Coming from Humanoid’s new H1 Ignition line of realistic, super-powered heroes, last week saw the release of “Omni” #1. Alitha E. Martinez provides the gorgeous art for this unique new series, along with Devin Grayson’s script, Bryan Valenza’s colors, and A Larger World Studios’ letters.
“Omni” features a unique premise. A Médecins Sans Frontières doctor in the Central African Republic, Cecelia Cobbina experiences the powers-giving phenomenon of “The Ignition,” gracing her with the ability to think faster than the speed of light. The experience sends her on a search across the US for answers about the Ignited, putting the good doctor with companions and encounters that will bring out— and test— her brilliance.
We got to talk to artist Alitha E. Martinez about drawing a dynamic story like “Omni,” rendering the diverse, strong women at the front of this story, and what “Ignition” readers have in store.
Alitha E. Martinez, as a fan of your work since “Batgirl” and through “Black Panther: World of Wakanda,” it is so cool to talk to you!
Alitha Martinez: Thank you, Paul, for taking the time to chat with me.
The pleasure’s ours. We’re here to talk about “Omni” issue #1, coming out from Humanoids’ new H1″Ignition” line of super-powered stories. What drew you to this project? What excites you about working on “Omni?”
AM: I’m very excited to be a part of the future of comics. As you know I’ve been around, lurking in the shadows since Noah let the animals off of the arc.
AM: I’m very content to just work, but doubly so to be able to world build. “Omni” offers the opportunity to lay the groundwork for a type of story with a much-needed type of hero: a medical drama with courageous, strong women in the lead.
Yes! That’s super intriguing. At the center is Dr. Cecelia Cobbina, and issue 1 shows us all these dimensions of her character: strength and compassion, toughness and curiosity, determination and sheer badass intelligence. What design and character rendering decisions did you make in bringing this particular superhero to life?
AM: I’m following in the footsteps of people who already had Cecelia’s look down. I’d like to think that I added her spirit: the emotions that play across her face, the way that she moves and whatever you read into her quiet moments. I hope she comes across as deep, contemplative and practical. That’s a lot to ask of a new character, but it’s a truer reflection of ourselves.
It comes across. She’s a character with such depth. And she’s not alone, either. In a conversation I once had with Dr. Grace Gipson about your art on “Black Panther: World of Wakanda”, we noticed how well your art presents both high action and subtle relational dynamics.
“Omni” shows off your versatility too. As Dr. Cobbina says to her companion Mae, a comic artist, it’s not all “running around and being brilliant,” but also “the quiet moments and the hard stuff.” Can you talk about how you achieve that balance?
AM: Dr. Cobbina and Mae. I am really happy to get to play them off of each other. Both are equally as convicted and dedicated. They’re opposites and most of all they are friends. They don’t always have to agree, but they have to work together, even outside of their adventures.
Because they’re so multifaceted I can play with the way they’re drawn. I don’t think I’ve ever added so many microexpressions. A part of the tale is in the glances that are not described.
Absolutely. To get broader, you’re part of the H1 Ignition universe, along with artists like Phil Briones on “Ignited” and Guillermo Sanna on “Strangelands” and the H1 Ignition architects, with writers like Devin Grayson, Mark Waid and Kwanza Osejefyo, Mags Visaggio and Darcie Little Badger. And your book, “Omni,” involves a global search for answers about the Ignition. Are your teams trying to establish some visual unity or some common world-building markers? How have you thought about that aspect of storytelling and world-building in “Omni?”
AM: LOL, that would be telling. Better that the reader should enjoy the ride. It’s complex. It’s new because we are asking a lot and presenting much more than the typical superhero journey. I hope that we are making you not only read the books but really think about what’s coming next.Continued below
Haha, fair enough! “Omni” spans lots of genres: globe-spanning action-adventure, some touches of medical drama, and that visual portrayal of intellectual mystery that reminds me of BBC’s “Sherlock” or “A Beautiful Mind,” such as how you render Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences at work in Dr. Cobbina’s mind. What have been some of your artistic or aesthetic inspirations for this story?
AM: Every book that I do comes out different. I don’t have a set style so I get to be surprised by the final outcome of the team effort. We are components that work together to present a story. It’s an amazing, and challenging, experience.
Well, your art in “Omni” looks really wonderful on the page. Congrats on the work you’ve done and will continue to do, along with Devin Grayson’s scripts, Bryan Valenza’s colors, and A Larger World Studios’ lettering. And folks should check out “Omni” from H1 for all of that.
AM: Thank you for this interview. Your “fan-boying” made my day. I work alone in my studio in something of a vacuum, so It’s not often that I hear feedback or thoughts on projects that I have done. Thank you.
Haha! Talking to you made MY day! Really fun to talk to you about “Omni” and your art.