EXCLUSIVE: Sears & Marz Bring Ominous Press to IDW

A little less than a year ago, veteran comic book artist Bart Sears announced the return of Ominous Press -- the short-lived publisher he founded in the '90s as a showcase for his creations like "Brute & Babe." This time, Sears was joined by fellow industry mainstay Ron Marz, serving as Ominous Editor-in-Chief and lead writer.

There hasn't been a lot of Ominous Press news in the interim, but that changed today at WonderCon in Anaheim, with the announcement that the company will partner with IDW Publishing to bring its titles to the comics market.

RELATED: Sears & Marz Emphasize Creative Freedom in Ominous Press Revival

Ominous -- which along with Marz, is headed by Sears as Chief Creative Officer, Sean HusVar as Publisher and Andy Smith as Art Director -- debuts at IDW in July with the 48-page "Dread Gods" #1 (announced last year as "Prometheus"), from the team of Marz and artist Tom Raney. The Ominous rollout continues with "Giantkillers," written and drawn by Bart Sears, and "Demi-God," written by Marz and illustrated by Andy Smith.

CBR has the exclusive first word from Bart Sears, Ron Marz and IDW Publishing Editor-in-Chief David Hedgecock about why Ominous was the right fit for IDW (and vice versa), how "Dread Gods" will set the tone, rallying against the "de-emphasis" of art in comics, and what to expect from the "wildly different" lineup.

"Dread Gods" #1 variant
"Dread Gods" #1 variant cover by Neal Adams

CBR: Bart and Ron, we talked nearly a year ago about the return of Ominous Press, and at that point, you were uncertain about whether or not you'd work with a publishing partner or do it yourselves. What led you to this decision, and why was IDW the right place?

Ron Marz: We explored a number of different options, including self-publishing. But ultimately we felt like finding a partner was our best course, both in terms of reaching a bigger share of the market, and having publishing infrastructure we could depend upon. IDW seemed like a natural fit. I already had a great relationship with David Hedgecock, who is a prince among editors, and all of us were already fans of the material that IDW brings to the market.

Bart Sears: Having the opportunity to control all aspects of Ominous was one of the major reasons we started Ominous. But at the same time, we realize we don't know everything. When we met with David last year, it was clear that he believed in what we were doing, and had knowledge and access that we didn't. We wouldn't be giving up control, we'd just be adding another very knowledgeable voice to our decision-making process.

Given that it's been 11 months -- in what ways have the goals for Ominous evolved over that time?

Sears: I think when this all started, we just wanted to tell some stories and get some books out. As time passed, and we worked more and more on Ominous, we realized there was much more we wanted to do with it. We realized there were opportunities to turn this into something beyond just getting some books out. We've developed a much broader, long-range vision for Ominous Press, and obviously IDW is a big part of that.

"Dread Gods" #1 main cover
"Dread Gods" #1 main cover by Tom Raney

"Dread Gods" is the first Ominous book set to launch from the deal with IDW. What does this series say about the line as a whole?

Marz: The titles we're doing stand on their own, and "Dread Gods" is no different. But it's emblematic of the kind of stories we're telling. In a dystopian future, the population is kept docile thanks to being plugged into an alternate or virtual reality that chronicles the lives and loves and adventures of gods inspired by the Greek deities. But the reality is that these "gods" are more like captive monsters. What happens when gods find out they're monsters? What happens when they break out of their captivity? That's what "Dread Gods" is about. The story is larger-than-life, literally.

And, of course, the art is a big part of that. It feels like the art side of the comic equation has been de-emphasized the last few years, and I'm the first one to say that's unacceptable. Comics are visual storytelling, so Ominous books are going to give you something breathtaking to look at in every issue. Tom Raney is doing the work of his career on "Dread Gods," as far as I'm concerned. Our first covers are by Tom, Bart, Kenneth Rocafort, and Neal Adams, so obviously the message is that the art is a huge part of what we're doing.

Sears: "Dread Gods" is set in a dark future. Much of the backdrop of Ominous is rather bleak, but our stories aren't bleak. Our stories are wildly different -- different genres, different tones. But I think the one thing that all of them have in common is that there's a beacon of light shining in the darkness. These are stories about heroes fighting the good fight.

Speaking of "Dread Gods," it was originally called "Prometheus." What inspired the name change? (Strongly worded letter from Ridley Scott?)

Sears: I wish! We'd have that framed on a wall!

Marz: Obviously "Prometheus" is a word everybody's familiar with, and the concept of a god bringing a gift to humanity is pretty universal. We did our due diligence, and while there was nothing specific that prevented us from using the title, we decided to go with something different to avoid confusion and any possible conflicts. Plus, I think "Dread Gods" has a pretty cool ring to it.

"Dread Gods" #1 variant cover
"Dread Gods" #1 variant cover by Kenneth Rocafort

David, IDW is already known for a diverse publishing lineup. What do you see Ominous bringing to the table that wasn't there before?

David Hedgecock: Ron, Bart, Andy, Tom and the rest of the Ominous team are bringing something to IDW that any publisher would desire -- powerful storytelling. While not a “capes” book, it is a style of book that hits all the beats that today’s comic book buying audience want from their entertainment. When you have a book of unmitigated quality matched with some of the industry’s brightest talents, telling a powerful story, the thought of not publishing these stories would be ludicrous!

"Dread Gods" #1 variant cover
"Dread Gods" #1 variant cover by Bart Sears
"Dread Gods" #1 interior art
"Dread Gods" #1 interior art by Tom Raney
"Dread Gods" #1 interior art by Tom Raney
"Dread Gods" #1 interior art by Tom Raney
"Dread Gods" #1 interior art by Tom Raney
"Dread Gods" #1 interior art by Tom Raney

Ominous Press launches in July with "Dread Gods" #1.

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