Doug Warner and Tim Odland talk about Beware the Eye of Odin


Author Doug Wagner is best known for his disturbing crime comics and those of Daniel Hillyard Vinyl and Plastic. But he takes a trip down memory lane in his new series Beware of Odin’s Eye with artist Tim Odland. Wagner and Odland just came out Beware of Odin’s Eye #1 with Picture Comics. The series follows Helgi – the Viking prince – who goes on a journey to return the titular eye of Odin. If he fails to complete his quest, he will face serious consequences. But for better or for worse, he is not alone in this adventure.

In honor of the new comic, Wagner and Odland spoke with CBR about their new comic, their collaborative process, the inspiration for Beware of Odin’s eye, and their love for trolls. Odland also talked about his experience working on his first comic and his appreciation for Norse mythology.

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CBR: Doug, what was the inspiration for Beware of Odin’s Eye?

Doug Wagner: It was a mix of so many things, but to be honest the main inspiration was all Tim. When I asked him what he wanted to work on together, he immediately spat out “Trolls and Vikings”. It sort of took on a life of its own from there. Tim and I had been friends for a few years at this point and spent enough time together that I knew he and I both loved Ray Harryhausen’s era of movie monsters. You can add to that our nerd-level love for movies like Big problem in little Chinanorwegian film Troll Hunter, 13e Warrior, and a bunch of other movies in that vein that I’m forgetting for now. I blocked so much of this stuff [as I could] into the black cauldron of my brain and let the voices take over from there.

Tim, what inspired you to do art for Beware of Odin’s Eye?

Tim Odland: Doug made a custom story for me to draw. The first thing he asked me was what I wanted to draw. Due to my heritage, I have always been interested in Norse mythology. My dad is Norwegian and he always told these troll stories. So naturally I said let’s do something with the trolls and the Vikings.

How was your collaborative process?

Wagner: Simply wonderful. Tim is amazing to work with. We both agreed early on to put our egos aside, have as much fun as we wanted, and just create whatever book we wanted to read. When the creative team puts ego aside, you end up with everyone focused on delivering the best story possible over everything else. If Tim didn’t like a scene, we would sit down and rework it together. If I didn’t like a layout, same thing. No one has ever been upset or sensitive about it. Everything was only compromised. It really was like playing with a friend in a fantastic, magical sandbox.

Odland: Yeah, Doug was pretty easy to work with. I learned a lot from him about how to collaborate. One thing Doug always reminded me of, “Remember to have fun. That’s why we’re doing this!” With that in mind, it was easy to toss ideas around and not take yourself too seriously.

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Which parts of Norse mythology were you most excited to play?

Wagner: Trolls and monsters! I think my first response to Tim when he mentioned trolls and Vikings was, “Only if we can make our version.” Of everything in the book, I had the most fun re-imagining all of these magical creatures. I think I’m most proud of Tim’s beautiful trolls and our game on houdrafolk and the dwarves.

Odland: Lore around Norwegian trolls. I haven’t really seen too many comics or movies here in the states that explore this type of troll. They have a little more spice than your typical giant or ogre. Like vampires or werewolves, they have specific weaknesses to exploit if you want to beat them. I thought they would make a great villain and be a great starting point for a book. And then there are the Vikings… I mean, do I have to explain myself there?

What do you think about those stories from Norse mythology that still captivate audiences?

Wagner: They are cool. Yeah, it’s simple. These are tales that have spanned thousands of years for a reason. I mean come on! You have gods with magical abilities, fairy tale creatures, and the threat of Ragnarok constantly looming over it all. Yeah, that’s just cool.

Odland: Mythology provides an excellent base for new stories to sprout from. Plus, I think there’s a lot of fun in seeing a new and interesting take on an old concept.

Doug, what were you most looking forward to seeing Tim illustrate?

Wagner: The fight scenes. We both have an unhealthy obsession with epic fight scenes, and Tim is an absolute boss at drawing them. It took a single page of my script and turned it into this incredibly dynamic double-page spread of action and mayhem that was not only exciting to read, but included all of those little nuances of storytelling in the background. I think my favorite is the border conflict between the trolls and Earthen Smiths. You have this small army of trolls using brute force and dark forest magic to fight against a group of well-trained and well-organized weapon masters. I smile just thinking what Tim did with it.

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Tim, what are you most looking forward to drawing in the script?

Odland: The trolls! For sure! These guys are so much fun to draw. I looked at Swedish artist John Bauer and Norwegian artist Theodor Kittelsen and added my own assortment of grotesques. Things like extra arms, double heads, and multiple eyes in one socket. This made the trolls a riot to draw. There were a lot of them, so I had a great time trying to make each one unique.

What were the biggest challenges, if any, that you both faced in tackling this project?

Wagner: Well, I’m not sure we won any of those battles. I would say our biggest challenges were probably time and self-discipline. We started with designs on a 60-page one-shot. It ended up being over 160 pages. Writing, drawing, coloring and writing 160 pages took a little longer than expected. Eh? Time and self-discipline? Yes, we definitely lost there.

Odland: Comics are hard to do. It was my first comic work, and I was learning as I went. I will be forever grateful to Doug for teaching me so much. At this point, I feel like I just took a masters course in comic book making and this series was my thesis. If you ever want to learn how to make comics, make one. There is a lot to consider.

What makes Helgi such a compelling protagonist for each of you?

Wagner: For me, I really enjoyed writing this character who discovers that the world is so much more than he ever thought possible. It’s like discovering that you’re really in the Matrix. My grandfather used to tell me all these fantastic stories of dragons, pegasi, alien worlds and scary monsters. I channeled that by putting myself in Helgi’s shoes. I mean, how would I react if I found out that none of my grandfather’s stories were just a fairy tale but were real?

Odland: Helgi has a lot to learn. Things are not always what you think they are. Not only does he discover that his opinions about mythical legends are wrong, but he also learns that his assumptions about those around him are wrong. I think there are people in our daily life who can help us more than we realize.

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We’ve already met a handful of characters in this world, so if you could pick one, which one is your favorite?

Wagner: Kadlin. She is eccentric, sassy, ​​fearless and believes with all her heart that she is a Valkyrie. I fell hard for her. She’s just this amazing woman who has the ability to believe in herself no matter what others may say or believe. She is also an optimist who will never abandon her friends or [stop] stand up for what she believes to be right. And did I mention she has a pet mouse she thinks she can talk to?

Odland: Stigr. I can’t help but shoot for the old warrior trying to prove he still has it despite only having one arm.

Tim, this is your first comic with Image Comics. How did you experience this project with them?

Wagner: It’s totally surreal! I was a child when the tide of the Image overwhelmed us. I was a huge wild dragon fan, and I still am. It brings indescribable joy to have a series at Image, let alone my first, and the icing on the cake is that my book is hitting its 30th anniversary. It’s really something special for me.

Doug, you already wrote with Image on Plastic, Vinyl, and a few others. What’s your favorite thing about writing for Image?

Wagner: It’s a question that has so many layers for me, so many factors. The image has been a dream to work with. They have great people to collaborate with top to bottom, they have always been supportive and helpful, and of course you retain all rights to your projects. BUT… I think the most important thing is that the image gives me the freedom to be myself and constantly encourages me to do so.

If you could each summarize Beware of Odin’s Eye in three words, what would it be?

Wagner: Viking, chaos overload.

Wagner: Norse, troll, chaos.

Beware the Eye of Odin #1 is available now from Image Comics.


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