I had a conversation with Aspen people at New York Comic Con where they admitted that, basically, Lady Mechanika sold for them, but they'd found it hard to transfer that excitement to other comics, at least as far as the direct market was concerned.
It looks like it might get a little harder. Aspen has issued the following press release that they and Lady Mechanika creator Joe Benitez have parted company.
And it reads like the press release from a Hollywood couple who have just realised that only one of them is actually a Scientologist.
ASPEN COMICS AND JOE BENITEZ SEPARATE
Aspen and Joe Benitez announce they have amicably separated their publishing interests by mutual agreement. Peter Steigerwald, Aspen MLT, Inc. Co-Owner and frequent artistic collaborator with Joe Benitez, had this to say:
"We [Aspen] have greatly appreciated Joe's time here with us and his involvement and promotion of Aspen Comics over the years. Joe and I have discussed his future plans and his desire to venture out on his own.As many know, ten years ago our Founder, Michael Turner, took a similar position and stepped away from his publisher, taking full publishing control of his own creations by founding Aspen Comics. We wish Joe well, and hope for a bright future for him and his creations, including Lady Mechanika. This has been a friendly separation and I plan on continuing to be there for him as colorist and collaborator as he wraps up his Lady Mechanika series. Aspen will be happy to provide any support he needs as he steps out on his own. I've been personal friends with Joe for nearly 20 years and I know this has long been a hope for him—to be able to found his own home for his creative visions."
"Aspen has an ambitious schedule next year with our '10 for 10' initiative along with Fathom's 15 yearanniversary, and we wanted both Aspen and Joe to start 2013 out on the right foot."
The Lady Mechanika series will continue according to the plans of Joe Benitez.
Joe had this to say:
"I am both anxious and excited to be venturing out on my own with Lady Mechanika. Aspen has been very supportive and I am and always will be grateful to them for giving Lady Mechanika her first home. As I've stated in the past, working with Peter has been one of the highlights of my career. He is an incredible talent whom I greatly admire and respect, and I hope to continue working with him on Lady Mechanika as well as other future projects.
I wish to extend a heartfelt thanks to all the fans and retailers for their patience and support. I hope you will continue to bear with me during this transitional period. My plans for Lady Mechanika include finishing "The Mystery of the Mechanical Corpse" this upcoming year and also launching a monthly Lady Mechanika ongoing series.
May 2013 bring success and prosperity to both Lady Mechanika and Aspen. Let's go make some great comics!"