Tag Archives: aspen comics

Interview: Vince Hernandez Discusses Aspen’s Psycho Bonkers and Aspen’s Future

00a_PSB1-01-CMYKcropIn a past year of major changes as far as diversity of comic characters, one publisher has been flying under the radar, rethinking their past characters, and created new ones as well. Aspen Comics long ago shed the “sexy heroine” stereotype, and instead have been focusing on interesting stories and characters.

For the company, 2015 seems to be all about change, the first of which was the reworking of their character Kiani. Now, the company is focusing on the all-ages crowd with their new series Psycho Bonkers by Vince Hernandez and Adam Archer.

We got a chance to talk to Vince about the new series staring a teenage girl, and what else we can expect from the “new” Aspeb.

Graphic Policy: So tell us about what folks can expect in Psycho Bonkers?

Vince Hernandez: Well, to get rid of all the silly puns right off the bat, I’ll say that readers will be in for one heck of a ride! But, seriously, this is my ode to the fun and thrilling Saturday morning cartoons and video games we used to watch as kids, with big over-the-top concepts and thrilling adventure. I just wanted to have fun with this one.

Readers will be introduced to Shine, a precocious young racer who—along with the help of her sentient Bonk Racer and robotic assistant—is looking to win the race of all races, the Super Bonk Rally. Along the way, we will discover the tragedy that made her the girl she is today, and why it’s so important that she win the big race.

The book will be told over the course of the five legs of the race, and I hope readers will gravitate towards this breakneck style of storytelling as they learn more about our lead heroine and the importance of this one race.

00a_PSB1-02-CMYKcropGP: Where did the idea for the series come from?

VH: I grew up in the eighties, so for me, Knight Rider was an early inspiration that I always wanted to explore more. Primarily, I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of a sentient vehicle that could communicate with its driver. But while Knight Rider was a more adult-themed story, I thought mine could encompass a more all-ages feel. Another inspiration for this story are the races you find in video games like Mario Kart, where you feel like you live or die with these characters and their fate, and the near-impossibility of the challenges set before them. I thought it would make for an exciting concept.

GP: There are two things that immediately stand out about the announcement for the series, it’s an all-ages series, and it stars a teenage girl. What was the thinking behind the decision for those?

VH: Well, anyone who is a fan of my work knows I’m no stranger to working with a female, teenage lead heroine. My past books, like Trish Out of Water, and my most recent series, Damsels in Excess, have featured teenage lead heroines. The difference here, as you mentioned, is the all-ages factor that is certainly something we’re looking to expand upon at Aspen. I think this series coming out now was a culmination of us looking for something with a broader appeal and the right timing for an all-ages series following our Halloween ComicFest Ernie coloring book. We’ve been trending in that direction for some time now.

GP: I noticed the style of the comic is much more “cartoon” like; it seems to have more of a manga influence. Was there discussion in the art style and how it fits the possible audience?

VH: These types of choices always come down to what will fit the overall feel of the story. For Psycho Bonkers, it was evident that the artist needed to be able to capture the hyper-stylized look of a fictional world while keying in on the story’s vital character moments. Adam Archer became our natural choice at that point, as his work fits the bill and then some!

Aspen_Kiani_4_FinalGP: There’s lots of talk about moving “comics forward.” The big two get lots of coverage when they do something progressive with their characters or series. Aspen has been a company that’s had a lot of female led series, and character-wise has been very female focused from my observation. Why do you think folks overlook what you, indie creators, and other publishers have been doing for years and get so excited when the big two catches up?

VH: I think naturally people keep their attention on the larger publishers and consider us an afterthought when, you’re correct, a lot of these things we’ve been doing for years. We’ve been using female creators and featuring female heroines since 2004. But, I think a lot of people have a misconception that because Michael Turner founded our company, we’re just a company that focuses on sexy heroines. This, of course, is a woefully outdated perception of our line of books.

But, that’s okay. We’re never ones to try and stand on a soapbox about things that should be considered normal in our industry. Gender equality and diversity are not hot topic items to be cashed in on, but real life ideals that should be the basis for how every publisher operates.

GP: You’ve shaken up the character Kiani a bit, there’s this series, is making comics for a broader readership something that’s foremost on your mind now?

VH: Without question! Delving more into what I mentioned above, we had talks about how we could achieve an even broader appeal with our flagship titles, and with Fathom: Kiani starting up again early this year, it was the perfect launching pad for this new appeal and her new design.

KIANI-V4-03c-Garbowska-prevGP: You clearly thought about things with Kiani, are you re-exploring some of your other established characters or properties?

VH: We’re doing so across the board on our lineup of titles, and fans can expect to see more of these changes in the near future. It’s time to accept that with the huge following that comics are bringing in, we need to ensure that we’re making our characters as accessible as possible while staying true to the story and the creator’s vision for the title.

GP: In that talk, there’s discussion of having broad content, but not a lot about how to actually get it out there beyond the current readership. How do you think the industry can improve in expanding the readership?

VH: I think, as publishers, we tend to over-think ourselves and try to turn everything into a news byte or an initiative in order to pull in new readers. But, call me old-fashioned—I still think the only surefire way to keep fans satisfied and grow your readership is to put out compelling stories and quality products. Everything else is just smoke and mirrors.

GP: Has digital shifted your plans at all?

VH: It hasn’t shifted our plans, but it has offered new avenues for us to explore and capitalize on. Also, digital offers us a great opportunity to reach markets where we might not necessarily be sold, so there are a lot of benefits to that platform.

GP: Are there more exciting plans for Aspen this year you can hint about?

VH: Absolutely – we have two Fathom and Soulfire spinoff titles that will feature all new casts of characters and set a new tone for those two flagship series: Fathom Blue and Eternal Soulfire. We’ll also be debuting new series like Lola XOXO: The Wasteland Madam by Siya Oum, The Four Points by Scott Lobdell and Jordan Gunderson, Psycho Bonkers by myself and Adam Archer, the return of JT Krul’s Jirni, and two exciting new concepts I can’t reveal yet by writers that will surprise some people. Stay tuned!

Aspen Comics in May 2015

PSYCHO BONKERS #1

Vince Hernandez – Story / Adam Archer – Art / Colors – Federico Blee

Crack the speed barrier wide open in this thrilling new adventure that redefines what it means to go full throttle!

Join Shine, a young but unyielding teenage girl, as she races to find the true story behind the tragedy that wrecked her family, and shattered the sport of Bonk Racing to its core. Along with her trusted technician, Gabbo, and her sentient Bonk Racer, Shiza, she will discover that learning the truth about her future is as dangerous as the tragic past she is trying to forget!

Told in a series of five legs within the race of all races—the Super Bonk Rally, this five issue mini-series will span amazing landscapes and death-defying terrain, as these racers go Psycho Bonkers!

PSYCHO BONKERS #1 is in stores May 20th, 2015!

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THE FOUR POINTS #2

Scott Lobdell – Story / Jordan Gunderson – Art / Valentina Pinto – Colors

Something dark is coming…

Tensions rise as Gia attempts to enlist the most powerful potential recruit to the group’s cause, however early talks lead to a much more “physical” confrontation than they were hoping for. Meanwhile, a much more pressing matter threatens not only the group’s existence, but that of mankind as well.

Aspen welcomes back acclaimed writer Scott Lobdell to introduce to you this years most exciting new series, FOUR POINTS!

THE FOUR POINTS #2 is in stores May 13th, 2015!

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SHAHRAZAD #2

Kim Hutchison; Kari Castor – Story / Mike Krome – Art / Nei Ruffino – Colors

The first re-mastered debut from Aspen’s Big Dog Ink imprint continues!

The Sirens of legend have been mercilessly held against their will for centuries on end with no respite! However, will Shahrazad decide to rescue them in their time of need–or leave them to their own tragic fate?

SHAHRAZAD #2 is in stores May 6th, 2015!

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LOLA XOXO: WASTELAND MADAM #3

Vince Hernandez – Story / Siya Oum – Art

Siya Oum’s apocalyptic Wasteland expands in this all new spinoff mini-series!

Thoughts of mutiny begin to spoil the group’s plans for any type of future as one, as Madeline finds that holding a band of people together is much more difficult than keeping them alive. Yet, her greatest challenge will come in the sacrifice she may need to make, in order to ensure her own survival at the hands of the mercenaries attempting to takeover the airstrip.

LOLA XOXO: WASTELAND MADAM #3 is in stores May 27th, 2015!

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FATHOM: KIANI vol 4 #4

Vince Hernandez – Story / Giuseppe Cafaro – Art

The climactic finale to this volume’s epic storyline finds Kiani and Anika in a fight for their lives against the machinations of the U.S. Navy’s hellbent Admiral Hoover, and his catastrophic covert plot on American soil. Yet, the pair find out that stopping the world’s greatest military does not guarantee the end of the bloodshed.

FATHOM: KIANI vol 4 #4 is in stores May 20th, 2015!

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Aspen Launches All-Female Team Comic, The Four Points

On April 8th, 2015 Aspen Comics will debut their new series The Four Points written by Scott Lobdell and penciled by Jordan Gunderson with colors by Valentina Pinto.

Following a family tragedy, Gia Sorrentino has inherited an empire and is finally free to explore her full potential and perhaps even unlock some of the most unimaginable secrets of mankind. But with the amazing comes the sinister, and Gia and three other women who also possess abilities of inhuman nature must work together to thwart an ancient evil on the rise in this all-female team series.

The Four Points will also feature multiple exclusive variant covers from series creator Jordan Gunderson, as well as Khari Randolph, for the complete run of the exhilarating new adventure series.

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Aspen Comics To Unleash New All-Ages Series Psycho Bonkers

00a_PSB1-01-CMYKcropPsycho Bonkers, a new all-ages racing adventure series from Aspen Comics, will be hitting shelves May 20th, 2015. Written by Vince Hernandez, featuring pencils by Adam Archer and colors by Federico Blee, Psycho Bonkers will take readers through five legs within the race of all races – The Super Bonk Rally – spanning amazing landscapes and death-defying terrain.

Join Shine, a young but unyielding teenage girl, as she races to find the true story behind the tragedy that wrecked her family and shattered the sport of Bonk Racing to its core. Along with her trusted technician, Gabbo, and her sentient Bonk Racer, Shiza, she will discover that learning the truth about her future is as dangerous as the tragic past she is trying to forget.

The premiere issue also features variant covers from Mike Bowden, Peter Steigerwald, and Ale Garza – all created with the same lively, cartoon style of the series.

Aspen Comics Celebrates Black History Month

Aspen logo MLT_Aspen Comics will celebrate Black History Month throughout the month of February on multiple social media platforms. The publisher will spotlight Black creators with whom they’ve collaborated three times a week on their website, official Facebook page, Tumblr, and Instagram alongside each creator’s picture and a showcase of their work. The project includes creator spotlights on Koi Turnbull, Khary Randolph, Talent Caldwell, Emilio Lopez, Hannibal Tabu, Eric Battle, Rob Stull, Larry Welch, Saleem Crawford, Keron Grant, Marla Johnson, and Khari Evans. Fathom: Sourcebook writer Tabu compiled each profile, and with them Aspen hopes to honor each and every one of the Black creators with whom they’ve worked in both the past and present.

In the release announcing the project, Tabu said:

I have to give it up to my editors, Andrea Shea and Vince Hernandez, who came up with the idea to have this happen. In a time when some people are giving lip service to diversity, Aspen is showing how it’s worked towards that for years. I’m extraordinarily proud to work with everybody at Aspen. It was an honor to help spotlight and honor the overwhelming talents involved in this project. Reading comics and looking at names that seemed like the ones in my neighborhood made me wonder if there could be a place for me on comic book shelves. Now that I’m on those shelves, I am happy to share these voices, these hands, these people and their stories, especially if there’s a Black child out there looking at these pages and asking the same questions. To paraphrase the work of someone I followed, Dwayne McDuffie, “I can fly … so can you.” I can’t wait to see who comes asking me to participate in this for Aspen in twenty years.

Aspen will be posting these creator spotlights every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of the month at 9AM, starting February 3rd.

Preview: Fathom: Kiani Vol. 4 #1

FATHOM: KIANI Vol 4 #1

Vince Hernandez – Story / Giuseppe Cafaro – Art

Kiani has finally reunited with her sister, Anika, and the Fathom Universe will never be the same again!

Following the catastrophic destruction of the Volna, the Russian Government’s secret Blue research facility, the United States has decided to take action against the rising threat of the Blue. However, in Africa, Kiani and Anika discover that their family bond is stronger than any one army—as their fight to survive above the surface will lead to a revolution amongst the people that will change the landscape of the human race forever!

FATHOM: KIANI vol 4 #1 is in stores February 11th, 2015!

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Aspen Comics in April 2015

FOUR POINTS #1

Scott Lobdell – Story / Jordan Gunderson – Art / Valentina Pinto – Colors

Something dark is coming…

Throughout history, oddities have remained hidden away within the fabric of societies across the planet. However, in recent years these unexplained phenomena have begun to emerge with a vengeance…Enter Gia Sorentino.

They thought she was crazy, and locked her away from the rest of the world. Yet, following a family tragedy, she has inherited an empire—-and with it, the keys to unlocking some of the most unimaginable secrets of mankind. Together, with three other women who possess abilities of inhuman nature, Sorentino embarks on a journey to discover the full potential of their collective powers. But, along with the amazing comes the sinister, and some things that should have remained hidden–including those that can threaten not only their existence, but the rest of the world as well!

Aspen welcomes back acclaimed writer Scott Lobdell to introduce to you this years most exciting new series, FOUR POINTS!

FOUR POINTS #1 is in stores April 8th, 2015!

FC 32 pages $3.99

RETAILER NOTE: FOUR POINTS #1 will ship with two different covers by series artist Jordan Gunderson and artist Khary Randolph. Each cover is available to order separately, with no quantity limitation or restrictions.

FOUR POINTS #1 RETAILER INCENTIVE:

For every 10 copies of FOUR POINTS #1 ordered, retailers will receive one (1) FREE copy of the alternate FOUR POINTS #1 cover by series artist Jordan Gunderson, with the option to purchase up to three (3) additional Gunderson alternate FOUR POINTS #1 covers at net $4 each.

FOUR POINTS #1 EXPANDED RETAILER INCENTIVE:

For every 20 copies of FOUR POINTS #1 ordered, retailers will receive one (1) FREE copy of the Jordan Gunderson FOUR POINTS #1 Sketch Cover, with the option to purchase up to three (3) additional Gunderson FOUR POINTS #1 Sketch Covers at net $6 each.

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SHAHRAZAD #1

Kim Hutchison; Kari Castor – Story / Mike Krome – Art / Nei Ruffino – Colors

The first re-mastered debut from Aspen’s Big Dog Ink imprint!

A new heroine rises from the legends of the ancient world! Shahrazad was known for her amazing tales of 1001 Arabian Nights, but now it is time to tell her story! She lives a life unlike anything you could possibly imagine–an existence that spans generations as well as genres!

Featuring re-mastered content, an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of Shahrazad, creator commentary and more! Don’t miss out on the start of Aspen’s all new BDI launch with the premiere of SHAHRAZAD #1!

SHAHRAZAD #1 is in stores April 1st, 2015!

FC 32 pages $2.99

RETAILER NOTE: SHAHRAZAD #1 will ship with two different covers by series artist Mike Krome and artist Siya Oum. Each cover is available to order separately, with no quantity limitation or restrictions.

SHAHRAZAD #1 RETAILER INCENTIVE:

For every 8 copies of SHAHRAZAD #1 ordered, retailers will receive one (1) FREE copy of the re-mastered SHAHRAZAD #1 cover by artist J. Scott Campbell and colorist Peter Steigerwald, with the option to purchase up to three (3) additional re-mastered Campbell/Steigerwald SHAHRAZAD #1 covers at net $4 each.

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LOLA XOXO: WASTELAND MADAM #2

Vince Hernandez – Story / Siya Oum – Art

Siya Oum’s apocalyptic Wasteland expands in this all new spinoff mini-series!

The Madam teaches her band of survivors the true meaning of sacrifice, yet her actions may have caused more doubt than assurance within the group. Also, Madeline’s past comes back to potentially destroy her—as the renegades’ push to control the airport leads to a startling realization that their greatest threat may also be their only hope!

Hot on the heels of one of 2014’s most exciting debuts, Lola XOXO, be a part of the next exciting chapter of this incredible new series!

LOLA XOXO: WASTELAND MADAM #2 is in stores April 29th, 2015!

FC 32 pages $3.99

RETAILER NOTE: LOLA XOXO: WASTELAND MADAM #2 will ship with two different covers by series artist and creator Siya Oum and artist Lori Hanson. Each cover is available to order separately, with no quantity limitation or restrictions.

LOLA XOXO: WASTELAND MADAM #2 RETAILER INCENTIVE:

For every 10 copies of LOLA XOXO: WASTELAND MADAM #2 ordered, retailers will receive one (1) FREE copy of the alternate Dawn McTeigue LOLA XOXO: WASTELAND MADAM #2 cover, with the option to purchase up to three (3) additional McTeigue LOLA XOXO: WASTELAND MADAM #2 Covers at net $4 each.

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FATHOM: KIANI vol 4 #3

Vince Hernandez – Story / Giuseppe Cafaro – Art

Kiani has finally reunited with her sister, Anika, and the Fathom Universe

will never be the same again!

Kiani and Anika finally understand that the only way to end the conflict with the US Navy is to take the pre-emptive advantage and strike first—and that means calling on the talents of a menacing figure from the pages of the Fathom Universe! Meanwhile, Admiral Hoover is desperate and on the verge of a dangerous plot that could end with a catastrophe of unthinkable terror!

FATHOM: KIANI vol 4 #3 is in stores April 22nd, 2015!

FC 32 pages $3.99

RETAILER NOTE: FATHOM: KIANI vol 4 #3 will ship with two different covers by series artist Giuseppe Cafaro and artist Alex Konat. Each cover is available to order separately, with no quantity limitation or restrictions.

FATHOM: KIANI vol 4 #3 RETAILER INCENTIVE:

For every 10 copies of FATHOM: KIANI vol 4 #3 ordered, retailers will receive one (1) FREE copy of the alternate FATHOM: KIANI vol 4 #3 cover by artist Agnes Garbowska, with the option to purchase up to three (3) additional Agnes Garbowska alternate FATHOM: KIANI vol 4 #3 covers at net $4 each.

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THE ZOOHUNTERS #4

Peter Steigerwald – Story / Peter Steigerwald – Art

There IS life on other planets—THEY find it.

After their encounter with the villainous Qaurec, Abros is in a race to save his son Ty from death. Can he and Minalara keep Ty alive or will Abros lose the only family he has left? The critically acclaimed series continues!
Creator and artist Peter Steigerwald presents to you the newest Aspen hit series – THE ZOOHUNTERS!

THE ZOOHUNTERS #4 is in stores April 29th, 2015!

FC 32 pages $3.99

RETAILER NOTE: THE ZOOHUNTERS #4 will ship with four different covers by series artist Peter Steigerwald, Billy Tan, Joe Benitez and David Finch. Each cover is available to order separately, with no quantity limitation or restrictions.

THE ZOOHUNTERS #4 RETAILER INCENTIVE:

For every 12 copies of THE ZOOHUNTERS #4 ordered, retailers will receive one (1) FREE copy of the alternate THE ZOOHUNTERS #4 cover by artist Peter Steigerwald, with the option to purchase up to three (3) additional Peter Steigerwald alternate THE ZOOHUNTERS #4 Covers at net $4 each.

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EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT: IRIS ANNUAL #1

David Wohl; Vince Hernandez; Heather Finley – Story
Randy Green; Tony Parker – Art

Executive Assistant Iris returns!

Aspen’s first Executive Assistant Annual ever is jam packed with three brand new stories featuring the most popular Executive Assistants! The EA that started it all, Iris, returns for a thrilling new adventure that explores her new life beyond the conflict of her past! Also, explore fan favorite EA Rose’s tumultuous history with her overbearing master, plus a brutal prison tale featuring the popular EA Orchid!

Don’t miss out on the debut of the first ever EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT IRIS ANNUAL #1 in this thrilling oversized issue featuring a re-mastered EA IRIS cover by original series designer Joe Benitez and colorist Peter Steigerwald!

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT IRIS ANNUAL #1 is in stores April 15th, 2015!

FC 48 pages $5.99

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Preview: Damsels in Excess #4

DAMSELS IN EXCESS #4

Vince Hernandez – Story / Mirka Andolfo – Art

Five realms. Five princesses. Zero men.

The noose begins to tighten around Evanfar, from Barra and Ilina’s armies as well as from within, as Bethany’s kingdom crumbles without the strength of her leadership. However, Bethany has far more stunning revelations to deal with—as she comes face to face with her treacherous mother Valeria—the Queen of Shadows!

DAMSELS IN EXCESS #4 is in stores January 14th, 2015!

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Preview: The Zoohunters #2

THE ZOOHUNTERS #2

Peter Steigerwald – Story & Art

There IS life on other planets—THEY find it.

Abros has been teaching his son Ty the skills it takes to be a ZooHunter when on a far frozen planet they are ambushed by the rogue ZooHunter Minalara! What menace does her appearance spell for our duo? Read issue two to find out!

Creator and artist Peter Steigerwald presents to you the newest Aspen hit series – THE ZOOHUNTERS!

THE ZOOHUNTERS #2 is in stores December 24th, 2014!

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Interview: Giuseppe Cafaro Discusses the Kiani Redesign

00b_FAK3-01-CMYKcrop[1]In early November Aspen Comics made the announcement they were changing up the look of their heroine Kiani when Fathom: Kiani Volume 4 #1 arrives February 11th. Alex Konat, Giuseppe Cafaro, and Wes Hatman were tasked with updating Kiani’s look and the title’s overall design.

In the announcement Aspen cited the growing female audience, and the evolution of their fanbase, an honest and frank admission that I wish we saw more of.

Yesterday, we talked with Aspen Editor in Chief and writer of Fathom: Kiani, Vince Hernandez. Today, we bring you part two of the discussion, as we got a chance to send some questions to artist Giuseppe Cafaro about some of what went into the redesign and the latest trend of new costumes for characters.

Graphic Policy: So the big news is you’re redesigning Kiani for her comic’s next volume out in February. When did you find out about the change, and get tasked with the redesign?

Giuseppe Cafaro: So, yes, there’s a great project behind the new Kiani volume that started during the end of this summer. Vince told me about the idea to bring Kiani on a new cinematic view and I loved that new way from the beginning.

00b_FAK4-02-CMYKcrop_1GP: How were Alex Konat and Wes Hartman involved?

GC: The whole “Fathom crew” was involved in this redesign. Alex drew the outfit for the first issue (that you can see also on his covers) and I’m drawing the concept outfit for the other issues. Wes is always one of the most important members of this project – he gives life to our ideas and pencils.

GP: What were the things you thought about when coming up with the new look?

GC: I was excited! Kiani is one of my favorite comic book characters since I started to read Fathom, and I’m so happy to have the possibility to work on these books and work on her redesign.

GP: Did you put thought into the utility and practicality of the outfit when coming up with the new design?

GC: Sure. There’s will be different environments and villains in this new story and her new design will be connected with what she needs to be the “bad-ass heroine” we know.

KIANI-V4-01c-Garbowska-2x3_1GP: What was the approval process like? How many versions were there?

GC: About the first outfit, we started from the design of Kiani: Dawn of War, beautifully drawn by Talent Caldwell. About the second design, I did 3 different versions and Vince approved one of those, but I think I’ll still do some little changes, with his supervision, on that new design.

GP: What are some of the character designs in comics that really stand out to you?

GC: I don’t like the classic “hero-suit” too much. I love a lot of the classic Image characters (Spawn, Witchblade) but I think that my favorite costume design is the Batman from “Batman: Noel” drawn by Lee Bermejo.

GP: With many of this year’s redesigns of characters practicality of the costume seem to be a priority. Why do you think this has become more of a focus of the artists today?

GC: I think that all redesigns actually come from generational change, not only in comics but also in movies and TV series. Sure, there are a lot of people who doesn’t like redesigns, but I think that it’s important to give new looks to our “heroes”.

GP: What comic projects do you have coming up?

GC: I’m working on Kiani interiors right now; I’ll draw all 4 books of this volume, as I did for the last volume. As for the future, I hope to continue to collaborate with Aspen Comics. It’s so fun and intense for me.

 

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