Interview: Vince Hernandez EIC of Aspen Comics

Fathom is the flagship book for Aspen Comics and actually takes it's name from the lead character in the Fathom series Aspen Matthews. They've recently announced a new volume of Fathom: Kiani in which the character that created a ripple effect in the Fathom universe is back... and alive after being torn apart by Asepn. I got the chance to ask Vince some questions about the new series that he's writing with artist Oliver Nome and few questions about Aspen in general. What I did not get to do was ask one of my trademark questions, but that's what happens at the end of a long crappy week. Regardless here's the interview: Comic Bastards) So the obvious first question that you probably can’t answer is: How the hell did Kiani survive being torn apart?

Vince Hernandez) You’re correct, I can’t reveal how Kiani survived Aspen tearing her apart at the end of Fathom: Volume 3—in specifics. But, I can say that any Fathom fans out there can flip through their collection of Kiani appearances such as Dawn of War, Fathom Volume 2 and the first volume of Fathom: Kiani to find the answer to that question. The truth is, the underwater race known as the Blue that Kiani belongs to possess many undiscovered secrets and abilities that have—forgive the pun—not come to the surface yet. In this new Volume, we’ll begin to connect those dots. Maybe it’s the editor in me that will always respect the source material, but I get a big kick out of using past storylines to find connections that I can make work for the present continuity. Here, I simply went back and found a key moment in her history that I could use to elaborate and expand upon.


CB) What’s the gist of the new series and will it tie into any of the current Fathom series such as volume 4 or Blue Decent?

VH) This series focuses on Kiani’s emotional recovery after being left for dead by her own people, but also her own rise to power as you will come to find out. She’s scarred and torn from the discovery that her father is Killian, who fans know as Fathom’s principal villain, so there’s a lot of history that Kiani is trying to process. But, in the meantime, she also has a plan for how she sees the future of her own race and how to treat the human race. This series will focus on her quest to take over, and what she sees as right and wrong, which will be much different than what The Blue are used to--and certainly what the humans are used to—they should be afraid. Very afraid.

Blue Descent is more of an origin tale that takes place in the past, so there are no ties to that mini specifically, other than that they both take place within the scope of the Fathom universe. However, the current Fathom Volume 4 storyline runs parallel to Kiani’s tale, and there events in this new series taking place in the present continuity where Fathom Volume 3 ended, so the characters and events from the series proper will definitely continue into Fathom: Kiani. As of this writing in Fathom, Aspen is off on her own adventure trying to survive as a mixed Human/Blue, in a world that is aware of the existence of the Blue. In Kiani, we take a closer look at the Blue’s side of things under the surface. But both storylines will eventually lead back into each other—in very dramatic fashion, of course.


CB) What’s the goal of Kiani? What will it add to the world of Fathom?

VH) Kiani’s story is just too big to be able to tell as a supporting character in the main series. She’s one of the most popular characters in the Aspen Universe so with the first volume, fans were anxious to see her in her own adventure. Now, after the events of the past two years in that original first series and what happened to her in Fathom: Volume 3, it’s a bit of a rebirth for her after her untimely death at Aspen’s hands.

CB) Now I don’t mean this one offensively, but how much gas is left in the tank for Fathom? Is there a bigger story that the mini volumes have been building towards or is it just based on what new creators come up with?

VH) No offense taken, it’s actually a very common misconception, but I think longtime Fathom fans and hopefully new readers can see that we’ve only just begun to crack the surface of what stories and adventures we can tell under the surface. When Michael Turner first created this series, he very wisely started with this very personalized story with the hint of something far greater in scope to come. I feel we’re just adding to that foundation he’s already created.


CB) Are you guys ever planning on doing a cross-over with Fathom and any other Aspen title?

VH) No, we’d like to keep each Aspen universe separate for the time being.

CB) You’ve written a lot of books while also working as the EIC, is writing a release from the day to day as EIC of Aspen?

VH) That’s an excellent question. Yes, absolutely. The editorial aspect of comics is always a huge amount of fun—but it’s also extremely stressful with deadlines and talent to manage on a daily basis. I truthfully find the editing job infinitely much more difficult than the writing job. Maybe that’s why I’m so tough on our writers if they’re late on a script, haha! Kidding. For me, to be able to write stories as well as edit them has been a blessing. And plus, I feel I have nearly a decade of editing and comic-writing experience that many comic writers might not be fortunate enough to have because of the freelance nature of their craft. I’ve been surrounded by comic book projects full time, 24-7 since I was 17, so when I write, I can apply these techniques and what I’ve learned from so much time. It’s a great blessing to have both positions, one I’m thankful for everyday.

CB) Your part in the Executive Assistant crossover with Lotus was one of the best first issues of the individual minis, but the next two issues seemed to lack the amount of detail the first had. Was this in part due to the constraints of taking apart of the overall story of the cross-over?

VH) Yes and no. First, thanks for the compliment; I was very proud of how that first issue came together. Admittedly, the second and third issue were more plot rather than character driven because it did have to fit into a larger scheme of things, so that might be where some of the lack of detail you describe came in. It is difficult when you have a large event like that to really spend as much time as you’d like with each principal character. Yet, I never felt like these aspects hindered the story. I intentionally left the first issue heavier with more character moments so the audience would find an attachment to Lotus. The next two issues were always going to be where the plot really kicked into overdrive. But overall, I was very pleased with how that series came together, I think Lotus played a memorable part in the overall crossover and I was happy to be able to contribute.

CB) Idolized was announced for next year what other new series can we expect in 2012?

VH) Yes, we announced Idolized, a new superhero series by David Schwartz and Micah Gunnell, which will be out in the spring and it is looking amazing. We also will have Greg Pak and Tony Parker’s Dead Man’s Run, which is our first release out of the gates in 2012. It’s a prison break from Hell story that is epic in scope, something fans of Pak should expect. We also will be releasing Homecoming, a supernatural, action-adventure story set in the frightening world of adolescence and high school by Executive Assistant: Iris creators David Wohl, Brad Foxhoven and Michael Turner and written by Scott Lobdell. Also this summer, we’re releasing our very first ongoing series, Executive Assistant: Assassins, which I’ll be writing as well with a rotating cast of Executive Assistants appearing throughout. We also have our current crop of titles that will still be going on through 2012, such as the sci-fi action-adventure series Broken Pieces by Mark Roslan and Micah Kaneshiro, the horror action-adventure series, Haunted City, by Chap Taylor, Peter Johnson and Michael Ryan. And of course, our red hot steampunk mystery, Lady Mechanika, by superstar Joe Benitez. So our 2012 is looking exciting already.


CB) Shrugged volume 2 was announced this week, what other Aspen series can we expect to return in 2012?

VH) Shrugged, by Frank Mastromauro, will be back this Spring and it’ll be twice as fun as the original series was, as well as Kiani and of course our two flagship titles, Fathom and Soulfire, will both see new volumes following their current series’ finish. I also have plans for my own series, Charismagic, after this initial volume as well as in the digital domain, and other avenues I can’t reveal just yet.

CB) Dellec concluded this year with an open ended conclusion. Were you happy with the way it ended and the series in general? When will we see Dellec’s return for a follow up series?

VH) Well, there was certainly a lengthy delay on the final issue, which was probably the only disappointment I had with Dellec. I think the final issue was very satisfying because it saw all of the story elements we had in play draw to an end. Plus I think the artwork on that issue is simply breathtaking. But, at the same time, as you stated, we had an open-ended conclusion that hints at future Dellec stories, which I can say are certainly in the works.