PREVIEW: CHARISMAGIC #1

I've always had a thing for magic–an aversion to balloon animals and invasive clowns with magic quarters of course–but a great appreciation for the craft and presentation of stage magic and the lives of its great practitioners. So I was delighted to read an advance copy of Aspen's Charismagic #1, due out this week. It did a lot to scratch my itch as both a magic fan and even a crime fiction fan.

This is a story of fantasy and mysticism set in the modern world of the grift. Our hero isn't so much a sorcerer as he is a confidence man in a tux. He bumps elbows with Las Vegas showgirls and mysterious men with even more mysterious pasts. And best of all, he's out of his depth. He's poked into a shadowy world with an unsteady wand, and now it's all ready to snowball. This one is well worth your time, but if you need a little more convincing, I share this interview with writer Vince Hernandez.

Peppered throughout is a preview of the first issue, with interior art by Khary Randolph and Emilio Lopez, and covers by Siya Oum, Khary Randolph and Ale Garza.

iFanboy:   First off, great first issue. I think it's important that I start by asking about your own history with all things mystical. Do you hail from a family of stage magicians or do you simply like to DVR the occasional episode of Mindfreak? What's your interest level and can you make a silver dollar appear from behind my ear?

Vince Hernandez:   Haha, thanks for the kind words, and no, unfortunately I wasn’t raised by a family of stage magicians—although I’m sure the holiday gatherings would’ve been a lot more fun and exciting if that were the case. And actually, I don’t own a DVR or watch Mindfreak because Criss Angel scares me a lot, but I am a big fan of the genre of magic and the craft of magicians.

My interest in wanting to write a story like this stems from a combination of liking big, epic fantasy tales and enjoying the spectacle of the Las Vegas shows and being curious in seeing what it would be like to combine the two. It seemed to me like magician stories were set most of the time as period pieces, such as The Prestige or The Illusionist, or high fantasy such as Harry Potter. So, I was hoping to find a new niche with this story that would allow me to play with some more contemporary themes along the way.

And yes, I can make a silver dollar appear from behind your ear but I had to stop doing that because of the economy and all. It became pricey.


iFanboy:   Tell me about the origins of Charismagic. Where did this project come from?

VH:   When I figured out I wanted to write a modern day magician story, the steps from there came along nicely. I always had a plot in mind revolving around this villain who was persecuted not for what he did per se, but who he was. And once all the major plot points were figured out regarding the story’s major players, the rest flowed together very organically.

After I finished the comic series Soulfire: Shadow Magic and Dellec, a supernatural book I’m very proud of, I was ready to start planning my next writing project. As it turned out, Frank and Peter, Aspen’s co-owners asked what I had in mind for my next project and bam—the wheels were set in motion.

From there, it was a matter of luck and timing that I ran into Khary Randolph, one of my favorite artists walking this planet, and he mentioned that he finally had some time on his schedule to collaborate on something (Yes, I was pestering him steady up until this point at conventions). He brought along his teammate Emilio Lopez and the pair have been a joy to work with. I think it’s safe to say we pretty much talk on a daily basis if not more about the series and what we’re looking to achieve. I feel like they share the same amount of love for the book as I do, so it makes it easy to give them the reigns and let them go wild.

iFanboy:   Though there's obviously supernatural forces at work here, your tuxedoed protagonist Hank identifies himself as an entertainer. Is he more of a showman than a sorcerer? How far out of his depth is this guy when the real, honest to goodness magic materializes?

VH:   Yes, it’s a bit of a running joke we find out between Hank and his mentor, Hector about the ‘entertainer’ line. At the onset of the story, he’s definitely more of an entertainer, but as the story progresses, we learn that he is even further outside his depth than he ever could have imagined. But as well, we discover that all is not as it seems with Hank, and he didn’t make it this far on just his charm and good looks. Readers will really see a huge transformation for Hank throughout the series as he learns more about what exactly is happening around him, and the extent to what he can actually do with his magical abilities.

iFanboy:   I think the first big hook in the story is the emergence of a man from Hank's past. Can you tell us anything more about Hector?

VH:   Hector is Hank’s grounding force, so to speak. Whereas Hank is immersed in the Vegas lifestyle of fame, fortune, and fast women, Hector is his mentor and moral center. But Hector has his own set of skeletons in the closet as well. And his past we’ll come to find out, is a huge key to figuring out what’s going on in the story. So I consider Hector just as important of a lead character as Hank in the grand scheme of things. The relationship between these two magicians, and the generational bond they share is one of the cornerstones of Hank’s motivation throughout his journey.



iFanboy:   Befitting a book in the Aspen comics line, Charismagic also features some gorgeous Las Vegas showgirls/magical assistants courtesy of artist Khary Randolph. How great a role do these assistants play in the story going forward? We know Hank is romantically involved with at least one of them.

VH:   One of them, Alle, who we meet in the opening issue will play a major role going forward. She’s Hank’s girl even though their relationship is flawed, and after the events of issue one, her fate is a huge factor for Hank in deciding his motives. In the first issue, you get the sense that Hank does indeed want to share his inner feelings with Alle, but lacks the willpower to do it. As the story progresses, their relationship is put to the test as they both have their own quests in a way to figure out how to get back to each other.

There's a large-scale vanishing act late in the first issue. Is this…rapturous status quo a permanent fixture for the series?

This answer I will leave open-ended and tell you you’ll have to wait and see!

iFanboy:   Let's talk about threats and villains. What can you tell us about Samsun or any other obstacles Hank is set to face in issues to come?

VH:  From the zero and first issues, we’ve explored a lot of Samsun’s origin and motives–and that was by design. I really wanted the major antagonist and crisis to be set forth at the onset of the story so readers would know the immensity of the peril that faced the characters we were set to introduce.

We know that Samsun once lived amongst magical beings but was banished to the Void Realm because of his power. And since he’s essentially been in a magical prison filled with unimaginable nightmare beings for centuries—it’s safe to say he’s fairly pissed off.

However, Samsun is not the only threat our heroes will encounter along the way as we learn early on that creatures of magic are not all friendly!

 

                      


 

Charismagic #1 by Vince Hernandez, with art from Khary Randolph and Emilio Lopez hits shelves this week. 

Comments

  1. Sounds like an interesting story. I’m a big fan of Aspen comics, so it’s nice to see them getting some love on iFanboy. I’ll definitely be picking this up tomorrow.

  2. @Paul- Thanks for posting this. It’s great to shed some light on things like this, which fly so under the radar. I’ll be checking this out for sure.

  3. I’m really excited for this one. Aspen seems to be on a bit of a roll. first Lady Meckanika and now this. Good times!

  4. I…want this. Aspen usually put out stories I enjoy and the art is very nice, I’m going to have to look for this!