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AICN COMICS Q&@: Russ Sheath talks with Aspen Comics’ Vince Hernandez about CHARISMAGIC & Free Comic Book Day!

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Q’s by Russ Sheath!

@’s by Aspen Comics EIC
Vince Hernandez!!!

Russ Sheath here. As Aspen Comics continues its celebration of 10 years in the world of comics, the publisher furthers its '10 for 10' initiative showcasing ten new titles throughout 2013 and a massive venture for the home of FAHTOM, SOULFIRE and SHRUGGED. This May, coinciding with the week of 'Free Comic Book Day,' Aspen launches its third '10 for 10' title, the second volume of CHARISMAGIC. Series creator, writer and Aspen EIC Vince Hernandez talks to Russ Sheath about Aspen, the success of the '10 for 10' initiative and CHARISMAGIC.

RUSS SHEATH (RS): Vince, how's '10 for 10' going?

VINCE HERNANDEZ (VH): CHARISMAGIC is the May release of the Aspen '10 for 10' titles. We started with an all new series called LEGEND OF THE SHADOW CLAN back in February and then we had the return of SHRUGGED which was the follow up to a series we did about five years ago, that was our second release in March.

Then we have JT Krull's JIRNI and that ones great. It's a bit of a fantasy action adventure story with a creative team that we are really happy with and we are excited to send that book to the printers and show people what we have.

Then this May CHARISMAGIC comes back. It comes out on May 1st which is exciting because that's the week of 'Free Comic Book Day' and we expect a huge turn out not only from comic book fans but brand new readers who might not have then opportunity to check this out if it wasn't Free Comic Book Day. We are really hoping to turn a lot more people onto the magic, come May.

RS: My first encounter with CHARISMAGIC was when we last spoke which was about the CHARISMAGIC prequel THE DEATH PRINCESS.

VH: I try not to think of THE DEATH PRINCESS as a prequel in the timeline of CHARISMAGIC because it could be read exclusively without having to check out the first two volumes but chronologically it's in the realms of a prequel.

RS: For readers who maybe aren't overly familiar with the worlds of 'Charismagic' can you explain some of the background to the story.

VH: In Volume 1 of CHARISMAGIC we centre our story around Hank. Hank is a Magician in Las Vegas and at the time Hank doesn't realise that he has real magical abilities and as readers are introduced to the universe of CHARISMAGIC they experience that introduction alongside Hank.The first volume is the story about Hank, not only discovering his magical abilities, but discovering that the world of magic is returning at the same time. Throughout the first six issues we meet a huge cast of magical beings and characters and its a giant magical adventure as Hank seeks to not only save the world, but also himself.

From that point on we introduced THE DEATH PRINCESS which expanded the CHARISMAGIC universe even more as it developed the cast and the time period as well. THE DEATH PRINCESS series showed a prehistoric world and what the universe of CHARISMAGIC looked like back then. In this new volume of CHARISMAGIC we get a hint of what happens in the future of the CHARISMAGIC universe and the ways we are approaching this universe means that we not only have a huge cast of characters but are approaching it throughout time, which leaves us open to a huge range of opportunities.

Volume 2 will be six issues long and fans will really get an idea of where we are headed, I'm excited. The art in this new volume is by a new penciller Vincenzo Cucca who has done work internationally and we were well aware of his work and he's a great artist and I can't speak enough about how tremendous the pages he's done so far have looked and fans will be able to see that art real soon.

Emilio Lopez who worked on the first volume and drew the entire THE DEATH PRINCESS series does the colours and I can't emphasises enough how big a part he is of this series because he designed the look and the entire world. I feel blessed because not only have I felt that the story came together as I really wanted but also I have the best artists possible on the series and I hope that the people who have seen the book so far agree that, whether they like the story or not, it looks amazing.

RS: Do you have things in mind for exploring other aspects of the timeline of the CHARISMAGIC universe?

VH: Absolutely. I talk to the colourist Emelio Lopez all the time. Emelio is actually far more than a colourist as he does a lot of character designs and I discuss the overall story with him and where we want to take it. One story I'd really like to do is tell the story of what happens in the VOID ROOM because we introduced it in Volume 1 and we used it as a device in THE DEATH PRINCESS. I think a lot of readers would like to know more about the workings of the 'Void Room' which is basically an evil, magical jail which I find really cool. I think you could set a million stories there, there are endless possibilities I'd like to explore.

RS: One thing I've been asking a lot of creators I speak to is about the translation of properties from comic to big screen or TV. Where Aspen have been developing a lot of new properties for the 10 for 10 year, is it difficult to create a new title without having a mind towards how it will translate into other media?

VH: I was just musing the other day that I love these great movies that come out such as 'Oz: The Great and Powerful' but on the other hand I'm a little sad that Hollywood doesn't take any chances on something that's new. I think there are less and less chances taken on brand new, original properties and the road is always tough for properties that don't have a back catalogue to draw upon or which don't already exist in other media.

I would like to see a lot more new things and I think audiences would want that too. For Aspen, I think we are talented at what we do and in the last decade everything we have done is brand new, there's nothing based on another property but its a tough thing to do in general. We don't do anything with the intention of wanting to sell it as a film down the road. That's a definite reward that we might take advantage of but at the end of the day we create comic books because we think it would be a great comic book story.

RS: I guess there was an expectation that, following the success of the Marvel movies and the Chris Nolan DARK KNIGHT trilogy, Hollywood would come looking for independent comic book properties.

VH: I think it has to do with producers in Hollywood not understanding the boundaries of the comic book industry and what's out there. A lot of times they think they have the right ones but then you have movies like COWBOYS AND ALIENS which I think of as a perfect example of a Hollywood Producer thinking that was something that comic book fans would like more than they did. I mean a good story is a good story at the end of the day and if they get the right team they can do anything. When it comes to translating independent comics they seem to make the oddest choices, but there's no guessing with these Hollywood types and what they go for. Avengers was perfect example of what happens when you stay true to the original concept but then add a little of the 'Hollywood shake and rattle' and that turned out pretty good.

RS: So, we have talked 10 for 10', how's it all going?

VH: We're excited. This is new terrain for us as we aren't used to putting out this amount of books in a ten month span and it was a little daunting as we weren't sure how fans or retailers would react. We had a shaky 2012 with some scheduling delays and we did a few books and titles that didn't turn out as we anticipated so for our ten year anniversary we really wanted to step it up and do titles from the people who helped forge our first decade.

It's exciting to go back to the creators who helped us in the first ten years and have a range of titles that will help define the next ten years and beyond. Our first two releases, LEGENDS OF THE SHADOW CLAN and SHRUGGED sold really well and we made the top 100 in February with 'Legend of The Shadow Clan' issue 1.

We didn't really anticipate that type of success off the bat but we have definitely elevated our drive, motivation and expectations because of that and it's an exciting time at Aspen because we have so many different titles coming out. We bought in J. Scott Campbell to do the covers for the No 2 issues and Eric Basaldua who had never worked with us before and is doing the No 3 covers. We really reached out to people we had never worked with before but who we thought fans would want to see on our books such as Mark Brooks and Amanda Conner as well as some future names I can't reveal yet.

We are really stepping into overdrive these next couple of months. In July, people who are keen as to our jam poster will know that Fathom comes out. Not only is it our tenth anniversary but its Fathom's fifteen year anniversary which for us is a huge benchmark and anniversary that we want to celebrate with fans. We will be doing a weekly event and its called 'Fathom and the Elite Saga' which is 5 part, weekly series that comes out right around comic-con time.

RS: Vince, many thanks for taking the time to talk to us. CHARISMAGIC Vol 2 # 1 hits stores during 'Free Comic Book Day' week. Follow Aspen Comics on Twitter @Aspencomics

You can follow Russ Sheath's blog Russwords here and @russellsheath on Twitter here.

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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