On Wednesday night, July 27th, Collector’s Paradise Pasadena celebrated their grand opening with special guests galore. Dubbed “The Hit List Agenda” event, creators from Aspen’s Executive Assistant Iris line were present in full force, talking with fans, signing books, and doing sketches.
David Wohl, the creator of Executive Assistant Iris, was joined by company editor-in-chief Vince Hernandez (Executive Assistant Lotus), writers Scott Lobdell (Executive Assistant Orchid) & Marc Andreyko (Executive Assistant Violet), and artist Oliver Nome (EA Lotus). Joe Benitez, the creator of Aspen’s most popular title, Lady Mechanika, came along for the ride, too. The signing lasted three hours and saw a steady influx of customers, but trailed off in the final half hour. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, since it gave yours truly, and Collector’s Paradise owner, Edward Greenberg, some time to talk with these cool dudes about their work.
After attending the zoo that was Comic-Con International 2011 in San Diego, CA, this mini-event was a nice step back from all the media clowns and ebayers. It actually felt like I was speaking with people who cared about my patronage. David Wohl, who is also editor-in-chief of Radical Publishing, had a huge smile on his face for the entire event. It was perfectly justified; his book has been a great success, and along with Lady Mechanika, Iris is truly paving the way for Aspen to rise up the ladder of indie publishers.
Vince Hernandez, who recently came on our podcast, The Comics Dispatch, was obviously still charged from the success Aspen had during SDCC from both the fans and other creators. He’s one of the chillest publishers I’ve met, and it’s obvious he cares about his product and the people working for him. I was a bit timid to ask, but after reading Lotus I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to get a sketch from Oliver Nome. The guy is nicer than Santa in a room full of 5 year olds, and killed this Psylocke for me:
He had an art book with him of characters portrayed as babies and it has been added to my want list. I would love to see his work on a teen book, like say, Batgirl starring my favorite DC lady, Stephanie Brown. He would own that series. If you saw what he was doing with this book and Flashpoint: Kid Flash, you’d agree.
Joe Benitez was super chill as usual, and did a number of sketches for fans, mostly Lady Mechanika related. He did this quick take on Top Cow’s Magdalena for me:
Marc Andreyko was great to talk with, as he’s worked for all sorts of publishers lately, and was willing to let me pick his brain. From Dark Horse, DC, Aspen, and Marvel (did you read Captain America and Bucky #620 yet this week? It was great.), the man has run the gamut of genres. He also proved to be one of the coolest opinionated guys we’ve ever had in the store. He knows his shit, and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Which may be offensive to some, but not to me. He backs up everything he says with valid points, and is never crude or crass. He totally had a geek out moment when he saw a print in our store with Manhunter on it by Dustin Nguyen. He created the character and ended up bringing the print home with him. He even gave me a lift back to my apartment since we both live in Hollywood. What a guy!
Scott Lobdell was my favorite to have a conversation with, and as you’ll find out, it may be because I’m bias. He was the first to arrive, and before the signing even began opened up his laptop and treated customers and myself to some special looks at his upcoming books in the DC New Universe, Teen Titans (with artist Brett Booth) and Red Hood and the Outlaws (with artist Kenneth Rocafort). I saw some covers and interior art, and all I can say is; holy shit, these two titles are going to be kick ass. He told me some solid info regarding certain aspects of each.
- Tim Drake is a little younger than before, around 16, and has decided to part ways with the Wayne family and do his own thing. Bruce turns a blind eye to Tim’s pilfering of the Wayne budget, financing his hi-tech suit and new found wing-cape thing.
- Roy Harper is a recovering druggie, attempting to put the past behind him.
- Jason Todd has a slightly new angle in the relaunch. Remember that series that just came out, Red Hood The Lost Days? Well, according to Lobdell, that series is getting pushed to the background a bit and will be regarded as “a different interpretation” of what happened to Todd following A Death in the Family. We’ll discover more on that in Red Hood and the Outlaws. Talia will be in that series too, and Kenneth Rocafort makes her, and everything else in the art I saw, smokin’ hot.
Lobdell really made my night though (and this is where the aforementioned bias comes in) after Oliver Nome completed the Psylocke sketch. Scott saw it and said he wanted to do one too, so I requested Iceman, and this was the result:
For those who may not be up on their 90s X-lore, Lobdell pretty much wrote the X-Men’s Gold Team in Uncanny X-Men, which featured Iceman. One of the best Iceman stories of all time was called “Killer Frost” (Uncanny #314), which featured Emma Frost taking control of Iceman’s body and pushing his powers to the limit, truly showcasing the character’s extreme potential. Unfortunately, nothing ever really came of that idea (except maybe in Chuck Austin’s run which everyone and their pet lizard has written off) and Iceman has done jack shit in comics ever since.
Shortly thereafter, Iceman found a new friend in Rogue and the two went on a road trip to see Bobby’s family. Lobdell said he wrote that story because the fan [snail] mail he was receiving back then was littered with questions surrounding Bobby Drake’s sexuality. Everyone thought he was gay. So Lobdell decided to run with that, giving Bobby a best gal pal and a “coming out talk” about being a mutant with his family. Just to tease the crowd and stir the pot a little. He did confirm that Iceman is not gay, but that was just his way with playing to the fans.
What was really cool about Lobdell though was that after our conversation, he rummaged through our back issue bin and found a copy of Uncanny #314. All of our back issues are 50 cents, and Lobdell insisted on paying for it, despite my stating he didn’t have to multiple times. He then signed it and handed it over to me!
When the signing concluded, Joe, Marc, Oliver, Ed, and myself took a trip to Saladang Song, a Thai restaurant in Pasadena, for some delicious food then called it night. I recommend the secret seafood dish. It’s exquisite.
If you haven’t checked out any of the Executive Assistant Iris books or Lady Mechanika, you’re missing out. Both series are sexy, loaded with action, and worth the $3 cover tag. Dudes, I recommend them both to get your lady friend into comics, and you should read them too. Well, only if you like fun.