With Portal Bound #0 debuting in stores this week, we got a chance to sit down with Aspen’s EIC Vince Hernandez to talk about all things Aspen past, present and future.
In 2018 Aspen celebrates 15 years of publishing, first of all, happy 15 years to you and everybody at Aspen. Can you tell me how you feel and what the mood is like in the Aspen studios?
Thanks! At the risk of dropping too many clichés all at once—we’re thrilled, overwhelmed, and generally brimming with excitement over all of the fun announcements and projects we have planned to celebrate fifteen years. It’s been a journey for sure, but we feel like we’re only just getting started in this industry. We still have tons of ideas and things we’d love to accomplish.
Obviously, we can’t talk about Aspen Comics without talking about Michael Turner. We all know about his artistic talent, what can you tell us about Michael as a person?
Mike really was one of those people you hear about but rarely meet, the genuinely good guy that everyone wants to be around. He could be fun, intense, adventurous but most of all I found him to be immensely inspiring. If people could’ve looked behind the curtain and seen the pain and struggle that he endured dealing with cancer during Aspen’s formative years I think they’d have an even stronger impression of who the man truly was. It really made any problems I encountered pale in comparison.
What does the 15 year anniversary of Aspen Comics mean for Michael Turner’s legacy?
I think it’s a tribute to the people and team he built around him to create this wonderful and world-class artists studio capable of accomplishing any task we set our minds to. It’s really the most defining element of any legacy—what you leave behind—and in Mike’s case that meant an entire studio and more.
Can you tell about your publishing plans for 2018?
I encourage fans to check news websites such as yours and others to see our Aspen Wave 1 releases that we’ve already revealed. These include the return of Charismagic, Shrugged and Jirni for third volumes, in addition to a brand new series, Portal Bound, releasing with a zero issue on February 7th. Our Wave 2 releases will be revealed later this month so stay tuned for each wave’s reveal and a slew of new and returning classics! We have tons planned!
Aspen is going back to its roots in terms of publishing for 2018, why is that important in 2018?
We’ve tried many different publishing initiatives and approaches in fifteen years but when you really break down our successes and failures, it’s obvious our best moments came from within. We’re a studio built on the backs of creators, and it’s our family of creators that we’re spotlighting this year with the return of several classic series. It’s all about giving our loyal and new fans a taste of Aspen in its purest form—Aspen by Aspen, if you will.
What can you tell us about Aspen Legacy?
The Aspen Legacy: Past, Present and Future is a yearbook style issue that highlights several never-before-seen moments, pictures and artwork from our first fifteen years. It’s a great collection of moments that both loyal and new readers can appreciate. And, it’s only 15 cents!
What’s the origin of Aspen Primer Issues?
We’ve actually published these going back a few years now. We’ve discovered that as much as we love our titles, we felt that new readers could always use a jumping-on point that catches them up to these complex and involved storylines.
What new series can fans of Aspen Comics look forward to?
Check out Portal Bound releasing on February 7th! It’s the first of several brand new Aspen series debuting in 2018. This one is a fantasy action-adventure series with a hint of sci-fi and a lot of fun involved. It’s created by Mark Roslan and Gabe Carrasco and features art by Alex Arizmendi and Wes Hartman with Zen on letters. It’s a fast-paced awesome ride that starts this month.
Is the Decimation story something that you have wanted to do for a long time and why is it an important story to tell?
Aspen Universe: Decimation is the culmination of our first crossover series, Aspen Universe: Revelations, that joined the Fathom and Soulfire universes together along with other Aspen properties. So, this was the first opportunity to really showcase what we can do with this all-new and immersive Aspen Universe. Readers will see several characters from different titles finally interacting in ways that will push the Aspen Universe forward in fun, exciting and strange ways.
Decimation is currently taking place in the Aspen Universe, can you tell us what effect this will have on the Aspen titles?
Everything from now on in the Aspen Universe has consequences, whether the readers identify them right away or not. That’s the fun of a shared universe and we’re definitely going to be pushing the envelope to see what we can accomplish with our stories.
What will 2018 hold for your flagship series Fathom and Soulfire?
We have exciting fans for both, and just recently, fans that picked up the Aspen Legacy book were teased with the brilliant new Fathom creative team of Ron Marz and Siya Oum. Soulfire details will follow shortly, but I can honestly say we’ve never been more thrilled to see what the future holds in store both flagship titles.
Aspen zero issues will be $1.50, what’s Aspen’s thought process with this price-point?
The comic book consumer has hundreds of options any given week on the comic book racks. We felt it would allow for new readers to take a risk on our titles for an affordable price that wouldn’t break their wallets. Plus, we genuinely and strongly believe in these books and are doing whatever it takes to get them in peoples’ hands, even if that means a lower price point. For us it’s not about the money but the fans.
How did Aspen Mascots come about? Can you tell us a little more about that initiative?
We’ve wanted to bolster our all-ages library of titles for some time and felt the timing was right to introduce this type of story in all of our releases each month. If you’ve been following our titles, you know many of them have interesting critters, creatures and other “mascot” type characters. Some have already appeared in our annual Halloween ComicFest coloring books, so this was a natural progression of that. Fans can expect a new adventure each month in all of our titles for an entire year.
For the characters that Michael Turner created when you are creating new stories using those characters, what guidelines do you use?
Mike wasn’t big on restrictions or creative stifling. He’s a creator that fought a legal battle to retain his own properties, after all. So, I approach any MT created character as I would anyone else’s. I respect the canon and try to bring the character to new heights both in the narrative and their character development. That’s a very important aspect of my writing. How do the characters evolve in each volume? As a writer I feel you have to ask this question.
What is Aspen’s goal for 2018?
To continue putting forth Michael Turner’s vision for the company and produce the highest quality of entertainment we can. Really, our recipe for success has never changed and I hope it never will.
Any message for the ComicBuzz readers?
Keep supporting awesome sites like this that are willing to dig deeper into the world of pop culture and comics. We need more support in this department in comics.
We would like to say thank you to Vince for taking the time to chat with us.