Independent comics comic creator and now freelance editor Martin Eden reveals his path to comics, and tells us a little more about his latest project, Zeros…
Like many comic writer/artists, I’ve been drawing comics since I could hold a pencil – the cliche is true for many of us. Growing up, I created all sorts of comics – Star Lords, The Wonder Men, Space Scouts and a comic called The O Men (which I painted).
That original O Men series came in my late teens when I was just discovering Vertigo comics and The Sandman, plus Grant Morrison’s work. I was also reading the excellent Comics International magazine, which helped me learn about the UK self-publishing (small press) scene.
That combination of elements made me decide to take what I’d done with The O Men and redo it – give it more depth. So really, six issues of that original O Men series would develop into 30-odd issues of the new O Men Volume One.
I’d describe The O Men as an epic superhero soap opera for mature readers.
The small press scene at the time (in the late 1990s/early 2000s) was fantastic. So many friendly people, so much fun – the Bristol convention was always the one to go to. I’m quite a shy person, but exhibiting at my first Bristol con was a real game-changer. A lot of people had heard about The O Men (through Comics International) and I slowly built up a nice little readership base.
I was around 35 issues into The O Men when I was starting to get a little burned out, and going to conventions was getting tougher (carting loads of sets of 35 issues around everywhere without a car was a challenge). I also had an idea for a new comic so I decided to put The O Men on hiatus and have a fresh start.
My new project was Spandex, about an all-gay superteam – I felt it was a concept that hadn’t been done before, and I was anxious to produce it before someone else inevitably came up with a similar idea. It took me a year to create the first issue (I was learning Photoshop) and I initially just printed up a small run of issues to share with friends and sell at cons.
It seemed to do okay – and people loved how colourful it all was – and then a friend who works in Marketing offered to help me put out a press release. It worked… and it went crazy. So much press attention – newspapers, websites, magazines – all around the world. Overnight, I received one thousand orders for Issue One – and so I quickly had to reprint. I continued Spandex for seven more issues until it came to a natural end. The idea with Spandex was that it would be fun, self-contained and experimental – but it ended up becoming as epic as The O Men.
After that, I finished off The O Men across eight final issues, and the ending of that led into my latest project… Zeros!
I decided to run Zeros as a webcomic (mainly for practical purposes – having no room in my flat for any more comics!) and started it in around 2019.
Zeros is set in a world where everyone has a superhuman power and the story focuses on the lives of a class of 12 schoolkids at the Powertown Institute. Volume One is finished now and the cast are all around eight years old in it. For Volume Two, there is a time jump in the story and they are older – I won’t say any more than that.
I would say Zeros is an “all ages” comic, but I think that could be a bit misleading. It’s just a story that could be read by anyone of any age. There are some fairly heavy storylines – bullying, sexuality, gender issues – but it’s not a “mature readers” comic. I wanted Zeros to be a comic that my young nephew and niece can read.
It’s is set in the same world as Spandex and The O Men, and indeed some of my old characters are going to be part of the story (some have already made appearances).
I would say my influences with Zeros are Jeffrey Brown, Grant Morrison, 20th Century Boys and the Hernandez Bros. My aim is to have short, character-focused chapters but there are lots of subplots and ongoing mysteries.
This month, I left my full time job at Titan Publishing to go freelance – and hopefully this will mean I can spend more time on Zeros. I’m also hoping to do a Kickstarter for a complete Spandex book, and I’m considering doing a ‘Young Spandex’ graphic novel. I also have a new cartoony newspaper strip-style comic in the works.
• You can read Zeros for free at zeroscomic.com
• Martin is also on Instagram at instagram.com/martrpeden | He’s available for editing, writing, drawing and tutoring
• Are you a comics creator? Would you like to tell your story of how you came to comics, and what you’re currently working on, as Martin has done? To appear in this section, your feature should follow the same format above and be no more than 800 words – and send us no less than five pictures of your work, published or unpublished, and a profile picture… we’d love to hear about you, and what you are working on! | How to Contact Us
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.