Ladies and Gentlemen, I am proud to bring to you an exclusive interview with Aspen Comics’ own Editor-In-Chief, Vince Hernandez. His name should very familiar to many of you who read Aspen books because he also writes several of them including Charismagic
, Executive Assistant: Assassins
& one of Aspen’s most recent new books, Trish Out of Water
. I am extremely honored to share this interview with you all now.
1.First, the 10 for 10 initiative of this year has came & went. How does it feel? Do you feel it accomplished it’s goal?
VH: It feels great, and actually, we’re still very much in the thick of the initiative as some of the releases from later in 2013 are winding down as we speak. It’s been a consistent workflow for now more than a year and half. When we first set our parameters for what we wanted to accomplish with the “10 for 10”, several of them were actually intangibles that we couldn’t quantify with statistics. Things like retailer support, new readers and brand awareness are all some of these intangibles that we achieved along the way. You really can’t put a value on that. Overall I think, yes, we certainly met and exceeded our initial goal for the program.
2. When you first were coming up with 10 for 10, did you believe it would do as well as it did?
VH: A lot of the credit for the initial idea should go to our President Frank Mastromauro who came up with the broad strokes of the plan and then we filled in the gaps to make it something special. I believe all of us at Aspen offer different perspective in these matters and usually I can be very realistic/cynical in these matters initially, so I had a very good idea of what it would accomplish but I don’t think anyone expected the kind of sales totals we initially saw in those first few titles, and eventually the high point in July with the release of All New Fathom #1, our highest selling book of last year. I think it surprised us all.
3. There were a slew of new titles this year from Aspen. Did you feel like any of them were big gambles compared to your more tenured titles like Soulfire & Fathom?
VH: Absolutely, and I would be lying if I didn’t offer my own property as example #1: Trish Out of Water. I was absolutely terrified that readers and fans would not accept this type of title from us—an adolescent story of a teenage girl dealing with not only special powers but also puberty. It was a risk and I’m very pleased that everyone at Aspen had enough faith in me to allow the story to unfold without any major alterations. That meant a lot to me. On the other hand, we had several titles such as Legend of the Shadow Clan, BubbleGun and Jirni that I knew fans would enjoy. Our fans are very outspoken about what they like to see, so for us, it’s a matter of applying that formula while also expanding our own creativity and doing what we enjoy doing. It’s not always going to be action-adventure or fantasy, it can be something completely out of left field.
4. There were so much diversity in the line this year & in general. Is that a factor when deciding titles?
VH: Well, we never want to go to the same well twice, to me that doesn’t feed creativity. I’m very aware and honored of some of the genres we’ve helped establish as viable to the broader market as a whole. A few years ago, you didn’t see any steampunk books out on the market and now there’s a new one every week it seems. I can’t help but feel that Joe Benitez’ Lady Mechanika had a lot to do with that. I like to think we tend to stay on the cusp on these new trends but really—it’s a crapshoot. You never know what’s going to be the next big thing.
5. Switching gears, you wrote a slew of titles this year. How was juggling writing all those titles while also being EIC of Aspen?
VH: It’s a lot harder than people probably assume, but I think I have it down to a science at this point. I can generally write a full script (and that’s an actual full script with both panel descriptions and dialogue) in about a day, give or take. And I think this speed is a direct reflection on the knowledge and experience I have with managing books. When it comes down to it, you just have to sit down and write, and then write more and more. Procrastination and excuses spell disaster for writers.
6. There was a lot of build up to Charismagic this year. How did it feel building that through Charismagic The Death Princess & Charismagic Vol 2? Do you feel satisfied how far the characters have come?
VH: Not at all! And I mean that in the best possible way. I have so many untold stories to tell, and I can’t wait to bring those to life. Building the world up to this point has really been satisfying. A lot of creators only end up with one issue or maybe an initial arc but in just a few short years Charismagic has already seen two volumes, a spinoff mini as well as a digital-only exclusive book for charity, so I can’t complain. It’s been great.
7. How was it coordinating Executive Extinction? How did that event come together?
VH: That was an idea I had that took to David Wohl the creator, and Frank and Peter, and we decided to cross over both the Executive Assistant: Iris proper series and the EA: Assassins ongoing into one giant event. It was fun but like all things event-based in comics, it was a lot of hard work! Over ten issues that had to be connected in continuity. It wasn’t easy. There were a few things I wish we could go back on but overall I think we provided an entertaining series with some long-lasting implications in the EA universe.
8. Let’s talk Trish Out of Water for a second. How did that book come about?
VH: When we decided on the “10 for 10” initiative, I knew I wanted to provide a property that stood alone as something different from what we’ve done before. I think we accomplished that hopefully with Trish. Like any Aspen title, it took a lot of planning and initial discussions as to what the series would be, how it would fit into the overall skeleton of the “10 for 10”, and how it would be marketed. Once we had those first few talks nailed down, I was able to flesh out the concept more in my head, and like most projects I work on, tell the story I want to tell. The rest is history.
9. Overall, how do you feel about your writing over the past year? Do you feel you have developed as a writer?
VH: Well, I’ve actually been writing professionally since 2004 so I don’t feel like this year was any different from many of the previous ones beyond the fact that the workload was noticeably increased. I think in 2012 I wrote about 25-30 books and in 2013 I wrote closer to 45 titles so really it was just a little more typing than usual. As far as my development as a writer, I think I’ve learned something from every book I’ve written, and continue to do so. It’s an ever-evolving process that never really stops.
10. Any advice to aspiring creators who want to make comics?
VH: Yes. Follow your dreams but be realistic with your approach. Study the masters and take notes. This industry is littered with creators that don’t plan out their future with a business model, but rather, think that one property or their next series will be the one that hits big. The reality is that you have to approach everything like a labor of love. What you put into it is what you’ll get out of it, but if you go in thinking you’re going to have the next Walking Dead then you’re fooling yourself. Image Comics is probably asking themselves when their next Walking Dead will arrive. It’s not an exact science. Hard work and dedication will be your most successful tool.
11. Finally, what can we look forward to in 2014 from you & Aspen?
VH: We’re taking a measured approach this year with some very special new properties that we think people will really enjoy. In March, our popular Fathom heroine returns in Fathom: Kiani volume 3. In April, creator Siya Oum brings us her long-awaited new series Lola XOXO and let me tell you that it looks and reads amazing! In May we have the return of “10 for 10” alumni book Jirni for its second volume, which is looking brilliant already. In May we also have our new Free Comic Book Day offering, Worlds of Aspen 2014, that features two exclusive zero issue stories of Peter Steigerwald’s new book, The Zoo Hunters as well as my new series, Damsels in Excess, with Mirka Andolfo out in July–and I cannot wait for people to check it out. We also have another very big initiative planned but I can’t reveal more than that for now but stay tuned!