For over a decade now, Aspen Comics has been a familiar name on Comic-Con International’s program guides. It’s always one of the loudest panels of any convention even when the house is less than packed. Saturday at Wondercon was no exception. The publisher ran down a few current series while showing a few raw pages from their big upcoming Soulfire/Fathom crossover.
On the panel letterer Josh Reed, writers Hannibal Tabu, JT Krul, newest Aspen member Josh Fialkov, colorist to the stars Peter Steigerwald, editor-in-chief Vince Hernandez, and VP of design/production Mark Roslan.
Their presentation kicked off by showing a new book for art collectors featuring the work of the company’s founder Michael Turner. Some of the work going into the edition was shown and it won’t be just another Turner art book. Aspen’s put out a few books like these over the years, but this will be as close as they’ve ever been able to mass produce the incredible artist’s virgin work in all the pencil glory. Fans can expect this for San Diego Comic Con.
Roslan delved into the company’s newest launch, Santeria: The Goddess Kiss. The book written by David Wohl (Witchblade, EA Iris) follows an EMT in spanish Harlem as her life is turned inside out by an ancient power. Currently, Aspen is running a talent competition where artists can submit their best Santeria image to be one of four to have their work be used as a published cover to issue #4. For more information or to submit a cover contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Debuting at Wondercon was a foil cover for Santeria #1. The cover will also be available through Aspen’s web store.
Two of the books unfarily marred by delays: Steigerwald’s Zoohunters and Frank Mastramauro’s Overtaken have new issues coming. Overtaken #4 is back in the solicits and Zoohunters #3 will be released mid to late Summer. Steigerwald has a few projects outside of Aspen which led to the delays, but those are just about behind him.
The Big Dog Ink acquisition has turned out to be a great move for Aspen. At least enough that more material from the library will come back to print in April. Oz will see another series called The Legend of Oz: Tik Tok & The Kalidah this June, written by Rob Anderson with art from Renato Rei.
Both Fathom Blue and Eternal Soulfire which recently wrapped up have trades hitting stores soon. The flagship franchises will have lots of matierial available in stores and on platforms like Comixology in order to get as many eyes on their big game. This summer Aspen will cross their biggest streams in a move they said would never happen; the worlds of Soulfire and Fathom will crossover in a thus far five issue mini series called Aspen Universe: Revelations. The crossover begins with Aspen’s Free Comic Book Day issue and the mini series first issue launches the following month. No real story details were given but a few pages from the series debut were shown. One of the most notable things mentioned on the panel was the company’s big vision for this. With writers Fialkov and Krul scripting the event and mapping their universe post Revelations. There will also be an exclusive cover for the FCBD issue available at Planet Comicon in Kansas City this may.
For the entirety of Aspen’s existence all of their books have existed in their own worlds, but Krul mentioned there were things which have always existed in these books acting as doors to one another. Fans will not be disappointed.
One of the other big notes from the panel was the announcement that Scott Lobdell’s The Four Points would be included in an upcoming Comic Bento box. The subscription service curates new comics and graphic novels for subscribers every month. Gail Simone even wrote about how much of a value the service could be for those new to comics. Aspen produced an exclusive cover of the book available only to Bento Box subscribers with art by Jordan Gunderson.
Best news from the panel would be the word that Aspen is finally closer than ever to once again having licensed apparel for their properties. We could get to see it as soon as San Diego Comic Con. Finally getting to replace my torn Soulfire shirt is long overdue.
Most presentations at cons are business. Sure if done right they can be fun as well. In all the times I’ve sat in on the publisher’s panels there’s always a casualness and familiarity they acknowledge. No matter if the room had 3 or 300 people they knew just about everyone by name. It shows just how in touch they are with their readers and as always no one went home empty handed. If you want to know what gorgeous thing attendees walked away with then go to Aspencomics.com to see where they’ll be this year.