Monday, December 12, 2011

Odds & Ends #1 on sale NOW!!!!

Howdy folks, long time no talk. Sorry about that.
I'm here today to share with you a Searsian moment that is rather exciting. You see, fellow Searsians, Ominous Studios has just announced the publication of Bart's first ever sketchbook! I know, I know, calm down for a second and let me tell you all about it.
The sketchbook, titled 'Odds & Ends,' is a 5" x 8" book with a massive 52 pages of sketches, page pencils, commissions, doodles, roughs, character designs and every other thing you can probably think of. It's going to be a wonder to hold, and behold.
And the best part is, it's only a mere $12 for that mighty tome. And even better yet, if you order before January 8, it's only 10 bucks! How ridiculously awesome is that?!?! Well, yes, that's pretty awesome, but it gets even better... for only another $10 you get an original convention-styled sketch to be drawn right in the sketchbook. That is beyond awesome!
So here's a look at the cover for this badboy-

As you may have noticed, it has the number '#1' on it, that's because this is the first in a planned series of sketchbooks. There are literally thousands of images to choose from, so there will be no trouble filling these sketchbooks up with artwork, much of which has never been seen before, even by me on a few occasions...

Here's a few spreads from the first sketchbook to further whet (correct spelling!) your appetite -

So, there is absolutely no reason why you should not directly head over to the below link and purchase your copy of Odds & Ends #1 right away. Do so... now.

http://ominousstudios.com/emporium/

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

This Bart Sears and that Bart Sears #2

Good morning fellow Searsians, it's time to catch everysearsian up on some of the 'going's on' from the Bart Sears estate. It has been a good long while since I've done something like this, and there are several projects that have long since been completed that I have neglected to mention here.
So what I'm going to do is start with the most recent projects, and work my way backwards.

So first off, Bart has just recently completed the pencils and inks for the Deadlands: Death Was Silent One-Shot which goes on sale on the 17th of August. Here's the beautiful cover inks for it:
Deadlands: Death Was Silent cover inks
I've been lucky enough to see all of the pages of this comic as they were completed in their inked form, and I can honestly say that this is one of the best comics Bart has done in many years. It is done in a style that hasn't been seen before by Bart, it's kinda like a sketchy version of The Path, with some fantastic storytelling and emphasis on flow and framing, rather than flash and pretty lines. This comic art shows a maturity on Bart's part that has always been there, but rarely on display so evidently.
Bart has been kind enough to hold onto all of the thumbnails and roughs from this comic for me, and I'll do a big post here about the comic and the roughs as soon as the comic is out and I have the roughs to show you. I'm very much looking forward to seeing them both.
Ominous Studios has produced a number of fun items to get people ordering this particular comic, namely these three promo adverts:
Deadlands: Death Was Silent promo adverts by Ominous Studios
They even went as far as creating a little promotional video for the comic, with sound effects and all! Check it out here.

Bart has also completed several very nice commissions recently, including this one and this one. Lovely aren't they? They are produced on those new trendy comics with blank covers, for artists to work directly on, much like the Wolverine 100 project covers Bart did. Bart has mentioned to me that he does like drawing on these covers, but has found that the format doesn't allow for the use of a light box much, so the roughs and all pencil work have to be done on the actual cover, which is obviously not how a traditional comic page is done. But the results are still fantastic, even more so for the fact that they are inked entirely in markers. Not a brush to be seen.

Bart has been producing a number of interactive comics (or Interactive Graphic Media, as Bart prefers to call them) for the Ominous Studios website. These interactive comics show recent and previous comic work of Bart's in a really cool format that I'm sure you'll agree is both fun to use and great to look at. You can see the unpublished Heroes For Hire issue from the late 90's here. You can also see the inks for Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #200 here and the pencils for Conan: Island of No Return #1 here.

And speaking of Conan: Island of No Return, you'll all no doubt know by now that Bart produced the pencils for two issues of this finite series. The first issue came out on 15/6/11, and the second issue came out on the 20/7/11. Both issues seem to have gotten very favourable reviews, with many people being pleasantly surprised with Bart's work on it. It would appear that this Conan work, coupled with the impending Deadlands issue, could be the work that really gets Bart's name out there again, which can only be a good thing.

One step back is the cover image Bart produced for Advent Comics' Pandemonium: Evil Incarnate book. I call it a book because it isn't really a comic, it's more of a Graphic Novel, of about 70-80 pages in length. Anyway, here's Bart's pencils for the cover alongside the final version:
Pandemonium: Evil Incarnate by Advent Comics
Bart only did these cover pencils for this book, which can be purchased through a number of places, including Amazon, in both book and kindle form.
But apart from this cover, Bart has produced a decent amount of work for Advent Comics, including this Titan cover that is yet to see print:
Advent Comics' forthcoming title 'Titan' cover pencils by Bart Sears
He's also produced some very unique work for another as yet unpublished title for Advent Comics, this time creating a bunch of interior pages on the art program Manga, the results of which are amazingly crisp and beautiful to look at. I sincerely hope these pages get printed, but it has been about 9 months since Bart handed them in to the publisher, with still no sign of them. Only time will tell.

Bart also recently produced some single frame action grabs for an organisation called Robin Hood, who raises money through charity work to feed the homeless of New York. They hold large events that appear to attract some high-flying A-List stars such as Lady Gaga! Anyways, Bart produced a handful of images of a modern Robin Hood sort of character that was then used for a video at an event. Photos of the final product are seemingly impossible to come across, but I can share a few of the inked renditions with you in the meantime:
Robin Hood frames

Let's see, what else has Bart done lately... oh yeah, he also did a two-page splash for an issue of Top Cow's Artifacts comics! The comic in question, issue #3, came out on 17/10/10, with a trade paperback featuring the issue and spread being released on 26/1/11.
And here are the pencils and inks that Bart provided for the spread:
Top Cow's Artifacts #3 2-page spread by Bart Sears

And finally, one of the bigger jobs that Bart and the gang at Ominous Studios has undertaken recently is a project still very much shrouded in mystery and intrigue. I can't really give you any information at all on it, not even the name of the project, but I can say that the work produced by Ominous Studios for it is fantastic and will be worth the wait!

Now, as for the future. Again, I'm privileged to be privy to a great deal of what is going on at Ominous Studios, but bound to secrecy nonetheless. I can say that there are more Brute & Babe tutorials on the way, both old and new ones (which is exciting enough on its own!). There are some very interesting educational products in the works, not to mention several entertainment properties that are simply going to knock your socks off.

It is a very good time to be a Bart Sears fan, there's plenty of things to collect, and promise of amazing things down the road, so stay tuned, Searisans, the future is bright indeed!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Infinity - Who's Who?

I would suggest you pop the kettle on, this is a monster post!

This post is the last in a series of four entries dealing with some of the inhabitants of the Ominous Universe. It is perhaps the one I, personally, have most been looking forward to. That is mainly because the characters that I am going to introduce to you today are some of the most interesting and clearly defined in all of the Ominous Universe.
Brute & Babe Infinity came out in October of 1994, with the Ashcan a month previously in Wizard #37. But it might interest you Searsians to know that Infinity was actually the first book to be drawn! Infinity stands as a story outside of the regular continuity of It Begins and Mael’s Rage, it can be placed at any time during the plotline and is more of a dreamscape interlude than a core story. But that is not to say that it does not have as much importance as the other two comics... far from it.
In fact, Infinity can be argued to be the most important of the three comics, as it introduces a larger view of the Ominous Universe and some of its bigger players. It leaves open ever so slightly a door into the greater OU worlds, and gives the impression that while the story of Mael and Auoro’s destiny as the chosen to fulfil the Prophecy (as told in It Begins, Mael’s Rage and what would have been Death of Pheros and Omen), there is far more to the story than just this arc.
So let’s have a look at it shall we?
First off, let me list the names that are included in the copyright indicia on the credits page. We have-
Brute, Babe, Intrepid, Devos and MegaMen copyright of Bart Sears.
Wotan, Hathos, Ytraal Ytraal, Furros, Gortros, Quudraimm, Sraiiven Hoord and Saint Pyrs copyright of Bart Sears and Michael J. Morrissey.
Tekron and Ri are copyright of Bart Sears, Michael J. Morrissey and John Pedercini.

I remember reading this indicia way back in 1994 and having a multitude of questions simultaneously pop up in my mind.
Who on earth are all of those characters? Which one is which? And who are these Michael J. Morrissey and John Pedercini chaps and how do they relate back to Bart?
Well, I plan on answering the first two questions in this very post, the last question will be answered in great detail in a future post, I assure you.

But let’s get back to the characters in Infinity. We have Brute, Babe, Intrepid, MegaMen and Saint Pyrs who should be known to everybody by now, but if not, read the previous Who’s Who posts to find out more about them.
That leaves Devos, Wotan, Hathos, Ytraal Ytraal, Furros, Gortros, Quudraimm, Sraiiven Hoord, Tekron and Ri to find in the comic. In reading the comic, you find that Mael is pitted against a total of seven heavily armed and slightly medieval looking evil warriors. And on the last page, we have six panels of characters, some recognisable (Intrepid, Saint Pyrs and Zeus the MegaMan), with three new faces.
So that’s 10 new characters and 10 names to place them to. On pages 6 & 7, there is a nice reveal of all of the 7 bad guys, and two of them reveal their own names, Ytraal Ytraal and Tekron. That leaves 8... and that’s unfortunately where I stood for many years, unable to discern any further which name went with who.

Then I managed to get my hands on 3 very important items that not only revealed who is who, but also gave an inkling of what these characters were. The first item was a pencil rough of Infinity page 15, with the same characters as the final image (which I also own), but in different poses and with each one’s name rather conveniently placed below them. Here is a detail from that page-
The next item was a handful of character design roughs produced by Michael J. Morrissey (MJM from here) during the Ominous Press days. Some of them just feature visual designs of the characters and their weapons, but one lists all of the 7 bad guys’ names and their title/description. For instance, Tekron is listed as ‘Tekron: Paladins.’ Referring back to page 7, we can see that Tekron announces himself as “Tekron, Curlord of the Seven and Dead High-Lord of the Paladins.” This would suggest that not only is Tekron leader of the Paladins, but also leader of the Seven characters currently in question. This is further proven by the front cover of the comic, with Tekron leading the charge, so to speak. In truth, Tekron is indeed the leader of this group of 7 evil warriors.
The last item I got my hands on, was the Character Notes document from the Ominous Press days, which lists several dozen characters, both good and evil, from the Ominous Universe in statistical detail, giving criteria such as appearance, strength, weapons and a few other important facts. And wouldn’t you know, it includes the 7 evil warriors as well!

But before I introduce each of these 7 characters to you individually, there are a few important points to go over beforehand. Firstly, Tekron refers to himself as “Dead High-Lord of the Paladins.” This is a crucial title for two reasons. 1) It would suggest that Tekron is dead. 2) He leads a group called the Paladins.
Regarding the first one, Tekron, as well as the other 6 members of this gathering, is actually dead in the respect that he is no longer a normal living human person. Yet ‘live’ he still does. But in another form.
Secondly, the term Paladin has a medieval historical origin, but it is also prevalent as a character type in fantasy role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons. In D&D, a Paladin is somebody in the service of a god, who has granted them special powers as payment for their servitude. They are generally warriors and emissaries of their god’s will.
This description is also given to Paladins in the Ominous Universe. They are one and the same...ish (Bart always puts his own slant on things).
So Tekron, who often speaks of his ‘Dread Lord’ is leader of the Paladins. Whether the other 6 warriors are Paladins too, is unclear. On page 9, panel 2, a warrior in the background tells Tekron to “Stand fast, Paladin. I claim blood right to this heretic dog...” This would suggest that this particular warrior is NOT a Paladin, but then he does use the word ‘Heretic,’ which would certainly be the type of word a Paladin would use.
Bart himself cannot recall if any of the other warriors in this group are Paladins, but he believes they are not.

The next important thing to mention is the title of this particular story in Infinity. While the comic is called ‘Brute & Babe: Infinity,’ the indicia title and actual story title is ‘The Infinity of Warriors.’ Don’t ask me what that means, because I don’t know, and it’s not the important bit. The important bit is the story sub-title, which is ‘Revelation of the Molochs.’ Without the knowledge I have gleaned, that sub-title is fairly nondescript and meaningless. But in fact, it holds one very important word... Molochs. This word appears previously in the Meal’s Rage’s ‘Portents’ page (a summary of future Ominous Press comic releases) where it states that Mael encounters the dreadful Molochs.

These Molochs are the 7 evil warriors.

What the heck is a Moloch? Well, in our world it is one of two things. 1) It’s an Australian desert-living lizard, and 2) a Semitic god that required sacrifices from its followers. That second definition can be extended to simply mean a malevolent force or being that either sacrifices, or requires sacrifices in its name.
This a pretty close description of the Molochs in the Ominous Universe. They are definitely malevolent beings, and do their god’s bidding without question. They are closer to their god than Paladins and their god uses them for very important missions. To give a parallel, Molochs are to their god what the 7 highest angels would be to the Christian god. That make sense?

And the last point to make before we come to the individual characters, is the question of who their god actually is. In the comic, the god is referred to as ‘Dread Lord’ on several occasions, but no name is given. That is because of all of the Ominous Press secrets, this is the big one. The BIG, BIG one. Obviously, I’m not about to reveal a secret that big (it took me long enough to get the secret out of Bart!), but I can say that this ‘Dread Lord’ is awesomely powerful, evil as evil can be, and is a big player in the OU. And that’s all you’re getting from me on that particular character. I may well have already said more than I should have!

And now, finally, we get to the actual individual Molochs. Here’s a detail of the Infinity cover for you, with the characters numbered from 1 to 7-
And here is the spread from pages 6 and 7, in pencilled form, with the characters having the same corresponding numbers-
And here are the character descriptions-

1. Hathos (name means Frostfire)
Undead Enslaver
Hathos is the most powerful Moloch, probably having something to do with the fact he’s 10 feet tall. He’s a Northern Warrior, which means he was born into a cold and harsh environment. His large broadsword is magical, and bites like ice.
In-comic: Page 8 has a great shot of him on panel 2, and he’s the one that stabs Mael on page 12, panel 6.

2. Ytraal Ytraal
Rules a horde of human marauders – ‘The Blood Mad Horde’
Ytraal Ytraal loves nothing more than killing. But he’s a coward at heart, preferring an unfair fight or attacking from behind. He’s prone to fleeing at the slightest hint of the tide turning against his favour in a battle. He’s originally from a desert wasteland.
In-comic: On page 12, panel 7, that’s him with the chain around Mael’s neck. On page 13, he’s the one saying “Time to flee...”

3. Sraiiven Hoord
Controls the Beasts and Monstrosities
Sraiiven Hoord is perhaps the most recognisable of all of the Molochs (next to Tekron, that is), due to several things. First he’s one of only two Molochs to have the Omega Symbol on his forehead (the other being Tekron), he has darker skin and has big braided dreadlocks. He’s the only Moloch not to wear a helmet too. He is the least decomposed of all of the Molochs, and he has tattoo scars all over his body in various patterns. His weapon of choice is the spear.
In-comic: Mael blasts him on page 12, panel 5.

4. Quudraimm
Lord of the Assassins
As opposed to Sraiiven Hoord, Quudraimm is the most decayed looking Moloch. He’s massively tall, and like any good assassin, uses daggers almost exclusively. Quudraimm has a deep lisp, he’s the one that says stuff like “HISSS SSSPLEEN.”
In-comic: Look for the green-glowing dagger on page 13! Not to mention page 11, panel 3 – that’s him getting a hole blown through him by Mael.

5. Gortros ‘Fierce Blood’
Controls Orcs, Trolls, Ogres and Giants
As big as Hathos is, Gortros is bigger. He’s a whopping 12 feet tall! I guess that’s why he controls the big creatures. He wields a massive two-handed, two-headed battle axe. He’s normally a quiet one, but when he does speak, his words drip with his arrogance. To him, everybody is beneath him, and not just in size.
In-comic: Standing behind Tekron on page 13, panel 2. Page 8, panel 1 has a small full figure shot of him holding his axe too.

6. Furros ‘Doomshorn’
Lord of the Hunters and Witch Hunters
Furros controls the werebeasts, hell hounds and other dogs. Furros is recognisable by that horizontal moustache of his, and he’s the only archer in all of the Molochs. He’s bloody tall too, coming in at about 9’5”. He wears banded mail, leather and fur. His mode of combat is to let off several arrows, then close in for the kill.
In-comic: Great shot of him on page 9, panel 8.

7. Tekron
Curlord of the Seven and Dead High-Lord of the Paladins
Tekron is just mean looking. He would appear to be the most intelligent of the Molochs, but he’s not the most powerful, though he was the most powerful Paladin when he was alive. He is now second only to his Dread Lord.
In-comic: All over the place, he spits a liquid that Bart has lovingly called “Dead Fluid Stuff” on page 9, panel 1, and traces an Omega symbol in the air in panel 6 of the same page.

Obviously, there is much more to these characters than what I have written, but I want to leave some stuff to the imagination. And I’m sure you have further questions regarding them, namely... What is the relevance of the Omega Symbol? How do they know of the Prophecy? Where do they come from? And oodles more, no doubt. But I’m afraid those questions are to remain unanswered for the time being. There are answers to those questions, you have my word, but they are not for me to give.

One last thing I want to cover with the Molochs is their unusual names. Bloody unusual names. They’re just not names you can pinpoint an origin of, they have no cultural identity that is recognisable, which would pretty clearly suggest that they are not of this world. And that suggestion would actually be correct, they’re not from here!
But how would one go about pronouncing their names? That was another question I held onto for many a year. You can sort of guess at most of them, but the nuances of inflection and syllable emphasis are an unwieldy beast at the best of times, so any guess would always only be that, a guess. But why guess when I can just list the names and their correct pronunciation right here and now!

Hathos - hath-OSE (HATH rhyming with math, OSE rhyming with most, minus the T at the end, of course)
Ytraal Ytraal - E-tral E-tral (hard E like Each, TRAL rhyming with Hal, as in Hal Jordan)
Sraiiven HoordSRAY-ven Hoard (SRAY rhyming with stray, low emphasis VEN. HOARD as in hoard of supplies definition)
Quudraimmqu-UD-raiMM (QU-UD rhyming with mud but with low emphasis on QU, RAIMM rhyming with rain, with extended M sound)
Gortrosgore-TROSE (GORE as in blood and guts definition, TROSE same rule as Hathos, but with strong TR before)
Furrosfe-UR-OSE (FE as in sea, UR rhyming with her, OSE same as Hathos usage)
TekronTECH-ron (TECH as in technology, RON as in the name)

I hope that makes it easier for you all. Those pronunciations themselves give rise to a few questions of their own, I’ve found. The most interesting being the relationship of the name structure and subsequent pronunciation of Hathos, Gortros, Furros to our old pal Pheros, as the OS at the end of their names is pronounced the same. But I’ve found no immediate relationship between the characters at all; they’re from different worlds and have never met in any of the literature I have come across. But knowing the way Bart likes to interweave these stories, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a tangible link does exist.

Let’s move onto the other characters in the book, shall we?

Okay, so we’ve been introduced to the Molochs and they’re names from the list have been attributed to the correct corresponding face. So of the 10 initial names we had to begin with, we are now down to just 3 left – Devos, Wotan and Ri.
To find the characters in the book that these names would fit to, we turn to the final page of the story, page 15. I like to call it the ‘The Same’ page, for obvious reasons if you’ve read the comic.
In this page we have Mael come out of his dreamstate battle with the Molochs, to ponder its meaning and to ask why the dream is always ‘the same.’ Mael’s pose and statement is then mirrored by six other characters who are vastly different in appearance, and it would appear their surroundings are as varied as they are as well.

As can be seen in this previous image, the names of the 6 characters in order from left to right, top to bottom are – Wotan, Ri, Saint Pyrs, Intrepid, Devos and Zeus. Kinda hard to read, I know. But Bart has since verified these spellings and we’re good to continue.
As mentioned near the start of this post (seems a long time ago), we have been introduced to Saint Pyrs, Intrepid and Zeus previously. Which leaves us with Wotan, Ri and Devos. So, ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce to you...


Wotan (WO-tan – WO rhymes with no)
A great deal can be gleaned about Wotan and his environment by this image. For starters, this world would appear to be in very close orbit with several other planets, moons or stars. Going by the clasping used to secure the giant animal skull to his head, the world appears to be primitive to some degree, as there are no leather straps or metallic clasps to be seen. The skull itself suggests an animal of a very large size and carnivorous nature, suggesting further something akin to our own pre-historic past, where mega-fauna ruled the land. The terrain furthers this theory, as there is no real grass to be seen, and the conifers in the background are exemplary of our own planet’s early history. Could it be that Wotan was alive during the Cretaceous Period of our world? Well... no. He wasn’t, this image depicts another world. But it is in fact a far flung and barbaric world that Wotan lives in. Wotan himself is a mighty chosen warrior, working hand in hand with another to subvert his own world’s dark forces.

Ri (rhymes with we, he and she)
This appears to be another world with three orbiting spheres, but it is unclear if this is the same world but a different location, or another time on this planet, or a completely different world altogether. Wherever and whenever it is, it is clearly more advanced than the world Wotan inhabits. To me, it almost looks Persian in its architectural sensibilities, but this sort of teardrop domed structure is common enough in fantasy art. It is clear that this city and perhaps its inhabitants have a high degree of aesthetically pleasing design. Ri’s brow ring and armour are minimalistic and elegant, which really only happens after a degree of time and refinement.
As for the character, Ri, there isn’t a huge amount to tell, he’s clearly a swordsman, but his moral alignment and affiliations are unknown.
Devos (dev-OSE – I’m sure you can work out how to pronounce that by now)
This is perhaps the most intriguing of the three images, as it is intentionally suggestive of many things. Firstly, this world only has two orbiting spheres, which raises many questions as to where and when it takes place. Looking at the architecture and Devos’ raiment, one could draw the conclusion that this is a futuristic setting. The main building in the background is almost reminiscent of the Tyrell Corporation building in Ridley Scott’s futuristic noir classic, Blade Runner. The pile of burning junk in the close background would seem to relate that this futuristic world is a dangerous place to be, possibly anarchic or oven post-apocalyptic.
Devos seems to be a hit with the ladies.

And that’s how you take a look at a single comic and its characters. I didn’t really expect this post to be quite so long (about 3,500 words), but what the heck. And to be fair, I could have gone a lot longer on it, as there are still several elements of the comic to be looked at, including-
1. Who is ‘The Outrider’?
2. What’s that symbol thing Mael is standing on in page 5?
3. Most importantly, what is the deal with that entity that Mael and Auoro merge into? Does it have a name? Powers? Hmmm....
But I’m sure to get around to those questions some day. But it has been a lot of fun looking at these old characters in detail, and I hope that the information I’ve passed on to you has been both informative and enjoyable. If you’re anything of an OP fan like me, I get the feeling it will have been.

I’ve got a few ideas for the next couple of posts lined up, including a long overdue round up of recent Bart Sears sightings and news. But there is also going to be another series of in-detail articles dealing with a very interesting element of Bart’s work in the near future too. So as always, come back soon fellow Searsians!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It Begins - Who's Who?

Okay, now I’m just spoiling you guys!
Yes, I’m back again with more cool Ominous Press stuff to reveal to you all.

In this post, we shall be turning our Searsian eyes to Ominous Press’ first published comic, ‘...It Begins...,’ which has an indicia release date of July 1994, and I believe it came out on the 27th of that month, to be exact.
Any Searsian worth their salt will know that ‘It Begins’ came in the form of 8 separate 6” x 9.5” boards, which were held within a dust jacket-styled board that had the cover, spine text and back cover on the outside. On the inside of this board are the credits, story synopsis, indicia and a forthcoming Ominous Press release schedule.
All of these boards were held in a clear plastic case that opened at the top and bottom, and looked rather expensive to produce. No comic had previously, nor since, been given this treatment or formatting, and it was only the first of what was to be a selection of issues to be given this almost reverent treatment. I, personally, love the packaging and feel of this comic, but it doesn’t really fit into a comic collector’s usual storage procedure. I have long since laminated the individual boards and put the plastic case in a box with other unusual Bart Sears items.

But I have digressed somewhat.

The 8 interior boards feature the first introduction to several of the worlds that are part of the Ominous Universe. On the first 8 pages (the fronts of the boards), we are introduced to Mael, Auoro, a Dog of Dramaurg (pages 3, 4 & 7), Viere, Moon, Snake and Dramaurg himself. But that isn’t what I’m here to talk about today. Pages 9 through 16 (the backs of the boards) show, in pin-up form, some of the other characters inhabiting the various worlds of the OU. In order, they are, Arkon, Intrepid, Armorgedden, Pheros, Tirrus, MegaMen (now called Prometheans), Insidious and Nightbeast. All but the Tirrus and Insidious splashes feature the single character in question, and are pretty self-explanatory. What I want to look at are the Tirrus and Insidious ones.

These two pieces share several key points that are worth noting. Firstly, all of the characters in these two pages are from the same world. This world is the closest that the Ominous Universe comes to a traditional superhero world like that of DC, Marvel, and all the rest.
Secondly, these two groups of powered beings are in opposition to each other on a regular basis, the Tirrus ‘group’ being the good guys, whilst Insidious’ band are the baddies.
Each group has a designated leader. For the Tirrus group it is Steele, and Insidious commands his own.

So let’s first look at the Tirrus page (here it is in its inked form):

B&B '... It Begins...' page 13 inks
The names of these characters (apart from good ol’ Sunder and Steele) do not appear anywhere in any of the published Ominous Press material, nor much of the behind-the-scenes literature either, for that matter. So a lot of the proceeding information had to be coaxed out of Bart’s somewhat hazy memory. Some characters are still fresh in his mind, and have been written into other stories of his, while others are less so.

1. Steele
Easily recognisable due to that big, shiny golden dagger on his forehead. The dagger itself is a significant item, worn as something of a badge of office. The fact that Bart has drawn Steele in heavy shadow is quite symbolic of the character himself. While very powerful, he much prefers the shadows. He’s a man of intrigue, deception, manipulation and stealth. He runs Tirrus, a company, from the top of Tirrus Tower.

2. Ram
Bart has little memory of this particular character, we’re not even sure if that is his actual name! But Bart does recall using the word ‘ram’ as his design brief, hence the metallic headgear that would certainly work as both a battering device and gives him a fancy appearance.

3. Lord Sterling
Yes, the name is LORD Sterling and she is quite clearly a woman. But Bart assures me there are no hidden dangly bits anywhere. But historically, the title ‘Lord’ can be used by a woman too, the Queen of England is herself the Lord of Mann.
As for Lord Sterling, the important thing to pay attention to (apart from the platinum hair and rather revealing outfit) are those large gauntlets she is wearing. They are significant because they are one pair of a set of four pairs, worn by four heroes. Four pairs, four heroes. The gauntlets themselves are powerful relics, regal and highly prized.
This character has since been visually re-designed by Bart.

4. Grey
A tough s.o.b. from what I’ve read. Grey is an incredibly capable close-quarters fighter; his hands move so quick that they become a grey blur and his attacks seem to extend from this grey blur. That is to say that if his fist is a foot away from you as it strikes, you will still get hit because of the grey blur.
Grey has private quarters within Tirrus Tower, and seems to have a heightened sense of hearing or awareness of his surroundings than us mere mortals.

5. Sunder
Having written about our old friend in the previous two Who’s Who articles, I’m just going to print here what it says on the Creator’s Universe card featuring him:
Height : 6’7”
Weight : Estimate 325 lbs.
Powers : The sceptre/mace Sunder carries appears to generate tremendous amounts of energy which suffuse his body with power and unbelievable vitality. It appears that he can redirect this power back through the sceptre, firing wildly coruscating bolts of force, in rapid succession, which are capable of reducing almost anything (so far) to rubble. His physical abilities appear to mimic the power of the sceptre, powerful but most effective when he can strike repeatedly.
Origin : Unknown
Note : Sunder normally is very tight lipped, but when he speaks, he appears to slur his words, almost stuttering at times… there has been some speculation in the tabloids on this but little is actually proven.
Affiliation & Associations : Sunder has been occasionally spotted with the QUANTUM GROUP, but it is unknown if his association is permanent or not. Sunder’s actions appear to be beneficial, though so little is known of him, and his manner is at best suspicious, we recommend keeping close surveillance indefinitely.

6. Mr. Fury
Bart likes this guy still. So do I. Mr. Fury features in a later screenplay Bart wrote that also includes Intrepid and X-Wave. Mr. Fury, as his name suggests, can be a very angry man at times. And when he’s angry, he screams really loud, sending out a concussive wave of energy over the immediate surroundings, or can be channelled directly to a single opponent. He has the ability to violently vibrate, which can enable him to move through the air somehow.
He’s a wealthy fellow, and hides a dark and potentially devastating secret behind those glasses, so he fights the good fight to combat that secret, which may well engulf him yet.

There’s the Tirrus group for you in a little more detail than the previous posts. They’re a motley group, no doubting it. But that is what, to me, is so appealing about Bart’s invented mythos – nothing is black and white, and each bit of light has a hint of dark to it. These superheroes, if I can call them that, are certainly fantastical beings, but they live in a world where evil is incarnate, merciless and prevalent. It would be very difficult for even the most pure and moral superhero to not get their hands dirty every now and then. And with an evil that is so corruptive and sinister, tough measures are required to combat it. So somebody like Superman, with his clean outfit and willingness to show compassion and forgiveness, wouldn’t last long in this world, not in that form anyway. There is simply no room for compassion when a villain is not so much interested in world domination, but rather is hell-bent on ripping your heart out with their bare hands. This world is gritty and violent, heroes have to adapt, or die.

And here are some of the baddies responsible for the evil in this world:

B&B '... It Begins...' page 15 inks
 1. Cur (originally called Melee)
Cur appears in 3 places throughout the published OP material – on this page, as a design by Michael J. Morrissey at the back of Mael’s Rage and there’s also an image of him by Andy Smith at the back of Infinity, on the Michael J. Morrissey Bio page. Cur also features in a back-up story titled ‘Masks’ that was going to appear in the Death of Pheros issue. The image of Cur in Infinity is actually taken from this story, which I believe was fairly close to completion, with Andy drawing it, Tim Tobolski on inks and Brad Perkins colouring. Bart wrote it, of course.
From what appears in that back-up story, Cur is a pretty twisted and wicked character. He has two chainsaw blades that run along the side of his forearm when retracted, and flip out like hand extensions when in battle. He does the bidding of Insidious willingly and with sadistic glee, killing heroes as he goes. He’s 6’5”, thick as a plank and a bit crazy.

2. Duemzgaet (not to be mistaken for Chakall, who would kick her ass)
Also appears briefly in the Masks story. Duemzgaet is also very evil and malicious, and works alongside Cur closely. But where Cur is slow of wit, Duemzgaet is exceedingly smart. Her power comes from entrancing people with her body movement and allure, her potent sexuality is her weapon. She has almost ivory coloured skin and is a little bit crazy too.

3. X-Wave
X-Wave is awesome. He’s just cool looking and is an interestingly convoluted character. He is a creation of Insidious’ scientific design, but seems to have a free will, and though he is naturally bent toward evil, and has racked up a sizable amount of hero killings, he does seem to know when he’s fighting a losing battle and when his allegiances are of a negative effect to his own survival.
He has big, nasty looking claws and several hollowed out tubes that run down the sides of his body, that are filled with some sort of liquid that seems to boil when his aggression rises. But these claws and tubes are actually pretty useless, and are more of a diversion from his actual powers which are many and mostly only known to himself.
Like I said, X-Wave is awesome.

4. Hydra
Hydra likes Twinkies. Well, he looks like he does anyway. Hydra is massively obese, to the point where he has leg braces to support his mass. He has some weird growths sprouting from his shoulders with all kinds of freaky stuff emanating from them, including extra little heads. Lovely. Hydra is apparently as nasty on the inside as he is on the outside, but as far as his actual powers go, Bart is keeping that a secret.

5. Insidious
Last of all is Insidious. He’s the most powerful villain in this world, mainly because he has created the above band of baddies to do his bidding for him. Insidious himself is powerful enough, but his real strength is in his almost immeasurably high intelligence. He’s a scientific genius of unsurpassed skill and invention. But he was once a man, who, through dismantling his own body, has merged himself with his armoured exterior. Sounds unpleasant.


And there you have it. Bart and I have been talking about the Ominous Universe quite a lot lately, and I have many ideas for future posts dealing with what we have discussed. But we have one more Who’s Who article to come, and it’s one I’m really looking forward to, as it’s the Infinity Who’s Who. We’ll look at all of the bad guys who beat up on poor old Mael, and I’ll reveal who all of those folks are on the last page, you know, where they’re all saying “the same.”

Should be fun!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Ominous Press Poster 2 - Who's Who?

A mere week after introducing you all to the characters from Ominous Press’ Poster 1, here I am again to introduce the characters from Poster 2! It is interesting to note that Poster 2, while we (Bart and myself) believe it came out after Poster 1, was actually drawn before it. It has some nifty looking characters that don’t appear anywhere else, but would have played a large part in Ominous Press’ future.

So here's the poster:


And here are the outlined characters, the same as the last time:


And here's who's who:

1. Arkon
One of Bart’s favourite and oldest characters, who was due to have his own series eventually if Ominous Press had have continued.

2. Auoro (Pronounced Or-oh)
Taken from the Brutes & Babes tutorials in Wizard. I like to think of Brute & Babe and Mael & Auoro as separate characters, as their personalities are completely different in the two forms.

3. Mael
Also from the B&B tutorials. Bart was originally going to go with Arkon as the main character of the Ominous Press comics, but was urged to go with recognisable characters like Brute & Babe by Wizard founder Gareb Shamus.

4. Intrepid
One of Bart’s earliest creations, as far back as the early to mid 80’s if Bart recalls correctly. Intrepid is a very important character.

5. Nightbeast
Perhaps the coolest looking character in all of the Ominous Press Universe.

6. Insidious
Would kick Doctor Doom’s ass in a second, whilst kicking Lord Havok’s ass simultaneously.

7. Wolfhound
A detailed design process can be seen for this character in Bart’s B&B tutorial in Wizard #29, same with Pheros.

8. Warhammer
A member of a band of warriors who derive their strength and powers from a unique weapon wielded by each of them. This band of warriors are good guys and gals.

9. Sunder
Was initially named Thashur, but Bart was informed of another character with the same name, so he changed it to Sunder.

10. Pheros (Pronounced Fair-ose)
He looks huge in this image, but then, he is over 7 feet tall!

11. Steele
Another early character of Bart’s. Steele, along with many other characters, was created for a roleplaying game invented by Bart, Michael J Morrissey and John Pedercini in High School. The game was called, quite amusingly, 'The Game.'

12. Warspear
Another member of the weapon wielding WARriors. See what I did there?

13. Thrace
Just darn cool looking. He’s a really nasty fellow, apparently.

14. ???
Mystery will continue to surround this one, as Bart intends it. Not even a name will be forthcoming!

15. Slike
Snake dude. A late addition to this poster, by all accounts.

16. Zeus
Yep, he looks very different to the same character in Poster 1, and I’m not just talking about him appearing to be billy-bollocks nekid. This was an early design for Zeus, before he lost the hair, got the lightning strike mark on his scalp and some clothes to cover his various... ahem... appendages.

17. Talis
Talis is one of those characters that is to remain in the mysterious shadows, as per Bart’s request. But I can reveal that the big and cool looking hammer thing he is holding is called Skullsbane.

18. Warmonger
Just one of a variety of Armorgedden Armor types, Warmonger is considered a Stealth Class model, capable of great speeds for short amounts of time.

Fantastic stuff isn't it? You betcha! I personally love all of this Ominous Press stuff. I used to make lists of all of the known characters and where they appeared, what they did and a bunch of other information. Then I got talking to Bart and managed to get my hands on stacks of scripts and notes from the Ominous Press days and it soon became pretty clear that the published stories were really only the tip of the iceberg. There are literally hundreds of characters, in various levels of development (some are little more than a name, while others like Arkon are thoroughly fleshed out), and while I can't reveal much from the Ominous Press confidential files, whatever Bart has granted permission to release has been passed straight on to you. The names of the characters in these two posters is a perfect example of that.

Anywho, the next Who's Who will most likely deal with some of the gang from 'It Begins,' and it won't be far away! See you all soon.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Ominous Press Poster 1 - Who's who?

I picked up my copy of the first Ominous Press poster some time in 1995, if my memory serves me correctly. I recall getting it laminated and sticking it up on my wall pretty quickly after buying it. And for years afterward I would just stare at it and wonder... wonder about what would have been if Ominous Press had continued publishing comics, because as much as I loved the characters that we were introduced to in the three comics that were released, I just knew that there were more to come. Even in Poster 1 there are a few faces that don't really appear anywhere else, and an alphabetical list of copyrighted names of the characters featured in this poster appears in a few adverts featuring this artwork. But for years I would look at the names Nul, Igneous, Honor Guard, Warmonger and Saint Pyrs, and only be able to guess at who the names belonged to.

Then, I got to know Bart over the years and was able to put the names to the correct faces and even get a little bit of information on each of them.

And I'm nothing if not generous to other Searsians, so, for anybody out there who has also wondered who some of these characters are, this post is all for you!

To begin with, here's the poster in question:
Not bad, eh? And here are the outlines of all of the characters to make it a little more simple to navigate:
And here's the who's who of the characters listed numerically, with a bit of information on them in my own words, from what has been published and a little of what I have gleaned over the years. (Please note: these are my own interpretations of the characters to a certain extent, and don't necessarily represent what Bart intended or considers them to be. But saying that, it's pretty close in parts and all of the following descriptions have been approved by Bart himself.)

1. Mael (also Maelloryll)
A mighty and powerful warrior for good and righteousness. Trained by Moon & Snake, he fights to find his other half, Auoro, to fulfill an ages long prophecy.

2. Arkon
A warrior from the distant past, cast into other worlds, wielding his great sword Giantkiller. Arkon is cursed to walk the worlds he does not know, hunting as he goes.

3. Insidious
Scientific genius with a bent for evil and destruction. Creator of genetic monstrosities and bitter enemy of Intrepid.

4. Intrepid
Gifted with an intelligence that borders on precognition, Intrepid fights crime with astonishing speed and skill. But who is the man behind the mask?

5. Nul
A powerful and twisted being. Nul can neutralise a hero's power, and can plant suggestions into people's minds. It also hunts witches in its spare time.

6. Sunder
Perhaps the most 'good' hero in the universe. He is idealistic and naive, and though a man of few words, his actions speak louder than any word could.

7. Nightbeast
Carrying the mask of previous incarnations, Nightbeast stalks the future's darkness, seeking out those that would do bad. But the mask hides a different man, who, too, seeks to balance the scales of justice.

8. Warmonger
A behemoth of engineered metal and advanced technology. Armorgedden Armors like this are highly prized and elaborately protected, due to their versatility as both a walking weapon and virtually impenitrable guard. And there's a human inside each one!

9. Auoro (also Auorosharrath)
Cut from the same cloth as Mael, though less powerful to begin with. But maturity brings increased levels of strength and a great change to her personality. She, too, awaits the fulfillment of the prophecy.

10. Steele
The man with the Golden Dagger. Wields great power from his base in Tirrus Tower, but his own abilities and motives are far-reaching and hidden from all but himself.

11. Zeus
The product of a barbaric and twisted experiment. Zeus, along with other Prometheans (formerly referred to as MegaMen), is a gladiatorial fighter, who's movements and thoughts are channeled to the eager public for a fee. He is a prisoner to a future humanity that is almost beyond saving.

12. Igneous
Has the power to produce immense heat, but not in the form of flame. Igneous can propel herself with the aid of this heat, and it also absorbs energy, be it a blast aimed at her or a localised phenomenon, without any harm to her. She's one of the goodies.
She also has big boobies.

13. Wolfhound
A hideous and wicked beast on his own, he now carries the soul of a demon inside him, willing him to even greater acts of evil than before. A frequent opponent of Pheros.

14. Pheros
Immensely powerful, origins unknown, affiliations unknown, moral compass unknown. Pheros is a just and overly righteous being. He longs for purity from evil and his actions often take this desire to extreme lengths, some would say too far. But who is there to stop him?

15.Honor Guard
An unlikely and reluctant hero, who follows the demands of an in-built need for duty and service to the people he protects. A real 'peoples hero,' fighting a battle he is both overwhelmed and outgunned in. But honor demands he fight on.

16. Saint Pyrs
Devout follower of a powerful, ancient religion. His costume is his religious cloth, and his power springs from the source. He is a force for good and purity in a world of increasing disconnection and immorality.

17. Dramaurg (also Ormaellidramaurg)
Evil twin to Mael, rules his kingdom with slavery and malice. Has melded himself with dark magics to make him a deadly and malicious being. Seeks also to fulfill the prophecy with Auoro.

And there you have it! Pretty cool stuff, huh?
And the good news for you guys is that this is merely the first of a series of introductions to some of the characters in the OPU. We still have Poster 2 to go, and some of the gang from 'It Begins' and 'Infinity!'

So come back soon, won't you?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's mine... my own... my... PRECIOUS!!!

I'm sure every serious collector out there is the same as me in one particular way - we all have a single item that is something of a Holy Grail for us. An item that, despite our extensive seeking out, manages to elude us around every corner. Sometimes we'll catch a glimpse of it, a mere sparkle out of the corner of our eye, but obtaining this gem is akin to holding sand in one's hand, it slips through your fingers again and again.

And then, if you're a poor sap like me, you manage to find the item, to claim it as your own, only to have it perish or be lost in some way, in my case - misplacing it on a plane!

And then you are right back where you started...

Well, I lost my particular Holy Grail over 10 years ago now, on that fateful plane trip from Melbourne to Edinburgh. I say fateful because whilst I lost my gem, I met my now wife a few days after getting off that plane.
But in those proceeding 10 years, I went back to searching near and far for my once-lost Grail, and I didn't get even the slightest hint of it in that time. That is, until a few weeks ago.
Yes, fellow seekers of Searsian artefacts, I can say that for the second, and hopefully last time (barring any unforseen incidents) I own this little beauty below:
'What?' I hear you say, 'That's it?! That's your Holy Grail?!?' Well... yes! It may not look like much, but this Judge Dredd badge, measuring a modest 45 x 32mm, most certainly is my Holy Grail. Why? Only because this badge is one of the most rare, if not the rarest, of all Bart Sears items. There are other things that are rare, like the Wizard Binder and a few trading cards, but I have only ever seen this badge come up for sale twice in something like 13 years on eBay or any other auction site. Twice! Two times! That makes it very, very rare.

As far as particulars are concerned, it is (as stated above) 45 x 32mm, made of what I believe to be hard acrylic and it is embossed. The blue text and linework (which is reflective and cool looking) is raised about half a millimetre off the white base. There are no copyright or trademark stamps anywhere to be seen (which would suggest to me that a sticker was originally involved in some way), though I know it be a product of SQP from 1989. SQP (or SQProductions) was responsible for Quality Comics back in the late 80's, who reprinted a lot of the british 2000 A.D. comics with new covers, 30 of which feature Bart's art on them. SQP also ran the official Conan Fan Club for a while, and Bart produced several images for that too.

Several of Bart's pieces from this time for SQP were used for promotional material and a good few T-Shirts as well, and for one single badge... my badge!

For those of you wishing to see where the badge artwork is taken from, here's the original cover:
And there you have it. My Holy Grail. My Precious. Returned to me once more, and never to leave again. Rest assured, it won't be going anywhere near an airport, let alone an airplane, any time soon.