Steigerwald, who hails from Hawaii, encouraged the audience to greet the panelists with a hearty shout of "Aloha!", which of course means "Hello" in the Hawaiian tongue. The most obvious absence was that of Aspen founder and president Michael Turner, who is still recovering from a surgical procedure in February as part of his ongoing battle with bone cancer. The panel explained that the recovery will likely take somewhere between 4 to 6 months. Turner intends to get back to work as soon as possible, with the final 2 issues of Soulfire, an unannounced Marvel project, and his new series Ekos with Geoff Johns.
As the panel got underway, there were some technical difficulties getting the slideshow presentation going, so the floor was quickly opened to questions. One questioner wanted to know what Aspen's plans for expansion were. Steigerwald emphasized that Aspen is a small outfit, and they believe it is better to put out a smaller number of quality titles than try to rush out books of lesser quality. That said, they are open to new ideas and are always exploring new avenues.
The panel hit somewhat of a stall at this point, as appeals for further questions were being met with silence. One audience member called out that they would probably have more questions once they saw the slideshow, to which Mastromauro, referring to the ongoing technical problems, gave somewhat tongue-in-cheek reply, "I don't even know if there's going to be a slideshow!" The panel decided to buy some time by interviewing one another. For the most part, this took the form of back and forth kidding and references to inside-the-company goings on. Finally, another computer was brought in, and the slideshow was underway.
"Fathom: Volume 3" is due for release in August, with J.T. Krul writing, and Ale Garza, Sal Regla, and John Starr on art. The "Fathom: Volume 2" TPB is in stores next week. One fan asked about a hardcover edition, and the panel explained that they have done a limited edition hardcover release only available through their online store. There are plans for a second volume of acclaimed video game designer Jason Rubin's Iron and the Maiden series, but no art team has been set.
The panel took great pride in their work for NBC's television show "Heroes" where they are regularly creating online "webisodes" that feature new characters. Based on audience reaction, some of these characters may even make it into the regular show. The panel noted that even though there isn't really any physical product for fans to pick up and buy, they still view this partnership as very important as they are NBC's "go to" comic book studio.
The panel showed off a Turner variant cover for "Ultimate Origins" #1 featuring Wolverine, as well his variant cover for "X-Men" #500. Mastromauro noted how much time Turner had put into the cover, which features X-Men from every incarnation of the team. "He kept tweaking things to get the costumes just right. And still there are some people complaining we didn't get it right!" he laughed.
Marcus To is well ahead of schedule on "Soulfire: Volume 2," having already completed issue #3. In the works is "Soulfire: Shadow Magic," a five-issue miniseries written by Vince Hernandez with art by Sana Takeda (known for her covers on Marvel's "Heroes for Hire"). Also mentioned was a new, unnamed property created by Mastromauro and Hernandez with art by Micah Gunnell, that is due to be announced soon.
|The Aspen Comics crew answers questions from the audience|
With that, the panel ended the way it began, with Steigerwald exhorting the audience to give on more "Aloha!" (which, conveniently, also means "goodbye"). As a token of appreciation, each audience member was given a limited edition Fathom print on their way out.
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