Aspen breaks ties with Joe Benitez and <i>Lady Mechanika</i>

Some relationships just aren't meant to last forever.

That goes both for romances and, as it turns out, comics publishing, as Tuesday Aspen MLT announced that it was "amicably" and "mutually" separating itself from publishing Joe Benitez's work, namely the series Lady Mechanika. Launched in 2010, Lady Mechanika experienced major delays with its third issue unreleased even one year after its original announced release date.

“[Aspen] have greatly appreciated Joe’s time here with us and his involvement and promotion of Aspen Comics over the years. Joe and I have discussed his future plans and his desire to venture out on his own," Aspen co-owner Peter Stiegwald said in a press release. " We wish Joe well, and hope for a bright future for him and his creations, including Lady Mechanika."

Benitez had been working regularly for the publisher since 2009 on a variety of books, including its flagship title Soulfire. Lady Mechanika, his creator-owned steamppunk series, garnered quite a bit of support from fans of both comics and the steampunk genre, but the production of the book has experiences significant delays. Lady Mechanika #4 was originally solicited for release in December 2011 but was delayed and ultimately canceled by the distributor.

Benitez is quoted in the press release, stating he is both "anxious and excited" to begin self-publishing Lady Mechanika. The writer/artist said he plans to finish the final three issues of the inaugural Lady Mechanika series in 2013, and launch an ongoing title in the near future.

Numerous lateness issues have surrounded Lady Mechanika since its debut. Back in October, Steigerwald posted on Lady Mechanika's Facebook page in an apparent attempt to quiet negative fan response surrounding the rampant lateness and its impact on Aspen.

"To address the issue of the book's lateness I'll restate what we have said before in answer to many other replies. We at Aspen are working with Joe to support him in the completion of the issues," Steigerwald, who also colors the book, wrote. "This is his creator owned book and he takes full responsibility for the lateness of the current issues. When he has fully finished issues and a timeline for release we will post it here. I'd like to personally add a note of further clarification for those of you who demand to know all the intimate whys of the delay. That is Joe's private business. I ask that you please respect that. He is fully aware of every expressed frustration at the lateness, as are we all. His lack of public discussion or delineation of the reasons for the delay is because he wishes them to remain private."

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