The Aspen room erupted with the sound of promotional “Dellec” inflatable thunder sticks as Peter Steigerwald welcomed a room of fans to the publisher’s Comic-Con panel with a customary “Aloha.” He introduced a panel that included Frank Mastromauro (“Dellec”); Joe Benitez; Vince Hernandez, Aspen Editor-In-Chief, J.T. Krul (“Soulfire”), Ale Garza (“Fathom”), Beth Sotelo; David Schwartz; Mark Rosslin; and Jordan Mechner (creator of “Prince of Persia”).
Beginning with a status update on Michael Turner’s “Fathom,” Mastromauro relayed that volume two of the series would conclude soon and be followed by volume three. “Fathom’s going to be around for a really long time,” said Mastromauro. “We’re bigger, better, stronger than ever. It took awhile to get back to this point, but everything is definitely going to be pushing forward.”
Following volume three, David Schwartz will pen a story bridging the series into volume four. “I’m unbelievably excited to be part of not only such a great book, but such a great group of people, so I’m really psyched to be a part of this,” said Schwartz. “It’s going to be a blast and a real epic adventure.”
The “Fathom” comics update came to a close with Jordan Mechner, the creator of “Prince of Persia” and writer of the “Fathom” film’s screenplay. “I just turned in the first draft of the script literally about two weeks ago,” said Mechner. “We’ve tried to make it really true to the spirit of Aspen and ‘Fathom,’ so I hope you guys really like it.”
“The thing we like was that [Mechner] retained what made Fathom so special,” said Mastromauro, “He’s updated [the story] to today’s world, he takes a really realistic approach to the movie. It’s a great movie based on a comic book, but it’s not a comic book movie.”
The panel moved on to discuss the new Aspen series “Executive Assistant: Iris.” Mastromauro explained that Aspen has been talking to a lot of industry people about expanding the flower-named executive assistant series into other media, such as TV and film.
At that point Mastromauro had to leave to retrieve a battery charger for the laptop the slideshow was being played on and the panel began answering questions, including many questions regarding the status of the “Fathom” film. “Script is in, it’s perfect as far as I know, we also have an actress. Megan [Fox] is willing and able,” said Mechner.
Another fan asked Mechner what his experience was like working on the franchise. Mechner explained that it was the first script he’d written for a project that he hadn’t created, but that writing as a “civilian” was a fresh experience.
Fans tried to ask which plot elements or issue events made it into the film’s script, but Mechner and Steigerwald explained that they couldn’t reveal the details yet without getting deep into the story.
Another fan asked about “The iron and the Maiden,” which was created by “Crash Bandicoot’s” Jason Rubin. The series is currently in limbo, but Aspen hasn’t abandoned it completely yet. “Being Jason’s project, the future of it is pretty much up to Jason,” said Peter Steigerwald. “However he wants to proceed, we’ll go through it then.”
The panel also clarified that the movie would be produced through Fox, that there haven’t been any additional actors cast and that there were no real plans to include Obama in the film, although Aspen did publish a retroactive Obama reference in an old issue of “Shrugged.” When “Shrugged” was reprinted as a trade paperback, Aspen swapped a small panel referencing former president George Bush with a reference to president Obama, which they claim beat every other Obama comic to the stands.
The panel turned to the topic of “Dellec,” an eight-issue series which tells the story of a man who sees the evil in others, and has to do terrible things to prevent bad things to keep the world in balance. “Between issue number one and two, there’s about a 22-page fight scene,” said Matsumara, joking about the high level of action in the book.
The panel shifted gears, announcing a new title by J.T. Krul called “Mindfield,” which tells the story of CIA agents imbued with psychic powers through secret drugs. Essentially, they become America’s thought police, fighting domestic terrorism and exploring contemporary issues regarding government’s role in society and personal liberty.
Mastromauro had a few quick updates on properties Aspen had been developing: Aspen would like to develop “Shrugged” as a live action and CGI blended feature film; the company is working to collect its entire catalogue in trade paperback form; and Geoff John’s “Ekos” may happen within the next two years. Additionally, “Soulfire: New World Order” would wrap up soon and be followed by volume two in October.
The panel returned to the topic of Aspen movie news next, noting its partnership with Valhalla Motion Pictures, signaling Valhalla’s Gale Anna Hurd and writer Scott Lobdell to take the stage for two surprise announcements. Hurd introduced herself to the audience while complimenting Aspen’s work before breaking the news she had come to report. “I hope you all help remember the legacy of Michael as we make ‘Soulfire’ into a motion picture,” said Hurd. “His remarkable blend of fantasy and science fiction characters have so much relevance in the world today and we want to bring that magic back into the world. It’s gotten to be a pretty dark place, we want to honor [Turner’s] legacy and inspire and give you all something you’ll find as powerful as a motion picture as you’ve found [‘Soulfire’] in graphic novels.”
“I know he’s in Heaven right now, and I know he’d be in seventh heaven if he saw [what we’re doing with ‘Soulfire’],” said Mastromauro.
Finally, the panel announced a new book from former X-Men scribe Scott Lobdell called “Scourge,” which tells the story of a New York City police officer fighting to save his family in the midst of a violent viral outbreak that turns its victims into gargoyles (technically “grotesques”). The story was described as in the vein of “I Am Legend” or a zombie movie, only with fast, flying monsters. “It’s going to be a miniseries, but from there we’ll surely launch it as a feature film and you guys are going to love it,” said Lobdell. “For five years I begged them for work, and then finally [Hurd] said, ‘Give him some work!”
“You guys have stuck with us, you guys have increased our success, we just want to say you guys are awesome, so thank you,” said Peter Steigerwald before wrapping up the panel with one final closing “Aloha.”
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