Gods Among Men creators Josh & Aaron come to AusComX

Josh Mak and Aaron Mak come to talk about Gods Among Men issue 1 coming to Kickstarter real soon.


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Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (00:15):
Hello, denizens of the intern minutes. That’s my nice little one for today. You are watching the Oz Comic Show with myself and Shaden,

Sheydin Dew (00:26):

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (00:28):
I thought I would just plug tomorrow we have the Let’s make a comic book. It is the last page and it’s been done by Dave. Dave who I don’t know, just Dave. That’s what I’ve been told. So tomorrow is the last page, but enough of tomorrow. Let’s talk about today we have the Mack Brothers, Josh and Aaron, to talk about Gods amongst men. So with no further ado, let’s get them on the show.

Sheydin Dew (01:22):
In the very best, the Mack Brothers, we are talking all things God’s among Men. Without further ado, let’s just jump straight into it. We’ve got two people on the show, which is something new. So Josh and Aaron, please introduce yourselves and what you do and where you’re from.

Josh Mak (01:40):
I’m Josh Mack and that’s

Aaron Mak (01:42):
Aaron Mack? Yes, that is correct.

Josh Mak (01:45):
We’re a team behind the Nation comics and we’ve created the comic gods among Men.

Sheydin Dew (01:52):
Awesome. Aaron?

Aaron Mak (01:54):
Yep. Oh, take what he said, but then with my voice. Yeah, he summed it up. Really.

Sheydin Dew (02:00):
I believe we’ve got the writer and we’ve also got the script writer. Is that correct? If I, yes,

Aaron Mak (02:09):
I’d say he’s the brain and I’m the hands of the operation.

Sheydin Dew (02:14):
Perfect. Awesome. Sounds like a dream team, to be honest. Awesome. To kick things off for tonight’s show, God’s Among Men, what’s it all about?

Aaron Mak (02:26):
I’ll let you take this. Let me take this one. Alright. Hello. Thank you Lee. Nick may. Woo. Okay, so Gods among Men is Kids. Hello? Sorry, all the comments coming in.

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (02:39):
Yeah, they’re all coming in

Aaron Mak (02:41):
Flood. Okay, so Gods Among Men, it’s an unprecedented nacho noir. It is a socially disruptive true crime story and something that we’ve read comics over the years and we really seen a comic like this before, and so when we made it, we thought this was something that we wanted to make very authentically and genuinely so among men.

Sheydin Dew (03:13):
Absolutely. Yeah, and I mean, I’ve had a bit of a teaser, so to speak, to looking at God’s among Men and it is drawn really well and it is written really well. It’s really captivating even in that first seven pages, and dare I say, it packs a bit of a punch from what I read. So I’m really keen to kind of delve into more of the themes and the genres that you’ve packed in there. But moving on from that, I was wondering, can you guys describe your writing style in perhaps a couple of words? What do you guys like to write?

Josh Mak (03:50):
I basically blurred out the ideas and Aaron frantically writes ’em down.

Sheydin Dew (03:57):
Are there any particular genres that you guys usually lean toward or,

Aaron Mak (04:01):
I don’t know. It’s because heard many different ideas come out of his head or Paul out of his head. I don’t think they’ve really genre confined. We’ve worked on stuff like horror, we’ve worked on mystery crime, which is I guess a bit of what this is, but even recently we have another project that’s manga inspired superheroes, so that’s we go wherever life takes us, I guess.

Sheydin Dew (04:35):
Yeah. Oh, that’s exciting. That’s definitely down my alley. I’m a huge fan of manga. So when you said that I lit up, but that’s really interesting to know that you guys have got quite a plethora of different avenues that you’ve explored. To me in the first seven pages, it just seemed like it was really quite fast-paced, dare I say, a little bit of action and a little bit of drama there too. So I am really keen to see more of that. But I guess speaking from that, what really inspired you guys to write this story?

Josh Mak (05:10):
Well, this was a story that I’ve had for a long time. It’s probably over a decade in the making, and I’ve always tried to find a way to tell it, and over the years we always hit roadblocks with the ways we wanted to tell it. We wanted to do it through film and that wasn’t very viable. And eventually when comics presented the opportunity, everything just started happening really quickly.

Aaron Mak (05:37):
I think I felt it was definitely one of those stories that a hundred percent wasn’t being told because even I think with true crime stories, a lot of them are of cases that have already occurred and people hear about it after the fact. All the case files and everything comes out first and then they make a documentary, whereas this is a case that I think we can almost guarantee has not been reported on.

Sheydin Dew (06:04):
Okay, interesting. Okay, awesome. I think that was really interesting that you guys were thinking about making it into a film. Did you say, I also looked at your trailer as well, and there’s little cinematic that came with that package you guys sent me and it was really, really well done. So I think it relates into a lot of different avenues, so it’s nice to know that you guys explored all those different opportunities and options I guess. So you said that it’s been what, a decade in the making, is that right?

Josh Mak (06:35):
Yeah, about there,

Sheydin Dew (06:36):
Yeah. How long have you guys been riding for? Have you guys been riding your whole lives?

Josh Mak (06:41):
Pretty much. I

Aaron Mak (06:42):
Think more him than me. I was a bit of a late bloomer in that regard, but we sort of started working more directly together with each other since 2017 and that was where we worked on doing short film projects and music films and I think even a documentary. So yeah, we kind of, again, been everywhere doing all that stuff. So I guess a bit of that film background, we try and put that forward through God’s Among Men as well.

Sheydin Dew (07:15):
Yeah, absolutely. So you said that you were a little bit later than Josh. How long have you been writing for or doing this kind of work? For

Aaron Mak (07:25):

Josh Mak (07:27):
I probably started writing, I guess it wasn’t that professional you could see since I was like 12.

Sheydin Dew (07:37):
Yes. Nice. Okay, so it stems quite a while back. Yeah. And what about yourself, Aaron?

Aaron Mak (07:43):
I guess I sort of enjoyed creative writing in school growing up, but I never sort of thought that I’d go down this, I never called myself a writer up until recently when I looked back and went, oh, okay. I’ve been working on writing projects with scripts and stuff for the past five plus, at least five years. So I think it was only after that that I went, okay, I think I can call myself a script writer now.

Sheydin Dew (08:11):
Nice. Oh awesome. Yeah. That’s awesome to hear that you guys have had this passion for such a long time and you’ve just went with it. I think that’s really admirable. So good on you guys. Having said that, is there anything else that has inspired you? I don’t know, in your previous times writing that really compels you guys to write more. Is there any other things that in your life that inspires you?

Josh Mak (08:40):
So I do music and we do the comic, but if people ask me what inspires me, I don’t really get inspired by other music or comics as much. I think for me, one of the most inspiring things for me are chefs.

Sheydin Dew (08:57):
Oh wow, okay. Awesome. I think for myself, if I’m ever talking about this, I am always inspired by music. So yeah, it’s interesting to hear other people’s perspectives. What about yourself, Aaron?

Aaron Mak (09:10):
I’m inspired by his cookie.

Sheydin Dew (09:14):
Good answer. Good answer. Yeah. So when you do write, are there any strengths that you guys really pull amongst? What are your biggest strengths when writing?

Aaron Mak (09:27):
I think why we work so well as a team is that we kind of each understand our strengths and limitations. So we brought this up before analogy where Josh is sort of like a hot gaer of steaming energy and gas and it’s a great source of energy, but hazardous at times. And I’m like the guy who’s going in trying to harness this energy and sometimes you get burned, but when you get that energy and you’re able to then power hundreds of thousands of homes, you go, you know what, worth it.

Sheydin Dew (10:07):
Fair enough, fair enough. What about yourself?

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (10:11):
Way to put it,

Josh Mak (10:17):
I think in anything creative I do, I’ve got a bit of a odd personal philosophy where I don’t work on my weaknesses, I just double down on my strengths.

Sheydin Dew (10:27):
Yeah, nice. Yeah, yeah, I completely, I concur with that. I think recently I took a trip to Melbourne and I went through all these artists’ alleys and it just seemed like over in the eastern states, artists just really seemed to double down on their style and their strengths and I definitely took inspiration from that. So I definitely concur with what you’re saying there, that’s for sure. Are there any particular, I don’t know, do you guys have any comics that you guys grew up with or manga that you guys really enjoy? I would like to hear a little bit more of your backstories in reading.

Josh Mak (11:05):
I didn’t really grow up with comics as much. There were one or two titles that I did have a couple of issues from that I liked, mainly because of a spawn series, which left quite an impression on me when I was probably a little bit older. Almost 20 is when I discovered the Na Naruto series.

Sheydin Dew (11:27):

Josh Mak (11:29):
I think to date that is the only series that I have been absolutely obsessed with and followed through even up till today.

Sheydin Dew (11:38):
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think my brother’s absolutely obsessed with Naruto. I think he’s read them and he’s watched them, so I can understand why we’ve always had that in the household. What about you, Aaron? Anything that you guys, what you grew up with or you really liked?

Aaron Mak (11:55):
So I’m basically the worst, hello Dave. I’m the worst copy artist where a lot of my interests spilled over from him because you go, Hey, you should check spawn out. This was when I was first starting, but then I just, to be

Josh Mak (12:11):
Fair, I’m a lot older than him, so he never got the chance to really discover something. A lot of it is here, read this, check this out.

Sheydin Dew (12:23):
I totally get that too. Obviously with my brother too, he was the same with the Rudo. Anyway, continue

Aaron Mak (12:28):
Getting us on the same page. I mean once he threw sport in my lab, I kind of took that and ran with it and then I started collecting my 200 issues and I told him, I said, the curse of the sport that you used to collect, I’ve got the entire mini series now. I went real headfirst deep into it. And then Naruto I think was so impactful on us because for me, I got to kind of grow up with it as well. And as the later arcs came out that were starting to mature with its audience, it was really cool to see a story that develop with its audience. And I think that’s what we want to put forward through with God’s among Men and in our other projects is that where it begins now is really just the beginning and where it’s going to go. It’s going to take you to some pretty wild places.

Sheydin Dew (13:22):
Yeah, I expect that to be honest with you, with the way that the first few pages that I read, yeah, I definitely think that is going to be quite amazing story. So yeah, very keen to see where it goes from what you’ve said. So Gods among Men, you said you roughly, it’s been a year in the making, is that right? Can you walk us through maybe some of the steps you’ve taken to get this far with the project?

Aaron Mak (13:56):
I think after we kept hitting this roadblock of, we had this idea that we were just toying with for years, and then in 2021 I got really obsessed with comics because there was nothing else to do. And then one day Josh just said to me, he said, do you ever think what if we did it as a comic book since you’ve been reading so much of it? And I started kind of putting the dots together and going, okay, visual medium and alright, we’ve got certain freedoms that we didn’t have with other mediums. And I guess as thing sort of rolled on from there, then we went, all right, we need to find an artist. Because I tried drawing some panels and they are very rudimentary, but they were sort of storyboard panels just to try and get the concept across. And that was where we met our artist, Ben Sullivan. And ever since then, I think the three of us have formed this really solid core team pushing everything forward and bouncing off each other.

Sheydin Dew (15:00):
Yeah, absolutely. So you said that you had the idea of making it a comic. Where did that idea kind of come from? Was it just came to you or was it like you saw something you’re like maybe that could be an option?

Josh Mak (15:15):
I think I was frustrated that the project had stalled as you saw from the trailer. The original idea was to shoot it initially as a movie and then we realized the movie formats too short, so it had to be a series. So we began work on a pilot, which it never left the script stage because we had so many challenges in terms of budget and locations casting, none of that work we could find a way around. So we just thought, let’s explore the comic option because you’re not limited by anything. If you have a good artist, you can draw whatever you want really. So once we went down that rabbit hole, it just started to come together really quickly.

Sheydin Dew (15:58):
Yeah, absolutely. And what was the dynamic at first when bringing Ben on board? What was that kind of dynamic having a third person in the team?

Josh Mak (16:07):
I think we were really fortunate to meet Ben because from the first day that Aaron met Ben and told him the concept, he was already really interested and wanted to be a part of making this happen. And from that point on, the challenge was I guess getting Ben to understand what we understand of the story. That’s what probably took the most time in the first few months.

Aaron Mak (16:33):
It’s like the research stage I guess,

Josh Mak (16:35):
Right? All of that. But once we got to that stage and Ben got what we were trying to do, every time he sent us a page from the notes that we sent to him, it was spot on.

Sheydin Dew (16:47):
Oh, fantastic. So the commencing work with Ben, it was pretty seamless from the beginning and you guys just became even stronger as a team as you went on, is that correct?

Aaron Mak (17:00):
Yeah, I think what was beneficial was that in the beginning Ben was just really receptive and really open to the idea and to learning more about the story. So I think that was what made it very seamless moving forward.

Sheydin Dew (17:17):
Yeah, absolutely. So were there any other challenges working in a team with three people? Were there any challenges that you guys came across?

Aaron Mak (17:26):
I honestly feel this is so much better than film because in film you deal with at least maybe eight people and then it’s like message sheer contact there and then you’re having to send out these mass things and wrangle multiple bucking broncos for us. Oh, I love a good tight comics team, artist color.

Josh Mak (17:46):
It’s quite delightful not having to deal with actors.

Sheydin Dew (17:51):
Fair enough. So I guess that could also be a strength is that you guys have come from a background where liaising with so many different people in the group or the teams so to speak, now that it’s been kind of minimized to one other additional person. I guess those strengths that you would’ve had in the film industry has really helped you guys communicate your ideas through Ben, is that correct?

Josh Mak (18:18):

Aaron Mak (18:19):
A hundred percent.

Sheydin Dew (18:20):
Yeah. Amazing. That’s really interesting because we don’t really get many guests on with backgrounds such as yours, so it was really interesting to see that kind of perspective and how it’s being created so to speak. So there was kind of a research stage that you mentioned with Ben. What kind of other smaller steps did you guys take in making sure that those ideas, like character design I guess might’ve been one? How did you guys really come together and really finalize those ideas?

Josh Mak (18:54):
I think the whole film idea has a lot to do with it. A lot of things we did were very film I, I’m not sure if it comes across, but when you look at the panels you’ll notice they’re framed in a way that’s more like a film or a storyboard for a film. Initially when we worked with Ben, we saw a lot of paneling that was done like a comic book and to us, or at least to me, when I looked at it I went, nah, that doesn’t look right. I always envisioned it to be a film. So I guess that’s what made the paneling quite unique. Beyond that, we also took an approach where it was almost like a bit

Aaron Mak (19:31):
Like location scouting.

Josh Mak (19:32):
Yeah, location scouting, a bit like a method. So we brought Ben to some of these actual locations for him to get a feel while I told him the story in the location. So that really after that day that we went out with Ben, you could see the difference where he got inspired and when he came back with the pages after that we were like, wow, this is it. Spot on.

Aaron Mak (19:51):
Yeah, I think it was a real benefit to actually, it was funny because our journey along the way, hello Claudia. Hi Claudia. Our journey along the way really has been like, I found that even as the script writer, I was discovering this story as we went along because Josh Rele band with the stories and I’m there listening going, oh okay, I didn’t know that. So I feel like I’m strung along for the ride too, which is ride. It’s a really fun opportunity to help create it but also get to witness it firsthand. Almost so fun.

Sheydin Dew (20:27):
Yeah. Okay, amazing. That sounds like that’s such a different perspective of what sometimes I hear when people rarely go to the locations and whatnot and I think that’s another thing that I heard so much in film going to locations, location scouting and whatnot. So I think that that would be such a huge strength bringing that to comics, especially for Ben. I think that would’ve been a fantastic way of communicating ideas and making sure that everybody was on the same page, so to speak. So that’s really interesting. So obviously you’re getting to the final end of the creating stage I guess so to speak. What’s your process been getting it published?

Aaron Mak (21:12):
Well, I think there was a period of time where we were kind of trying to do it simultaneously, wrap up the comic but also try and make sure that it had an avenue and it was a tricky road to say the least because this was quite, I think as you can sort of ascertain it’s a mature audiences sort of comic book kind of how would you que taboo? Yeah. Stuff that not a lot of people want to touch. So I mean we were no strangers to rejection even in the film world. And it wasn’t until we finally spoke to Gary Chana and I think he brought up comics as somebody to contact and we shot CA message and si said, look, as long as you guys want to create comics and you don’t do anything too crazy overboard, then welcome to the team. So we ConEd our way in.

Sheydin Dew (22:14):
That’s awesome. That’s such a cool story as well, having known Gary as well. Kudos to Gary. Thanks for the props Gary. And it’s nice to know that you’ve crossed obviously Gary’s in Tasmania, so it really goes to show how well knit the comics community can be. Myself being in Adelaide and Ciz being in Brisbane that everyone, there’s just so many different people in Australia and the fact that you connect and make such great projects out of it as well I think is a real value to yourself. Shane, if I may add, having settled this, so you said that you met obviously Ben being your artist. How did you guys get into contact at the beginning? How did you guys cross paths?

Aaron Mak (23:04):
Well, when we finally decided or we talked and Josh said, we need a real artist on this thing. So I was tasked with the quest of finding an artist. So I think it was important that as we’ve explained that we had somebody who was in Melbourne too because I think that in the way this project was developed, we needed that face-to-face and the excursion location scouting time. So I actually went to the Comm X talent directory and went show me Melbourne artists and Ben’s name came up and we saw his stuff. So shot him a message and this was really fortunate timing because I found Ben on Instagram before his Instagram had problems, so I managed to get in there right in that little needle sized wormhole. Yeah. So that’s how we met up at a local cafe and it was just meant to be a quick brief half an hour or something and we ended up staying there for about I think four hours just sort of talking about this idea and then there was another idea that I told him about and he was like, oh, I have to do that. And I was like,

Sheydin Dew (24:21):
So it was kind of just meant to be. I love that. And what a big plug for comics. It seems that you really used it as kind of a little home base to make sure God’s among men definitely gets out to the audience that you want. Other than Ben, is there anyone else that helped you guys in the journey of creating Gods among Men?

Josh Mak (24:47):
Well our latest addition to the team is Artist Wilson Go. He’s based in the

Aaron Mak (24:54):
Philippines. Yes, he’s our colorist,

Josh Mak (24:57):
He’s our colorist, so he’s our latest addition to the team.

Sheydin Dew (25:00):
Amazing. And how did you come across him?

Aaron Mak (25:03):
I think so you can kind of see how the operation works, brain Hands. He’s kind of like Steve Jobs and I’m the guy in the garage trying to make the iPhone smaller basically we said look, because I think having all the workload on Ben, it’s a lot. It’s a lot I think to handle pencils, inks, and colors. So we definitely wanted to take it off Ben and keep this sort of nice stream of workflow going. So Josh said, find me a colorist, and I was like, okay. So I went stalking on the internet as people do because

Josh Mak (25:40):
Just to jump in, we did also make Ben’s life even harder while we were in the middle of producing God’s among men. We go, Hey Ben, we want to do a second comic. And we needed quick.

Aaron Mak (25:57):
I think we keep raising the stakes for ourselves. So yeah, actually I was scrolling through Instagram through and I came across, I was trying to find colors and the thing about color is they tend not to, I found advertise as much on Instagram artists everywhere, but colors seem to be a little bit sort of low key. So I went, all right, well why don’t I start looking up artists’ Instagrams and seeing who did the colors on that tag them. And I was on Lauren Marshall’s Instagram and I came across one thing, one bit of art she did and I was like, oh, I like the colors on that. And so I clicked the post and I was like, oh, this Wilson Go character popped up and as it turns out I’d find out later Wilson Go also did Colors on Stella Lands and

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (26:43):
Still does

Aaron Mak (26:45):
And still does and something. So I was like, okay, cool. Hit him up. We talked, said like your stuff, can we, and the first thing I think we got into color was page one, and it was interesting because page one initially was really quite different from what it was, but we were just so blown away by almost his color interpretation of page one that we went. We love it.

Josh Mak (27:09):
You hired?

Aaron Mak (27:10):
Yeah, welcome to the team. Yeah,

Sheydin Dew (27:14):
Nice. That’s so cool. And as well, you’ve kind of gone international as well and gathered talent from there as well. That’s really interesting and it’s so nice to see, again, having a guest or having guests on that has a bit of a team behind the actual project and seeing how everything has kind of been divided amongst the group and who does what and how you talk about and met all these people as well is always interesting to hear. Was there anything that you guys really learned during the process of creating God’s among Men? Is there anything that really stuck out to you? It was like, oh, that yeah, I definitely learned a lot or that was a huge learning curve for myself or

Aaron Mak (27:59):
I’ve got one, but you go first because

Josh Mak (28:02):
I dunno about Learning Curve, but what did happen was it didn’t matter which project we did, even though Gods Among Men was the first one and then we can talk about it later. We have our other project that jumped in halfway. I’m a big fan of knowing where you’re going. So before we start the first issue, we know where the last issue is going to finish. So that kind of makes it easier on ourselves that when we know where the end goal is, we’re not making things up as we go along and you can get lost.

Sheydin Dew (28:36):
Yeah, yeah, nice perspective to have, having an end goal in mind and knowing exactly where you’re going. What about you Aaron?

Aaron Mak (28:47):
Continuity still applies to comics as it does in film. Sorry, I

Josh Mak (28:50):
Said I taught Ball. I do. It is for him. Aussie Burst for Life.

Aaron Mak (28:57):
Alright, we’ll take both. Thanks.

Sheydin Dew (29:00):
Going to do what you’re going to do. Hey,

Aaron Mak (29:04):
Not sponsored by Red Bull, unfortunately, although we would love for free sponsorship, that’d be great. Continuity matters and don’t sleep on lettering because if you neglect some of these details, they can cause massive chaos. Later on I came across that problem with one page and I had to have a whole afternoon with Ben and I told Josh, I said, yeah, don’t worry about it. I got this covered. And we had to sort of flip where characters were sitting and there is a page in the comic that is, it’s almost like half of it’s speech bubble because there’s a massive sort of back and forth going on, sort of like Guy Richie film style, which is easy in a guy Richie film, you can just cut the camera to whoever’s talking, but with lettering you need to think about how they’re layered one above the other and that flow. So yeah, you can see words in comics and I’ve learned that now.

Sheydin Dew (30:05):
Absolutely. And having said the continuity, so I myself also came from a digital media degree and we did a little bit of film form and analysis and a little bit of film there too. And so continuity and I believe it’s called the Axis of action, also helped me a lot during my own creation of No Men’s Land. So it was really nice to know that somebody else also gets those terminologies and has kind of come from that direction as well. So yeah, I completely understand what you’re talking about with the continuity and making sure that people are still in the same section of the panel regardless of if the camera’s turned or not. So yeah, that’s really interesting. I guess also jumping back to what Josh said, you are very direct in where you want to go. It’s actually a really good segue to my next question is where do you want to see this comic? What’s the end result? What is your ultimate goal for the comic?

Josh Mak (31:04):

Aaron Mak (31:06):
In the hands of every man, woman and child alive,

Sheydin Dew (31:12):
Wouldn’t that be nice?

Josh Mak (31:14):
I can’t say we know where we want to take it. I can’t say exactly where that place is because that would spoil this gargantuan surprise that we’re building up to. I would just like to get there in the next few years.

Sheydin Dew (31:30):
Absolutely. And I think that’s perfectly fine. I mean, just knowing that where you’re going as well I think is always just enough in itself and a really good goal to have. Some artists like myself always kind of struggle trying to get to that end goal and making sure that we reach them. So I guess maybe just having enough momentum to propel yourself forward as well is always a good goal too. Was there anything to add to that, Aaron?

Aaron Mak (31:56):
No, I guess I’ll just build up on that and just say, I think that’s why I like working in a team because for one, you don’t have all that responsibility on you because I know that can be, sometimes you want the control, but sometimes it weighs so heavy on your heart and on your soul and I’m like, I like that. I know Josh has got the wider story stuff and I don’t have to stress about that and Josh knows that I’ve got the details down so he doesn’t have to stress about that. And we know that Ben’s going to produce some great art and then we know Wilson’s going to produce some amazing colors, so a hundred percent we’d love to get a letter. I would love to get a letterer on which takes work off my plate. So yeah, I think it’s really nice and it’s like we’re all coming together for this common goal and that’s just fun and beautiful. Yeah,

Sheydin Dew (32:46):
Absolutely. And something definitely that’s very admirable. Getting as many people to work on one end goal as well is just a feat in itself. So yeah, kudos to you guys for getting such a wonderful team together as well, making something amazing. Jumping back a little bit, I heard that you had a project you threw at Ben halfway through. That was also another lead onto one of my other questions. Are there any other projects on the horizon for you guys and what are they?

Aaron Mak (33:16):
This is the manga inspired comic by the way, and you

Josh Mak (33:20):
Can, so what happened was as we were working on Gods Among Man issue one, we were also shooting music videos for my band and at that time we didn’t have any merchandise yet. Everyone usually does T-shirts and things like that. We have dabbled with that in the past and we didn’t want to do it again because we felt it was too costly and also we wanted to do something different. We were about two shows in and we had no merch, so I said we need merch quick. So we were brainstorming on that and during the music video shoot, which Aaron directed, he said, you guys look like comic book characters, and that kind of lit a spark and maybe we could do a comic book since we already have all the things in place to do one, but we just need a concept. So concept that came pretty quickly.

Aaron Mak (34:16):
He popped out to the shops for about, I don’t think 20, 25 minutes and he came back and he went, I’ve got it. I was like, you got what? He was like the entire concept. I was just like, what? Are you serious? I’ve been sitting twiddling my thumbs and you come back from a pop out to the shops and you’re like, I got it. The whole fricking thing. So

Josh Mak (34:37):
That was very rushed. So we decided that we would do, what was it, six pages?

Aaron Mak (34:41):
Yeah, I think we were like, we wanted to come in with, I guess because we were bringing a comic to gigs, which was this comic sat in this really sort of weird twilight zone where it wasn’t a comic for comic people necessarily, but there also wasn’t bandage that you’re used to seeing.

Josh Mak (35:01):
One thing that was important to us is that we wanted it to eventually be able to stand on its own feet as a comic and not just be something that people came to shows to buy because it’s merch. What was unique was that we were only selling it at merch, selling it at gigs. So in order to do it quickly and still do it well, six pages was the best we could do. I think. What do we have two months or less a month

Aaron Mak (35:25):

Josh Mak (35:26):
Make? It

Aaron Mak (35:28):
Was tight. I remember it was

Josh Mak (35:31):
We didn’t want to derail goats among men. So Wes men’s production at around the halfway and quickly crammed this in, finished this what we call issue zero because it’s only six pages. Got that out for gigs. We printed 150 copies and that’s

Aaron Mak (35:48):
Now we’re down to the final 10 copies.

Josh Mak (35:50):
Yeah, that’s just blown us away. And we quickly jumped back onto Sung Man and finish that. And now that gots among Men issue once finished, we’re jumping back to finish issue won Anna, the Anna comic.

Sheydin Dew (36:02):
Do you find that it’s probably beneficial to have two projects at once in case you No, it’s,

Aaron Mak (36:11):
See, I personally think it’s maybe because I’m not because it’s the most random

Josh Mak (36:16):
Was awesome.

Aaron Mak (36:18):
Well thank you. Si. He’s the original ideas guy, so he was suddenly at the most random times we’ll be out and he would just look over at me and he’s like, oh, I know how this arc ends. And I’m like, what are you on about? And he’s like, the comic and a comic. And I’m like, where did that come from? And so get your phone out, start typing out notes. So I’m typing them out. So it’s nice to actually have these two very different projects. One that’s true crime and the other one that’s basically, it’s a mango fiction, it’s manga told through Western Art.

Sheydin Dew (36:52):

Josh Mak (36:53):
When we started we had idea because at the same time while all this was happening, we were shooting music videos. I was finishing up recording of our album for our label and I told them that we’re going to start a comic and they said that’s great, but it’s hard enough to do gigs, record an album, music videos, much less take on a comic. And I say, well, we’re actually doing two comics,

Sheydin Dew (37:19):
How about that?

Aaron Mak (37:23):
I’ll just cap it up with the way that has kind of turned out was that I noticed now, and it’s beneficial for me to see this from the comic side is that every time their band gets an interview, the comic always gets brought up because people go, oh, that’s such a, this band also has a comic. And then some of them start diving into a lot of detail and I’m like, comic review or music review. Either way it’s good.

Sheydin Dew (37:46):
That’s such an interesting, it’s really cool. Yeah, the avenue that you guys have gone in and the fact that you’ve had this piece of what started off being sold at your gigs is now being able to stand on its own two feet and people are recognizing it kind. I think that’s really, really admirable of you guys and definitely something that’s not easy to do either and having so many different things as well. Does it give you guys a sense of a little bit of release? Maybe if you get a little bit stuck with Gods among Men, you’re able to maybe move on to the other project, work on that, maybe move on to your music. Does that kind of help your creative in case you do get into Creative Block? Does that help it at all or?

Aaron Mak (38:31):
I think

Josh Mak (38:32):
I’ve got a different problem. I’ve never had a creative, it’s

Aaron Mak (38:35):
More like creative diarrhea,

Josh Mak (38:37):
So always been a case of catching up to try to do the things that I want to do. We haven’t hit a block yet, fortunately yet, so it’s more of managing our time and how to squeeze all these different things in because it’s pretty hard.

Sheydin Dew (38:54):
Fair enough. I’m getting to the end of some of my questions here actually. Okay. So having done what you have done now, and you guys have got quite a history of experience with you guys, what would you wish someone had told you before you’d started any of this?

Aaron Mak (39:19):
It’s the words of wisdom and you can go for someone.

Sheydin Dew (39:24):
If anything.

Josh Mak (39:29):
I don’t really have anything like that because like I said, because we’ve been so busy and so caught up in the process, we haven’t actually had a chance to stop and process anything. We had a long period of inactivity in a sense. We were still doing stuff, but nothing really satisfying. We’re always doing something even through lockdown when we couldn’t follow on with the music or the comics, we just started doing little YouTube videos and they were fun, but we’re always doing something. I think myself, I can’t sit still. So

Sheydin Dew (40:08):
I guess maybe going on from that, would there be something that you would like to push to people who are perhaps only just starting their comic journey? What would you say?

Aaron Mak (40:20):
I would actually throw back to something that came up earlier in the interview, which is focus on your strengths. It’s not to say that you should completely ignore your weaknesses, but look at what you do best and drive that home. And I think that’s where you go. If you feel that you are sort of falling behind on something or something that you don’t feel like you can catch up, then assemble a team.

Sheydin Dew (40:43):
Yeah, absolutely. Fall back onto like-minded people in the community and I think that’s really good advice actually, considering the community here in Australia is if anything just growing and I feel like you really utilized that and brought the best out of it. Yeah. Good on you guys for doing so. Oh goodness. Let’s move on in some other questions more around actually the Aussie comics scene. What do you guys think the Aussie indie comics scene needs more of in your opinion? What would you like to say?

Aaron Mak (41:23):
I think okay, I think, and this might sound like an answer that maybe gets thrown around a lot. I think I feel more diversity of stories because, and you know what, to be frank, I think this applies to outside of just the Aussie scene as well, this is something I felt when I started collecting comics, I started to feel that comics started to get a little bit safe. I think back in the nineties, especially when scorn came out in 92 and then up until 97 I saw that as what I call the renaissance. I think some people called it that to the renaissance of comics where there was so much sort of like eighties fluff and positive storylines and it was very colorful. And then the nineties went hard with the grunge. You started getting all these different stories, different takes on stories. And I personally felt that comics had been, I think in the 2010s comics had been sort of going in that direction. Everything was getting kind of colorful again and a bit more safe. I felt that sometimes you want to see something I think that should exist, but I think sometimes people want something a bit darker and something a bit different and that’s kind of, I think we should foster being different.

Sheydin Dew (42:48):
Absolutely. Yeah. Maybe test the boundaries, so to speak, which I think I definitely got from God’s among men that first six pages. You really kind of went for it and you guys were so unapologetically you guys your own style and I think that was really refreshing to see too. But yeah, I don’t know. What about yourself, Josh?

Josh Mak (43:10):
I think we’ve always strive, Aaron put it in a way he says we’re the counterculture whenever really interested in trends or what’s going on, we want to, for myself, whether it’s music or comics, I feel the most important thing is always the story. Even in songs, it should be the story first. And I’ve always been interested in the stories that don’t get told or people don’t want to tell.

Sheydin Dew (43:39):
Interesting. So you’ve been really kind of like so to speak, you march to your own beat of your drum. If I were to put a music analogy in there, and I think that’s really, really admirable. I think something that more people need to be proud of or doing. So it’s good to see that some people are and bringing something out of it that is of really good quality. To flip that question on its head, what would you say we need or what would you say the Aussie comics scene does well at?

Aaron Mak (44:15):
I think for the most part, and I think this is also reflective of, we previously came from Singapore and that was a very conservative society, is that at least growing up here for me most of my life and for him about half of your life that Australia is definitely not as conservative as Singapore. And for the most part, although we still face roadblocks and obstacles and rejection, but Australia is still a country that is free and lets you express yourself. And there are people who really seek that out. And I think that’s something that’s really beneficial about our industry is that at least there’s options and room to grow. Whereas I think back home in Singapore, it’s kind of you want to do comics, oh, okay, you’re going to be a failure.

Sheydin Dew (45:02):
But I guess you gather up that kind of culture and perhaps you can write about it or you can be inspired by it. Perhaps something that’s people who like myself who’ve grown up here their entire lives don’t have access to. So I feel like you’ve got a sense of depth behind you that you guys can really bring to the surface in your works if need. So I think that’s really cool though.

Aaron Mak (45:28):
And Goong men later on.

Sheydin Dew (45:30):
Yeah. Oh, hopefully, hopefully. Excited, excited. What about yourself, Josh? What would you like to see more? Sorry? What do you think the Australian comic scene does well at?

Josh Mak (45:41):
Yeah, I think I would further emphasize on what Aaron said. It’s not just the comic scene. I think Australia in general, I think if you live here your whole life, it’s hard to have perspective on how good we’ve got it here in so many areas. The fact that we’re able to do what we do despite us saying it’s not easy, but it’s at least possible.

Sheydin Dew (46:03):
Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think it’s always about perspective too, and any facet that you do in your life, whether it be music or creating comics, writing, whatever that you do, I think that’s a very, very good piece of advice too. So thank you. Thank you very much for me, that pretty much wraps up the interview. I think that was a really good note to end off on. But before we go, where can we see more of your artwork? Can you guys give us a plug?

Aaron Mak (46:32):
Sure. So we are on Instagram and Facebook and all of the social medias as Sunation comics. We have a Kickstarter that is currently running, which is due to launch on Monday, so real soon. And we’re going to have, as we’ve discussed with Siz, we’ve got some crazy exclusives happening there, some really unique things like collectors cards and hardcover editions. And then a week later on April the sixth and seventh, we are heading to Supernova. We’re dragging him all the way down from Queensland, all the way down from we’re going to go to Melbourne Supernova and we are bringing quite an exclusive, it’s a foil cover and if you go to our social media, you can see what that looks like. Oh, actually we’ve got a copy of it to show you here. Oh, nice. We’re going to be bringing this bad boy. It’s so shiny,

Sheydin Dew (47:29):
So pretty.

Aaron Mak (47:31):
It’s awesome. Ben’s artwork. Plus this for cover is just a match made in heaven, on down, hop on the ga Kickstarter, follow us on all the social media because you’re not going to want to miss out on this.

Sheydin Dew (47:47):
Amazing, it sounds like you guys have got so much to look forward to and it just seems to be getting better and better and better with this project. Speaking of lots of things happening, Shane, what’s happening this week? What’s happening in the future? Any announcements before we wrap up?

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (48:05):
Probably the main one is, like I said at the beginning, is we’ve got, let’s make a comic book tomorrow and we’ve got a manga themed drink and draw next week. Not sure I’ll be able to make it to that one just yet because I will be at these guys’ house

Aaron Mak (48:28):
Keeping in this room,

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (48:29):
Probably in that room, yes. Trying to log on and do all that. We’ve got some other Kickstarters in the line, there’s blank from that show. The Thursday show there is Stella Lands coming up soon and there’s also, don’t forget one of them

Aaron Mak (48:48):
Twisted fate.

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (48:49):
Twisted fate, and that’s fate with a Y. That’s amazing. Now I was thinking to end this one, we do something a bit different. I just downloaded your little trailer, so if you guys are cool with it, we can end the show on that trailer.

Aaron Mak (49:10):
Absolutely. Beautiful.

Sheydin Dew (49:11):
Amazing. Sounds amazing. Well thanks for everyone for watching and we’ll catch you in a couple of weeks once everything has settled from Supernova. But then again, thanks again for watching. Thanks

Aaron Mak (49:22):
Guys. See you. Thanks

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (49:25):

Voice Over (50:34):
Check out Comex CX for all things Comex and find out what Comex is all about. We hope you enjoyed the show.


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