As Aspen Comics reaches its 10th anniversary, the company is hoping to start a new era in 2013, kicking off with the current "10 for 10" initiative and this summer's Fathom: The Elite Saga event.
The five-issue, weekly event kicks off in June, and it sets the stage for the All New Fathom #1 that will be released in July. As Aspen's longest running current series, Fathom has quite a bit of continuity, and the company is hoping to wrap up many of the story threads in the summer event before starting fresh with a new #1.
All New Fathom will be written by David Wohl, the writer behind Aspen's successful Executive Assistant line and the latest Fathom volume. It will feature art by Alex Konat and Beth Sotelo.
The summer event, The Elite Saga, will be written by a group of writers who have guided Fathom over its 15-year history since it was launched by Michael Turner. Vince Hernandez and J.T. Krul are doing the story, with assists from David Wohl. Newcomers V. Ken Marion and Jordi Escuin will be on art.
Aspen has added multiple properties to its line over the last few years, making good on its promise to keep the company going strong after the death of Turner.
This year's "10 for 10" initiative, which offers new #1 issues each month for only $1, has landed Aspen into the Top 100 best-selling comics list.
Newsarama talked with Hernandez, the editor-in-chief at Aspen, about the future of Fathom, what readers can expect from The Elite Saga, and his hopes for Aspen Comics.
Newsarama: Vince, you guys have been doing summer events for the last couple years. What made you want to concentrate on Fathom this year?
Vince Hernandez: We reached our 15-year anniversary on Michael Turner's Fathom, and for us, that's a monumental milestone, not only for that title but also in terms of Aspen and what we've been able to achieve. We're happy to get to this point, so we want to do something really special for Fathom and our fans.So this summer, we're doing a weekly Fathom event. The last couple summer events we did were weekly and they were well-received by the fans. It's just a fun thing to go to your comic book store each week and continue the story. You don't have to wait.
Nrama: What story does the event focus upon?
Hernandez: At the center of the story is a character we first saw in Fathom: Kiani, Volume 2. It was revealed that Kiani has a younger baby sister that was born, and she's a little more powerful than every other being that we encounter. So the plot of this summer's Fathom event is built around this baby girl who's not only connected to Kiani, but is also the daughter of Killian, who's been our main Fathom villain for the whole 15 years of the run.
And there's a big, high-stakes element to this baby.
In the first issue of Fathom: The Elite Saga, there's a bit of a mystery as to the whereabouts of the baby, and from there, it's a fun ride.
There's all kinds of returning Fathom characters that come back to be part of the story, and there's also a lot of threads that we've had over the years that are going to be finally resolved.
So if you're a continuing Fathom fan, this is an important storyline that continues some of the threads you've been seeing over the years.
And if you're a brand new fan, it will be a storyline you can check out and see what happens to the Fathom universe, and then have the new direction to pick up in July with the all-new Fathom #1.
That was important to us, to keep the fans happy while also making things accessible to new readers. After 15 years, that's a long time for anyone to digest.
Nrama: And the event is being written by a team of writers? But all Fathom writers?
Hernandez: Yeah, it's a triple threat: myself, and I wrote the two Fathom: Kiani volumes, with J.T. Krul who wrote Fathom Volumes 2 and 3, and then also David Wohl who wrote the most recent Fathom, Volume 4. We've spent a lot of time in the Fathom universe. We triple-teamed the story and plot, and we hashed it out with Frank as well. It was fun, because there were a lot of ideas bounced back and forth of things we wanted to see and things we liked from past volumes. We put it all into a blender and came up with this really exciting story that has a lot of high stakes.And it really does set the stage for the all-new Fathom, which will be written by David Wohl.
And the art for all five issues will be done by V. Ken Marion, a new talent. We met him about a year ago on the convention circuit, and we were really impressed with his art. He's got a great style that works perfectly on Fathom. The fans have already responded really well to the previews of his art that we've been showing online. Colors will be done by Jordi Escuin, who's also a new talent. They'll be doing all five issues, so even though the art team is kind of rotating, there will be a consistent art team throughout the event.
Nrama: Is the new Fathom #1 indicative of a new direction for the series as well as a new initiative for Aspen?
Hernandez: Oh yeah. We reached our 10th year, and we realized, OK, we're not the new kid on the block anymore. When we first started out publishing, we had the luxury of living in the shadow of Michael Turner's art and resting on the success he had. But once he passed away, we really had to start from scratch and rebuild the brand. We wanted to keep the vision that Michael had, but also, we needed to work without his art.
It wasn't easy. We definitely had properties that were hit or miss over the last few years. And I think that was part of our growing process.
But we're excited. We're ready to go into the new decade, as you can see. We have all these new releases, we have an event going on over the summer, we have the "10 for 10," and there will be new titles announced over the summer for next year.
Fans already expect great art and entertaining stories from Aspen, but we really want to try to establish ourselves as a major player in this industry. We've grown rapidly over the last three years. And we intend to continue that trend, although we want to make sure we maintain the quality. The fans have been really great, and they've been responsive to what we've been doing.
Nrama: And the new July #1 issue is one of your "10 for 10" comics. Can you explain that offer and what it means for Aspen overall?
Hernandez: "10 for 10" is an initiative that's going on right now. It launched in February, and it's a big celebration for our 10th year anniversary. In 2013, it isn't just Fathom celebrating 15 years, but 2013 is also Aspen's 10-year anniversary, so we launched this initiative.
It's 10 new series in 10 consecutive months, with five of them being returning popular series and five being brand new properties that nobody has ever seen. It started in February with Legend of Shadow Clan, which is an all-new property, and then continued in March with Shrugged.
We're on our third release now, in April, which is another all-new property called Jirni from J.T. Krul.
So it's really a celebration of our 10-year anniversary, but also kind of a step forward for us because we have all these new releases. And there are a lot of incentives and rewards for readers and brand new fans, including $1price points for all the #1 books. Every issue is affordable so you can jump in right away, and there's not a huge sacrifice to your wallet. Every #2 has a J. Scott Campbell cover in addition to some other covers, like our Aspen reserve addition. So if you reserve it to your local comic book store subscription box, you'll get that cover. But at the end of this "10 for 10," if you've got all the Reserve covers, you'll get a full-sized jam poster featuring all the characters. So there are a whole lot of rewards.
For us, it was a fun way to usher a new decade and involve the creators who have helped us come this far, such as Dave Wohl and Peter Steigerwald and J.T. Krul and Mark Roslan and Frank Mastromauro and myself. A lot of us were the nucleus that has been here since day one, in terms of creating stories. All of these stories are in-house, by these creators, so for us it's a fun way to harken back to what has made us this successful up to this point, and also try to give a new direction to things for the next 10 years.
Hopefully, fans can let us know what they like by picking up the $1 issues. So far, the first two releases have both ordered over 30,000 copies, which for us is a really great number. It put us in the Top 100 for those releases. So we couldn't have asked for anything better.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!