Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerads Activate #ProjectOmaha This December

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BROKEN FRONTIER: First things first: you’ve been really coy about the title of the book, leading people to assume it was called ‘Project Omaha’. But it’s not… so, what’s the actual title of the book?

NATHAN EDMONDSON: It was necessary to await the proper processes of clearance and de-classification before revealing the actual title of the book, but the taxpayers and readers had a right to know that a project was underway. The actual title of the book is XXX XXXXXXXX.

MITCH GERADS: It’s going to be really weird not referring to it as "Project Omaha". I am an avid Twitter user and I do a lot of cathartic tweeting as I work in my studio so there was no way I was going to work on this book for so long without talking about it in some form, so #ProjectOmaha was coined, BUT I’m proud to announce it here, the ACTUAL title of the book is XXX XXXXXXX. (“They” are going to try and be smart and redact the name of the book, so I’ll say it again, XXX XXXXXXX.)

BF: How would you describe this book? Is it more The Losers than it is Men of War?

EDMONDSON: I don't think it fits either, really. We honestly believe this book will operate in a very new space, and will break new ground. What we can say, though, is that while ultimately a work of fiction, we draw from and root the story in a very real world which we continually research at great lengths.

A real world of the military, of international warfare and terrorism and the hierarchy of the United States Army, its black operations and the ghost-like ranks of the Special Forces tribes, among which are DELTA FORCE and CIVIL AFFAIRS--and the once-called XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.

GERADS: Think more Mission Impossible meets Bourne meets Tom Clancy. It’s very real world military/spy action thriller stories. Nathan has gone to IMMENSE lengths to get the realism spot on. Anyone who does their homework on things they see and read in this book will be astonished to see that some of these outlandish scenarios and technology are based on things that actually exist or have happened.

BF: Who are the different characters making up this special forces team?

EDMONDSON: Team Omaha is made up of five members. We follow XXXXXXXXXXX, designated by callsign FIDDLER as she joins the group in issue 1. The team leader is XXX XXXXXXXXXXX, called WEATHERMAN. Also on the team are XXXXXXXXXX - SWITCHFOOT, XXXXXXXXXX - BOOKSTORE and the enigmatic XXXXXXXXXXXXXX, aka SPEAKEASY. Each has a diverse military and/or intelligence background and brings something unique to the team, and even their backgrounds are researched. We asked our military advisors early on "In reality, what sorts of backgrounds would these characters have?"

It became particularly interesting because we wanted to have women on the team, and establishing their backgrounds was a learning experience in how women serve in special forces.

BF: You’ve done quite a bit of research to give the series a very factual and realistic basis, even talking to the US Army directly. Why did you feel extensive research was necessary, and why is realism such an important aspect of the book for you?

EDMONDSON: The idea of the book was born out of research, and the desire for reality grew with the story idea. We've seen countless "kill team" type books and movies, from Mission: Impossible to The Losers. Grounding XXXXXXXXXXXX in real-life military settings and structure is part of what makes this project so attractive and unique to us.

GERADS: Nathan and I are on pretty much opposite ends of the political spectrum, but we both share an immense respect for our military and what they do for us. I often cringe at how the military is treated in comics. It seems a lot of books either make them the villain or treat them like Rambo. It was HUGE to both of us that we make this book as real and exciting as we could. These men and women are HEROES, but in the real world, being a hero means making a lot of tough “shades of gray” choices.

BF: What was the nature of the research, and how will we see that reflected in the series?

EDMONDSON: First and foremost, a great deal of reading--both books on current and historical military operations and organizations, but also current affairs. Every morning I read everything I can find, from Wired to Defense Tech to US Army Times. Mitch and I are always sharing information back and forth.

We've had some unique access, as well. Our contacts included an S.A.S. Operative, an Air Force Captain, Lt. Col XXXX XXXXXXXXXX of the Joint Special Operations Command, an even a former SFOD-DELTA operative and commander. We spoke also to XXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXX. I traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with some folks like Col. XX XXXXXXXXX XXX. at the Army Navy Club, which was fascinating.

The research was sometimes just conversations. Sometimes I wanted stories or had specific questions--some true stories have made it into the book. We shared the scripts and art with our "advisors" and got their input.

But then we broke away and wrote some kick-ass stories. The research was the fertile soil, but we needed to grow our own crops, of course. While grounded in reality, there are significant departures from reality--for example, the existence of Team Omaha itself--though one might see the team we follow in XXXXXXXXXXX as similar to the AFO (Advanced Field Operations) team organized by the incredible XXXXXXXXXXX at the beginning of the War in Afghanistan during Operation XXXXXXXX.

BF: Was it a logical step for both of you to release this through Image?

EDMONDSON: Absolutely; one because very early on there was strong film interest in the book (we've already partnered with a very prominent producer for film and TV development), and naturally we wanted the rights to the book. But even more so because wanted the freedom to make this our own, to break some rules, to cross some lines. I see Image as my first and most welcome home.

BF: You’ve been working on this book since January. Was this an idea that grew organically between the two of you?

EDMONDSON: The initial idea was mine, but I brought it to Mitch very quickly and we are absolutely partners on this. We've both created the characters and the world, and conceived the missions. We've been on the phone constantly, talking about XXXXXXXXXXXX, coming up with missions, and planning to bring Team Omaha to Amsterdam, XXXXXX, Mexico City, you name it.

GERADS: Nathan cold called me from an airport, saying he had seen my work on ComicTWART.com and wanted to know if I was interested in doing a military thriller book. I am a BIG Military Thriller fan. My favorite authors are Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, Tom Clancy, etc. and one of my absolute favorite TV shows was Shawn Ryan’s The Unit.

So, after internally screaming and externally doing a touchdown dance, I calmly replied, “Yeah, that might be cool.” The whole experience so far has been extremely rewarding. Nathan calls me to get my input on everything and asks for me to pitch ideas. The whole book is definitely both of ours in every way.

BF: While Mitch will be illustrating the bulk of the ongoing series, we will regularly see guest artists. Was that done to make life a little easier on Mitch? Or is there another reason for this, like, will the guest artists be featured on issues that are a departure from the main plotline (flashbacks, done-in-ones, and so on)?

EDMONDSON: We plan to have a guest artist do a backup story--a background story--history on the characters. We will learn, for example, about Leslie's background in Civil Affairs. It's part to expand the world of the series, and part also because of Mitch's workload.

We intend to keep a regular schedule of five issues, backup, trade, then right back into it. Since Mitch is doing pencils, inks, and colors, this helps us with that schedule, of course.

GERADS: I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was terrified about starting an ongoing series. I’d also be lying if I didn’t say I was even more terrified of being a guy who’s late. The guest artists are a great chance to keep me sane as the book marches on. Plus it’s SO cool to see different artists playing with your creations.

BF: We’ve mentioned that the book is ongoing, but it also has a set end. Is the amount of issues to be done also more or less set in stone, or will all that depend on how the actual storytelling plays out, new ideas cropping up, etc.?

EDMONDSON: We have a set end in mind as we step forward, but we're leaving room to expand and elongate XXXXXXXXXXXX once it gets going. We are in for a long haul, but whether or not that will go even longer…we will see.

BF: Nathan, we reported earlier that you’ve got seven new projects in the works, of which this is the first to be unveiled. Can you spill the beans just a little more?

EDMONDSON: I can mention that, in addition to Grifter and next year's Jake Ellis sequel, I have an extraterrestrial, dream-reality book and not just one exciting thing coming from the acclaimed artist XXXXXXXXX. Those will be the next out the gate.

My fingers are in the dirt. I'm working as hard as I can, every day but a great share of my devotion is in XXXXXXXXXXXX.

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