In the new Aspen series Dellec, being announced at New York Comic Con, one man will discover that servants of God are creating evil on Earth. It's all part of God's plan to create enough disaster and fear on Earth that people will worship him.
Dellec is not only a new concept for Aspen, but it's a bit of a departure from the comics they've done in the past. The publishing company, which was founded by artist Michael Turner, has mostly published tie-ins and spin-offs for its flagship titles Fathom and Soulfire.
But that's starting to change, with titles like the recent Shrugged and the upcoming Executive Assistant: Iris.
Now Dellec further rounds out the company's offerings. Co-written by Aspen President Frank Mastromauro and Editor-in-Chief Frank Hernandez with art by Micah Gunnell, the series will begin with Dellec #0 on May 13.
Newsarama talked to Mastromauro, Hernandez and Gunnell about the brand new series and the promise they're making to keep this comic at only $2.50 per issue.
Newsarama: Right up front, tell us about this concept. How did you come up with this, and what's the story about?
Frank Mastromauro: Vince and I were driving together a couple years ago and throwing out ideas, and this is the one that stuck. The more we thought about it, the more we liked the story potential here, and so now we're developing it into this really exciting comic book called Dellec.
When we first threw out the idea, it was, basically, what if the devil doesn't exist? What if it's God, and he needed people to believe in him and keep his power growing, so he put evil into the world? So the idea is that it's this whole plan he has to create belief in him and drive people to worship him.
Our character, Dellec, winds up being the one who figures it all out. During our story, he'll be fighting against this, which isn't going to be an easy fight, obviously. I mean, he's fighting against God.
Vince Hernandez: We're basically going to put our main character through the ringer.
NRAMA: How does he discover this big secret?
FM: Well, that's something you learn in the story. Because of an event that happens in the comic, he is able to know of the evil within people. He can see whether they are or aren't. He can see the evil acolytes who are serving God.Cover to Dellec He's actually one of the people who was put onto earth to do evil for God, and you'll see something happen to him where he has to make a choice. And he decides not to do evil, and his decision to go against what his creator wanted him to do is the big turning point.
NRAMA: What kind of evil things do these servants do in the name of God?
FM: Well, an example is that they might cause a blackout so people will pray to God. Or have something bad happen that would drive them to a church.
NRAMA: What's the main character, Dellec, like?
FM: He was an average guy before all this happened. But now he's got powers and abilities that makes him different from everyone else. When you start our story, you're going to see him already in the process of hunting evil. He's on a mission when we start our story. Then as the comic progresses, we find out the reasons he's on this mission, and we get some insight into his origin story. Also, he's got an ability where he can almost communicate with God.
But before all that, he was a metal worker from the city. He's not a perfect protagonist. He's just a normal human being. When things happen to him, he just reacts the way any normal person would when put into extraordinary circumstances.
NRAMA: Is it a little daunting to do a book that deals with religion?
FM: Well, I should say up front that I'm Catholic, and my whole family is Catholic. And I love God. [laughs] But this was just an idea that we came up with, and it seemed way too interesting to pass up. And the book actually isn't that religious in nature. We don't want to be overly religious with this book. We trying to give it an edge as Dellec goes against all these people. And if you stick with it, you find out that it will all start to unravel as he gets closer to achieving his goal.
NRAMA: Micah, are you changing up your style for this book? It sounds a lot darker than what we've seen from you recently on Shrugged.
Micah Gunnell: Yeah. People who have followed my work and some of the other series I've done won't be disappointed or anything. I'm still using the same basic style, but the subject matter is so different. Dellec is dark and gritty compared to the light-hearted stuff I was doing in Shrugged. I don't want to force my style into this book, so I've tailored it to the subject matter for this story.
NRAMA: When you draw Dellec, what was your inspiration for what he looks like?Cover to Dellec MG: There are a couple different people that I looked at. The feeling that I got from him as a character was that he was a hard-nosed, blue collar tough guys. So I looked at Bruce Willis, and I'm a big UFC [Ultimate Fighting Championship] fan. And one of my favorite fighters is Randy Couture. He has this crazy head that can get walloped a million times and still keep ticking, and that's the kind of look I wanted for Dellec. And another one was Jason Statham. I wanted to reference various people and come up with a unique look for Dellec.
FM: Micah took his time and really got it right. And it looks different from anything out there, and it looks awesome. We worked with him for the development of what Dellec and his world would look like. Jason Statham was also someone we had in mind for the look. So what he said in terms of who Dellec is fits exactly what we were thinking too.
NRAMA: Give us the logistics of this comic. Is this just the first volume? Will it continue for awhile?
VH: We definitely have stories for this to go on for awhile, past this volume. The initial volume is going to be around eight or nine issues. And we'll be releasing Dellec at a cheaper price point than other comics.
FM: Everyone is talking about prices and the economy now. And it's affecting us too, because orders are lower right now. But we want our fans to know that this is something we really, really want you to pick up. We know it's tough to add another series to your list. Everyone's been bitching about Marvel raising their prices to $3.99, and Top Cow did their promise to leave prices at $2.99 this year. We're going to actually release this book even cheaper than that.
Dellec #0 is going to be $1.99. And every issue is going to be $2.59. That doesn't mean anything about the quality, because I think this is one of the highest quality books out there. The amount of effort that's going into this comic means it's going to be an amazing product. But it's going to be our least expensive product.
After the $1.99 issue of Dellec #0 in May, a "Beginnings" issue of Dellec will be on sale just for Wizard World: Philadelphia in June. Then Dellec #1 will be on sale in July. After that, we hope to keep it going for awhile.
NRAMA: Is Aspen consciously trying to expand their offerings to stories with different genres from the Soulfire and Fathom series you've produced in the past?
FM: Well, first of all, we haven't abandoned our core titles or anything. I mean, this year is going to be a huge year for Soulfire. And we're already prepping the next volume of Fathom while this current volume finishes up, so we're keeping those titles strong in the future.
But yeah, we keep our eyes open for ideas that might be a little different, but we always make sure it's something we can produce at the quality our readers have come to expect. There are always different ideas being bounced around here at Aspen. Dellec was something we had in mind for Micah for awhile, and once his schedule opened up, this seemed like the right time. And everything has come together so that it's perfect timing.
We recognize that it's smart to diversify, and we're not unaware of the potential for other media deals. But what's most important about what we do is the quality. And I'm excited about the quality ideas we have coming this year.
Mike loved this company, and he wanted us to keep it strong and keep it going. And that's what we're going to do.More New York Comic Con 2009 Coverage: NYCC '09 Video Page