"Owen The Barbarian has an axe. And he's gonna do good with it if he has to kill someone." Since its debut in 2021, thousands of readers have followed Owen The Barbarian and his talking weapon of choice on a sword-and-sorcery odyssey of horror, humor, and blood-soaked mayhem. With the first two volumes of Barbaric now available from Vault Comics and the first Barbaric spinoff, Queen of Swords, premiering this week, we caught up with Barbaric artist Nathan Gooden in a new Q&A feature to discuss bringing the world of Barbaric to life, working with writer Michael Moreci, and more (including a tease of other talking weapons on the horizon)!

You can read our full Q&A with Nathan Gooden below, be sure to visit Vault Comics' official website for more information, and check out our previous post to read Barbaric #1 in its entirety as well as an extended preview of Queen of Swords #1!

Also, in case you missed it, read our Q&A with Barbaric and Queen of Swords writer Michael Moreci!

Thank you for taking the time to answer questions for us, Nathan, and congratulations on the continued success of Barbaric! What has your reaction been to seeing so many readers embrace the blood-soaked mayhem of this comic book series so far?

Nathan Gooden: I am still blown away by the fan reception and support. It really does fuel me to make each issue bigger and better. I have also seen a few Axe tattoos from fans, which is the coolest thing ever.

I absolutely love the bold blend of visceral violence, morbid comedy, high-stakes horror, and flat-out fun storytelling in Barbaric. How important is it for you to find that unique tonal balance while illustrating Barbaric?

Nathan Gooden: Wow, thank you so much for that. Illustrating Barbaric is so fun, but a bit of a challenge because it is such a unique story. I never wanted to just rely on the shock value of the violence or humor alone. Underneath it all, there is a very human story of loss and redemption and what it means to be a good friend. Some scenes I like to keep grounded and heavy, while others need to be Tex Avery-level ridiculous.

How much have you and writer Michael Moreci collaborated on the look of Barbaric and the distinct styles of Owen the Barbarian and his constant companion, Axe?

Nathan Gooden: We are constantly on the phone or messaging each other. Whenever there is a new character or world, we go through the details. We always want to keep Barbaric unique while having a gentle poke at other sword-and-sorcery stories.

Why do you think so many readers have grown to love Owen the Barbarian and his unconventional quests?

Nathan Gooden: Aside from Moreci’s incredibly funny scripts; Owen is relatable. He hates his job, he hates his bosses and has to do many things the exact opposite of how he wants. This friction causes so many funny and real moments for him and the readers.

Were you a fan of sword-and-sorcery movies and comic books when you were growing up? Do you have any favorites that have influenced or inspired you while illustrating Barbaric?

Nathan Gooden: Totally. Conan the Barbarian comics were huge growing up. The Arnold Schwarzenegger movies are a big influence and we even put a few Easter eggs in Barbaric from the movies. Willow is another big influence for me.

Do you have a favorite scene that you’ve illustrated so far in Barbaric?

Nathan Gooden: My favorite scenes are always the brief flashbacks between Axe and Owen. When Axe asks, “Remember the time when?” In the first arc, it was Owen throwing a guy into a barrel full of poisonous snakes. I remember laughing out loud when I was drawing all the snakes biting the poor guy.

Can you give readers a tease of what lies ahead in the future gory adventures of Barbaric?

Nathan Gooden: More of the same action, adventure, and dark humor you love about the series. Specifically, look out for more talking weapons! Axe is not alone!

What has it been like to work with the team at Vault Comics (which you co-founded) to release Barbaric into the world over these past few years?

Nathan Gooden: Working at Vault is a dream come true. I couldn’t ask for a better team. Barbaric is a true passion project. Moreci and I met years ago at San Diego Comic-Con. We hit it off and wanted to do a project together. We worked on a few others, but it wasn’t clicking. Then finally it all came together in Barbaric. We didn’t rush or force it into the world before it was ready. Just thinking how many revisions and years of back-and-forths we had, makes it even greater to see it in readers hands.

What advice would you give to aspiring comic book artists who are just getting started?

Nathan Gooden: It will sound simple, but I think it is the most honest answer I can give: never stop improving. You will get rejected and projects will fail. You need to learn from your mistakes and continue to grow. Every day is a chance to try something new.

In addition to Barbaric, do you have any other upcoming projects that you can tease? Also, where can our readers go online to keep up to date on your work?

For now, I am just continuing The Year of Axe with Barbaric. I do have another project, but unfortunately I can’t say yet.  It will be announced soon! Follow Barbaric at Vault Comics, and follow me on IG @nathan.gooden. I try to take commissions when possible and post WIP pages and panels.


Barbaric Vol. 1: Murderable Offenses: Owen The Barbarian has an axe. And he's gonna do good with it if he has to kill someone.

Owen the Barbarian has been cursed to do good with what remains of his life. His bloodthirsty weapon, Axe, has become his moral compass with a drinking problem. Together they wander the realm, foredoomed to help any who seek assistance. But there is one thing Owen hates more than a life with rules: Witches.

Welcome to the skull-cracking, blood-splattering, mayhem-loving comic brave enough to ask: How can a man sworn to do good do so much violence? Hah! F***ing with you. It’s just…BARBARIC.

Michael Moreci (Writer), Nathan Gooden (Artist, Cover Artist), Addison Duke (Colorist), Jim Campbell (Letterer)

Barbaric Vol. 2: Axe to Grind: Owen The Barbarian has an axe. And he's gonna do good with it if he has to kill someone.

As one of Entertainment Weekly’s “10 Best Comics of 2021,” Barbaric – featuring Owen the Barbarian and his bloodthirsty companion Axe – returns in a whirlwind of blood, humor, and mayhem with an evil demigod, vampires, and rampaging monsters! Hailed as one of the best comics of 2021 by Entertainment Weekly, Thrillist, Screen Rant, and more, bestselling BARBARIC returns with its second explosive volume!

Welcome to the skull-cracking, blood-splattering, mayhem-loving comic brave enough to ask: How can a man sworn to do good do so much violence? Hah! F***ing with you. It’s just BARBARIC.

When a foe from Owen's past returns, he embarks on a bloody mission to succeed where he once failed and kill a malevolent demigod. Which suits Axe just fine, considering he hasn't gotten drunk on god blood yet! Meanwhile, Owen's former barbarian comrade, now a timid vampire, gets cold feet about a life of violence. But in the world of BARBARIC, where orcs, giant spiders, and devil bats roam the land, and doing good is full of gore, is there any other way? For fans of BRZRKR!, The Witcher, Conan the Barbarian, Red Sonja, Heathen, Rat Queens, and Dungeons and Dragons! Collects the second three-issue miniseries (Axe to Grind) and the special one-shot standalone (Harvest Blades)! It’s just … BARBARIC! This title collects Barbaric: Axe to Grind #1 to #3.

Michael Moreci (Writer), Nathan Gooden (Artist, Cover Artist), Addison Duke (Colorist), Jim Campbell (Letterer)

  • Derek Anderson
    About the Author - Derek Anderson

    Raised on a steady diet of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Derek has been fascinated with fear since he first saw ForeverWare being used on an episode of Eerie, Indiana.

    When he’s not writing about horror as the Senior News Reporter for Daily Dead, Derek can be found daydreaming about the Santa Carla Boardwalk from The Lost Boys or reading Stephen King and Brian Keene novels.