When the preview issue of "Rocketo" #0 debuted at Comic-Con International in San Diego earlier this year, the reaction most people had to the book was complete surprise. "Where did this book come from?" was a commonly heard phrase. The rich imagery and fantastic adventure found within its pages were reminiscent of an age gone by in comics. Then there was its creator, Frank Espinosa, a total unknown in the comics field. "Rocketo" became the buzz book of Comic-Con.
2006 holds some big changes for "Rocketo." In February, the first six-issues of the series will be collected by Image Comics. Then, picking up with issue #7 in April, the series changes publishers from Speakeasy Comics to Image. We caught up with Espinosa to find out why the series has moved and what sort of plans he has for this first collection of the series.
"It has been a big move! I am grateful to the folks at Image for picking up 'Rocketo' and to become part of a great team of creators," Espinosa told CBR News.
But why the change publishers? "I wanted to make sure that 'Rocketo' would have a chance to be seen by more people and to make sure that each monthly issue came out on time," said Espinosa. "While the folks at Speakeasy tried their best, there was always some kind of a printing or shipping problem. I always hit my production deadlines and it's important to me that a publisher does, too - it's an important advantage when you're first introducing a story line and need to build momentum with the readers. I'm glad I have had a chance to go to Image. They have some great books and, thank God, Erik Larsen liked the 'Rocketo' series enough to take a chance with it"
Espinosa said the biggest change fans of the series will notice with it's move to Image is getting the book back on schedule. "Just keeping to a publishing schedule is a great step forward and will give some people who have not been able to see the book a chance to actually pick one up. With the trade getting a big treatment, 'Rocketo' will have more visibility in the stores."
For those who've been following the current storyline, "Journey To The Hidden Sea," it will continue through to issue #12 as planned. As of issue six, readers know "Rocketo" has hit the midpoint of the story and the gang has just entered the Hidden Sea.
When the trade ships in February, readers will find the first six issues collected for the first time. It'll also contain issue #0, which contained a short story that occured before the Hidden Sea adventure. "It will have every Rocketo story that's out there under one cover. Also, there will be some extra pages added to issue #0 to bring it more into the continuity of the Hidden Sea," explained Espinosa.
"The story line of the next couple of issues are about survival in the Hidden Sea, what is really discovered there and how it effects Rocketo, and all of the characters, in a very personal way. That sets the stage for the later books."
Espinosa has big plans for the trade paperback and is filling it with loads of extras, some of which have been included with this article. "I've been looking forward to the trade for a long time," said Espinosa. "I always thought that that 'Rocketo' would work best as a series of trades and saw these stories collected in one book rather than running every month.
"My thought was to give the trade that 'Art of Rocketo' feel. Right now I am collecting sketches, notes, all sorts of stuff that helps to explain the world and to give a behind the scenes look to it. Some of the extras include a pin-up section done by some very wonderful artists that take Rocketo visually into another realm. Alex Ross will handle the introduction which, for me, is the reason to get this one!
"The trade also serves as a sneak peak into the rest of the Journeys," continued Espinosa. "There's also a wonderful tour of Rocketo's home, Porto Logas, and how its history touches not just this story, but the rest of the adventures. In the next trade, after the whole 'Hidden Sea' story is known, I can stuff some neat little paintings and drawings that I can't really show right now."
"Rocketo" is the story of one explorer's life in a new and mysterious world. Espinosa has long-term plans for the characters he created and was happy to elaborate a bit on his plans for issue #7 and beyond.
"'Journey to the Hidden Sea'" is just the start of his adventures and is really more about Rocketo himself; it's his inner Hidden Sea we are exploring. The first six books set up this world, the characters, the journey and the reasons for going," said Espinosa. "Issues seven through twelve are much more energetic than the first six. The bad guy and the hero fight to the end. Mysteries are solved. Friends are made.
"At the end of the book, Rocketo is set to do some heavy duty exploring of the New World. We will get to see the other major populations and cultures that live in the New World. The other Journeys also shed some light on the other characters and they each get their book to shine in. But in the end it's really about the legacy Rocketo leaves behind.
"I wish I could say more about it, but right now the fun part is reading it along with every one else. So, if all goes well, Rocketo will explore the New World next, a journey that will take him globetrotting throughout the world of Lucerne."
The reaction to "Rocketo" has been excellent thus far, which has really touched Espinosa who pours his heart into every issue. "It's been wonderful! Every one that has taken the time out has said many positive things," said Espinosa. "It's a very nice sort of fuel. Keeps one going into the wee hours. Hopefully, I'll be able to thank them in person when the next San Diego Con rolls around. They are a great and funny group!
"One of the scariest moments happened at the San Diego Comic Con, when a couple asked me to sign a book for their young son - a toddler. The mom said she would read 'Rocketo' to him when he gets a bit older. Suddenly, my mind jumped back to make sure I had cleaned up the book. At that time I had been thinking of adding more of a violent edge to the character, after that event I saw the story in a whole new perspective. I had almost forgotten this is really a sort of sci-fi/mythological/fairy tale that isn't as violent as our world is now. I just hope the kid likes it when he does hear it."