At New York Comic Con, Aspen Comics announced its first ever ongoing series, Executive Assistant: Assassins.
It's a new direction for the publisher, which previously released staggered volumes of their top series like Soulfire and Fathom, and even those tended to ship sporadically. But that problem with shipping has apparently changed, as Aspen proved over the summer with the weekly crossover Hit List Agenda, which gave readers several Executive Assistant books that shipped on time as scheduled
The move also furthers Aspen's recent effort to expand its offerings, including a wider variety of genres and formats.
Now the company is tapping Vince Hernandez, its editor-in-chief, to begin its first ongoing series, which is built on the success of the Executive Assistant line that started in 2009. It's based upon a true story that creator David Wohl found about the women who work for high-powered Chinese executives, both as executive assistants and as personal bodyguards — or even assassins.
Although the art team for the book hasn't been announced, the publisher indicated there would be a rotating team, which should help the book stay on a regular schedule.
Newsarama talked with Hernandez to find out more about the new book and Aspen's decision to try an ongoing.
Newsarama: Vince, the Executive Assistant stories have obviously done well for you guys. But why switch to an ongoing format? And why this title and not others from Aspen?
Vince Hernandez: The Executive Assistant property has been great for us. David Wohl, Brad Foxhoven and Michael Turner created not only a wonderful first two volumes containing a rich storyline and a diverse cast of personalities, but also an entire world filled with possibilities for future stories and new characters. We felt it was time to tap into that and explore different takes on the concept.
Executive Assistant: Assassins will allow for that with the ongoing format and the open-ended nature of it. For instance, there are several fan-favorite characters from the first two volumes and the crossover that didn’t get as much time in the sun as the primary cast, and this will be an opportunity for fans to see them in more expanded tales and adventures.The choice to do this particular title at the point is really just a matter of timing in our production schedule. We’ve discussed the ongoing format plenty of times before for different properties, and actually, there will be more upcoming announcements involving the ongoing format with our other popular titles that I think people are gonna get really excited about.
Nrama: Does this indicate a switch in belief by Aspen? Will we see other titles shipping more regularly? Or is this just a one-time thing?
Hernandez: This doesn’t change our belief or game plan because we’re always dictated by what we feel is best for the title or story. Generally, our approach is to tell stories that fans can jump into and know there will be an end point at a certain storyline, something to build up to, which fits nicely with releasing them as self-contained volumes. Even within the confines of Executive Assistant: Assassins, there will be story arcs with definitive beginning and end points. The first story arc will be three issues, followed by a two-issue arc with a different EA and a new setting and cast of characters altogether.
Nrama: What excites you about the comic enough that you decided to take it on as writer?
Hernandez: I had just finished writing Executive Assistant: Lotus, which was part of the second volume’s “Hit List Agenda” crossover and really loved working in the EA universe and with Wohl as a creator. I felt a strong connection to Lotus and there are so many other characters in the first volumes that I really want to see in future issues, so I figured why not write those stories myself! Fortunately, with the recent success of the “Hit List Agenda”, it was an easy pitch to Frank, Peter and of course David to make this a reality.
And beyond just the popularity of the title, I really want to personally work on a series that I can leave a lasting mark on as a writer, and I felt this was a perfect fit. Thankfully they agreed! I’ve known David for almost 14 years now, and have been working with him daily for the past three on the EA books, so it’s almost second nature really to be continuing on with the EA saga.
Nrama: For people who aren't familiar with the Executive Assistant premise, how would you describe the idea behind these comics?
Hernandez: The Executive Assistant property is centered on powerful corporate businessmen or women CEO’s who, in order to protect their valuable assets as well as their lives, hire these Executive Assistants to serve as highly-trained, highly skilled subordinates to do their bidding.
But of course, in the dangerous and scandalous world of corporate and global business, this often times involves assassination and other special services outside the law—which an Executive Assistant is more than equipped to handle due to a lifetime of training for the job.
Naturally, this can lead to some very thrilling action, espionage and backstabbing along the way.
Nrama: Who's the focus of the ongoing?
Hernandez: The first three issue story arc is entitled “Life After Death” and will center on Executive Assistant Lily, a popular veteran from the first volume of EA: Iris. Fans will recognize her as the green-haired, go-go dancer assassin who rescued Iris and eventually teamed up with her to help finish off a rather despicable overlord named Shuji.We pick up our story after these events with a much different Lily. I’ll be exploring what life is like AFTER an EA is freed from her respective employer and must learn to adapt to a world and society they have no understanding of. Lily’s tale and the start of Executive Assistant: Assassins will focus on some pretty murky subjects like poverty, drug abuse, and of course — murder. Lily is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but those are the types of heroes I absolutely love to take on, with their many shades of grey.
Nrama: If someone's interested in this comic, do they have to read the previous "EA" volumes to catch up? Or are you started fresh with this one?
Hernandez: Executive Assistant: Assassins will be a jumping on point for sure for new readers looking to get into the title, but will also hopefully make them want to go back and explore the first two volumes for bits and pieces that interweave between this series and the Executive Assistant: Iris proper series. I’d like to assure fans, Executive Assistant: Iris will most certainly continue in its own right as David has brilliant future plans for her character and the third volume.
Nrama: Can you tell us anything about the planned art team for the book?
Hernandez: We’ll be announcing the art team for the first arc very soon as well as the second arc’s team, which is actually already underway on that particular storyline, so EA fans should stay tuned as that news will be on the way shortly! The second arc will actually feature an artist we’ve been grooming here at our studio for a couple of years now, and I’m really excited for people to see some of the amazing artwork on the way.Nrama: Is the plan to keep this on a monthly schedule? Aspen has usually done volumes with a break between them. Do you feel good about this ongoing shipping regularly?
Hernandez: Yes, it’ll be a monthly release, and I feel very good about the shipping schedule for this project. Fans who followed our summer crossover the Hit List Agenda were treated to a weekly dose of new Executive Assistant books throughout the entire summer, with each issue shipping on time as scheduled. I’m extremely proud of that fact. So I don’t anticipate any hitches with Executive Assistant: Assassins. The structure of this series also allows for different art teams for upcoming story arcs so we’ll be able to work ahead on certain arcs to ensure a timely arrival of each issue.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about the comic?
Hernandez: I really hope fans will give Executive Assistant: Assassins a try because we have some exciting, thought-provoking themes and ideas we’re bringing to the series in addition to the usual crime, espionage, and female ass-kicking they’ve come to expect from the Executive Assistant brand, so please give it a try.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!