more exciting as the first gay comic divorce, so Northstar can marry a fellow superhero instead. That would be a lot more fun. The DC thing is so weird. I mean, Batwoman is already a lesbian. I just don't get the 'New 52'. Does it mean that all those back issues are now meaningless? Are they now just completely changing a character's personality? It seems weird.
Prowler, Liberty, Glitter, Indigo, Butch, Mr Muscles, Diva — all superpowered, all British, and the first all gay super-hero team there ever was! Created by independent creator Martin Eden, Spandex charts the highs and lows of a group of Brighton-based heroes, doing battle with 50-foot lesbians, a group of deadly pink ninjas, as well as their own complicated love lives! Packed with pop culture references, nods to classic comics and chock-full of humour and drama, Spandex is a super-hero book like no other! This is the very first collection of Martin Eden’s award-nominated comic and collects Spandex #1-3, plus bonus material!
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