Interview - David Schwartz

Idolized is a brand new series by Aspen Comics that takes the world reality competition shows and gives it a slight twist. It's written by David Schwartz and illustrated by Micah Gunnell (colors by David Curiel) and fans have been instrumental in deciding the comic's look.

Well, the first issue's release is right around the corner and series creator Schwartz was awesome enough to do an interview.

Omnicomic: What can you tell us about the world of Idolized?

DBS: IDOLIZED 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").

Omnicomic: How exactly does the competition aspect work out? I'm fairly certain superheroes aren't singing their way to stardom in Idolized.

DBS: No, they're not singing or dancing, although it did cross my mind to have at least one contestant doing so. If we had Banshee or Black Bolt in our stable of characters, it might've been a fun scene to write.

Here, they're competing in various different tests. Battles, mainly, each of which requires a different skill set to solve. But also challenges that test their mental acuity, their detective and problem-solving skills, their strength and powers, and, most importantly, their integrity and heart.

Omnicomic: What's the prize the superheroes are competing for?

DBS: They're competing to win a guaranteed spot in that world's top super-group, The Powered Protectors.

Guaranteed entry to the Protectors is huge. After all, in a realistic superhero world it wouldn't be easy to become a legal, sanctioned, paid superhero (as opposed to a mere illegal vigilante). It'd be a job that millions of folks are desperate for, like being a rock star or a movie star in our world. But, if you get to start off by winning “SuperHero Idol”?

Well, it’s like you’ve instantly arrived, and can write your own ticket from there on out. The chance of winning offers fame, fortune, massive endorsement deals and, of course, a chance to actually save the world. Kids who dream of being worshipped as the next Superman or Wonder Woman would be falling all over themselves to get on — and perhaps even win — the show.

Omnicomic: A good story isn't good without an antagonist. Is there a central villain in Idolized? Or can readers expect to see maybe some of the contestants take a turn to the dark side?

DBS: We definitely have a main antagonist, named Stasis, who readers will learn a lot about in the first issue. I can't tell you too much about Stasis just yet, except that he's a villain whose ends are noble, but whose means are horrid. Readers ultimately may not know whether to root for or against him.

And, yes, there's at least one of the contestants who'll be very tempted to switch sides, and it may not be the one that the readers would expect (he said, with a wicked, devilish grin on his face...).

Omnicomic: Can you elaborate on the powers of the superheroes in the world of Idolized? For example, are their powers the result of mutations, cosmic rays or just accepted as fact?

DBS: They're pretty much just accepted as fact. What we're exploring here isn't how or why people obtain their powers. We're really delving into how the fact that there are these super-powered people affects the world around them.

Omnicomic: What can readers expect from the entire comic as far as story arcs? Will it all be about the contest?

DBS: Actually, the contest itself is just a small part of the series. The story is really about Joule herself, and the changes she goes through on her journey to redemption. In order to tell that story, we spend quite a bit of time following her both before and, more importantly, after she actually competes on the show.

The show gives us an engaging and exciting backdrop, with lots of opportunities for drama and social commentary, but ultimately this is a very personal story about a character's journey.

Omnicomic: Are you planning to hit any conventions this year in support of Idolized (or other works)?

DBS: Absolutely. So far, I'm planning on being at Emerald City, WonderCon, San Diego Comic-Con, Long Beach Comic Con, and hopefully others as well. I love being able to get out and meet the readers, and don't get to do it nearly as often as I'd like.

Omnicomic: Anything else you want to plug while you have the floor?

DBS: Well, in a few weeks we’ll be announcing something really special and unique for our covers. It’ll be completely unlike anything else on the stands.

In the meantime, though, we’re excited to announce a new contest where fans can actually win the chance to be a character in IDOLIZED. The winner gets to be one of the superheroes auditioning to win the coveted title of "Superhero Idol", and to appear in a sequence in the third issue fighting alongside Joule and Mindfull.

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"รน.

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 IDOLIZED.

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!

Mainly, though, I just want to thank your readers in advance for all of their support, and to invite them to get involved with IDOLIZED. Participate in the contest, check out the series, and let us know what you think!

Thanks, Jonathan! This has been a blast.