Omar Spahi, founder of Ocean Avenue Realty and real estate agent at Keller Williams, works his normal oxford-shirt-and-tie type of job during the day. In his off-hours, however, Spahi is comic book obsessed.

He’s a founder of his own comic company, OSSM Comics, and acts as interviewer for his comic book podcast Dreamer Comics, and even executive produces unique genre films. Heck, he even founded  Santa Monica-based construction company Wayne Enterprises Construction Inc.

Indulging in and creating escapism has been apart of Spahi’s life since as early as he can remember.

“It’s just something that’s always been in my blood,” the friendly and softspoken Spahi excitedly says. “I grew up watching things like Spider-man, Dragon Ball Z, Power Rangers, you name it. It brought joy and an escape from reality. I was always able to connect with those characters and wanted to recreate that  for others.”

Much like the characters he grew up with, Spahi has a unique origin story of his own.

Spahi was initiated in the family business of real estate young, learning the ropes of real estate at the age of 16. He was making progress in his career until dual tragedies struck– the Subprime Mortgage Crisis and the death of Spahi’s grandmother.

“It wasn’t easy, at all,” Spahi said. “I was trying to navigate the death of my grandma and deal with finances, too. She left me with a lot of properties. I had to file for bankruptcy at just 18.”

Reeling from those experiences, Spahi sought the escapism that brought him joy from his youth. He’d write stories with his own characters and their own worlds. It was a hobby he never considered  could become a career, let alone something people got paid to do.

“The thought never crossed my mind,” Spahi says with a laugh. “I thought comics just appeared or something. I knew nothing about the industry but figured I could make my own things. I just went to work.”

He honed his own superpower of creating, writing and eventually hiring an artist for OSMM’s first comic ‘Xenoglyphs’.  However, Spahi soon discovered breaking into the comic industry was difficult.

“It was a steep learning curve, learning about publishers and those relationships,” he said. “It’s like any entertainment job — it’s who you know, not what you know.”

In a serendipitous encounter not even the most skilled comic writer could have scripted, Spahi became acquainted with helpful people in the industry.

At a comic convention in Chicago in 2010, Spahi struck up conversation with Steven T. Seagle, comic writer and co-founder of Man of Action Entertainment, the company that created the hit show Ben 10.

Seagle was convention neighbors with Spahi and struck up a conversation.

Omar seemed very nice and professional, even though he also seemed too young to have his own publishing company,” Seagle said in an e-mail. “I liked that he was able to both answer questions intelligently and ask compelling questions as well. A lot of people are only good at talking about what they are doing and don’t bother to find out much about who they’re telling it all to.”

The two realized they lived in LA and exchanged cards, with Seagle asking Spahi to come to his writer’s group sometime. However, Seagle lost Spahi’s card. Eventually, he got buried in “an eternal avalanche of deadlines”.

Then, like any farfetched comic story, a deus ex machina appeared — another convention.

A decade at Q and A where Seagle was at, Spahi went up to the panel’s microphone and asked a question. Seagle recognized Spahi immediately. He eventually took Spahi under his wing and taught him the importance of creating his own legacy, with characters that will last a lifetime.

Creative industries start with creating,” Seagle said. “People may love The Avengers and studios may love the profits of the Avengers, but without Jack Kirby and Stan Lee having the idea in the first place? There’s no beloved franchise.”

Now, Spahi is cementing his own legacy.

In addition to his own comics, Spahi has co-published several Image Comics, including  comic writer Kyle Higgins’ ‘Hadrien’s Wall’, which is now being developed into a movie. Spahi is also executive producing ‘Code 8’, a movie starring “Arrow” star Stephen Amell.

Becoming well-known in the industry, Spahi has met several other creators in the field, lending themselves to Spahi’s Dreamer Comics podcast, a Q and A style comic podcast in which Spahi asks creators how their careers came to be.

Spahi says his life is now a dream, a universe of his own creation.

It’s a surreal feeling,” Spahi says about being in the industry he grew up loving. “People at Comic Con recognize me. It’s something your mind doesn’t process. When people come by and say hi, it’s like, ‘No man, thank you.’”

Spahi, who still works in real estate, says his dream goal is to eventually work at the Big 2 — Marvel and DC — despite his indie success.

“It’s a bucket-list thing, that and getting my own animated series. But if that doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world. There’s an incredible value in doing your own thing.”

For more information on Omar Spahi, visit www.ossmcomics.com/ Spahi will also be at Hi De Ho Comics (412 Broadway) on May 4 as part of Free Comic Book Day www.facebook.com/events/324177741789737/

angel@smdp.com

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