“Black Hammer” debuted in summer of 2016, and the Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston collaboration has gone on to win an Eisner Award and cultivate a number of spinoffs in the newly dubbed “Black Hammer Universe,” the most recent being “The Quantum Age” coming this summer. The main series wrapped up last fall with #13, and is being relaunched with “Black Hammer: Age of Doom” #1 which hits shelves April 18th and marks a whole new direction for the series. I had the opportunity to talk with artist Dean Ormston about the upcoming relaunch and what’s coming from Abe, Gail, and Lucy, the new Black Hammer. Check out the interview below as well as some preview pages at the end.
Dean, you and Jeff have created something really special here in the now aptly named, “Black Hammer Universe.” You’ve won an Eisner Award. Now you have spinoffs running and you’re adding more and more characters to this world. What is it like getting to craft the visuals of a whole new superhero universe? How did you and Jeff even start to create this world?
I’ve always loved to create characters and environs, but most of the time these are within existing and well-established worlds. Some of the characters I created years ago for Judge Dredd and DC’s Lucifer still make appearances today. Black Hammer is the first time I helped create a comic ‘universe’ from the start. Quite early on, before we knew how successful Black Hammer would become, Jeff planned a spinoff from the main story with other artists. The spinoff plan allowed me to focus on drawing the main story while we filled the schedule gaps with other adventures within the universe. Winning the Eisner made us rethink the limited run of Black Hammer, so Jeff and I discussed extending the main story. Dark Horse supported the plan to expand the line of titles quickly. To be fair, Jeff is the real driving force behind the expanding world, and most of the spinoffs were almost throwaway characters from the first volume. These characters were villains and heroes that maybe only appeared on one page in the first series, but Jeff had the foresight to mold them into more fully-formed characters within the Black Hammer world.
What excites you about getting to work on “Black Hammer” as opposed to some of the other comic work you’ve done?
One of the best parts of creating a comic universe is that I get to decide what works, what the characters look like, what the page should look like, what the covers look like, and the overall mood or atmosphere. I also had a choice of colorist (and what a guy Dave Stewart is). The list of exciting things is endless, but without a doubt, the most exciting thing is the joy of working with Jeff. I love working with him, and his scripts almost draw themselves. I wake up every day wanting to work, wanting to do better than the day before.
What is different visually about “Age of Doom” as opposed to the first series? What are things you are doing differently this time around?
I am actually trying to keep the mood the same, but “Age of Doom” does have a darker feel, so there will be a bit more shadow. I think the art has changed a little bit from the first series, and I do want to exaggerate the characters more but not so much that they differ too much from the earlier issues.
You and Jeff have been very forward about wanting to create a series that reflects the history of superhero comics. What inspirations are you taking for the visuals and feel of “Age of Doom?” Who are some of your inspirations that you are pulling from?
I think “Age of Doom” has a very DC’s Vertigo feel to it. We get to play with characters that wouldn’t seem out of place in “Sandman,” and I have placed a few visual treats to myself in there, but I’m not giving away specifics!
What are your biggest goals in getting to be a part of something like “Black Hammer?”
It would be great if “Black Hammer” stepped over into another medium, perhaps a movie or TV series, but at the moment I’m super happy just getting to draw it every day.Continued below
What can you tease for us for this next installment?
Giant Demons and a little tilt at one of my favorite bands, but again, not giving specifics.
Jeff Lemire also chimed in with a quick quote about the new series. Below his quote, find two exclusive preview pages for the first issue.
“Black Hammer: Age of Doom” is the next chapter in our main “Black Hammer” story starring Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Barbalien and all the heroes of Black Hammer farm. The new series picks up literally seconds after the cliffhanger ending of “Black Hammer” #13. Lucy Weber has taken the mantle of her father, and she knows where the heroes are and why. And from here, things get crazy.
Dean and I love these characters and this world so much, and I’m thrilled that the main “Black Hammer” story is returning. This new series will offer many answers to questions readers have had since issue 1, but it will also add new layers and new characters to the ongoing saga. In particular, we will begin to explore the history of horror comics the way we explored the history of superhero comics in the first series. Dean’s work has never looked better. He was born to draw demons and ghosts. I’m also having a blast writing Lucy as the New Black Hammer. Lucy’s quest to find her father remains the heart of the series and she will have to travel to some pretty dark places to complete it.