Interview: Ron Marz on IDW & Ominous Press’ Dread Gods

Dread Gods #1 Tom Raney cover

Dread Gods #1 Tom Raney cover


Ron Marz is known to comic fans for his work on Green Lantern, Witchblade, John Carter, Warlord of Mars, Silver Surfer, and much more. His latest series is Dread Gods from Ominous Press with artists Andy Smith and Bart Sears. The series is published by IDW. Westfield’s Roger Ash recently spoke with Marz about this exciting, new project.

Dread Gods #1 Kenneth Rocafort cover

Dread Gods #1 Kenneth Rocafort cover


Westfield: For those who haven’t experienced the Ominous Universe yet, what should they know going into Dread Gods?

Ron Marz: Ultimately, they don’t need to know anything at all. The book is written to be an introductory, ground-floor read. You don’t need to bring anything with you; you don’t need to have any foreknowledge; you don’t need to go to a Wikipedia page. We’re going to tell you a story and we’re going to start at the beginning of the story so you don’t need to know anything else.

The only general background is Ominous Press is doing heroic stories that fall generally into science fiction and fantasy categories, but they’re a mix of elements. Dread Gods has a godly, mythic aspect to it, and it has a post-apocalyptic aspect to it. It’s kind of its own soufflé.

Dread Gods #1 preview page 1

Dread Gods #1 preview page 1


Westfield: What can you tell us about the story?

Marz: It’s called Dread Gods because the main characters believe that they are god-like beings in a bucolic paradise, and they have larger-than-life adventures, romances, and battles. As far as they’re concerned, they’re the deities of their reality, and they are living lives writ large. The reality of it is that they’re actually monsters. They’re entertainment for the masses in a post-apocalyptic landscape, where much of the population plugs into the daily exploits of these gods. The overlords of the world placate the masses by giving them bread and circuses. The story really starts when our gods figure out that the reality they’ve always believed in is nothing more than an ephemeral fantasy. They eventually free themselves from captivity and find themselves not gods in a perfect world, but monsters in a hellish landscape. The story is really about what they decide to do about this reality check that’s suddenly thrust upon them.

Dread Gods #1 preview page 2

Dread Gods #1 preview page 2


Westfield: Who are some of the main characters readers will meet?

Marz: The main characters are our gods who are patterned after the Greek gods so they have names like Zeus, Hera, and Aphrodite and even demigods like Achilles. They’re not the Greek gods of myth, but they’re a version thereof. They live lives of bucolic glory, but that obviously doesn’t last. There’s a character who’s responsible for freeing them, who becomes aware of their reality. He learns that the gods people plug into each day are actually prisoners, and he’s an instrument to try to free them. That character is a small person in a wheelchair. He, in many ways, is the least among the population. He’s one of the forgotten people. The gods will ultimately depend upon this most human and most frail character to help them in the real world .

Dread Gods #1 preview page 3

Dread Gods #1 preview page 3


Westfield: You’re working with Tom Raney and Bart Sears on the book. What can you say about your collaboration with them?

Marz: The Ominous Universe is, to a large extent, the brainchild of Bart Sears. These are concepts that he initially fleshed out two decades ago when Ominous Press first flourished. He didn’t get to tell any of these stories. In the 20 years since, hopefully we’re all better at our jobs than we were then, so things have been revised and adjusted and made even better. We’re very much playing in Bart’s playground, but he’s giving Tom and I completely free rein to do what we want and tell the story in the manner we see fit.

When we started talking about bringing back Ominous Press – it was me, Bart Sears, Andy Smith, and Sean HusVar, who’s our publisher and a guy we’ve all known for 20 years – this was one of the titles that we kicked around. Because of the nature of it, because of the techno-organic setting, I immediately thought of Tom because I thought this would be right up his alley. I frankly can’t see this world through any other artistic eyes now. I’m obviously not an unbiased source of information, but I think Tom’s doing the best work of his career. I’m trying to write it in the sweet spot for his style. The pages are really amazing looking, and because we started early enough, Tom’s really got the time to lavish attention on all of these pages. I should also mention the color is provided by a guy named Nanjan Jamberi, who is an Indian colorist that we’ve been working with, and he’s phenomenal. The combination of Tom and Nanjan is turning out some really pretty stuff.

Dread Gods #1 Neal Adams cover

Dread Gods #1 Neal Adams cover


Westfield: The solicitation says that there’s additional material in the book. What else will readers find?

Marz: Bart’s going to be doing a back up story and I’ll be kibitzing on the writing of that with him. The rest of the issue, which is a double-sized issue but the price tag is the same as a single-issue comic, is a bunch of background material on the Ominous Universe and other Ominous titles and characters. We’re going to fill this 48 page book with everything we can to make it as enticing a package as possible.

Westfield: What else is on the way from Ominous Press?

Marz: Dread Gods is our first title, which will run for four issues. The second one will be Giantkillers, which Bart is writing and drawing himself. The third one will be Demi-God, which is by myself and Andy Smith. The plan is for a second Giantkillers mini to follow the initial three series. The intention is to tell stories in four-issue arcs and then bring those titles back on a regular basis. We’re giving ourselves a bit of a deadline break to get ahead, and then release more. The Ominous stuff from IDW will be monthly, and we’ll have some additional one-shots and different packages of material. But there’ll be something every month as we embark upon this series of miniseries.

Dread Gods #1 Bart Sears cover

Dread Gods #1 Bart Sears cover


Westfield: Any closing comments?

Marz: I’ve likened the whole Ominous experience to when you’re a kid and you put on a play in the backyard, and you just make up stuff with your friends. This is really why we all do comics. You get into this because you love the artform, you love to tell stories this way, and we’re telling our own stories. We’re telling the kind of stories that Bart, Andy, Tom, Sean, and I all grew up reading: Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and science fiction stuff like Frank Herbert, Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke. All of those elements are in the mix for us. This is an opportunity for us to tell the kinds of stories we love. It’s a rare opportunity, so I don’t think any of us are taking it for granted. We’re absolutely putting our best foot forward.

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Dread Gods #1

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  1. Westfield Comics Blog: Interview With Ron Marz on IDW & Ominous Press’ Dread Gods – IDW Publishing Says:

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