The following is an interview with Ghezal Omar on the release of the graphic novel, .357 Magnum Opus. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Omar about the inspiration behind the story, the shared creative process in bringing the story to life, the impact that she hopes the story may have with readers, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of your graphic novel, .357 Magnum Opus! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the premise of the story?
Ghezal Omar: Thanks, Barbra! The story follows two bounty hunters, Sexx Pistol and Kassius Del Mar, tasked to bring back felon Bastian Braun back to Vegas on the orders of a Vegas crime boss. Unbeknownst to them, Bastian has friends in all places – including crooked cops, motorcycle gangs, so there are setbacks along the way of getting the job done.
BD: How would you describe your creative process in bringing this story to life, and who (or what) were some of your creative influences for the project?
GO: I created the story as a screenplay originally – heavily influenced by Tarantino along with Guy Ritchie, Aronofsky, Fincher, and Lynch. In addition, there are many songs that have inspired different scenes in the book, listening to bands like Nine Inch Nails, Mirwais, Talking Heads just to name a few. Collaborating with my friend Flip and artist MingChen Shen, we were able to adapt the screenplay into a graphic novel.
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that .357 Magnum Opus’ story will connect with and impact readers?
GO: Everyone has a story to tell. I’m an Afghan American woman, and I have a story to tell, albeit this story is fiction, I hope it inspires readers to also want to create. The story’s protagonist is female, she’s strong, doesn’t conform to society’s rules, she’s her own person. I hope readers will embrace her and respect the decisions that she makes, for better or worse.
BD: As this was your debut work in sequential art, what can you share with us in looking back at the development process from start to finish that you either didn’t anticipate or that surprised you as a creator?
GO: Around 2013, I decided to make this story into a graphic novel and didn’t realize how difficult it would be finding the right artist. I would review portfolios, hire an artist, typically internationally, and a few months into it, the artist would drop out given the size of the project. After a few failed attempts, I made sure to work with an artist who was local (in this case California) that I could trust with the story, with the characters, to create an amazing book.
Getting the book printed had other challenges that I wasn’t prepared for taking into consideration – splash pages, bleeds, and such – so working with MingChen to customize the pages accordingly to get it printed.
I also tried to get this book into a few comic book conventions and didn’t realize that the R-rated cover would be too controversial, so perhaps the next print will be more PG-13.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
GO: I’m currently developing story ideas for both a prequel and sequel to .357 Magnum Opus. The prequel will follow the character Dylan who is shown briefly in flashbacks and the sequel will share the character Cyndi’s journey as she transforms into a bounty hunter.
Last year, I was traveling a lot to Israel, London, and Singapore, so it gave me an idea for another comic universe that I’m currently developing. And of course, it’ll have a strong female lead.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about .357 Magnum Opus?
GO: If you love non-stop action and badass female characters, then you’re going to love this story in all of its blood and glory.