Comics Get Idolized

During my far too many hours on Facebook I came across Idolized while surfing around.  I was intrigued.  Idolized felt innovative and a throwback at the same time.  This is a comic that as a concept was influenced not just with the creator’s vision of the characters, but also with fan interaction and involvement.

Curious, I contacted the creative team for an interview and they were happy to oblige.

JOSHUA PANTALLERESCO:  Explain the concept of Idolized.  I find it fascinating that you decided to do a vote for this whole concept?

DAVID B. SCHWARTZ:  First, thanks for taking the time to interview us, Joshua!  We’re excited to be able to talk about this series.

IDOLIZED is Aspen’s first-ever superhero title.  It tells the story of girl with super-powers and a tortured past, who seeks revenge, and ultimately finds redemption, over the course of competing in a televised super-hero competition show.  Essentially, it’s “True Grit” meets “American Idol” with capes.  And, while this massive TV show gives us a very broad and overwhelming backdrop, at heart this series is a really personal and focused story about what this young woman is going through.

The series has explosive art by Micah Gunnell (“Shrugged”, “Executive Assistant: Orchid”, “Dellec”) and colors by David Curiel (“Executive Assistant: Orchid”, “Dead Man’s Run”).  The first issue should be hitting the stands in June.

As far as the voting goes, we really wanted to find a way to allow the fans to interact with the series and to have a part in shaping it.  So, we had a 5 week-long process where, each week, the fans had a chance to vote on the costume designs for some of our major characters.

JP:  Micah, for the character design voting you came up with a ton of different designs.  Was it hard to come up with that many designs?  Are there any of the winning selections that you agree or disagree with?

MICAH: Yeah, it’s always a bit of a challenge when designing new characters, but I think maybe even more so with superheroes due to the fact that its very easy to make them look cheesy. Also, there have already been so many designs over the years its difficult to come up with something that looks classic without borrowing heavily from designs of the past. I tried to make 3 designs for each character that I personally liked, and I was fairly happy with the designs that were picked. Some weren’t the ones that I would have personally chosen, but I wasn’t heartbroken over any of the final designs.

JP: What did you guys learn doing the character design voting?

DAVID:  For me, it really validated how important it is to give the fans a voice.  I’m thrilled that we have a chance here to not only tell a story that we’re personally invested in, and that we find compelling and exciting, but now one that the fans actually have helped to shape as well.

MICAH: It was interesting to see how various people voted and the reasons they gave for why they preferred one design over another. There were a wide range of views on which design was best, but in the end I was a bit surprised at how overwhelming the support was for the winning design.

JP:  Would you guys do some kind of voting again?

DAVID: Yes.  I found it tremendously exciting to watch the votes come in, to see the public’s commentary on our characters, and to feel the look of the series beginning to take form.  Plus, as a comic fan myself, I just really loved seeing the fans get a chance to play a role in creating a comic book series.

MICAH: Personally, I wouldn’t because it was quite a bit more difficult for me to come up with three variations on each design that I thought worked. I’m also a kind of control freak when it comes to my art, so if I have the option to be the dictator why would I want to allow for democracy? 🙂

JP: Who are both of your favorite characters to work on so far?

DAVID:  I’d say Joule and Stasis.

Our main character is Joule, and she’s a pretty dark, angry person. She went through something fairly horrific as a little kid, which she blames herself for. She’s spent the last decade since then working madly to become a superhero. She’s determined to atone for her failure; to save other lives in order to make up for the lives she let slip away, and to exact revenge for what befell her. When she hears about this new “Superhero Idol” show, she thinks that, by winning, she may be able to get close enough to the man who caused her all that anguish that she’d actually be able to exact her ultimate revenge upon him. So, despite how ridiculous she finds the show to be, she sucks up her pride, gets online, and stands before the judges to audition.

What I love about her is that she’s really a study in contrasts, a person who’s internally at war with herself. She desperately wants to do good things, to help atone for what she sees as the sins of her past, and help change the world. But, at the same time, she’s filled with anger and loathing and wants to kill the man who wronged her. The interplay of those two sides of her – one half wishing to be a do-gooder, the other half ruthlessly seeking to draw blood – gives me a lot to play with, and makes for a great, dramatic character arc over the course of the series.
I can’t tell you too much about Stasis just yet, except that hes a villain whose ends are noble, but whose means are horrid. Readers ultimately may not know whether to root for or against him.

Now, there are also several other characters I’m really looking forward to playing with, but they’re characters that we just haven’t gotten to yet because I’m only on the third issue, and they don’t really come into play in any substantial way until issue 4.  So, my favorites may be different if you ask me again in a month or two…

MICAH: My primary focus has been Joule so far since the other characters have only appeared briefly, so I would have to say her. I also really like the internal conflict going on with Stasis, so he’s really fun to draw too. In addition to those two, I enjoyed drawing an awkward scene between Mindfull and Joule at the beginning of issue one. I think I’m more interested in interplay between the different personalities in the book than I am in drawing one particular character.

JP:  Can you talk about your current contest.  What is it and what’s going on?

DAVID:  Like I mentioned before, we really want to give our fans a chance to take part in the process in a whole bunch of ways.  The latest is that we’re having a contest where fans can actually win a chance to be a character in the series.  We’re inviting fans to simply tell us what super-powers they would have if they were a superhero, and why.  The entries can be purely text, or can include drawings and/or photos of the entrant as the super-hero they’d dream of being.  Entries just need to be posted on and/or tweeted with the hash-tag “#Idolized”.

Aspen will choose their five favorite entries, and the public will then have the chance to vote among those five finalists to choose the ultimate winner.  That winner will be drawn into issue #2 of IDOLIZED, and their name and likeness will appear in multiple panels as they join in a large-scale superhero battle.

And, as if actually being a superhero in a comic book wasn’t enough, the winner will also receive a page of original art that they appear in, and all five of the finalists will receive copies of each issue of IDOLIZED, signed by me and Micah.

I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of truly creative entries folks come up with!  Stop right now and go to if you want to enter!

JP:  When can fans expect to see their vision play out?

DAVID:  The first issue will be hitting the stands in June, so hopefully all of your readers will pick it up and check out their creation!

Joshua Pantalleresco

Comics Get Idolized