"Little delay? (runs screaming from the room)
"Ahem. Excuse me. Yeah, 'Hero Squared' artist Joe Abraham fell off his bicycle and injured his arm," Richie told CBR News in typical Giffen/DeMatteis style. "For five weeks his entire arm from the elbow down was immobilized. And for two weeks after the cast removal there's been physical therapy to recover the flexibility in his wrist so he can get back to drawing.
"We were ahead of schedule, of course... Heh. Heh. BWAHAHAHAHA... GeeeeYAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!
"Let me know if the laughing gets weird or something...
"NOTE: The views of Mr. Richie in no way reflect the feelings of Atomeka in regards to this terrible mishap that has overcome Mr. Abraham. Despite the fact that Mr. Richie is the publisher at Atomeka (along with Daring Dave Elliott and Garish Garry Leach). Oh, wait a minute. Maybe they do reflect Atomeka's management's views. Well, never mind. Anyway, we love Joe Abraham and he's a genius, but dammit why do you have to hurt yourself on that bicycle? It couldn't have been a motorcycle? Or something respectable like a bus?"
Since its announcement, "Hero Squared" has garnered a great deal of interest, as seen in online discussion forums and from feedback Atomeka has received from retailers interested in the book. Sure, the pedigree of the creators on the book is well known, it's still an all-new series coming from a relatively new publisher. With interest high on the project there's word that more "Hero Squared" stories are on the way.
"The response to 'Hero Squared' has been fantastic," said Richie. "I get calls virtually every day and it's the first project that retailers and fans bring up. We received some excellent support from Diamond on the project, and it shows.
"For all the fans that are looking forward to this project, Keith and J.M. said that if you showed your support and told your retailer to order the book, they'd do more. And you did that!
So far, Atomeka's published a wide variety of books from some of comics' top talent, but "Hero Squared" is hands down the book receiving the most attention. Richie says that all this extra attention does raise the bar a bit as for the publisher's future expectations.
"I think that there's a lot of people who hadn't noticed Atomeka yet, and looking at the orders for the first issue, they're looking at us now," said Richie.
"We've worked really hard and brought some incredible projects to market from the likes of Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, Ted McKeever, Steve Parkhouse, Glenn Fabry, the unstoppable Michael T. Gilbert and his famous progeny 'Mister Monster,' crazy-ass Dave Johnson. They're the best that the comic book market has to offer. But 'Hero Squared' really seemed to connect with the direct market.
"I really wanted to do more material in the vein of 'Hero Squared,' and thankfully we're going to be able to -- specifically 'Hero Squared,' and then more projects like it."
You might think that with a team like Giffen & DeMatteis doing the thing everything knows they do well that it would be easy to get the word out about this book, but the truth is getting the word out on a new comic, even those from the big publishers, is a tough process. Atomeka's worked hard at getting the word out in creative ways, including custom "Hero Squared" comics for three comics sites back in September.
"Pivotal to the success of getting the word out has been Keith and J.M.'s tireless interest in supporting the book," said Richie. "They see it as their baby (which it is, 100%) and did some smart and inventive promotions on-line.
"But for myself, a lot of the work came from sitting down and calling retailers one-on-one, telling them who I am, what we're up to, and about the projects we're putting together. And I've been able to meet some really impressive, great people that way.
"The challenge for us has been pretty big. With so many publishers before us going out of business, like Crossgen, the market looks skeptically at an upstart publisher, especially one that's only been around for six months. So I've found that it's incredibly gratifying to get any attention at all, much less the attention that we've received so far."
Look for "Hero Squared X-Tra Sized Special" #1 in comic shops this December. Click the images below to enlarge.