by Sara Lima for comicvine.com
One of the most successful ongoing books to come out of Aspen in the last few years has been EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT IRIS. From this series came several other EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT titles, each focused on a different central female character, each of them stemming from the same “Executive Assassin” school of thought. Now Aspen is introducing a new series, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT ASSASSINS which will see its first issue hit stores in July, just in time for San Diego Comic-Con.
The series’ writer Vince Hernandez gave us a peek into the creative process by showing us a preview for the upcoming first issue of this series. He also provided us with a little bit of creative commentary, describing the issue’s first four pages in greater detail. Check out the preview below and let us know if this is a title you are interested in.
To me, this is the single most important page of the book and maybe the series. I wanted to make sure that a few nuggets of the Executive Assistant history were laid out for new readers while also presenting two important characters in this issue–the young EA girls, Dandelion and Camellia. I felt the decision to begin with a close-up of the Lily flower was a natural choice because obviously our main character is named Lily but also because of the flower mythology inherent in the EA universe. Hopefully, it also helped new readers discover that the EA’s are all raised and eventually given a flower name, which is a central theme to their identity in certain instances. Executive Assistant Rose, for example, is one such case where the character’s identity is marked both in appearance and personality by the rose flower title she was given during her upbringing.
We also hint on this page that the Executive Assistant Academy where they are trained and raised clearly has strict rules, and also through the girl’s discussion we learn of a past failed EA named Lily. This is a lead-in to our turn page coming up. I really like what the artists Jordan Gunderson and Teodoro Gonzalez did with the artwork here, I think each panel came out exactly as I envisioned and Jordan definitely draws a wonderfully cute pair of girls—which was essential as you find out in later pages. These two young ladies had to be likable from the start. Special shout out to our letters guru Josh Reed who provided the unique starting caption box design that wonderfully captures Lily’s personality.
Our turn page fast forwards into a splash page of a grown up Lily and I had to contrast the stark reality of the future of these young ladies after they leave the academy. So, we go from this gorgeous Academy setting on the first page straight into a seedy nightclub in the Shinjuku district of Japan. After her former master Takeo was killed and the events of last year’s storyline “The Hit List Agenda”, Lily’s life has not been peaches and cream to say the least. That’s why I decided to call this story arc “Life After Death” and explore what happens after an EA loses their master. The quick turn of location from page one also truly hammers home that this story will turn on a dime at any moment while presenting the reader with our main character Lily in what I felt was the best way possible.
It’s clear from her facial expression the unhappiness she has for the job, and I felt Teo really nailed the colors needed for one of those classic stuck in the 90s nightclubs we wanted. Tone is everything for an assassin action-adventure book and I these guys did a great job of selling the atmosphere in one splash page.
And onto the action! Obviously, with a book like this, it was important for me to get the ball rolling soon and really have fun with the action. The setting presented an easy choice for a foe/s for her, with the sleazy atmosphere most often found in these clubs. Readers will see that while the action takes place, the narrative captions for Lily really begin to delve into her feelings towards the men in her life, and the love-hate relationship she’s had with them. This was important to me that readers know that Lily is not a woman who’s ever had to rely on a man for help. She’s self-taught and even in past issues when it seemed she was a servant to her master, it was always Lily in control. This is how her previous master eventually met his demise (See Executive Assistant Iris Volume 1 for more details). LOVE her face in the last panel; Jordan made her confident and intimidating all in one glare.
Here’s where we really see Lily’s Executive Assistant training and acumen kick into high gear as she takes on THREE guys at once. It’s also a symbolic foreshadow of her arc in this “Life After Death” storyline as she’ll be presented with overwhelming odds throughout this tale. Panel one is great, Jordan sold the action better than I imagined through written words and Teo’s colors really set the table for the quick-hitting moments.
His use of red in the first panel makes quite an impact on the eye right off the bat. Of course, panel four is the highlight of the page and I can’t tell you how difficult it is for an artist to create three different movements of action within the same panel. There are three different points of attack hitting Lily at once and each one respectively kicks butt. Josh also knocked it out the park on the word balloons in this panel.
For fans of EA and new readers, I hope you’ll come along for the ride. We’re well ahead on issues and the future certainly looks bright—while also murderous—for Executive Assistant!