Talking Made Men with Paul Tobin & Arjuna Susini

Rogues Portal had the opportunity to speak with some of the creative team behind Oni Press’s Made Men: writer Paul Tobin and artist Arjuna Susini. Issue #2 came out earlier this month, and Made Men #3 will be in your local comic shops November 15.

Check out the Q&A below!

  1. ROGUES PORTAL (RP): Where did the idea for Made Men first originate?

PAUL TOBIN (PT): It was a confluence of several thoughts. Back when I was working on a big Prometheus / Aliens / Predator crossover event, the subject of Frankenstein kept being brought to the table as an overall theme, so it was in my mind, and then I’ve always been disappointed by the “detective” genre, in that there’s always a murder, and then that murder is solved, and that’s the end. But a murder causes more than a mystery, and solving a mystery doesn’t solve the murder. I wanted someone who could walk into a mystery and truly solve the overall problem: the dead person. Then, one day it suddenly hit me that I could have both. A Frankenstein story where more than the mystery is solved. The murder can be solved, too. Of course, every move has ramifications, so that’s been a lot of fun to play with. 

  1. RP: Although this story is very much about strong, intelligent women, I’m curious: why go with the title Made Men?

PT: Mostly because I like the play with the mob meaning of “made men,”…someone  who has gone out and killed someone, “making” their place in the mob. That connects with how Jutte and her crew are actually “made men” in the literal sense, and further plays with the concept of murder making someone a “made man,” but in Jutte’s case bringing the dead to life. Although… Jutte and her crew do a fair amount of turning the living to dead too, I guess.

  1. RP: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been the inspiration for numerous creative works. However, I was super impressed by how Made Men gives us a unique story that stands all on its own. How difficult was this to achieve?

PT: Mostly, I just tried to keep in mind that story came first, and Frankenstein came second. I think that’s where a lot of projects can go wrong, trying to wrap an evolving story around a pre-set mold. Everything gets out of shape that way.

  1. RP: On a related note, what drew you to working with the ideas present in Frankenstein?

PT: Two of the main things that fascinate me about Frankenstein is… what about the other members of Victor’s family? What were THEY doing? Was he the most talented member of the family or the least? And then there’s the question of… when Victor brought the “monster” to life, was that his end goal? His triumph? Or was that just the first step in a much more involved plan? Those are aspects I wanted to explore. 

  1. The first few pages of issue #1 immediately had me hooked. I love the fact that only a few seconds pass since the first gunshot, but the horrific moment is drawn out over several pages as we experience the moment from Jutte’s point of view. What is it like working together as a creative team?

PT: Arjuna really brought that scene to life! He made it seedy, and creepy, and terrible in a wonderful way. I love it when an artist takes my thoughts and surpasses them. I’m a rather involved writer, and it takes an involved artist to really make it sing. Arjuna made it sing.

Arujna Susini (AS): I love this team! We had a great time! Paul is very much like a cinematographer with his writing, so descriptive, but, at the same time, he always leaves enough space for my own creativity. We are very in tune with each other.  And our editor Robin is the orchestra conductor; she gives us great freedom, but she also gives great direction to help maintain plotlines that are very imperative to the story, adding sense to the overall “mood” of the Made Men universe. Gonzalo also has an incredible palette of colors that emphasizes the exact atmosphere.

  1. RP: Okay, I have to say that the half-man, half-lion hybrid creature in Made Men #2 was equal parts horrific and totally awesome. How fun was this to draw?

AS: A LOT!!! Paul has a very precise idea of what he wants, and in this case, Leo is a very important character.

  1. RP: Speaking of Made Men #2, it was courageous to follow such an action-packed issue (#1) with one that concentrates more on backstory. Sometimes this brings the story to a screeching halt, but here it gives us a necessary pause and reveals that Jutte is an even more interesting character than we might have guessed. Can we expect to see more of this balance of character development and action?

PT: Absolutely. Both as a writer and a reader, I need to care about who’s in any given action sequence. If they’re just numbers to me, then the consequences are nil, and the action deflates. So, I want these people to feel real in my mind, developed as personalities, in order to REALLY mess with them.

  1. RP: Made Men brings together a lot of my favorite things: science, horror, literature, and kickass women. And, since it is the season for all things weird and creepy, I have to ask: do you have any big plans for Halloween?

PT: Sadly, I think my Halloween plans are to get work done and possibly go to bed early. I just got back from a long book tour in Switzerland and France, and found Mr. Deadlines and Madame Schedule waiting for me on my doorstep, scowling in menacing fashion, scuffing the soles of their steel-toed boots in a pile of cigarette butts.

AS: It isn’t really celebrated in Italy, but when I was child I loved and envied the “Halloween episodes” you’d find in TV series. I think I’m traumatized for missing out.

  1. RP: Who are some of your favorite writers and artists (comic-book or otherwise)?

PT: Hmm. This is always so hard. I name a few and then remember SO many more later, sometimes with them knocking on my door or springing out of my closet at night. But… Junji Ito, Hayao Miyazaki, Wes Anderson, Steve Gerber, Guillermo del Toro, Colleen Coover, Wally Wood, Hergé, Henk Kuijpers, Jordi Bernet. Hugo Pratt. Me. Can I say me? Me.

AS: I have a LOT of artists I follow in the world, and I make good use of social network to follow the works of the artists. In the USA, I particularly love Sean Gordon Murphy, Paul Pope, Richard Corben, Will Eisner, Frank Miller — I mean, I can go on forever. I also love manga like Lone Wolf and Cub, Berserk, Vagabond, JoJo. I also love Italian artists like Sergio Toppi, Battaglia, and in South America, Alberto and Enrique Breccia, which are all monsters in black and white. As for literature, Kurt Vonnegut.

  1. RP: For readers like myself, eager to see more of your work, can you tell us about any upcoming projects?

PT: All my new projects are still under “can’t talk about them” yet status, but there’s a weekly webcomic that will start up next year, and that I’m really enjoying. And another straight up horror title that explores a couple of the same themes of my Colder horror series, but also veers into other interesting areas. And me and an old friend are teaming up on a very strange adventure-style series. I’m having a lot of good times writing these days!

AS: Unfortunately, regarding the US market, I personally don’t have a big project in sight. Right now, I’m working more on illustrations and games, but with Paul, we are working towards another little project for the web.

As you can tell from this interview, Made Men should definitely be on your pull list! Check out our review of issue #1 here.

I'm an English PhD candidate that specializes in folklore and mythology, speculative fiction, and disability studies. Basically, I'm a professional geek. When not studying or teaching, I read; I write; I yoga; I travel; I play with my fur babies; and, I watch way too many (if that's a thing) horror movies.

Anelise Farris

I'm an English PhD candidate that specializes in folklore and mythology, speculative fiction, and disability studies. Basically, I'm a professional geek. When not studying or teaching, I read; I write; I yoga; I travel; I play with my fur babies; and, I watch way too many (if that's a thing) horror movies.

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