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"This is an Idea I Should Have Had." The Omega Eleven Assemble

Morlocks, Merlin, Morgan Le Fay, Oh My! We chat with James Aquilone and Zac Atkinson about their Dirty Dozen.


The Omega Eleven

Welcome to our Creator Corner, our reoccurring interview series, where we chat with the coolest and most thought-provoking creators in the industry. In this entry, we're conversing with James Aquilone and Zac Atkinson about The Omega Eleven.

 

We've all had fantasies about taking control of our favorite characters, where we could make them do what we want. Well, wait long enough, and you might get the chance. James Aquilone and Zac Atkinson have dipped into the public domain and pulled out the long-lost Doctor Omega. Some rumors suggest he's the inspiration for the iconic Doctor Who, but for whatever reason, most folks on this side of the pond have never heard of him. That doesn't matter. They can use his function to collect other disavowed creations and assemble their time-heist comic, The Omega Eleven.


Aquilone and Atkinson have collaborated before, and we've spoken to James about many of those projects, but this is the first time they've ventured this deep into comics-making. The Omega Eleven's first issue is in the last stages of its Kickstarter campaign. It offers an entertaining tour through pop culture's most cherished rogues, from the Artful Dodger to Merlin to Morgan Le Fay. Here is their opportunity to play in the sandbox and accomplish concepts that Charles Dickens never would have dared. Sacrilege, or just a damn good time being cheeky?


We chat with Aquilone and Atkinson about the inspirations that led them to this project, the difficulties of selecting the correct public domain characters for their story, and what The Omega Eleven provides that past collaborations did not. We also try to get some clues as to who else might join Doctor Omega's crew, even though Aquilone and Atkinson are eager to keep them a surprise.

 

The Omega Eleven and the Doctor Who Connection


Brad: I knew nothing about Doctor Omega or that Doctor Omega had a connection to Doctor Who. Can you explain a little bit of the backstory or the mythology of Doctor Omega and what you find so appealing about him?


Zac Atkinson: Well, I didn't know anything about him either. I was just looking for public domain characters to riff on. I think I found an article talking about how they think this Doctor Omega public domain character is connected to Doctor Who. It's kind of allegedly. I'm sure there's people who would argue there's no connection. But he looks a lot like William Hartnell, who is the first Doctor Who. I was wanting to do a Justice League of Public Domain, legendary characters, because they're all a 100 years apart and stuff, so there's no way to bring them together.


When I found out there's a public domain Doctor Who, I was like, "Oh, yeah, that's one way to bring them together." That's about all I had until when I pitched it to James and he had a lot more ideas and made it more cohesive. But there's not much lore. He went to Mars. I think James knows who wrote it, but I can't think offhand. The creator was definitely a H. G. Wells fan. It was very much his War of the Worlds/Time Machine guy.


James Aquilone: I think it was more like a John Carter of Mars type thing. He goes to Mars, and he meets all these aliens and crazy stuff. I think it was before John Carter because it came out in 1906. I think John Carter is 1911.


Brad: So, this would've been coming off of War of the Worlds, First Men in the Moon.


Zac Atkinson: Right.


James Aquilone: Yeah, it's a pretty long time ago. I guess it's before all the Edgar Rice stuff, too. But it was written in French, and I don't think it was translated into English until recently, maybe 10 or 15 years ago.


Brad: Oh, wow.


James Aquilone: So that's, I think, why a lot of people don't know about him.


Brad: James, I know you're a massive fan of pulp adventurers and putting a new spin on these types of characters. So, when Zac comes to you with Doctor Omega, you're like, "Oh, this is catnip?"


James Aquilone: Yeah. It was such a great idea, and then he already had illustrations for all the characters, too. So I was like, "Wow, this is amazing," because I don't usually work on other people's ideas. I have this huge backlog of ideas myself. Usually, when people come to me with ideas, I'm like, "Ugh," and usually they're not good. But then Zac pitched his idea, and I was like, "This is amazing. This is really awesome. Yeah, please let me do this." I'm not usually like that. This is an idea I should have had. But Zac came up with it, and it is really cool that he'd been thinking about it for years. He was really laying the groundwork for it, and he had ships, weapons, and characters. It was really cool to see all that and play in that sandbox and then add to it.


Brad: What other public domain characters will be joining Doctor Omega?


James Aquilone: Most will be surprises. His sidekick is the Artful Dodger. He's a pickpocket from Oliver Twist. Zac calls him Doctor Omega's Short Round or that he's his Marty McFly. He's part of the Eleven, but we don't reveal the rest of the Eleven until future issues. He has that first heist, really, and then that kicks off the events of why they would need to gather up this team.


The Omega Eleven and Robin Hood?


Brad: How do you go about finding pubic domain characters to fit your story?


James Aquilone: Well, I think one thing is in a heist story, you need people with all these particular skills. So it's like this guy, he can crack the codes, and this guy, he does the munitions or whatever. That's one thing we're looking at. If we bring in someone, let's say, like Robin Hood...


Brad: You're not confirming or denying a Robin Hood appearance.


James Aquilone: Someone like that, what would his use be, and stuff like that. We're not just throwing the characters in there, but they all play a specific function.


Zac Atkinson: Yeah. We're going to try to keep it to mostly rogues. And that came once we figured out we were doing a heist. The name is definitely a play on Ocean's Eleven.


Brad: Totally.


Zac Atkinson: The overall idea behind it is it's kind of like A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but it's more like League of Extraordinary Thieves.


James Aquilone: Yeah.


Brad: What I love about Ocean's Eleven or The Dirty Dozen or A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is watching these big personalities bash against each other, and the surprises that you get are how they might connect or disconnect. That's the joy of an assemblage like this.


Zac Atkinson: Oh, for sure.


James Aquilone: I love The Dirty Dozen, and I love how they gather up the team. They clash with each other, or they complement each other. So that's really fun to see. I've always wanted to do that type of story, so this is just perfect for me. Hopefully, this is successful, and then we'll do other Doctor Omega stories. Kind of like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, you'll probably end up seeing every public domain character at some point, every public domain thief we can get our hands on.


Brad: And can we expect an antagonist out there as well?


James Aquilone: Maybe several.


The Omega Eleven Adventure Continues...


Brad: Yeah. Okay. Okay. All right. No spoilers. So, collaboration-wise, what do you both get out of this? What about this project and what about working with each other gets you excited?


Zac Atkinson: I knew I was way too ADD to put my thoughts together, and I knew it was something I wasn't going to be able to write, nor did I particularly want to write it, but I definitely wanted to do it. When I got to know James, it was, "Oh, he would totally go for this," and I knew it was right up his alley. The reason I'm doing this project was because I knew the perfect partner to do it with, and it was kind of serendipitous just to work on his other projects and the fact that he's into all the weird pulpy stuff that I was into, too.


James Aquilone: Yeah. It was just so much exactly what I like to do, so it was just like, "This is so much fun." This is really fun. It's some of the most fun I've had with a project. All the other stuff I've done for Kickstarters were anthologies, so this is really the first time that I'm getting to write a series. I think, for Zac, this is also one of the first times he's doing a project where he co-owns it. It's a totally different thing. Now, we own this, and we're not just doing a story in an anthology. We're doing this one long-form story, which is really cool.


So, let's see how it progresses over five issues, and who knows if there are other series that we can basically live with these characters for years. That's a lot of fun to do. Now, to do a project like this is really cool because I haven't had that opportunity before. I wanted to do a comic book series, so this is really the first one I'm doing, but it's perfect. This is like, "Oh, this is exactly what I would want to kick off my comic book writing career." I've written some short stories, but I haven't really done anything at this scale.

 

Find more details about The Omega Eleven via their Kickstarter page.

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