Fifteen years ago I was starting to like cereal. Michael Turner, Frank Mastromauro, and Peter Steigerwald were doing something infinitely more special by starting a small independent comic book publisher that would be known as Aspen Comics. In 2018 that same company will be celebrating its 15th anniversary alongside the 20 year anniversary of Fathom, a comic created by the late great Turner during his days at Top Cow. Today, Aspen Comics announced its first wave of comics to commemorate the occasion with much more to be announced soon.

Instead of following the comics trend of making hundreds of variants, Aspen will be focusing on welcoming price points for new readers. In a press release sent out today:

The publisher plans to focus on less variant covers as well as a reduced price on new jumping-on point issues including 25-cent primer issues and $1.50 zero issues. Aspen VP/Editor-in-Chief Vince Hernandez states:

“We’re thrilled to be able to celebrate this significant moment for our company and our fans, and want to return the favor to all of our readers and retailers that have supported us throughout the years by offering a commitment to better stories featuring our classic titles, less variant covers and lower price points on our introductory issues. We feel this is the best possible way to thank everyone and also push Aspen into the next exciting stage of our evolution.”

Aspen will also be debuting a 4-page Aspen Mascots story premiering each month in the back of every new Aspen Comics release. The Aspen Mascots stories will be written by Vince Hernandez (Michael Turner’s Fathom: Kiani, Charismagic) with art by Joie Foster (Aspen: Choose Your Own Adventure) and will feature Aspen’s lovable band of mascots, creatures, and other fun Aspen critters in all-ages bonus content storylines.

In addition to the Aspen Primers, Legacy, and Aspen Mascot bonus content stories, the publisher has announced an Aspen Wave 1 of new properties and titles to debut as their first releases of the new year, in addition to the creative teams:

JANUARY:

Aspen will kick off their anniversary year in January with the release of the Aspen Legacy #1 issue, a yearbook-style offering showcasing everything from Aspen’s past, present and future, and collects a thorough look inside and behind-the-scenes of Aspen Comics. Aspen Legacy #1 will be released on January 17th and will be offered for only 15-cents with art by various Aspen alumni artists including Michael Turner, Talent Caldwell, Micah Gunnell, Marcus To, Francis Manapul and more.

FEBRUARY:

PortalBound #0 written by Mark Roslan and Gabe Carrasco with art by Alex Arizmendi and Wes Hartman is a new sci-fi/fantasy/action-adventure mini-series slated for five issues debuting February 7th with covers by Arizmendi and Adam Archer. PortalBound #0 will be offered for $1.50.

Charismagic Volume 3 #1 debuts on February 14th written by Vince Hernandez with art by Harvey Tolibao and Federico Blee with covers by Tolibao and Khary Randolph. Volume 3 is supported by the release of Charismagic Volume 2 in trade paperback form, as well as a re-offering of Charismagic Volume 1 as part of the continued release of the action-adventure/fantasy series.

Shrugged Volume 3 debuts on February 21st written by Frank Mastromauro with art by André Risso and Beth Sotelo with covers by Risso and Micah Gunnell. Shrugged is supported by the release of Shrugged Volume 2 in trade paperback form, as well as a re-offering of Shrugged Volume 1 in February as well.

For new readers unfamiliar with Aspen’s catalog of titles, the publisher will be offering 25-cent Aspen Primer issues throughout the year for its classic titles: Michael Turner’s Fathom and Soulfire, Executive Assistant: Iris, Charismagic, Dellec, Jirni, No World and Shrugged.

Congrats are certainly in order to Vince, Frank, Peter, and the entire Aspen staff. Publishing independent comics is the hardest endeavor in an industry dominated by people who dress up like bats or were bitten by radioactive insects. I’m excited about getting another volume of Shrugged, it was a book that dealt with the voices in your head, butterflies in your stomach, even that puke feeling you get when you watch the news. On top of all that Beth Sotelo is coloring it again. It’ll be interesting to see what direction it goes in for volume three. While today’s announcement is a good start for an anniversary year, it can’t help but feel geared toward bringing in new readers versus rewarding longtime fans. It is only the beginning with more sure to come, but here’s hoping Geoff Johns takes a day off from hanging out with Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin to write that Ekos book I’ve always wanted.

For everything Aspen Comics check out the publisher’s official website.

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