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Omar Spahi embraces NFT with the comic Xenoglyphs

Omar Spahi

Indie comics creator Omar Spahi has announced that his comic series Xenoglyphs will be released in single-issue format first on Rarible.com, making it the first full comic book story released as a one-of-one digital collectible.

As a comic book indie creator embracing the emerging NFT platform and technology, Spahi hopes to change the way indie creators use technology to generate income and broaden their fanbases.

NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token, which means that unlike bitcoin, it cannot be traded for another identical token. Each NFT is a unique, one-of-a-kind piece, and if you trade it, you are trading it for another completely different collectible. It’s the one-of-one approach that makes Spahi’s plan unique, in that the rarity of the item – historically speaking – is something that is typically appealing to collectors of comics.

I strive to be groundbreaking in this space, it’s not just for myself, but for the comics community at large. There are many misconceptions about this technology and much to learn in the days ahead, but the potential rewards for creative participants on a project like this are undeniable.

Unlike the printed comic market, which usually cannot sustain a one-of-a-kind product, the NFT model allows us to offer something that is truly distinct and unique to a collector. If you just like the artwork, we will make digital prints available to anyone who wants one, but the collectible itself is limited to one.

As NFT collectibles are traded and resold, the potential for increased value only grows. This means a writer or artist can be paid on an NFT comic at potentially higher rates than through traditional channels. We don’t intend for this to replace direct market comic distribution, but it certainly levels the playing field amongst indies and corporate publishers.

We’re on the precipice of a new era of collectibles, and I feel Xenoglyphs has a chance of appealing to people through Rarible.com who have never read anything in this format before. And for those who have, this is a chance to be the first collector to own a full comic book in this format.

Spahi sees strong potential here for putting power into the hands of artists and writers. The long lifecycle and trading and reselling potential of an NFT collectible has opened up new earning opportunities, and the stakes are much higher than in physical media.

Spahi’s Xenoglyphs is the story of best friends Steven and Dom as they try to stop Anubis, the master of evil, from collecting all nine elemental stones, known as Xenoglyphs.

If someone holds a stone they control that element. For example, if someone holds the Water Stone they have the power to control all the water around them.

You can bid on Xenoglyphs at Rarible.


Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, and Rod Reis’ Hadrian Wall Has Been Optioned as a Film

Gunpowder & Sky’s sci-fi label DUST announced today that it has acquired the rights to Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel,and Rod Reis’ interstellar noir comic, Hadrian’s Wall, and has partnered with Higgins to develop into a feature film that he will write and direct.

Billed as a locked-room murder mystery in space, Hadrian’s Wall follows a pill-popping detective sent to interview the crew of a distant survey ship, when his ex-wife’s new husband dies in suspicious circumstances amidst a broiling cold war between Earth and her distant colony.

The deal marks the first adaptation for creator Higgins, a New York Times #1 best-selling author and fan favorite, best-known for his work on DC Comics’ Batman line and the recent BOOM! Studios comic book crossover event, Power Rangers: Shattered Grid. Higgins also directed a live-action trailer for Shattered Grid that earned more than 12 million cross-platform views in the first two weeks of release.

Hadrian’s Wall is published by Image Comics and Glénat Editions, in conjunction with Omar Spahi and OSSM Comics.

Hadrian's Wall

Chatting about the Comic Industry with Omar Spahi, founder of OSSM Comics

ossm1In 2012, Omar Spahi began building his dream to create comic books. Starting his own company at 23, Omar finished his first comic book script, Xenoglyphs.

Since then OSSM Comics has not only released numerous series by Spahi, but also worked with talent such as Brian Buccellato, Noel Tuazon, and is co-publishing Hadrian’s Wall with Image Comics.

I got a chance to talk to Omar about the comic industry and his co-publishing venture with Image.

Graphic Policy: At age 23 you decided you wanted to dive into comics and you came up with Xenoglyphs. What got you interested in creating comics and your own series?

Omar Spahi: I think I’ve always had stories in my head that I’ve wanted to tell. I grew up reading comics and so once I found out people were making comics, that’s just what I started to do.

GP: What comics did you grow up reading? What impacted you so much that you wanted to do that for a living?

OS: I grew up reading Flash and the Simpsons. The Flash is what got me hooked, the characters felt so real and personal. I knew I wanted to be a part of that world, to make someone feel the way that I felt.

GP: What were some of the hurdles you came up against with doing a creator owned series and what are some lessons you’ve learned when building your own publishing company?

OS: Comics is an incredibly difficult industry, nothing comes easy and it’s hard to build a fan base. Finishing comic books, each and every time is like giving birth. Each time I finish the book I’m overwhelmed with the sense of accomplishment. The next step is marketing the titles, and that works through good recommendation and word of mouth. People listen to their friends and read what they’re reading.

GP: You mention that it’s hard to build a fan base, but it seems like some of the most successful creators are doing just that through social media, Kickstarter, and other digital tools. It’s much more of a two-way conversation now where fans expect interaction and feedback in some ways. How are you seeing that as a publisher?

OS: It’s so important to build your fan base one person at a time. You never know who will end up crossing paths with you in an important way. I can’t stress the important of staying kind and open to everyone. As a publisher it’s exactly the same, you want people to embrace your brand and develop a positive experience.

GP: You’ve recently gone into co-publishing comics especially with Image. How’d this come about and why’d you go that route?

OS: It comes from working with amazingly talented creators. They’ve told amazing stories and I’ve been lucky enough to come along for the ride.

GP: How’d that come about? Image has an open submission policy but is this something you approached them with or was it the creators you worked with?

OS: It’s been through the creators, they come out with amazing books and I’m lucky enough to be a part of it. Our Image titles have come through creators that already have a relationship at Image and it’s just grown from that.

GP: What do you see as the benefits of that route as opposed to building up your own publishing brand?

OS: We couldn’t be luckier to be working with Image. They embody what comics should be about, the mission and purpose is about empowering creators instead of using them. At the end of the day, it’s easier to generate interest for our stories when we work with a powerful brand like Image. They’re known for their amazing quality and that inherently draws people in.

GP: You get better presence in Diamond and some social media presence, but what else do they bring? Talking to other creators, they still have to do a lot of the promotion for their comics.

OS: Image books do better because of a few things, first of all. Image books produce quality. They tell great stories that grab peoples attention. Another reason is comics is really an investor business, you want to invest in the next Walking Dead # 1 or Saga # 1 because you think it will be worth more in a few years. The goal is to take the comics we’ve created and take them from Comics to TV and films. Lastly, stores order Image books because they know it’s a brand their customers crave and stores are the one that are responsible for driving consumers to new titles.

GP: There’s be a lot of talk about distribution and the role of distributors, stores, readers, and publishers. What do you see as the “state of comics?”

OS: The sad truth about comics is it’s tough for everyone, even the big name creators aren’t raking in huge paychecks every time they’re putting out an issue. I feel like most comic book creators have it tough because there are so many great books coming out. It’s hard to make it as a independent creator, but with hard work and perseverance you can become the top tier creator that is very successful.

GP: Since it’s tough, what is OSSM doing to break the mold? There’s so many new distribution, marketing, business models out there than the traditional ones that’s existed since the direct market was formed. Has OSSM explored breaking out of the traditional system?

OS: We’re doing everything we can, including searching how to grow outside of comics. We live in a world where Batman and Superman are billion dollar characters, the goal is to create stories on that level. We’re always trying new ideas and pushing the envelope creatively and looking to take our titles to new media.

Interview: Brian Buccellato Discusses Foster from OSSM Comics

foster_coverProlific writer Brian Buccellato sees his creator-owned graphic novel Foster come to print courtesy of OSSM Comics in July. Joined by artist Noel Tuazon, the story follows a war vet who must protect a 6 year-old boy as they’re hunted by brutal creatures.

This is the first time the entirety of the story will be in print, as only the first five, of the planned 6-issue mini-series, were.

In leading up to the launch, we got a chance to talk to Buccellato about the series, and how writing it compares to his other high profile gigs.

Graphic Policy: For folks that don’t know, what’s Foster about?

Brian Buccellato: Here’s the catchy log line… Along the lines of WALKING DEAD meets TAXI DRIVER, FOSTER uses a hard bitten Steve McQueen-style hero and 1970’s politics as touchstones to create a neo-noir world with a frightening Jules Verne twist. The story follows haunted war vet, Eddie Foster, who finds himself the guardian of an 6 year-old boy being hunted by a shadowy race of brutal creatures, rising up from the darkness.

GP: What brought the project to OSSM Comics?

BB: Personal relationships. Omar Spahi and I have been friends for a while and he was looking for additional materials for his catalog. He’d been a huge fan of the issue of Foster that I self published in 2012 and so it was a natural fit to do the trade paperback through OSSM.

GP: I came to know artist Noel Tuazon’s work on Tumor, and I can only describe that work ashaunting. How did Noel come on to the project?

BB: Josh Fialkov (writer of Tumor) is another pal of mine, and he was nice enough to make the introduction after I had seen Noel’s work in Tumor.

GP: The project was initially released as single issues, why that format instead of a graphic novel?

BB: I financed and self-published the single issues and the costs prevented me from doing it all as one graphic novel.

GP: Does that difference in format change the story at all?

BB: Not really. It’s a complete story that I had always planned to collect it as a trade and planned for that as I was writing the individual issues.

GP: The story follows a Vietnam vet and takes place in the 60’s/early 70’s, why set it then as opposed to a veteran of one of today’s wars and in modern times? What is it about that time that makes it the needed setting?

BB: There are two reasons… one is practical and one is selfish. The practical reason is that I couldn’t buy the concept of dwellers in today’s social media/internet information age. But back in the analog early 70’s it felt plausible that dwellers could live among us and not be publicly acknowledged by the government. I felt it was akin to the mafia back then. I remember that people still denied the existence of the Italian mob and common folk accepted that. The other reason is that because I have a deep nostalgic love of that time and place because I was born in 1970 in New York City and grew up there.

GP: You said the story is personal to you, as you wanted to write about fatherhood, and the need to protect a child from the dangers of the world. What of your own experiences did you bring to the story?

BB: It’s mostly from an emotional standpoint. My role as a parent has been (thankfully) mundane and without major drama/trauma or tragedy. One memory that I DID pull from is my own childhood. During Christmas 1976, my eldest brother, Jack, took money from my mother and then convinced me and Steve (our middle brother) to run away from home after Mom threatened to take away all of our Christmas gifts if the culprit didn’t confess. So three kids ages 6, 8, and 11 jumped on the #7 train and ran away… to Manhattan. Being alone and fending for ourselves for about 12 hours in the big bad city inspired what happens to 6-year-old Ben in the story.

GP: I haven’t read the original release, and am really looking forward to reading this, but from what I know there’s a shadowy race of brutal creatures, rising up from the darkness. I can’t help but think there’s a metaphor in there….

BB: There certainly is. This story is about protecting you child from the monsters out there in the world… AND inside of us. The dwellers want to do only three things… eat, kill and fornicate. They are primal. They are all id. They are what we would be like if we had unchecked aggression.

GP: You also wrote The Flash and currently writing The Black Bat, and Detective Comics, among other series, what’s different in the approach writing one of those stories as opposed Foster?

BB: I always find these types of questions difficult to address. Each idea or property that I work on has it’s own world with a set of built-in rules. The differences are tonal and genre related and don’t change HOW I go about writing. My method of writing is the same no matter the subject. The real difference with this project over the others is that Foster is created owned and NOT a work for hire… so I didn’t have to answer to any other authority. When you are paid to write, it is with the understanding that someone else ultimately gets to have their say over your creative choices.

GP: Since this is an indie series, what’s the difference in working on this, as opposed to working on a publisher’s property? Is there a different relationship for you with the artist?

BB: It depends on WHICH publisher. Publishers differ in their approach and their editorial style. Some are more hands on, some are more hands off. In the case of Foster, I didn’t answer to anyone. So for better or worse, the final product is what I intended. As far as my relationship to the artist, I have been mostly fortunate in my career, and have had open dialogues with the artists I collaborate with.

GP: You already have a lot on your plate, any other projects coming up that you can talk about?

BB: I am launching a Kickstarter to crowd source funds for a transmedia project that will exist as a SHORT FILM and a COMIC BOOK. It’s a psychological thriller called Sons of the Devil. My hope is to launch the property in an ongoing fashion as a comic book series AND as a digital series. The Kickstarter will be going on for the month of June and I encourage anyone interested in my work to check it… and contribute mightily! :)

Here’s a brief synopsis for Sons of the Devil:

In 1989, the FBI raid the remote compound of deranged Cult leader DAVID DALY– only to find him comatose among the 93 murdered followers he sacrificed in a devil’s bargain. The only survivors are six infants rescued the night before the bloody massacre. Twenty-five years later we meet one of those infants…

TRAVIS, a troubled father-to-be whose rough childhood was spent in Foster Care. He struggles to cope with fear of abandonment and anger issues until a “chance meeting” leads him to his half sister, JENNIFER… and the realization that he has five brothers and sisters. Travis soon discovers that this meeting was not by chance at all… Not only is his father still alive, but he is determined to finish the devil’s work that he started 25 years ago. So Travis and Jennifer have to race against the clock to find and protect their siblings before David can sacrifice them to the devil in a crazed gambit to bring Hell on earth!

 And here’s an early preview!


Brian Buccellato Brings Foster to Ossm Comics

OSSM Comics has acquired the publishing rights to Brian Buccellato’s creator-owned graphic novel Foster. The story is set against the backdrop of late 60’s/early 70’s urban crime movies, and follows a haunted war veteran who finds himself the guardian of a 6 year-old boy being hunted by a shadowy race of brutal creatures, rising up from the darkness.

The graphic novel is written by Buccellato with art by Noel Tuazon, and will be published by OSSM Comics on July 2, 2014. It will be the first time that the entirety of the story will be in print; Dog Year Entertainment originally published five issues of a planned 6-issue mini-series. Foster will retail for $12.99.

In a release Buccellato said:

Foster is such a personal story for me. As a father of a teenage boy, I wanted to write about fatherhood and specifically the male need to protect your child from the physical dangers of the world,. Foster’s trying to forget the Vietnam War at the bottom of a bottle when he encounters a boy who changes his life. Suddenly he has to navigate a world where technology is stuck in the analog ’70s and supernatural creatures and twisted scientists lurk around every corner. Noel Tuazon really captured the gritty, urban horror at the heart of this story.