Road to San Diego: Justin Aclin on <i>Hero House</i> and ToyFare

Justin Aclin is no stranger to the San Diego Comic Con. As the lead editor for ToyFare, he's covered the con for the magazine a few times. But this year will be the first time he's going to be there as a comic book creator, as he's written a graphic novel called Hero House, drawn by Mike Dimayuga and published by Arcana Comics. The book doesn't come out until November, but attendees can get a copy early at the con.

Justin is also the head writer of Twisted ToyFare Theatre, and the latest collection, Volume 10, hits comic shops on the first day of the show, with an introduction by Joe Quesada. I spoke with Justin about his plans for the con, both in terms of covering it and promoting his new book.

JK: You mentioned over email that you'll have copies of Hero House, your new graphic novel, at the Arcana booth in San Diego. What's the concept behind Hero House?

Justin: Hero House is about Epsilon Epsilon Psi—a college fraternity that trains the superheroes of tomorrow. It’s not nearly as wacky as my day job comic strip, “Twisted ToyFare Theatre.” There’s humor in it, but what I was really hoping to do was just tell a fun superhero adventure with memorable, relatable characters, and luckily in the early reviews, people really seem to be responding to the characters. If you’re a superhero fan, a Twisted ToyFare fan, or you’ve ever been in college, I totally think you should check it out. And it’s been mentioned before around these parts, but you can find out a lot more about the book by checking out my production blog, aclincorp.com.

JK: What are your plans for promoting it at the con?

Justin: It’s tough, because I’m not going to be at the Con to promote the book—I have to fit in any promotion around the rest of what I have to do there…which is a lot. The main thing I’m going to be doing right now is a signing at the Arcana Comics booth (2145) on Sunday from 12-2 p.m. I’m going to be signing with Hero House artist Mike Dimayuga (Hack/Slash #23), and Mike will be doing sketches for folks who pick up the book or bring it by to get signed.

That’s pretty much it for promoting the book right now. But if you see me walking the floor (I’ll be the husky guy with a beard), I will gladly sign anything you put in front of me, whether or not I wrote it. And if anyone out there is hosting a panel they’d like me to sit in on, I happen to love the sound of my own voice. Just leave a message on my blog!

JK: How many San Diego Comic-Cons have you attended in the past?

Justin: I want to say this is my fourth San Diego, and I’d like to think that by now I know how to do it in a way that isn’t going to drain me of all my life force…but I probably haven’t. Not in the year where I make my debut as an honest-to-god comic book writer, at any rate.

JK: You also write for ToyFare, and mentioned you'll be covering the con for them. What does that entail?

Justin: I’m actually the lead editor for ToyFare (as well as the head writer for "Twisted ToyFare"), and I’ll be the only staffer out there covering the Con for us. What that means is I’ll be sitting in on as many toy panels as possible, but the main thing I’ll be doing is walking the floor, talking to my toy industry contacts and taking photos of the new toys on display for use in the magazine.

JK: In terms of toys being released at the show, what are you most looking forward to finding out about?

Justin: According to Mattel’s DC panel description they’re going to be announcing a new toy line, and considering how fantastic their DC Universe Classics line is, I’m pretty excited about what they’ve got cooking. Similarly, (as announced at Wizard World Philly) the Marvel Legends line from Hasbro is going to be making a comeback starting at the show, and I geeked out enough just seeing the Madrox figure in Philly that I’m frightened for how I may react when I see more of them.

Since I’m an extremely lucky person and get to see a lot of toys in advance of the show, I’m almost more excited for toy fans to see some of the new figures from people like NECA and Diamond Select (to just name a couple and hopefully not piss everyone else off) than I am to see this stuff myself.

JK: Is there anything or anyone you're personally looking forward to at this year's con?

Justin: Well, Mike and I started working on Hero House five and a half years ago. In the intervening time, my wife and I had two kids, and I went from low rung on the totem poll at ToyFare to running the thing…so you can probably guess I’m a little excited about being able to finally hold this damn book in my own two hands. I’m really excited about sharing it with friends, industry folks and potential fans and finding out what they think of it.

The other thing I’m excited about is a larger chunk than usual of what I like to call the “Wizard diaspora” is going to be present at the show, and it’s a great chance to get together with the former co-workers who are among the nicest people I’ve ever met—or, in the case of Archaia Marketing Manager Mel Caylo, might be THE nicest person I’ve ever met. I’m hoping to be able to devote a big chunk of my socializing time to catching up with good friends.

And finally, I’m not coming home until I’ve got an Owly trade signed by Andy Runton for my three-year-old daughter, who’s a huge Owly fan.


In addition to the blog Justin mentioned, you can also check out Hero House on Facebook or buy the shirt pictured above right here. My thanks to Justin for his time this week!

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