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D*C 2012: Aspen Comics Experiences the Wonder That Is Dragon*Con

Posted on September 7, 2012 AT 12:48am

Sunday afternoon in a small conference room off of the main drag of the Hyatt, four gentlemen held a panel. As the only major comic book company to stake a table at Dragon*Con 2012, I’d safely say that they were well received. I am speaking of Frank Mastromauro, Peter Steigerwald, Joe Benitez and Alex Konat of Aspen Comics.

While three of the four are veteran artists and writers, one is still rather new but working to make his name known. Alex Konat is following Aspen founder, Michael Turner, under the sea and into the world of Fathom. The pressure is definitely on for Alex, although, it may not be from where most would imagine. According to Peter, “It is difficult for some people to wrap their heads around Fathom. Alex gets Fathom in the way that Mike got it, not just in the aesthetic, but the feeling behind the book.” The pressure on Alex comes from Alex himself. Alex says, “There is absolute pressure in following Mike.” Frank and Peter have full confidence in him taking over the artistry of the company’s premiere series. I definitely am excited to see what Alex’s imagination comes up with.

In the realm of imagination, Joe Benitez is no stranger to creating a world of characters and story. As he progressed with other companies, he was able to develop storylines based on the characters being his own, rather than having a storyline set for him. Joe’s latest endeavor, Lady Mechanika, is quickly growing in popularity. The steampunk comic is influenced by Joe’s love of Star Wars and G.I. Joe. He hinted that he’d love to draw and introduce “steampunk troopers” and “transformer-like trains.” Joe does give one warning: Lady M is not too science-oriented. If that’s what you are looking for in Lady Mechanika, just know that you most likely won’t find it.  In any case, the fourth installment of the series is being worked on, but no date has been set for its release.

In 2013, Aspen will be celebrating the company’s ten year anniversary and Fathom’s fifteen year anniversary. There will be a celebration all year long with what is dubbed as the 10 for 10 (and found on Twitter as the hashtag – #Aspen10) , where the company is releasing a new book every month for $1.00. There will also be a huge anniversary party at San Diego Comic Con for Fathom.

Another aspect of the anniversary will be the completion of Aspen’s back catalog arriving on digital format. Aspen has always wanted to support the brick and mortar comic book stores, although, they knew the move to digital was inevitable. In a way to still support those stores, the digital versions of Aspen comics will not include any incentives. They will, however, have an exclusive comic just for digital readers in the near future.

As for other new announcements, there were a few. Frank is in work on a yet to be named title, and Peter is in work on a new book with the working title of Zooniverse. The other major announcement that caught my attention was the reveal of novels. The company wants to produce at least one or two every year. The first Aspen novel is called The Lost Spark and will be released sometime in January.

Aspen is also working on some new ideas for apparel and merchandise. There are a lot of trades being printed as well as reprints of single issues. As for unique merchandise, Aspen has debuted a line of six skateboard decks as well as bar keys featuring different Aspen characters. There are also new hats, jackets, and shirts to appear in the future. In the realm of Aspen-specific merchandise, a replica Aspen necklace is in the works. Two versions will be offered; one steel-plated and the other sterling silver. It is hoped to eventually offer a choker.

I attended New York Comic Con last year and one of the big announcements was that Aspen was in talks about doing a Fathom movie. At the time, things were up in the air, but the few things that Frank could tell us were that Megan Fox was set it play the part of Aspen and FOX had the script. As of Sunday, Frank said that the script was back in Aspen’s hands and that they were looking for distributors. They are also not sure on Megan Fox playing Aspen due to her pregnancy.

In other visual news, Aspen is looking into a movie deal for Executive Assistant: Iris and for another current Aspen series that is still being kept under wraps. On top of that, a screenplay is in the works for Haunted City. Frank also revealed that he is currently in work on a “Street Fighter meets He-man” style webseries with Vince Hernandez. Those of us at the panel were able to see some of Frank’s concept characters and they definitely look as though they could appear in a fighting game. So far, two seasons of the yet to be named webseries have been written.

As for the current Aspen titles, there were a few updates:

  • Charismagic will be debuting with a new storyline in November entitled “The Death Princess”
  • Executive Assistant: Assassins is the first ongoing book of Aspen Editor-in-Chief, Vince Hernandez, and will be published on a four week cycle.
  • Executive Assistant: Iris Volume 3 starts in December and will be a crossover with Executive Assistant: Assassins.
  • Fathom: Kiani is on a hiatus until a new artist can be brought on board.
  • Homecoming features the last Michael Turner created character and storyline. It is currently a four-issue miniseries.
  • Idolized has debuted and will continue to be published every month until the end of 2012.
  • Lady Mechanika #4 is currently in the works.
  • Shrugged Volume 2 is in the works. Frank is working on the first script and it is due sometime in March 2013.
  • Soulfire: Search for the Light miniseries focused on each master and lead up to the debut of Soulfire #1 with many of the characters that were debuted in Search for the Light playing roles in the new Soulfire run. The new Soulfire also gives an introduction to dark Grace.
The team at Aspen MLT has never been afraid to try things. They leapt at the chance to start their own comic book company and never looked back. With the loss of Michael, many doubted that Aspen would survive and it has been an uphill battle. Now, here they are ten years after the establishment of the company and still going strong.
Amanda "Mandie" Marron is a US Navy Veteran, Gamer, Reader, Poet, Xbox Community Ambassador, Battlestar Galactica Aficionado, Wine Connoisseur, and all around geek. Follow me on Twitter: @Caprickah

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