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DF Interview: Aaron Lopresti unleashes a comical coming-of-age tale in Power Cubed
By Byron Brewer
What if you had a piece of technology that created anything you could possibly want, and all you had to do was imagine it? What would you wish for? For Kenny Logan, his first wish is to survive his 18th birthday! His unique matter-reinterpreting device has attracted the attention of a bumbling Nazi scientist with plans for world domination and an elite government agent who is hell bent on acquiring the device to stop an alien invasion at any cost.
Writer/artist Aaron Lopresti delivers a humorous adventure for all ages in a fantastic sci-fi universe courtesy of Dark Horse Comics. Dynamic Forces sat down with the one-man-band to inquire about the book, already in stores.
Dynamic Forces: Aaron, before we start, you have been involved in the industry for some time. Tell us about your life in comics.
Aaron Lopresti: Wow. Big question. I started pursuing my career by showing a 22-page Spider-Man story I wrote and drew to Marvel editor Terry Kavanaugh at the San Diego Comic Con. At the time he was editing the anthology title, Marvel Comics Presents. He showed some interest so I followed up with a couple of trips to New York, which eventually landed me an 8-page Spider-Man story. After that, Renee Witterstaetter gave me the opportunity to start writing and drawing Forbush Man stories for the Marvel humor anthology, What The…?!
Just as I was about to break into a regular rotation at Marvel, Dave Olbrich and Tom Mason of Malibu Comics offered me a series in their new line of Ultraverse comics. I took on their monster title called Sludge and began for the first time to work as a full-time comic artist.
After Malibu went under, I bounced around between Valiant and DC, Topps, Image and Marvel. I got a series at DC called Takion and it was such an abysmal failure that I got blacklisted over at DC. I scraped out a living picking up a few jobs at Marvel and Image until CrossGen Comics came calling. It was on the title Mystic that I was able to resurrect my career, as it were. From there I went to Marvel for four years and then back to DC for the last seven years. Quite the roller coaster and probably a lot longer answer than you were anticipating.
DF: How did Power Cubed come to be? Can you give us a little background?
Aaron Lopresti: I started a comic art studio in the mid-1990s called “Studiosaurus”. We had quite the line up of talent. Terry Dodson (who came up with the name), Matt Haley, Karl Kesel, Ron Randall, Rachel Dodson, Gary Martin, Tom Simmons, Randy Emberlin and I were the original members.
We collectively decided to come up with our own line of comics that we were going to launch through Image. Ron Randall and I were the first to get something done. My book was called Atomic Toybox. I released one issue and then realized that I was going to lose money on the second issue, so there it ended. This was 15 years ago and for the life of me I can’t remember how I came up with the concept. I know I was looking to create something that I thought would have commercial appeal beyond comics and so the idea was born.
Three years ago, Mike Richardson approached me at NYCC about doing a creator owned series for Dark Horse and I knew then it was time to bring back Atomic Toybox and finish what I had started over a decade before. I changed the name to Power Cubed because I thought it better fit the story and also because I had what I thought was a clever logo idea.
DF: Tell us about the storyline of this new Dark Horse Comic limited series.
Aaron Lopresti: On his birthday, 18-year-old Kenny Logan receives a power cube made through alien technology that allows him to re-interpret matter. He can change a car into a robot, a household appliance into a laser gun, etc. He immediately becomes the target for the sinister Dr. Cruel, a neo-Nazi scientist that wants the cube to create a body for the brain he has kept alive for years, and Claire Covert, a secret government agent trying to stop an alien invasion. Comedic mayhem ensues.
DF: As creator, tell us who Kenny Logan is as a character.
Aaron Lopresti: Kenny is a talented artist who is being raised solely by his father because his mother was killed in a car accident years before. His dad is a nerdy scientist/inventor and the two of them have never really connected. There is no animosity between the two, just a real lack of communication which Kenny resents a little bit. The real heart of the story is Kenny’s relationship with his father as well as his tendency to lean a little too much on the memory of his mom. How he works through those issues while dealing with the chaos around him provide the foundation for the series.
DF: In a non-spoilery manner, what can you tell us about Dr. Cruel?
Aaron Lopresti: The mystery of Dr. Cruel continues through the 4th issue of the miniseries so I wouldn’t want to spoil any surprises. But on the surface, he is a sociopathic nut who on one hand is the bumbling comic relief for the story but on the other hand a really scary murderous villain who will literally stop at nothing to get what he wants. He has a disembodied brain that he has kept alive for decades that he wants to create a body for and the real mystery is whose brain it is and what is his ultimate end game.
DF: Are there any plans for Kenny and Power Cubed beyond this mini? What would you like to see storyline-wise, if there are?
Aaron Lopresti: Although the storyline with Dr. Cruel gets wrapped up in this miniseries, there is plenty of room for the series to continue. There is a secondary story thread that would be nice to explore and ultimately conclude if the opportunity arises to do more. Of course, that will depend solely on sales numbers for the comic and the upcoming trade paperback. Unfortunately that is something entirely out of my control.
Getting a large enough audience to buy and read a brand new property, no matter how good it is or well reviewed, is always a monumental challenge.
DF: Any difficulties between Writer Lopresti and Artist Lopresti here, or vice versa?
Aaron Lopresti: Artist Lopresti was always finding that Writer Lopresti was making mistakes that weren’t evident until a page got laid out. This forced Writer Lopresti to go back and re-write several scenes so they would better accommodate the artistic vision of Artist Lopresti. What a pain.
DF: I was struck with the light-hearted atmosphere of the adventure, reminding me of Dan Slott’s Silver Surfer or the comics of the 1960s and early ‘70s. Is that a style you like, and if so what do you think of the dark, gritty tone of some modern comic books?
Aaron Lopresti: It’s funny how often this question has come up. I got into reading comics and ultimately working in comics because I thought they were fun. When I was a kid reading comics there were always socially relevant stories (see Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ Green Lantern/Green Arrow) but they were handled in a way that was still digestible for most age groups. Spider-Man’s romance with Mary Jane (or Gwen Stacey before that) were always mature but not gratuitous or exploitive. Comics today (along with movies and video games) are mostly as shocking and gratuitous as possible. They have almost all become exclusively adult in their content, leaving little to no room for young readers to jump on.
I’m a big fan of movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark or Star Wars because they created exciting adventure escapism that appealed to all age groups. Power Cubed is just that. It does have some underlying serious topics but it is packaged in an all ages wrapper. Some of the humor might get lost on a 13-year-old, but that doesn’t affect that 13-year-old’s ability to enjoy the comic.
I’m beyond the point where I am looking for grim reality in my entertainment. There is enough of that in real life. I want to be entertained, enjoy the experience and walk away feeling good and not grossed out or depressed. Honestly, I think that is what most people are looking for.
DF: What’s next from the keyboard and talented pen of Aaron Lopresti?
Aaron Lopresti: I am currently writing and drawing a Metamorpho series for DC. This is not a humorous take on the character but a straight dramatic treatment. All of the familiar characters are there, updated and altered to fit a more modern mentality but not so over-hauled that people won’t recognize them. It explores the origin of Metamorpho and its galactic repercussions. This is not a small story by any means and it does effect the entire DCU which makes it a must read.
Be looking for more creator-owned works in 2016 as well. My homage to ‘50s sci-fi, Kit Carter: Galactic Ranger, may surface and there is always the possibility we will see more Power Cubed!
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Aaron Lopresti for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Power Cubed #3 hits stores November 18th!
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