As one of the few reporters that got to read the SPANDEX: Fast & Hard graphic novel before its release, I also got the pleasure of meeting (via email) Mr. Martin Eden, the creator of SPANDEX. A charming and intelligent man, Mr. Eden allowed me to ask him some questions about his comic and his experience in the comic book field. As my first actual interview and covering of a comic release, I was thrilled that it was this project.
Spandex is the age-old material used for superhero costumes. It looks great in the comics, but actors find it awful to wear in superhero movies! I think it also has a kind of skin-tight quality – kind of kinky and hot, shows a bit of the body… Spandex is quite a sexy comic and also quite tongue-in-cheek and silly – I think it’s the perfect name for the comic!
I have no training as an artist apart from the odd life-drawing session! I have just been drawing since I was about 4 and learned by myself. I am still learning! I’m a huge comic fan, and a lot of other people’s art has influenced me (some for the better, some for the worse). Some people criticize my art a lot, but I think they are missing the point a bit. I’m not trying to be Brian Bolland or JH Williams III (two great comic artists) – I like a more back-to-basics style. I’m just telling the story in my own way.
I’ve always drawn. Then, when I got into Star Wars, I started making sci-fi comics – The Star Lords! I should get sued, haha. After that, when I got into X-Men comics, I started creating epic superhero soap comics, such as The Wonder Lords and The Space Scouts. At uni, I created a six-part comic called The O Men, and when I was in my early 20s, I decided to redo the O Men series – it sprawled out over 10 years and 35 issues, until I took a break to do Spandex.
I do have a day job – I’m a magazine editor, so it’s very creative, which is important to me.
(J: “As a budding comic book artist with no publisher as of yet, this gives me hope.”)
I’ve often thought about doing a Spandex picture for the It Gets Better campaign, but I think they tend to be filmed videos, rather than static? I did get a sense of ‘release’ writing that Glitter speech, because, like many gay people, I’ve had rough moments in the past. I still shudder at the memory of the Chemistry teacher who called me a ‘stupid fairy’ in front of my class, and the various bullies at school (who seemed to know I was gay before I did). But I don’t want Spandex to be too overwhelmingly political. That’s not really my agenda. I just want to say a couple of things and then move on. It has to be an entertaining comic.
I don’t work with support groups as drawing and working takes up pretty much all my time, but I do see Spandex as something to cheer people up or put a smile on people’s faces (except when things are going horribly wrong for the characters!).
Why don’t you subtitle the Japanese?
(Reason for questions: if Spandex is coming to the USA, we are not a linguistic nation. French phraseology may be second nature to an Englishman, but not to an American,,, and Japanese even less. You miss a chunk of the story with Neon by not being able to read and understand Japanese.)
For me, the Japanese and French parts are just scene-setters, and hopefully the reader can get a sense of what is being said, or just guess. Or sometimes a character will paraphrase the Japanese speech. It’s really not important that the reader can translate them, but if they can, it’s an added bonus. I do put translations up on my website though.
I’ve been learning Japanese for three or four years, and I’m a long way off from being any good at it – it’s a complicated language. My teacher/sensei helps me a lot, but mistakes do creep in, still. But really, the use of foreign languages is just to add to the atmosphere. If something vitally important was happening and I wrote it in a foreign language, I’d definitely put subtitles on, or something.
Took me until the end to catch the bit about the colours. American LGBT rainbow flag doesn’t include Indigo.
Really? No Indigo? Poor Indigo ha ha! There’s a massive reason for the colours in my comic. I reveal it much later in the series. It’s pretty big.
For me, the Spandex team’s personalities are based on me and my friends. We are just people who like to hang out and relax and go to bars and have fun and gossip ha ha! Just normal, everyday people.
Spandex are normal people, but with extra powers. On a superficial level, there are a lot of very loose homages to existing superheroes. Prowler’s powers are a twist on Rogue’s, Indigo was inspired by Aurora, Liberty by Iron Man (!), Diva by Wonder Woman, and Butch by Luke Cage! But the fact that they are superheroes is unimportant to me – I want to make them feel ‘real’.
Of course, I guess there is a lot of my own personality in the Spandex team – I split it between them. Diva is the brave side of me, Glitter the bitchy/jokey side, Mr Muscles and Butch are the intense, brooding, angry side, Indigo is the fun side, Liberty is the confident side… And I think Prowler is me, pretty much.
What are your hopes for the series coming to America?
It’s funny, because I have self-published my own comics for 15 years or so, and I’ve always been in control of my own output. Because I spend so much time drawing, I have very little time or energy for distribution or Marketing. So now that I have Titan Books on board, it’s a different kettle of fish, really. And I don’t always immediately know what is going on (mainly because there’s a lot going on, and it’s hard for me to keep tabs on it), and I’m fine with that. I’ll find out eventually! So if Titan can get Spandex to do well in America or any other country, that’s fantastic!
I am 38, and live in London.
*chuckles* Thank you to Mr. Eden for answering my questions. If you have questions for him you can reach him through his email on his SPANDEX website, Spandexcomic.com, or you can buy a copy of his book at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Spandex-Fast-Hard-Martin-Eden/dp/0857689738/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334776122&sr=8-1) and Titan Books (http://titanbooks.com/spandex-fast-and-hard-6156/).
(I’m gunna go read my copy of SPANDEX: Fast & Hard…..again.) =^^=