The following is an interview with Melody Cooper regarding the release of Omni: No More Hate from Humanoids. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Cooper about her collaboration with illustrators Enid Balám and Giovanni Valletta, working with established characters within the Omni world, what readers may take away from the story and characters, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Omni: No More Hate! What can you tell us about your shared creative process in not only collaborating with illustrators Enid Balám and Giovanni Valletta but tackling the established Omni characters and world?
Melody Cooper: I’m new to comic books, with OMNI being my first one, and I loved the evolution from my script to the artistic conceptions of Enid and Giovanni (and Alitha Martinez). It’s such a collaborative process, which I’m used to from theater and TV, and a real joy to hone the work until we get it right. As far as tackling established characters, I came on board fairly early in the process before the first Volume’s stories were completed and pitched stories based on what the creators had laid out. It felt like such an organic hand off with Mark Waid and the team, especially Devin Grayson who wanted me to feel confident to run with things from the very first story I wrote and her support was invaluable.
BD: You have an incredibly extensive resume of writing credits that has spanned various mediums of entertainment, from TV and film to theatre. Do you feel that writing for the sequential art medium was a natural transition from your previous writing work, or did it provide you with any unique, new narrative tools?
MC: Yes! I was hired to my very first TV writing job on the short form TV show The CW’s Two Sentence Horror Stories at the same time that I started writing my first comic book, OMNI. They were similar in script lengths and story construction, so one helped me strengthen my skills for the other. If on a tight budget, you learn to hone your choices in TV and the same for getting lots of story on each page of a comic book. You have to be concise and highly collaborative.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Dr. Cobbina’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
MC: Writing a character who is a super intelligent Black woman doctor who is from an African family and uses her newfound power to face social issues and help others is like a treasure trove for me of the kinds of things I want to explore and bring to audiences. The idea of representation is key in everything I write. And I think audiences will connect with a story that highlights those who are marginalized and examines the real-life issues we’re all facing in the mainstream, from to climate disaster to White Supremacy and intolerance. Although much of OMNI: No More Hate! was written before recent current events, the stories predict aspects of it. It seems that especially now, after the divisiveness and difficulties we’ve faced as a nation, OMNI’s dive into facing issues head-on, while also offering positive alternative choices, is what people want and need to move forward.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
MC: You can catch my work on two episodes of Two Sentence Horror Stories: “Quota,” which is already available on CWTV.com and “Ibeji” which is available soon on The CW (and as of February 24th on Netflix). Right now, I’m story editor of the longest-running TV show, Law & Order: SVU, and the episode I wrote will air in April. I’m also currently in the Sundance Episodic Lab’s Idea Lab, developing a sci-fi TV pilot. I have a sci-fi noir piece in an upcoming graphic novel anthology called NOIR IS THE NEW BLACK, available soon.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Omni: No More Hate?
MC: First, check out the excellent Volume One if you haven’t already. Then, look out for my work in Volume Two. It’s challenging, exciting, and you’ll get to see a new side of Cecelia!