Hernandez Casts a "Charismagic" Spell

Want to see a magic trick? Head to your local comic shop this February when Aspen Comics makes an all-new, magic-based comic book series appear on shelves in the form of "Charismagic" by writer Vince Hernandez and artist Khary Randolph.

"Charismagic" casts its spell with a primer #0 issue, which leads into the planned six-issue run of the title's first volume. Hernandez admitted that he personally didn't conjure up the pun-tacular name of the series -- citing Aspen co-founder Frank Mastromauro as the brain behind the name -- but the writer did reveal that it goes hand-in-hand with the events of the story which centers on a highly successful Las Vegas magician at the top of his game. However, as Hernandez teased, "Like all things Las Vegas, your luck is going to change in an instant."

"[Hank Medley] begins to realize that there is actually more of that magic out there and it's more real than he thought and could have ever imagined," Hernandez told CBR News. "In issue #1, we turn his world upside down and from that point he goes on this 'Alice in Wonderland'-type journey. Everything he puts on in his show comes to life. It's my version of a big, sprawling, epic magic story, and it's something that I've always wanted to do."

The series joins other Aspen title's in keeping magic as a dominant theme, but "Charismagic" separates itself from a book like the company's long-running "Soulfire" by taking place in a setting rarely seen in most fantasy style stories -- one a bit more modern. "I'm a big fan of fantasy and magic stories. 'Legend,' 'Sword in the Stone,' 'Willow,' those are some of my favorite movies, so I always wanted to hit that genre," said Hernandez. "But there's not a lot of magic stories based in present time, and that's something I wanted to hit with this series -- combine the two and bring the magical fantasy elements into more of a realistic, present setting."

The writer chose Las Vegas specifically as the ideal location to begin his tale because of the visual splendor found in the suitably nicknamed metropolis. After all, as a frequenter of the infamous hotspot, Hernandez agreed that between Sin City's nightlife and over-the-top grandeur, there definitely lies a certain ineffable magic to it.

"It's the fun city next door," enthused the Los Angeles resident. "I've always been keen to the nightlife and the shows that go on there. I love the theatrics of them. I love how they're outlandish. Everything is a spectacle in Vegas, especially with the magicians. There's this wonder about what they do and how they do it. Combine that with the Vegas nightlife and it's this spectacle done to the tenth degree. I wanted to hit on that with the main character in 'Charismagic' and ask what would happen if one of these guys at the top of their game, like a Lance Burton or a Siegfried & Roy, was thrust into this world of magic."

As for the character of Medley, Hernandez explained that the magician's own personal character journey lies at the heart of the story. "You find out in #1 that a lot of the personal things in his life aren't as polished as his Vegas persona. There's a lot of chinks in his armor and through his act, he embarks on this journey of magic and he finds out things about himself that he never knew," the writer said. "He goes on this arc where his character changes from what you see in the beginning to what you see at the end. He has relationship problems with the girl he's going out with. His personal life has a lot of strife and conflict at the beginning and it kind of helps shape and mold who he becomes later on."

Since Aspen has a history of titles featuring beautiful women, the writer revealed that one particular character already teased in preview images ends up playing a major role in the series. Choosing not to reveal all his tricks, Hernandez decided to keep the character's name a secret for now, but the writer touched on a number of characters set to take the stage as the series unfolds.

"The story is definitely built with a lot of mirror images with the human on one side and the magical being on the other. Hank has a mentor, who we see in #1 and who was [a lot like] Hank at one point, but he's now washed out. He's also a major player," says Hernandez. "It really is an 'Alice in Wonderland' type journey. Once he gets going on this journey, there's a bunch of different characters that are going to pop up and there are a few unexpected characters that you won't see coming that'll play a major role. A few of these characters people might not think are major, but end up being huge."

Khary Randolph helps bring to magic of "Charismagic" to life, bringing his dynamic and beautiful imagery to a company already known for its slew of skilled artists. "For each project we have certain goals in mind, but with every one we want the art to stand out above all. We have a reputation and have been known for our art quality and with 'Charismagic,' I always had in my head that I wanted this feel of fluid, dynamic art," said Hernandez. "I don't want to say animated, but I am a big fan of Disney and their films and how they have this fluid movement to everything. We looking for that with 'Charismagic,' and at the top of the list and one of my favorites was Khary Randolph. He's been one of the artists I've been wanting to work with for years, since I first entered comics."

That said, as any attendee of a Vegas night show can tell you, beyond the characters and the imagery, every good magician tells a story while wowing the audience. The case definitely remains the same here as Hernandez hopes to hook readers with an action-packed, magical journey through the metaphorical looking glass.

"The tagline we've been using on the promo pieces has been, 'Everything you know about magic will vanish,' and that's not too far away from what actually happens throughout the story. Literally, the world that Hank knows around him is vanishing," teased the writer. "He's put up against these magical beings who are looking for revenge on something done to them thousands of years ago. Through this conflict that's put out in front of him, he starts to realize his place in all this. There's huge battles. There's a big pursuit along the way for Hank because he is somebody people want and we definitely have a cool villain to oppose Hank. He's looking for revenge and you'll learn more about him, too."

The curtain rises on "Charismagic" in February 2011 when #0 appears in comic shops everywhere.

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